The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, often shortened to Hamlet, is a tragedy written by William Shakespeare at an uncertain date between 1599 and 1602. Set in Denmark, the play dramatises the revenge Prince Hamlet is called to wreak upon his uncle, Claudius, by the ghost of Hamlet's father, King Hamlet. Claudius had murdered his own brother and seized the throne, also marrying his deceased brother's widow.
Hamlet is Shakespeare's longest play, and is considered among the most powerful and influential works of world literature, with a story capable of "seemingly endless retelling and adaptation by others." The play likely was one of Shakespeare's most popular works during his lifetime, and still ranks among his most performed, topping the performance list of the Royal Shakespeare Company and its predecessors in Stratford-upon-Avon since 1879. It has inspired many other writers--from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Charles Dickens to James Joyce and Iris Murdoch--and has been described as "the world's most filmed story after Cinderella."
The story of Shakespeare's Hamlet was derived from the legend of Amleth, preserved by 13th-century chronicler Saxo Grammaticus in his Gesta Danorum, as subsequently retold by 16th-century scholar FranCois de Belleforest. Shakespeare may also have drawn on an earlier (hypothetical) Elizabethan play known today as the Ur-Hamlet, though some scholars believe he himself wrote the Ur-Hamlet, later revising it to create the version of Hamlet we now have. He almost certainly wrote his version of the title role for his fellow actor, Richard Burbage, the leading tragedian of Shakespeare's time. In the 400 years since its inception, the role has been performed by numerous highly acclaimed actors in each successive century.
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About the Author
Widely esteemed as the greatest writer in the English language, William Shakespeare (1564-1616) was an actor and theatrical producer in addition to writing plays and sonnets. Dubbed "The Bard of Avon," Shakespeare oversaw the building of the Globe Theatre in London, where a number of his plays were staged, the best-known of which include Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, and Macbeth. The First Folio, a printed book of 36 of his comedies, tragedies, and history plays, was published in 1623.
Date of Death:2018
Place of Birth:Stratford-upon-Avon, United Kingdom
Place of Death:Stratford-upon-Avon, United Kingdom
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I think I finally understand the fuss about Shakespeare. I've read and enjoyed his sonnets. I'm familiar with the basic storyline of most of his plays. But I've never found the plays themselves very accessible or coherent. There were some passing Shakespeare interludes in college, but they were surface at best. I tried a personal Shakespeare regime once, reading through my Complete Shakespeare on a somewhat-regular basis. The project fizzled; I just couldn't keep my head in it. But finally, audiobooks came to the rescue. Hearing the play, with all the characters voiced by different actors, is almost as good as seeing it. I think I've found my Shakespeare remedy. This audiobook is a BBC dramatization and features an all-star cast with Kenneth Branagh as Hamlet. I really enjoyed everyone's performances. Hamlet, Prince of Denmark is probably Shakespeare's most famous work, a tragedy that explores madness, revenge, alienation, incest, and passion. It's an archetypal story that has been told and retold many times since (and before) Shakespeare's play, and will probably continue to be staged endlessly in various media. Disney's animated film The Lion King is a perfect example of how this story can be adapted to almost any medium and setting. One of the main objections many modern readers have to Shakespeare is the language. It can be tough, especially if you're slogging through it on your own, weighted down with the helpful but heavy annotations and footnotes of most print versions. So I was delighted when the language not only made sense to me, but astounded me with its beauty and strength. Though I struggled somewhat at times to understand, for the most part I was able to follow what was going on and appreciate the way it was written. This is probably funny, but my first thought on hearing the language of the play was that it sounded like C. S. Lewis's Narnian nobility, especially Prince Rilian in The Silver Chair. I never really made the connection, but this was entirely deliberate on Lewis's part. He describes Rilian: "He was dressed in black, and altogether looked a little bit like Hamlet." (Rilian is, of course, rather mad as well.) I have always loved the archaic dignity and grace of their speech¿and it always seemed to me that there wasn't nearly enough of it in the Chronicles. Well, I've found the fountainhead now and I'm drinking eagerly. All unwitting, I was prepared for the language of Shakespeare by Lewis. Just one more reason to love Narnia and read it to my children!It's astonishing how many familiar quotes come from this play. The list seems endless: every dog has his day, to be or not to be, frailty, thy name is Woman, murder most foul, and many, many more. Half the fun of listening was to hear things I already knew, fresh where they began. Wikipedia attempts to sketch a broad outline of the authors and thinkers inspired by Shakespeare's Hamlet; I don't think its influence can be measured. It's had an incredible impact on the imaginations of countless writers, and though I knew this theoretically going in, it's quite another thing to experience it for myself and hear all these everyday phrases in their original context. The theology is alternately wonderful and dreadful (with the wonderful parts being, I think, unintentional). The worst part is when Hamlet refrains from killing his uncle because he finds him at his prayers with his soul supposedly cleansed and ready for heaven¿while Hamlet's father was murdered suddenly, without the chance of shriving his soul, and is therefore most likely in Hell. This is a very Roman Catholic, works-based view of salvation, and I think its innate illogic is obvious. But there are other parts that hit me hard with their spiritual resonance, like this passage:Use every man after his desert,and who should 'scape whipping?Use them after your own honor and dignity:the less they deserve, the more merit is in your bounty.It isn't in a religious
She sits on a park bench, quietly strumming her guitar.