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Understanding Hamlet: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents

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Overview

Shakespeare's Hamlet, regarded by many as the world's most famous play by the world's most famous writer, is one of the most complex, demanding, discussed, and influential literary texts in English. As a means of access to this play, this unique collection of primary materials and commentary will help student and teacher explore historical, literary, theatrical, social, and cultural issues related to the play. In an approach unique for this series, Corum guides the reader through a literary analysis of Hamlet's options. He examines the popular theatres of the day in which Shakespeare and his company first produced Hamlet and discusses the genre of tragedy in which it is written. Through judicious selection of primary historical documents, the work provides contexts for understanding Hamlet's melancholy, the ghost of Hamlet's father, the theme of revenge, and Hamlet's feigned madness. Chapters on Gertrude and Ophelia illuminate these characters in the context of the play and early modern English culture.

Each chapter contains a variety of materials, many of which are not readily available elsewhere: essays, poems, histories, treatises, official documents, stories, religious tracts, homilies, memoirs, engravings, village records, and fifteen illustrations. An explanatory introduction precedes each document. Each chapter concludes with study questions, topics for written and oral exploration, and a list of suggested readings. This casebook will enrich the reader's understanding of the play and the context in which it was written.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Offers a wealth of source documents to provide the high school or undergraduate student with a historical context for understanding the major themes of Shakespeare's best known play. Discusses the significance of public theaters such as the Globe, and of the genre of tragedy, in the Elizabethan era; presents a literary analysis of Hamlet's options in the play; discusses the prevalence of suicide in Elizabethan England; examines contemporary attitudes toward ghosts; and considers Gertrude and Ophelia from perspectives other than Hamlet's own. A valuable tool for reaching new understandings of a familiar work. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

RICHARD CORUM teaches English at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

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Table of Contents

Illustrations
Introduction
1 Method and Social Geography 1
2 Theatre and Tragedy 17
3 Literary Analysis: Hamlet's Options 45
4 Man, Melancholy, and Suicide 95
5 Enter Ghost ... Exit Ghost 113
6 Revenge (,) the Crime 139
7 Antic Dispositions: The Hero as Fool 165
8 Gertrude, Thy Name Is Woman 183
9 Over Ophelia's Dead Body 219
Conclusion 249
Index 263
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