The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of. Denmark. ASCII text placed in the public domain by Moby Lexical Tools, SGML markup by Jon Bosak,. The Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC, is the single greatest documentary . QUEEN GERTRUDE, widow of King Hamlet, now married to Claudius. Book: Hamlet. The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark is a tragedy written by William Shakespeare between and The play vividly portrays both true and feigned madness—from overwhelming grief to seething rage—and explores themes of treachery, revenge, incest, and.
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The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark . Flourish. [Enter Claudius, King of Denmark, Gertrude the Queen, Hamlet, Polonius, Laertes and his sister Ophelia, . Shakespeare wrote the play earlier than ,-. In the following year appeared in quarto,. " The Tragicall. Historie of Hamlet Prince of Denmarke By William. Shakespeare's Hamlet with explanatory notes and study guide.
Also, Denmark is in a constant war with Norway — even though Scandinavian countries are not exactly known as warlike for the past millennium or so — and expects an invasion anytime soon.
So, to recap: The people in Norway and Denmark use their titles to tell one from another, since most of them share the same names.
Once he does return, he realizes that Gertrude and Claudius are already married. And — oh! Well, you can try finding him yourself. So give Hamlet a break! A meeting is arranged — and Hamlet learns from Hamlet the Prince from the Ghost that there was — surprise! Namely, he was murdered by Claudius who slipped some poison in his ear while he was napping. Which is — we have to say — a needlessly complicated way to kill someone; and which is why numerous studies have tried to find out if it would work at all!
Because, of course, even though Claudius married Gertrude suspiciously hasty, and even though he just heard from some ghostly figure in the shape of his dead father things nobody but him could have known, Hamlet is not really sure if Claudius did murder his father. So, basically, by this moment, everybody is spying on everybody! Now, how can anything go wrong? Soon enough, you realize that some of the characters play their roles better than the others, and that some are simply gullible.
All in all, it seems that Hamlet is the best actor around, and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are not the sharpest tools in the shed. Hamlet sees through their act straight away and that inspires a monologue you can quote at some dinner party if you want to sound deep and dark: What a piece of work is man!
How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty, in form and moving how express and admirable, in action how like an Angel, in apprehension how like a god, the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals. And yet to me, what is this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me; no, nor Woman neither; though by your smiling you seem to say so. Now, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern bring with themselves a troupe of actors they met while traveling to Elsinore.
Hamlet, being the master actor, devises his best and most complicated plan yet — to write a play for the actors in which a king is murdered the same way his father was and see how Claudius would react to it. Most people take some time to write a single iambic pentameter, but Hamlet writes a whole play in a matter of hours! Are you trying to tell the audience something? But on his way there, he encounters upon Claudius praying.
Shakespeare says so. That — or Hamlet has actually gone mad! Accident or suicide — who cares? And the reason why she went mad: the death of her father Polonius. But wait — we skipped that part!
How did Polonius die? Remember when we told you above that Hamlet decided not to kill the praying heaven-bound Claudius a while ago? Well, he does end up killing somebody else albeit accidentally just a few minutes later! And that somebody is Polonius who is my God, what is wrong with Denmark? Though we really think that this will not hold up in court! Oh, no! You know, the guy he saw praying and passed on killing just a few seconds ago!
Hold your horses now: it gets even bloodier and less comprehensible from here on! It makes you wonder whether Shakespeare noticed how long the play is and wanted to get rid of some of the characters. Or all of them to be exact. The scuffle is broken up, but Claudius, by this time, has realized that Hamlet is not mad, but bad and dangerous to be around. What is it what are its words saying? Longtime schol- ix about this book ars of Elizabethan literature have learned to fully understand;they delight in teaching the play to those less well learned.
But what can the unlearned, trying to read Hamlet, make of what surely often seems to them, in passages like that just quoted, a kind of weirdly surrealistic jumble? Thus has he, and many more of the same bevy4 that I know the drossy5 age dotes on, only got6 the tune7 of the time and, out of an habit of encounter,8 a kind of yeasty collection,9 which carries them through and through10 the most fanned and winnowed11 opinions.
And do but blow them to their trial,12 the bubbles are out.
Many readers new to matters Elizabethan will already understand this still-current,and largely unchanged,word. And they may be obliged to make fairly frequent use of such a dictionary: there are a good many words, in Hamlet, to be found in modern dictionaries and not glossed here. And it seems to me my editorial responsibility to guarantee as complete verbal accessibility as I am able to provide. I followed the same principle in compiling The Annotated Milton, published in ,and classroom experience has validated that decision.
Classes of mixed upper-level undergraduates and graduate students have more quickly and thoroughly transcended language barriers than ever before. No one who has not understood the words of Hamlet can either fully or properly come to grips with the imperishable matter of the play. Not all of Hamlet will appear so impenetrable. Speakers of Dutch and German, too, expe- xi about this book rience this shifting of the linguistic ground. Like Early Modern English ca.
I have sometimes annotated prosody metrics , though only when that has seemed truly necessary or particularly helpful. Books have been, not surprisingly, the place where people have learned to read. Inevitably, those screens xii about this book are heavily visual and minimally language-oriented. In glossing prosody, as in glossing words, I believe we have no choice but to deal with the students we actually have, not with the largely no longer extant students we either once had or deeply wish we still had.
It is my belief that we will not have such students again. Syllables with metrical stress are capitalized; all other syllables are in lowercase. I have annotated, as well, a limited number of such other matters, sometimes of interpretation, sometimes of general or historical relevance, as have seemed to me seriously worthy of inclusion. These annotations have been most carefully restricted: this is not a book of literary commentary. It is for that reason that the glossing of metaphors has been severely restricted.
To yield to temptation might well be to double or triple the size of this book—and would also change it from a historically oriented language guide to a work of an unsteadily mixed nature. In the process, I believe, neither language nor literature would be well or clearly served.
I have used the former sign in brief usually one- or two-word annotations, and the latter sign in longer annotations. These meanings are placed in parentheses, to highlight them for the reader. This distinctly telegraphic listing contains no annotations—simply the words or phrases themselves and the page and note numbers where the annotation of the words or phrases can be found. Perhaps the most charming of all was that of the delightfully insane fellow, who shall here go nameless, so convinced that the answer to the perpetual puzzle lay hidden under the stones in Elsinore castle—and he knew just which stones, too—that he persuaded the benevolent Danes to let him turn over exactly those stones,still lying quietly in place after all these centuries.
He turned them over,one by one.
And he looked. And what he found was dust, and dirt, and a few bugs. It has, as I shall explain, a profound relevance for puzzling out the meaning of what William Shakespeare wrote.
Clearly, the name Amhlaide is a Celtic adaptation,based on a Scandinavian original. Stories of no large inherent interest do not travel well. This one obviously did. An ecclesiastic in the service of a Danish bishop, Saxo Grammaticus ca. Now we are given a prince,Amletha, whose father, the king of Denmark, was murdered by his brother, Fengo. There is the germ of the character we know as Polonius, too. But neither Amletha nor his escorts are promptly killed. And here the story veers sharply from the tale we know.
A year later,Amletha returns to Denmark and, after a renewed masquerade of madness, kills Fengo and assumes the throne himself. This all-important link in the Hamlet story, alas, is lost, apparently beyond recall.
It is an earlier Elizabethan play,approximately datable because it was sharply criticized in by Thomas Nash — The title of this play was Hamlet.
We do not know how long it had at that point been on the Elizabethan stage;we do not know for certain who was its author, though circumstantial evidence favors the melodramatist, Thomas Kyd — 94 , a friend to both Christopher Marlowe and the young Shakespeare. In matters textual, literary, and above all verbal, ingenuity is no substitute for reality. And as if the picture was not xix introduction muddied enough,there is yet another stage to be accounted for,as best we can, in this pre-history of Hamlet.
We do not know how long thereafter Shakespeare decided, if he did decide, or was asked, to entirely re-do the old play if—and we do not know for sure—that was what he did in the end do. An apparently pirated edition, now known as the First Quarto a reference to page size and binding style , appeared in In , fairly clearly in response to the distinctly mangled First Quarto, appeared the Second Quarto, almost twice the length and, it is agreed, a much fairer representation of the play.
Again,there is no way of knowing. The Folio text is the longest of all; it is however not carefully, accurately printed. That process is still going on. My procedure, since this an edition primarily intended for use in schools and colleges, and secondarily by those not attending school and desiring more textual help than anything but an annotated edition can supply, has been as follows: I have focused bilaterally, on one hand making use of the three seventeenth-century sources just described, and on the other consulting those modern editions most widely in use.
My desire is to include in my finished text everything that, after consideration of the forever inconclusive evidence, is likely to have been written by Shakespeare.
Fairly extensive passages have been drawn from the Second Quarto, because the probably more authoritative Folio omits them. Indeed, editors have sometimes assumed the existence of two quite distinct and somehow equally authoritative Shakespearian Hamlets, or even three, and united them in one volume, as individually distinct reading texts.
Now that you have these materials, you are on your own. Proceed, therefore, to shape this disassembled book by Zola,or Tolstoy,or Homer,as you please. Breaking Hamlet into what we as editors think are its component parts, and then presenting each of those parts, can be useful to scholars, and to other editors. What other male lead role has been played, over the years, by so many world-famous actresses— among others, Sarah Siddons, in the eighteenth century; Sarah Bernhardt, in the nineteenth century; Judith Anderson and Eva Le Galliene, in the twentieth century?
The characters of Hamlet are deftly realized. We as audience or readers: Charles Lamb famously declared that the play should only be read, for it was impossible ever to stage it are always aware, precisely and clearly, of what we need to know in order to keep the dramatic action in motion. But the dimensions of the characters vary immensely,and only two—Hamlet and Ophelia—seem to me deeply three-dimensional.