Hamlet


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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.

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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

Comparison Between Timothy Findley's Robert Ross and Shakespeare's Hamlet

More importantly, why do you feel the need to spam your question is as many sub-forums as you can you nitwit...


What does Hamlet mean?

"The undiscover'd country, from whose bourn No traveller returns" Why does Hamlet insist that no traveler returns when his father has already, so to speak, returned from that country?


You (Plural) a film based on Joyce's Ulysses Shakespeare's Hamlet Homer's Odyssey &c.

This movie is an experimental adaptation that, in terms of the plot, plays Hamlet on a sort of loop. It begins where Hamlet begins, but ends at both the beginning and the ending. However, it doesn't exclusively adapt Hamlet, it looks at Shakespeare's entire oeuvre. For instance, in the "Hades" segment, the audience hears through Ulysses Bloom's thoughts (one of the main characters) every either last line or line referencing a character that commit suicide. Beside Branagh's, I think this is one of the most complete adaptations to date.


Were Claudius and Gertrude having an affair before old Hamlet's death?

Do you think that Claudius and Gertrude were doing the "beast with two backs" (to quote Iago) before old Hamlet's murder? I know there's no textural evidence within the play itself, but if I were directing the play, I'd consider Gertrude's behavior after her hubby's death a clue. Here are my purely speculative thoughts, minus any actual facts in the play: Gertrude is likely a couple decades younger than Hamlet per. We're told his beard was grizzled and that he'd nap in the garden daily. He's obviously no longer the hero who "smote the sledded Polack on the ice" and is now in his semi-retirement. I'm not saying that Gertrude was a child bride, but they were married at least 25-30 years, and that time period can be modest if you're starting out at 22 years old, substantial if you're starting at 40. They had only one child and that's uncommon for a royal couple. I'm just speculating for sheer entertainment value here, but I'd think the physical passion had gone from the marriage and what remained was a genuine affection but not much adventure between the sheets. Along comes Claudius, handsome, urbane, a boon companion. And smarmy. He'd easily find the energy to prey upon Gertrude, and after a few years' effort, she might have been attracted to him. Of course Claudius is jealous of his brother but I also think his affection for Gertrude is genuine. He never tosses her under the bus like he does Laertes. I've also read speculation that Claudius is Hamlet's true father. I don't think that's a given, necessarily. He bears young Hamlet a grudging affection, mostly out of his feelings for Gertrude. After all, he "inherits" Hamlet after Hamlet's grown and in grad school. But we know that he fears him (we're told that Hamlet bears lots of positive public admiration) and there's some legitimate argument as to whether Claudius was the rightful heir to the throne in the first place. So, do you think that Gertrude was already involved with Claudius prior to hubby's death? I dunno. It's a fun topic to entertain ourselves with, I think.


The eternal question: Why does Hamlet procrastinate?

"Why does Hamlet procrastinate" is a question that has been asked, it seems, from the very beginning of Hamlet scholarship. I'd like to discuss this by posting some of what is becoming an essay on Hamlet and his character within the play... To put it simply, as I see it, Hamlet procrastinates simply because he's not a murderer. He is, instead, a "new" type of hero whom Shakespeare first invented. To see the dilemma, we have to understand the roots of the play by looking briefly at earlier versions of this revenge-motive story, called by many scholars as the "ur-Hamlet". It's via these early versions that we can see how Shakespeare works his genius. Early "Hamlets" were popular for many years before. These plays were essentially melodramas, not actual dramas. When we see an action thriller on TV or the movies, it's listed as "drama" but it's actually "melodrama", by definition a shoot-em-up story, like the Die Hard franchise. In the ur-Hamlets, we've got Hamlet just returning from leading Denmark's troops into battle, and comes home to find the usual, father dead, mother marrying his uncle, usurping him from his rightful throne. The ghost visits, tells all, and the rest of the play is generally one swordfight after another, a running battle between Hamlet's forces and Claudius', culminating in the expected bloodbath. There is no procrastination, no hesitation. just combat. To understand how amazingly Shakespeare transforms an action melodrama into a genuine drama, we need to compare Hamlet with Laertes. In "our" Hamlet, Laertes is essentially what Hamlet's character was in the ur-Hamlet plays. And Hamlet is transformed into a newly moral hero, full of doubt and hesitation, as would any educated, thoughtful person. Look at Laertes' school: Paris. I'm guessing his classes include Lute, Poetry 101, Philosophy, and Fencing, but he had to drop Philosophy due to his heavy social schedule. And Hamlet? Wittenberg. Even in Shakespeare's time, Wittenberg was a university famous for philosophy and advanced learning. So instead of returning from the wars, Hamlet is coming home from grad school at a highly prestigious university. He's a scholar. Laertes is a mirror image of an earlier version of Hamlet. Consider this parallel: In Act 5, Claudius asks Laertes what he'd do to someone who'd murdered his father."Cut his throat in the church" is the reply. But Hamlet has already precisely had this opportunity, "Now might I do it..." and yet he defers. I maintain that the question by Claudius is intentionally a clue by Shakespeare that sets up a comparison between the two characters, one "old" hero, the other a "new" hero. The true climax of the play is a scene sadly omitted from many productions, but it's essential. It's when Hamlet is being escorted by R&G to "England" and pauses to chat with a military leader about an upcoming battle. Hamlet learns that the ground over which the fight will occur is paltry and worthless, yet more will be killed than room to bury them on that ground. And in his great "How occasions to inform against me and spur my dull revenge" speech, Hamlet compares himself to these brave soldiers. Well, I think that Shakespeare has deliberately stacked the deck here. He shows us the futility of mindless bloodshed, Laertes style, and we now see the newly defined Hamlet-style hero. Rational, moral, certainly capable of killing (as most of us are, self defense or in war) but certainly not capable of cold murder. Your thoughts?


Do you hate the Olivier Hamlet film as much as I do?

When I was just a kid and first saw the '48 Olivier Hamlet film, I was very impressed, of course. I enjoyed the way the scenes changed by panning to another section of the castle, the moody tone, and (at the time) how eagerly Olivier chewed the scenery. Later, watching the movie after having studied Hamlet in college and having read the play on my own, I began to loathe the Olivier version, for several reasons... Hamlet is portrayed as some angst-ridden overdone partially swishy guy. The Oedipal theme (which I don't think the play itself has at all) is prominent to distraction. Claudius is seen as a drunken idiotic fool. Those are just my principal gripes. Overall I thought that Olivier completely misjudges Hamlet's character and motives, and also sends messages that simply aren't in the play. It's often said that a good villain is what drives a plot. The actual Claudius is smart, cunning, and therefore a worthy foe to Hamlet. But most productions, stage and film, show him as a slob. The best Claudius is of course seen in the best (by far) film, Branagh's Hamlet. Derek Jacobi is superb here, playing a handsome, romantic, and utterly venal man to whom Gertrude would be attracted. Hamlet himself, although a bit over-acted by Branagh, is properly seen as brilliant (probably the smartest character in all of Shakespeare), someone who is indeed sucked into the revenge against his better self. Principally, however, we see in a full length Hamlet the intricate ways that the Denmark court is structured, and how Claudius and Hamlet each combat one another, often by proxy. We also see that Claudius is well protected and that Hamlet couldn't simply stab the king on a whim. But I digress (just like Prufrock)... I wonder just how many unsuspecting Shakespeare fans have had their total vision of Hamlet warped by that awful Olivier film. Sigh. And your thoughts?


Hamlet Essay: "rotten in Denmark" & how imagery is used to deepen the understanding

I need some helpful insight on my essay topic. It is: As the play opens, the audience sees Marcellus say "something is rotten in the state of Denmark." How is Marcellus correct and how does the imagery of the play help to deepen the audience's understanding of the play. A through explanation on where to start, what im 'truly' looking to write about and any passages/ proof from the play would be highly appreciated. !!URGENT DUE MONDAY!! (april 15/2013)


What are the compares and contrasts between Hamlet and The Spanish Tragedy?

I've read both of these, but I'm still confused why Shakespeare write Hamlet similarly to The Spanish Tragedy, the difference is only that Hamlet takes revenge for his father and Hieronimo for his son. Anyone can help me? Thank you for any help Joanna.


Something is rotten in the state of Denmark

Hi everyone In Hamlet, Marcellus says "something is rotten in the state of Denmark" Do you believe that this is an accurate assessment of his society as corruption is shown to be widespread and infects everyone Quotes will be helpful that back up the above statement. What corruption is shown in the play, like corruption in Denmark, acts of corruption by characters both in own actions and actions towards Hamlet? Thanks everyone


"There's special providence in the fall of a sparrow"

Why does Hamlet change? When he makes this remark, he is fresh off successfully out-scheming Claudius and saving his own skin with an elaborate ruse. It's true he's also been overthinking things to the point of inaction, but why go so far in the other direction? Now he's disregarding his own heartsickness and Horatio's advice to skip the duel with Laertes. I actually liked the Polonius-stabbing, Ophelia-destroying, excuse-making Hamlet better than this drip who equates clear signs of danger with mere "augury" and contemplates little birdies. Oh well, is that our enigmatic Hamlet again? Can't settle on a reasonable medium, has to seesaw between extremes?


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