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First performed between the years 1600-01, first printed in 1603.

Throughout Shakespeare's plays, the maintenance of identity is a very common conflict, as it was shown in Macbeth and now in Hamlet. In this play Shakespeare has portrayed young Hamlet to convey the two sides to him; one side shows his insane behaviour towards his family, the other side determines his thoughts of either doing right or wrong according to what he has seen. The play trembles with conflicts: one being identity, which shows all the characters in different disputes of their own. We also see the problems of lack of self-confidence, misjudgement, and betrayal.--Submitted by imran.


First performance at the end of 15th century, ~ timeline, death of Elizabeth I and accession of James VI and I. First printing 1603. One of the more accessible Renaissance/early modern period texts. One constant theme of the English renaissance is the development of personal character and fame. Hamlet is portrayed as being uncertain as to whether he is the prince of the title, or student. Throughout the play Hamlet is presented with choices, of belief, of action, of love, of justice and of conscience. The play is famous for its soliloquies, where Hamlet presents the audience privately with his perceived choices. The results of his limited choices culminate in the tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark.--Submitted by Anonymous


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Recent Forum Posts on Hamlet

This was sometime a paradox, but now the time gives it proof

Why would Hamlet (Shakespeare) call this a paradox? To what works / authors might Shakespeare be referring (Donne - Why are the fairest, falsest, Guazzo - Beauty breedeth temptation)? There seems to be no paradox, but Hamlet never says anything without a reason, so what is it?

Use every man after his desert

Polonius: My lord, I will use them accoding to their desert. Hamlet: God's bodkin, man, much better! Use every man after his desert and who shall scape whipping? Use them after your own honor and dignity - the less they deserve the more merit is in your bounty. 2.2. "Use every man after his desert and who shall scape whipping?" is one of the my favourite phrases from Hamlet, but I've possibly been reading too much into it for some time now: It would make sense if Hamlet was only talking about the players, because who else would the "whipping" refer to? But at the same time it seems more like a general phrase to me, which might possibly even refer to EVERYONE - it might be like one of his other internal conceptions, like "After your death you were better have a bad epitaph than their ill report while you live." The two Hamlet-editions that I've got don't say much about this: the Norton doesn't mention this specifc line at all and the Arden just explains words like "whipping": "standard punishment for vagabounds/unlicensed players" - which leads me to believe that the editors of this edition also think that Hamlet's talking exclusively about the players, but I'm not quite satisfied with that. What does anyone else think about this?

To whom is Hamlet speaking when he says "To be or not be?"

So, the question is: To whom is Hamlet speaking when he says "To be or not to be?" Derek Jacobi wrote: Over the years since I first began playing Hamlet, I have become more and more convinced that 'To be or not to be' is to be treated not as a soliloquy but as a dramatic speech to Ophelia." Add to that J. Dover Wilson's and Isaac Asimov's suggestion that Hamlet overhears Polonius before he enters in Act 2, scene 2 and we have an interesting puzzle. Therefore, is he most likely speaking to his uncle, all three characters at once or to himself? Each is possible. Most likely, I think, he is mainly speaking to his uncle.

Best conflated single edition of Hamlet?

I'm looking for a conflated single edition of Hamlet that includes all the famous lines, since my complete Shakespeare inexplicably includes only the Second Quarto despite including three versions of Lear. :frown2:

Help With A Hamlet Essay

I'm writing an essay for a literary criticism class. I chose a psychoanalytic approach to Hamlet. I'm having trouble finding a thesis in all of my ideas. I want to write about Hamlet's Oedipal complex, because it sticks out like a sore thumb to me. But the way I see it, there are three "fathers" (Ghost Hamlet, Claudius, and Polonius). I also think the Hamlet has identified a lot with his mother, and that's why he calls his grief and cowardice "feminine" and compares himself to Fortinbras, who does masculine things in Hamlet's eyes. He also acts crazy towards Ophelia and thinks the same of her as he does of his mother, and I think there's something there maybe because according to Freud Hamlet needs to project his want for his mother onto another woman, and he does but that also conflicts with the anger for his mother causing the anger towards her. If you can help in any way, please do!

Hamlet's Revenge?

What reason does Hamlet give for being so cautious in taking revenge and so thorough in his search for evidence? Is his reason convincing?

Original Hamlet

Hello. My english is not the best, so please apologize, if I make some mistakes. I want to buy "Hamlet", written in the original english, which was used by Shakespeare. Most of the books, which I have found on the internet, are rewritten in modern-english. So, I just want to know, if there is any book, written in the original english, which you can recommend. I am looking forward to your answers; thank you! Greetings Max

I Know a Hawk from a Handsaw - Hamlet and the Spanish Armada

(This is extracted from my free and ad-free Hamlet website, which I've been working on for over 20 years. For more, please google for "Smith's Hyper Hamlet, then see my introductory essay, "How to Love Hamlet." ) I Know a Hawk from a Handsaw - Hamlet and the Spanish Armada HAMLET (2.2.387-388} I am but mad north-north-west: when the wind is southerly I know a hawk from a handsaw. BERNARDO (1.1.44-47} Last night of all, When yond same star that's westward from the pole Had made his course to illume that part of heaven Where now it burns, The "pole" is the North Star. "Westward from the pole" would be "north-northwest." Thus "I am but mad, north-northwest" means that Hamlet is only mad when under the influence of his father's ghost. "Pole" might also be an allusion to Reginald Pole, who, as Bloody Mary's Catholic Archbishop of Canterbury, liked to call himself "the Pole Star" because he thought of himself as the guiding star about which the English people revolved. Please see Shakespeare, Breakspear, and Broken Pole (The Prophesy) (Note: I mark my speculations with green italics. The rest is accepted historical fact.) But Reginald Pole died of a broken heart when Queen Mary died and England reverted to Protestantism. Thirty years later, Queen Mary's widower, King Phillip of Spain sent the Duke of Medina Sidonia with the Spanish Armada to bring England back to the Catholic Church by "strong hands and terms compulsatory." But like Hamlet, Medina was but mad north-north-west: when the wind southerly,) he was sane. On August 8, Saint Dominic's Day, Medina decided that if the wind continued to blow from the south (which it did) he would have to abandon the attack on England. He was unable to recapture the faith of Englishmen by force. He did "it wrong, being so majestical, to offer it the show of violence, for it is, as the air, invulnerable, and vain blows malicious mockery." St Dominic had advocated reasoning with heretics to bring them back to the Church by persuasion rather than burning them. The significance of St Dominic's Day was not lost on English Catholics. From the context, "I know the difference between a hawk and a handsaw" clearly means "I am in my right mind." However, I don't know why Shakespeare used that phrase to denote sanity. It might be related to the following line in Hamlet's instructions to the players: HAMLET (3.2.4) . . . Nor do not saw the air too much with your hand, thus, but use all gently; for in the very torrent, tempest, and, as I may say, the whirlwind of passion, you must acquire and beget a temperance that may give it smoothness. In the tempest that had blown his Armada off course, Medina acquired and begat a temperance to abandon his vain blows against England. Perhaps "hand" is a pun on "Armada", similar to "Fort-in-bras" (near French for "strong arm"). It is worth noting that Shakespeare took pains to let us know that there had been a 30-year interval between the time old Fortinbras died and the time young Fortinbras came to reclaim those lands by strong hand and terms compulsatory. There was also a 30-year interval between the time Queen Mary died and the time her widower, Prince Phillip of Spain, sent the Spanish Armada to attempt to reclaim England by strong hand and terms compulsatory. Elsewhere Hamlet alludes to another war to recover lost land, with his cryptic reference to old Jephtha. HAMLET (2.2.418) Am I not i' the right, old Jephthah? . . . HAMLET (2.2.426) . . . 'It came to pass, as most like it was, "As most like it was" sounds like "so like the king that was." BERNARDO (1.1.121-124)) . . . . so like the king that was and is the question of these wars. That is Hamlet's dilemma - whether "to be or not to be," like the Ghost, "so like the king that was and is the question of these wars." So like so many kings, his father, or old Jephtha. The story of Jephtha, in Judges 11, sounds most like the story of the king that was and is the question of these wars. The Ammonites were preparing for war against Israel to recover land Israel had taken from them, just as young Fortinbras was preparing for war to recover of us, by strong hand and terms compulsatory, those foresaid lands so by his father lost in the fatal duel with old King Hamlet. Judges 11.12 ... What hast thou to do with me, that thou art come against me to fight in my land? Judges 11.13 ...Because Israel took away my land... now therefore restore those lands again And you, the judges, bear a wary eye. (5.2.278) Also please see The Memory Be Green - Hamlet in Historical Context The Madness of Hamlet How to Love Hamlet

The impact of the "Mousetrap" in the development of the story

Title says it all basically , how did this scene affect the plot (i.e. Claudius ordered Hamlet to leave for england)

PLEASE HELP choosing a topic

Hello all! I am a college sophomore. In less than twelve hours I need to submit a 12 page essay about Hamlet. I am supposed to include another work from the course to argue with it. I was thinking Don Quixote. But if I can write a good paper without a second argument i would rather do that than submit a bad one that includes two texts. My problem is that like Hamlet I am indecisive. This is the assignment --The final 10-12 pages, double-spaced, size 12 Times New Roman, including works cited. These will be an argumentative analysis on a topic of your choice. These will consider two of the texts we cover. I want to write a great paper but I can't decide where to focus it. I was thinking about the idea of madness, how hamlet is relative because it focuses on the individual, Hamlet and queer theory, how it is philosophical, or existential, so on.....The problem is I do see hamlet in myself, and this makes it difficult. I am intrigued by the philosophy in Hamlet, what it means to be alive, and so forth. But I am afraid that if I take this route I will not properly analyze the text and I will not have a central argument. The point is I cannot decide or make a thesis statement to save my life right now. I am afraid I will make it a philosophy or psychology maybe even sociology paper. Any help to get me started on a solid and workable topic would be so deeply appreciated. I am open to ANY ideas.

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