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Hamlet (Paperback)

Hamlet Cover Image
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Description


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 the Kingdom of Denmark, the play dramatizes the revenge Prince Hamlet is instructed to enact on his uncle Claudius. Claudius had murdered his own brother, Hamlet's father King Hamlet and then taken the throne, marrying his deceased brother's widow, Hamlet's mother Gertrude. Hamlet is Shakespeare's longest play and among the most powerful and influential tragedies in English literature, with a story capable of "seemingly endless retelling and adaptation by others." The play seems to have been 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 writers from Goethe and Dickens to Joyce and Murdoch, and has been described as "the world's most filmed story after Cinderella." The story of Hamlet ultimately derives 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 created the title role for Richard Burbage, the leading tragedian of Shakespeare's time. In the 400 years since, the role has been performed by highly acclaimed actors from each successive age. Three different early versions of the play are extant, the First Quarto (Q1, 1603), the Second Quarto (Q2, 1604), and the First Folio (F1, 1623). Each version includes lines, and even entire scenes, missing from the others. The play's structure and depth of characterisation have inspired much critical scrutiny. One such example is the centuries-old debate about Hamlet's hesitation to kill his uncle, which some see as merely a plot device to prolong the action, but which others argue is a dramatization of the complex philosophical and ethical issues that surround cold-blooded murder, calculated revenge, and thwarted desire. More recently, psychoanalytic critics have examined Hamlet's unconscious desires, and feminist critics have re-evaluated and rehabilitated the often maligned characters of Ophelia and Gertrude. The protagonist of Hamlet is Prince Hamlet of Denmark, son of the recently deceased King Hamlet, and nephew of King Claudius, his father's brother and successor. Claudius hastily married King Hamlet's widow, Gertrude, Hamlet's mother. Denmark has a long-standing feud with neighbouring Norway, and an invasion led by the Norwegian prince, Fortinbras, is expected. The play opens on a cold winter midnight on "platform before the castle" of Elsinore, the Danish royal castle. The sentry Francisco is keeping trusty guard when two figures appear in the darkness. Bernardo, a sentry come to replace Francisco, calls out, "Who's there?" Francisco replies, "Nay, answer me. Stand and unfold yourself." Friendly identity proven, Francisco retires to bed. En route, Francisco encounters Horatio and Marcellus who are coming to visit Bernardo. Bernardo and Marcellus discuss the recent appearance of a curious intruder which they describe as a "dreaded sight" which they have already bumped into twice on the battlements, but which Horatio is inclined to dismiss as "but our fantasy." Marcellus has brought Horatio along to "watch the minutes of this night" in case the scary ghost appears again to fright. The ghost appears, and is described by the three witnesses as looking like the late King Hamlet. They endeavour to open a conversation with it, but "it is offended" and "stalks away.

About the Author


William Shakespeare (26 April 1564 (baptised) - 23 April 1616) was an English poet, playwright and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon." His extant works, including some collaborations, consist of about 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and a few other verses, the authorship of some of which is uncertain. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright. Shakespeare was born and brought up in Stratford-upon-Avon. At the age of 18, he married Anne Hathaway, with whom he had three children: Susanna, and twins Hamnet and Judith. Between 1585 and 1592, he began a successful career in London as an actor, writer, and part-owner of a playing company called the Lord Chamberlain's Men, later known as the King's Men. He appears to have retired to Stratford around 1613 at age 49, where he died three years later. Few records of Shakespeare's private life survive, and there has been considerable speculation about such matters as his physical appearance, sexuality, religious beliefs, and whether the works attributed to him were written by others. Shakespeare produced most of his known work between 1589 and 1613. His early plays were mainly comedies and histories and these works remain regarded as some the best work produced in these genres even today. He then wrote mainly tragedies until about 1608, including Hamlet, King Lear, Othello, and Macbeth, considered some of the finest works in the English language. In his last phase, he wrote tragicomedies, also known as romances, and collaborated with other playwrights. Many of his plays were published in editions of varying quality and accuracy during his lifetime. In 1623, John Heminges and Henry Condell, two friends and fellow actors of Shakespeare, published the First Folio, a collected edition of his dramatic works that included all but two of the plays now recognised as Shakespeare's. It was prefaced with a poem by Ben Jonson, in which Shakespeare is hailed, presciently, as "not of an age, but for all time." Shakespeare was a respected poet and playwright in his own day, but his reputation did not rise to its present heights until the 19th century.
Product Details
ISBN: 9781500645908
ISBN-10: 1500645907
Publisher: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
Publication Date: July 25th, 2014
Pages: 176
Language: English