Hamlet (Bantam Classic)by William Shakespeare, David Scott Kastan (Editor), David Bevington (Editor)
One of the greatest plays of all time, the compelling tragedy of the tormented young prince of Denmark continues to capture the imaginations of modern audiences worldwide. Confronted with evidence that his uncle murdered his father, and with his mother’s infidelity, Hamlet must find a means of reconciling his longing for oblivion with his duty as avenger. The ghost, Hamlet’s feigned madness, Ophelia’s death and burial, the play within a play, the “closet scene” in which Hamlet accuses his mother of complicity in murder, and breathtaking swordplay are just some of the elements that make Hamlet an enduring masterpiece of the theater.
Each Edition Includes:
• Comprehensive explanatory notes
• Vivid introductions and the most up-to-date scholarship
• Clear, modernized spelling and punctuation, enabling contemporary readers to understand the Elizabethan English
• Completely updated, detailed bibliographies and performance histories
• An interpretive essay on film adaptations of the play, along with an extensive filmography
Read an Excerpt
Act 1 Scene 1 running scene 1
Enter Barnardo and Francisco, two sentinels Meeting
BARNARDO Who's there?
FRANCISCO Nay, answer me: stand and unfold yourself.
BARNARDO Long live the king!
FRANCISCO You come most carefully upon your hour.
BARNARDO 'Tis now struck twelve: get thee to bed, Francisco.
FRANCISCO For this relief much thanks: 'tis bitter cold,
And I am sick at heart.
BARNARDO Have you had quiet guard?
FRANCISCO Not a mouse stirring.
BARNARDO Well, goodnight.
If you do meet Horatio and Marcellus,
The rivals of my watch, bid them make haste.
Enter Horatio and Marcellus
FRANCISCO I think I hear them.- Stand! Who's there?
HORATIO Friends to this ground.
MARCELLUS And liegemen to the Dane.
FRANCISCO Give you goodnight.
MARCELLUS O, farewell, honest soldier. Who hath relieved you?
FRANCISCO Barnardo has my place. Give you goodnight.
MARCELLUS Holla! Barnardo!
BARNARDO Say, what, is Horatio there?
HORATIO A piece of him.
BARNARDO Welcome, Horatio: welcome, good Marcellus.
MARCELLUS What, has this thing appeared again tonight?
BARNARDO I have seen nothing.
MARCELLUS Horatio says 'tis but our fantasy,
And will not let belief take hold of him
Touching this dreaded sight twice seen of us:
Therefore I have entreated him along
With us to watch the minutes of this night,
That if again this apparition come,
He may approve our eyes and speak to it.
HORATIO Tush, tush,'twill not appear.
BARNARDO Sit down awhile,
And let us once again assail your ears,
That are so fortified against our story,
What we two nights have seen.
HORATIO Well, sit we down,
And let us hear Barnardo speak of this.
BARNARDO Last night of all,
When yond same star that's westward from the pole
Had made his course t'illume that part of heaven
Where now it burns, Marcellus and myself,
The bell then beating one-
MARCELLUS Peace, break thee off.
Enter the Ghost
Look where it comes again.
BARNARDO In the same figure like the king that's dead.
MARCELLUS Thou art a scholar; speak to it, Horatio.
BARNARDO Looks it not like the king? Mark it, Horatio.
HORATIO Most like: it harrows me with fear and wonder.
BARNARDO It would be spoke to.
MARCELLUS Question it, Horatio.
HORATIO What art thou that usurp'st this time of night,
Together with that fair and warlike form
In which the majesty of buried Denmark
Did sometimes march? By heaven I charge thee speak!
MARCELLUS It is offended.
BARNARDO See, it stalks away.
HORATIO Stay! Speak, speak! I charge thee, speak! Exit the Ghost
MARCELLUS 'Tis gone and will not answer.
BARNARDO How now, Horatio? You tremble and look pale.
Is not this something more than fantasy?
What think you on't?
HORATIO Before my God, I might not this believe
Without the sensible and true avouch
Of mine own eyes.
MARCELLUS Is it not like the king?
HORATIO As thou art to thyself.
Such was the very armour he had on
When he th'ambitious Norway combated:
So frowned he once when, in an angry parle,
He smote the steelèd pole-axe on the ice.
MARCELLUS Thus twice before, and just at this dead hour,
With martial stalk hath he gone by our watch.
HORATIO In what particular thought to work I know not,
But in the gross and scope of my opinion,
This bodes some strange eruption to our state.
MARCELLUS Good now, sit down and tell me, he that knows,
Why this same strict and most observant watch
So nightly toils the subject of the land,
And why such daily cast of brazen cannon
And foreign mart for implements of war:
Why such impress of shipwrights, whose sore task
Does not divide the Sunday from the week:
What might be toward, that this sweaty haste
Doth make the night joint-labourer with the day:
Who is't that can inform me?
HORATIO That can I,
At least, the whisper goes so: our last king,
Whose image even but now appeared to us,
Was, as you know, by Fortinbras of Norway,
Thereto pricked on by a most emulate pride,
Dared to the combat, in which our valiant Hamlet -
For so this side of our known world esteemed him -
Did slay this Fortinbras, who by a sealed compact,
Well ratified by law and heraldry,
Did forfeit, with his life, all those his lands
Which he stood seized on to the conqueror:
Against the which, a moiety competent
Was gagèd by our king, which had returned
To the inheritance of Fortinbras,
Had he been vanquisher, as, by the same cov'nant,
And carriage of the article designed,
His fell to Hamlet. Now, sir, young Fortinbras,
Of unimprovèd mettle hot and full,
Hath in the skirts of Norway here and there
Sharked up a list of landless resolutes
For food and diet to some enterprise
That hath a stomach in't, which is no other -
And it doth well appear unto our state -
But to recover of us, by strong hand
And terms compulsative, those foresaid lands
So by his father lost: and this, I take it,
Is the main motive of our preparations,
The source of this our watch and the chief head
Of this post-haste and rummage in the land.
Enter Ghost again
But soft, behold! Lo, where it comes again!
I'll cross it, though it blast me. Stay, illusion!
If thou hast any sound or use of voice,
Speak to me:
If there be any good thing to be done
That may to thee do ease and grace to me,
Speak to me:
If thou art privy to thy country's fate -
Which, haply, foreknowing may avoid - O, speak!
Or if thou hast uphoarded in thy life
Extorted treasure in the womb of earth - [A cock crows]
For which, they say, you spirits oft walk in death -
Speak of it: stay and speak!- Stop it, Marcellus.
MARCELLUS Shall I strike at it with my partisan?
HORATIO Do, if it will not stand. They attempt to strike it
BARNARDO 'Tis here!
HORATIO 'Tis here!
MARCELLUS 'Tis gone! Exit Ghost
We do it wrong, being so majestical,
To offer it the show of violence,
For it is as the air invulnerable,
And our vain blows malicious mockery.
BARNARDO It was about to speak when the cock crew.
HORATIO And then it started like a guilty thing
Upon a fearful summons. I have heard
The cock, that is the trumpet to the day,
Doth with his lofty and shrill-sounding throat
Awake the god of day, and at his warning,
Whether in sea or fire, in earth or air,
Th'extravagant and erring spirit hies
To his confine: and of the truth herein
This present object made probation.
MARCELLUS It faded on the crowing of the cock.
Some say that ever gainst that season comes
Wherein our Saviour's birth is celebrated,
The bird of dawning singeth all night long,
And then, they say, no spirit can walk abroad:
The nights are wholesome, then no planets strike,
No fairy talks, nor witch hath power to charm,
So hallowed and so gracious is the time.
HORATIO So have I heard and do in part believe it.
But, look, the morn in russet mantle clad,
Walks o'er the dew of yon high eastern hill.
Break we our watch up, and by my advice,
Let us impart what we have seen tonight
Unto young Hamlet, for upon my life,
This spirit, dumb to us, will speak to him.
Do you consent we shall acquaint him with it,
As needful in our loves, fitting our duty?
MARCELLUS Let's do't, I pray, and I this morning know
Where we shall find him most conveniently. Exeunt
Act 1 Scene 2 running scene 2
Enter Claudius King of Denmark, Gertrude the Queen, Hamlet,
Polonius, Laertes and his sister Ophelia, Lords Attendant
KING Though yet of Hamlet our dear brother's death
The memory be green, and that it us befitted
To bear our hearts in grief and our whole kingdom
To be contracted in one brow of woe,
Yet so far hath discretion fought with nature
That we with wisest sorrow think on him
Together with remembrance of ourselves.
Therefore our sometime sister, now our queen,
Th'imperial jointress of this warlike state,
Have we, as 'twere with a defeated joy,
With one auspicious and one dropping eye,
With mirth in funeral and with dirge in marriage,
In equal scale weighing delight and dole,
Taken to wife; nor have we herein barred
Your better wisdoms, which have freely gone
With this affair along. For all, our thanks.
Now follows that you know young Fortinbras,
Holding a weak supposal of our worth,
Or thinking by our late dear brother's death
Our state to be disjoint and out of frame,
Colleaguèd with the dream of his advantage,
He hath not failed to pester us with message
Importing the surrender of those lands
Lost by his father, with all bonds of law,
To our most valiant brother. So much for him.
Enter Voltemand and Cornelius
Now for ourself and for this time of meeting,
Thus much the business is: we have here writ
To Norway, uncle of young Fortinbras -
Who, impotent and bedrid, scarcely hears
Of this his nephew's purpose - to suppress
His further gait herein, in that the levies,
The lists and full proportions, are all made
Out of his subject. And we here dispatch
You, good Cornelius, and you, Voltemand,
For bearing of this greeting to old Norway,
Giving to you no further personal power
To business with the king, more than the scope
Of these dilated articles allow. [Gives a paper]
Farewell, and let your haste commend your duty.
VOLTEMAND In that, and all things, will we show our duty.
KING We doubt it nothing: heartily farewell.-
Exeunt Voltemand and Cornelius
And now, Laertes, what's the news with you?
You told us of some suit: what is't, Laertes?
You cannot speak of reason to the Dane
And lose your voice: what wouldst thou beg, Laertes,
That shall not be my offer, not thy asking?
The head is not more native to the heart,
The hand more instrumental to the mouth,
Than is the throne of Denmark to thy father.
What wouldst thou have, Laertes?
LAERTES Dread my lord,
Your leave and favour to return to France,
From whence though willingly I came to Denmark
To show my duty in your coronation,
Yet now I must confess, that duty done,
My thoughts and wishes bend again towards France
And bow them to your gracious leave and pardon.
KING Have you your father's leave? What says Polonius?
POLONIUS He hath, my lord:
I do beseech you, give him leave to go.
KING Take thy fair hour, Laertes: time be thine,
And thy best graces spend it at thy will.-
But now, my cousin Hamlet, and my son-
HAMLET A little more than kin and less than kind.
KING How is it that the clouds still hang on you?
HAMLET Not so, my lord:- I am too much i'th'sun. [Aside?]
GERTRUDE Good Hamlet, cast thy nightly colour off,
And let thine eye look like a friend on Denmark.
Do not forever with thy veilèd lids
Seek for thy noble father in the dust:
Thou know'st 'tis common, all that lives must die,
Passing through nature to eternity.
HAMLET Ay, madam, it is common.
GERTRUDE If it be,
Why seems it so particular with thee?
HAMLET 'Seems', madam? Nay it is: I know not 'seems'.
'Tis not alone my inky cloak, good mother,
Nor customary suits of solemn black,
Nor windy suspiration of forced breath,
No, nor the fruitful river in the eye,
Nor the dejected 'haviour of the visage,
Together with all forms, moods, shows of grief,
That can denote me truly: these indeed seem,
For they are actions that a man might play,
But I have that within which passeth show;
These but the trappings and the suits of woe.
KING 'Tis sweet and commendable in your nature, Hamlet,
To give these mourning duties to your father:
But you must know your father lost a father,
That father lost, lost his, and the survivor bound
In filial obligation for some term
To do obsequious sorrow. But to persever
In obstinate condolement is a course
Of impious stubbornness: 'tis unmanly grief:
It shows a will most incorrect to heaven,
A heart unfortified, a mind impatient,
An understanding simple and unschooled.
For what we know must be and is as common
As any the most vulgar thing to sense,
Why should we in our peevish opposition
Take it to heart? Fie, 'tis a fault to heaven,
A fault against the dead, a fault to nature,
To reason most absurd, whose common theme
Is death of fathers, and who still hath cried,
From the first corpse till he that died today,
'This must be so.' We pray you throw to earth
This unprevailing woe, and think of us
As of a father; for let the world take note,
You are the most immediate to our throne,
And with no less nobility of love
Than that which dearest father bears his son,
Do I impart towards you. For your intent
In going back to school in Wittenberg,
It is most retrograde to our desire,
And we beseech you bend you to remain
Here in the cheer and comfort of our eye,
Our chiefest courtier, cousin, and our son.
GERTRUDE Let not thy mother lose her prayers, Hamlet:
I prithee stay with us, go not to Wittenberg.
HAMLET I shall in all my best obey you, madam.
KING Why, 'tis a loving and a fair reply.
Be as ourself in Denmark.- Madam, come:
This gentle and unforced accord of Hamlet
Sits smiling to my heart, in grace whereof,
No jocund health that Denmark drinks today
But the great cannon to the clouds shall tell,
And the king's rouse the heavens shall bruit again,
Re-speaking earthly thunder. Come away.
Exeunt. Hamlet remains
HAMLET O, that this too too solid flesh would melt,
Thaw and resolve itself into a dew!
Or that the Everlasting had not fixed
His canon gainst self-slaughter! O God, O God!
How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable
Seem to me all the uses of this world!
Fie on't! O, fie, fie! 'Tis an unweeded garden
That grows to seed: things rank and gross in nature
Possess it merely. That it should come to this!
But two months dead: nay, not so much, not two.
So excellent a king, that was to this
Hyperion to a satyr, so loving to my mother
That he might not beteem the winds of heaven
Visit her face too roughly. Heaven and earth,
Must I remember? Why, she would hang on him
As if increase of appetite had grown
By what it fed on, and yet within a month -
Let me not think on't: frailty, thy name is woman! -
A little month, or ere those shoes were old
With which she followed my poor father's body,
Like Niobe, all tears: why she, even she -
O, heaven! A beast that wants discourse of reason
Would have mourned longer - married with mine uncle,
My father's brother but no more like my father
Than I to Hercules. Within a month?
Ere yet the salt of most unrighteous tears
Had left the flushing of her gallèd eyes,
She married. O, most wicked speed, to post
With such dexterity to incestuous sheets!
It is not nor it cannot come to good:
But break my heart, for I must hold my tongue.
Enter Horatio, Barnardo and Marcellus
Meet the Author
William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in April 1564, and his birth is traditionally celebrated on April 23. The facts of his life, known from surviving documents, are sparse. He was one of eight children born to John Shakespeare, a merchant of some standing in his community. William probably went to the King’s New School in Stratford, but he had no university education. In November 1582, at the age of eighteen, he married Anne Hathaway, eight years his senior, who was pregnant with their first child, Susanna. She was born on May 26, 1583. Twins, a boy, Hamnet ( who would die at age eleven), and a girl, Judith, were born in 1585. By 1592 Shakespeare had gone to London working as an actor and already known as a playwright. A rival dramatist, Robert Greene, referred to him as “an upstart crow, beautified with our feathers.” Shakespeare became a principal shareholder and playwright of the successful acting troupe, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men (later under James I, called the King’s Men). In 1599 the Lord Chamberlain’s Men built and occupied the Globe Theater in Southwark near the Thames River. Here many of Shakespeare’s plays were performed by the most famous actors of his time, including Richard Burbage, Will Kempe, and Robert Armin. In addition to his 37 plays, Shakespeare had a hand in others, including Sir Thomas More and The Two Noble Kinsmen, and he wrote poems, including Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece. His 154 sonnets were published, probably without his authorization, in 1609. In 1611 or 1612 he gave up his lodgings in London and devoted more and more time to retirement in Stratford, though he continued writing such plays as The Tempest and Henry VII until about 1613. He died on April 23 1616, and was buried in Holy Trinity Church, Stratford. No collected edition of his plays was published during his life-time, but in 1623 two members of his acting company, John Heminges and Henry Condell, put together the great collection now called the First Folio.
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There are many editions of Hamlet available, but I have never encountered one as exemplary as this one. The footnotes and margin notes are not overwhelming, but provide the perfect amount of assistance in understanding the text. In addition, the lines are spaced out nicely, making it easy to read. In purchasing an edition of Hamlet, this is the one to choose!
This review is not of Hamlet itself, but rather on this edition of Hamlet 'ISBN: 9781411400344', which was edited by Jeff Dolven and David Scott Kastan. I read a lot of heavily annotated books, and I have to say this is one of the best book designs I¿ve ever encountered. The various reference materials (footnotes and definitions for archaic words) appear in a manner that makes the text very easy to follow. The scholarship is also top-notch. The annotations give you enough information to make things clear, without insulting your intelligence, or without overburdening you with unnecessary detail. The essays are also interesting and informative. I¿ve been avoiding Shakespeare ever since high school, which was many years ago. Now that I¿m reading him again, I¿m glad I¿m in such good hands. It is making the experience a joy, rather than a chore. My compliments to the editors and the book designer. They have done a superior job of making this difficult text accessible to the modern reader. I wish my editions of Dante and Milton had similar layouts. Highly recommended.
The font size is the equivalent of the smallest size possible on a regular Nook Book. Since one can't adjust the font size on a Pageperfect Nook Book, that makes it difficult to read. Also, the 2-page format (footnotes on left page, text on right page) is very awkward. Footnotes should have been done with popups initiated by touching the subscript number of the footnote. Much more elegant, and might be programmatically similar to the "Article View" pop-up window function for magazines. Difficult words are translated in the left-hand margin of the text page itself, and line numbers are provided in the right-hand margin. Margins are too wide, which helps explain why the font has to be so small to fit everything on the line.
Hamlet is without question one of the greatest literary works of all time, and should be read by anyone with a desire to improve his or her mind and attain a deeper understanding of literature. Philosophical, tragic, and even humorous by turns, Shakespeare's brilliantly crafted lines capture the mental torment of the title character with a skill which most writers struggle to aspire to. Personally, I didn't think much of Shakespeare until I read Hamlet, but the play about the Prince of Danes is truly at the pinnacle of his work, and of English literature as well.
I had read Romeo and Juliet and Othello before going into Hamlet. Though Othello and RJ were my favorites, I really did enjoy Hamlet. It's very interesting and makes you think about common issues in life such as revenge, and right and wrong. The notes make it easy to understand. Shakespeare is once again, brilliant.
This is one of the best annotated books of Hamlet yet produced, in my opinion it is superb! All the pathos, intrigue and tragedy are explained in highly readable interpretations because of the annotations. In this day and age, Elizabethan English must be explained to reach a broader understanding. The essay in this book by Harold Bloom is excellent and appreciated!
I was forced to read this for English, but it didn't feel that way at all, it was great. The revenge, murder, drama, and sneakiness of Hamlet all add this as one of Shakespeare's great plays.
The Bard after all is the Bard. What is compelling about Burton Raffel's editing is his focus on Shakespeare as heard poetry. As he noted in his Introduction his is a "nonscholarly" edition meant for the student, the actor and the casual reader. The footnotes explain the meanings of words, rather than the nuances and historical contexts that are the domain of literature and specifically, Shakespeare scholars. This is Shakespeare as his actors and his audiences would have heard and understood him. And what a dandy ride it is!
This is one of my favorates of Shakespire's writings. I originally had to read this for eleventh Grade English and write a paper on it, but I fell in love with the tragedy of it all. The Emotions you get to experience fist hand: Revenge, Dispair, Rage, insest, morral coruption, and lets not forget the all impending Madness! It's an illustrious story!
This is, in my personal opinion, Shakespeare's greatest play of all time. The story has so many levels: madness, death, revenge, love, age, etc. A reader/viewer/director/actor of this play has so much to consider it will keep you forever thinking even after the final curtain or final page is turned. I personally find the topic of death in the play particularly stimulating. Hamlet's view of the dead is so drastically different than the views of any other in the play (closely followed by Laertes', however). Without spoiling anything I can say that to Hamlet, the dead are still alive in the attitudes and memories of their survivors. This is one of the great causes of his angst towards Claudius and Gertrude at the beginning of the play, before he even knows that his father was murdered. One of my favorite scenes is in the graveyard at the beginning of Act 5 when Hamlet is considering the skull of Yorick. The contrast of Hamlet and the Clown in this scene is so vast and exemplary of Hamlet's attitude. The Clown does not even consider the dead to be human, but dirt, and to Hamlet this is an abomination. But I have said too much. Read it or view it (even better, both) for yourself. I hope you will see what I mean.
Hamlet is bar none the single greatest work of all time. One has not lived until he has read Hamlet. It is impossible to due justice to Hamlet in a short blurb, but know that if you have not read Hamlet, you are seriously missing out, and need to reevaluate your priorities in life.
Riddled with madness, backstabbing, and bitter love, Hamlet has been unwillingly exposed to the worst side of humanity. Everyone around him tries to hide their blemishes but it is Hamlet's gruesome job to bring light upon their dark. He is constantly harassed by inner and outer demons, and seems to be the only one noticing the fall of people around him. There are times in life when it seems that 'you are the only one' and that 'noone understands you', and so was the case with poor Hamlet.
I have usually mildly enjoyed those plays I've read of Shakespeare (I have read and viewed about 5) So when I read 'Hamlet' I was expecting the same, however, I was pleasantly surprised that I found myself intensely enjoying the play, its theological and moral questions, as well as the interesting characters and their complex relationships. This is truly a masterpiece.
Love Hamlet. Dislike this version. "Footnotes" are interspersed within the text, breaking the flow of reading. They should have been moved to end notes or removed altogether. Makes it very annoying to read. That's the kind of thing I'd expect from a free eBook, not one I paid $5 for. Preview was all front matter, so I didn't see the footnote problem until after I bought it. :-/
Do NOT get this book if you want to see the notes and will be reading it on a nook. The notes are in black text on a black background.
Paid additional to have both express mailed. Every time I spoke to CS got a different story as to what "Express" means. Supervisor equally confused and misleading. Was promised refund on shipping - never happened. Book came directly from B&N and not third party. Will avoid using B&N at all costs in the future.
"Hamlet," in my opinion, is the best written Shakespearean play. The questions it creates about sanity and human nature was pure brilliance. You can almost feel the chaos jump off the page and it keeps you turning the pages till the very end. This play will not disappoint you.
This review is not of Hamlet itself, but rather on this edition of Hamlet (ISBN: 9781411400344), which was edited by Jeff Dolven and David Scott Kastan. I read a lot of heavily annotated books, and I have to say this is one of the best book designs I've ever encountered. The various references materials (footnotes and definitions for archaic words) appear in a manner that makes the text very easy to follow. The scholarship is also top-notch. The annotations give you enough to make things clear without insulting your intelligence, or without overburdening you with unnecessary detail. The essays are also interesting and informative. I've been avoiding Shakespeare ever since high school, which was many years ago. Now that I'm reading him again, I'm glad I'm in such good hands. It is making the experience a joy, rather than a chore. My compliments to the editors and the book designer. They have done a superior job of making this difficult text accessible to the modern reader. I wish my editions of Dante and Milton had similar layouts. Highly recommended.
This is truly one of the BEST books i have ever read. This was my first time reading a book by Shakespeare and i was certainty not disappointed. This is a very dramatic and eventful tragedy about the prince of Denmark. Although the language is sort of difficult to understand this version provides excellent notes that made me understand completely what it was about. I loved this book so much i read it in one day.
YES, YES, YES! Read it! It's a great story and the Barnes and Noble edition makes understanding the sixteenth century language easy.
The name Shakespeare pretty much says it all for this piece really. The story that has been critically analyzed thousands of times somehow never seems to diminish in value. Of the old classics, this is one of the few I adore.
A great way to really get into Shakespeare's world. Clean, clear print, excellent notes and articles, awesome story, and, of course, the one of the world's greatest playwrights.
Hamlet is a very good book. William Shakespeare out did himself when he wrote it. Hamlet finding out that his father was murdered by his uncle, made just the right type of storyline. He loved Ophelia, but had to get revenge for his father. I won't give away the ending, but I will say that this book is one of Shakespeare's best Tragedies.
I don't know if I would like this play any better if it didn't have the supernatural quality to its overall meaning. We can assume that had his father's ghost not appeared to him, Hamlet would have lived a normal life as Prince and heir to the throne. But the ghost of his dead father appears to set the tragedy in motion. Realism is violated with the device of a ghost. Hamlet's goal is to avenge his father's murder. When he starts meditating about that request, he is labelled 'mad' by the family and friends that surround him. Their initial concern is to alleviate the disquiet of his mind. Hamlet expresses the play's theme in his speeches. Something unnnatural has entered his environment, upsetting the sense of personal, social, and political normality, making the play thus apocalyptic, as tragedy can be, and because of which his rational position in life is nullified. What is natural is the principle of the Good. Or, has that problem preceded Hamlet's life and times, so that Hamlet can be called another sorry example of a diseased society? 'To be or not to be': in other words, why continue living if people will not think and behave sanely and rightly? Hamlet turns to philosophizing because of what has happened. After expressing his dissatisfaction, the friends and family who previously had wanted to help him have resolved to kill him. For they are content with the ways of the world and they do not need Hamlet inducing guilt in them. On the other hand, Hamlet still has to get around to the business of killing Claudius, the King, as he was bidden to do. The tragedy lies in the fact that Hamlet stops living as a man integrated within the Denmark society he was born into. And, in terms of fulfilling the theme's requirements, he does kill Claudius in the last scene. The King sends Hamlet to England to let someone kill him there. But because of a mishap on the ship, Hamlet sends for Horatio to come to bail him out. He will return to Denmark. As a fitting correlate to this tragic plot, Ophelia, who is Hamlet's woman, eventually goes mad and commits suicide. If the environment were functioning well, Hamlet and Ophelia could be married and live happily together. Instead Hamlet shuns her. It is a fascinating irony that Hamlet declares in the abstract that he does love Ophelia. However, there is no reason to love Hamlet because the natural course of human existence has been overturned by the present king's foul murder. A sick world is useless, and so is Hamlet's love for a woman, or for anything else, for that matter. Hamlet, moreover, is fully aware of his divine purpose. Conversely, he cannot handle his life as a prince anymore. Laertes, Polonius' son, after returning from France, wants to kill Hamlet because he murdered his father. The king and Laertes devise a specific plan, with a contingency plan, to kill Hamlet when they see him upon return. Osric, a courtier, delivers the news of the suggested duel to Hamlet. Hamlet is game and accepts the challenge, which is couched as a wager. At the end, Horatio, like a true friend, is by Hamlet's side to offer moral support and to tell the tale of noble Hamlet's 'woe and wonder.' The duel takes place rather quickly. Hamlet apologizes to Laertes that his madness was a force external to him, incited by unforeseen circumstances, and, therefore, being a good man, he was not truly responsible for Ophelia's and Polonius' deaths. Laertes responds that he is not listening to his self-proclaimed judgments. They fight with swords, one of which was dipped in poison, and both wind up killing each other. The Queen drinks a cup of wine that contains poison, meant for Hamlet's throat, and she dies. Hamlet also kills the king. In this elaborate death scene, the apocalyptic theme comes to fruition. A reader of 'Hamlet' has to understand from the get-go that any metaphysical framework, as the Elizabethan 'theory of corr
When I first discovered Hamlet, my only experience with Shakespeare was 'Romeo and Juliet' early in my english studies at high school. At that time, I despised it!!! But then I found first the movie, staring Kenneth Branagh and I was swept away with the passion, anger, love, hatred, and hopelessness of the script. Since then I've read the book numerous times, knowing many lines by heart. It is fantastic. Take your time when reading it and absorb as much as you can!! My opinion on Shakespeare now?? 'He was a man, take his for all in all, I shall not look upon his like again'.