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In this quintessential Shakespearean drama, Hamlet's halting pursuit of revenge for his father's death unfolds in a series of highly charged confrontations that climax in tragedy. Probing the depths of human feeling like few other works of art, the play is reprinted here from an authoritative British edition complete with illuminating footnotes. A selection of the Common Core State Standards Initiative.

Topics: Murder, Revenge, Ghosts, Death, Royalty, Dark, Tragic, Haunting, Poetry, The Renaissance, Elizabethan Era, England, Denmark, and Literary Criticism

Published: Start Publishing LLC an imprint of NBN Books on
ISBN: 9781625589514
List price: $0.99
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Last time I read Hamlet, I was in school and I remember having some difficulty with the language... This time I found the language easier (although still hard to follow in places -- "The canker galls the infants of the spring
Too oft before their buttons be disclos'd,
And in the morn and liquid dew of youth
Contagious blastments are most imminent." Laertes to Ophelia; I have read this over & over and still don't understand it).more
There: you can all stop nagging me, I've finally read it. The plot was mostly as expected, though I think whatever version I read as a child was less kind to Ophelia, as I had a rather different image of her in mind. I had a whole book of Shakespeare retellings, now I think about it: I can't really remember many of them, but I suppose they haunt me a little in my vague ideas of what the plays are like before I read them...

Anyway, Hamlet: justly famous, and full of phrases and quotations that even people who've never read a Shakespeare play can quote. It's always interesting coming to those in situ at last.

Still terribly glad I don't have to study Shakespeare now. If I end up somehow forced to read Shakespeare in my MA, I may scream. Much happier to come to his plays now, in my own good time.more
One of my favorites. Best film adaptation: surprisingly, Mel Gibson's. Branagh's was way too long (yeah, I know, but still) and had Robin Williams in it; we won't talk about Ethan Hawke's.more
Story:
Everyone knows Hamlet. Okay, maybe not everyone, but most people do. Now, if you were to ask me if I liked Hamlet, my short answer would probably be 'no.' Really, though, it's not fair for me to encapsulate my feelings on Hamlet into such a simple answer. If Hamlet and I were in a relationship on facebook (assuming he it could ever decide whether to be in one...punned!), it would most definitely be complicated.

Here's the thing: Hamlet is a great play. There's no denying it. When I think about the play objectively, there's a lot of amazing stuff in there. Shakespeare's wit is fantastic; gotta love all of those dirty jokes he makes in here. And, of course, the language is completely gorgeous.

The characters I have never been particularly tied to, which is one reason Hamlet does not rank among my favorite plays; the tragedies often lack the sassy heroines you can find in the comedies. Hamlet's indecisiveness frustrates me endlessly. Whine, whine, whine, think about doing something, wimp out, wine more. Cry moar, anon. Yoda judges you. Hamlet's uncle father and his aunt mother are not especially likable, even if you don't think they're guilty of what Hamlet's ghosty father accused them of (namely, turning him into a ghost). Ophelia isn't the brightest; plus, her end does not for admiration make. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are probably my favorites, and that's only because of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard.

Truly though, the reason that I don't really like Hamlet is how prevalent it is. I just get so tired of always hearing this same play over and over. I mean, who didn't have to read this in high school, and again in college?

Performance:
This audiobook is the recording of a stage version of the play, performed by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival cast. They do a good job, and I imagine it was quite a fun performance that they did. It sounds like they did some interesting things with the characters, such as changing gender in some cases and some modernizing (thus the leather jacket Hamlet's wearing).

Unfortunately, listening to a play and watching it just aren't the same. Had I not already been very familiar with Hamlet, I have little doubt that I would at time have been confused by some of the quick scene changes or by which voice belonged to which character. Some of the actors did have rather similar sounding voices.

Between scenes, there is creepy dramatic music, which definitely set a mood, but I don't think I liked. Nor did I care for the fact that the players rapped everything. That was kind of weird. At least Ophelia didn't rap her crazyface songs. Speaking of Ophelia, she was my favorite part of the performance. Her voice and manner definitely reminded me of River Tam (Summer Glau's character in Firefly, who has a couple of screws loose). What an awesome way to portray Ophelia. Now I kind of want to try to write some fan fiction with the characters from Firefly performing Hamlet. Maybe not.more
What didn't I learn from this book? ;-)more
This continues to remain my second-least-favorite of the seven Tragedies I've read so far. This preference isn't based upon the quality of the play qua play; it boils down to the fact that I simply don't enjoy Mr. Prince Hamlet, Jr. Despite some arguments to the contrary, he still comes across to me as a bipolar obsessive with impulse control problems, a distinct lack of responsibility, a poor attitude toward girlfriends and who, if we read only what is written, appears to make monumental judgments about his mother on little or no evidence. In other words, I don't like him. Of course, I don't particularly like fellows such as Mr. Macbeth either, but it's a different lack of esteem: a dislike for the bad guy (which is a sneaking regard) rather than a disdain for the self-absorbed.I find the characters of Polonius, Ophelia and Gertrude much more intriguing in this play and I do enjoy it for them. So, while I love the language of this play, and the supporting cast, and acknowledge the structure and plot, I still don't enjoy it as much as a romp through Birnham Wood or, better yet, Lear's Britain.more
One of the bard's all time classics, so frequently performed that it occasionally needs to be re-read to experience it the way he wrote it, without all the directorial impulses to pretty it up or modernize it. It had been a long time since my last read, and I was somewhat surprised to realize that this play comes with very few stage directions outside of entrances and exits; there are so many things that directors do exactly the same, you forget they weren't mentioned in the stage directions, and have simply become habit. Anyway, this play, about ambition and revenge, still holds up well through the centuries, though many of the actions seem outdated to us now. The poetry of the language and the rich texturing of the characters, even the most minor of characters, creates a complex story that successfully holds many balls in the air at once. Shakespeare's frequent use of ghosts is noteworthy, since that is something that modern day playwrights are told to be very careful about, and avoid if at all possible. A satisfying story, and a satisfying re-read.more
While it can be quite long and tedious in parts, it's still Hamlet.I mean, it's hard to beat Hamlet.more
This is it. The big kahuna. The Shakespeare play to end all Shakespeare plays. And I confess, I have fallen in love with it completely.When I was a child reading about Shakespeare plays in my Tales from Shakespeare (and seeing occasional live performances of the comedies), and later when I was a teenager watching them on videotape, I couldn’t quite see what the big deal was with Hamlet. It sounded to me like it lacked the romance of Romeo and Juliet, the fun of the comedies, the magic of the romances, and the bloodiness of some of the other tragedies like Macbeth.How wrong I was.While I wouldn’t necessarily advocate using a complete performance text—that would make for a long evening—and there are actually a large number of contradictions in the play as it has come down to us, what a joy it is to read all of Shakespeare’s words! Hamlet is a long play, but in general it flows beautifully, with long, elaborate scenes that fold into each other. I haven’t made a count, but I’d wager that in addition to being Shakespeare’s lengthiest play, Hamlet has, on average, the longest scenes. To me, this makes it read easier, but I might be in the minority in that respect.Hamlet as a character is a vehicle for some of Shakespeare’s most beautiful poetry and most searching philosophy. The play has gained its worldwide renown almost solely because of his soliloquies, which are many and lengthy. With all due respect to the famous “To be or not to be,” my favorite of the lot is “O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I!” I’m not an actor by profession, and haven’t been on the stage since junior high, but this speech stirred the actor in me. It’s a virtuosic piece, which opens with Hamlet’s typical melancholy and self-deprecation and ends with a moment of true resolve and excitement. Of course, the next time we see him, he’s depressed again and contemplating suicide.Going in, of course, I already knew about the wonderful poetry and philosophy in Hamlet. What I didn’t expect was how powerfully I would relate to the main character. Perhaps this is because I was approaching the play for the first time with the understanding that Hamlet is a very young man. He has traditionally been thought to be about 30 due to a remark of the gravedigger’s, but all other internal evidence points to him being in his late teens or so, and it’s very much possible that the gravedigger’s remark was a later addition to accommodate an older actor. When I instead read him as a teenager or young adult, all the pieces came together and the play made sense to me for the first time.Not that one has to be young in order to relate to Hamlet—he is a universal character, and it’s really remarkable how many different ways he can be interpreted. A friend and I were discussing how we might each play the role were we ever given the chance: he would probably emphasize his intellectualism, his shrewdness, his struggle with madness, and his quest for revenge, whereas I would stress his youth, depression, and emotional variance.There’s so much in this play that it is utterly impossible to touch on everything in a single review, so I suppose I’ll stop while I’m ahead. I’m sure that when I reread, I will notice new things that I never saw before. And I do plan on rereading Hamlet. Like all truly great works of literature, it’s an inexhaustible gold mine, a fountain of insight one can’t help returning to.more
Imagine my surprise when browsing through Kernaghan Books in the Wayfarers Shopping Arcade in Southport for these editions when I stumbled across Hamlet somewhat working against the purpose of me utilising these Oxfords to discover literature. Edition editor G.R. Hibbard chooses the First Folio as the basis for his text on the assumption that it was produced from a clean, revised manuscript of the play by Shakespeare himself, a final revision of the material that increases the pace but also clarifies the story in other places. His argument is sound, but I do much prefer the much later Arden 3’s approach of suggesting that all the close textual analysis in the world won’t definitively confirm which of the versions is definitive, so it’s best just to present all three (unless like the RSC edition, the mission is to reproduce an edition of the folio in particular). More inevitably posted here.more
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 context at all, but the spiritual import of this thought is so profound. The more I think about it, the more profound it becomes. In short: Hamlet is brilliant. I know some of it went over my head, but the pieces I grasped are sharply intelligent and pithy. And the best part of this entire experience? It leaves me hungry for more Shakespeare.more
This is probably the most famous play in the world. It is so well-known that I don't think I need to outline the plot.I can see why this play, and Shakespeare, have wowed audiences and readers through the ages.I find my reactions to the bard's work quite interesting. I don't know if I've gained in literary maturity, or if his writing is so uneven. In either case, while I've certainly enjoyed his works in the past, it isn't until I read Richard III recently that I understood why Shakespeare has been considered so great, so far above any other playwright since his time. I've certianly enjoyed his work, previously, but I had thought him slightly over-rated. Now I know that I was so wrong!In any case, I'm now a confirmed fan of The Bard, and look forward to reading more of his work!more
“Something is rotten in the state of Denmark!” (1.4) Indeed!I thoroughly enjoyed a recent reread of Hamlet, and was much impressed with its layers of illusion, ambiguity, and deception – absolutely brilliant! And I had forgotten how many great lines, still used today with regularity, had their origin in Hamlet; “To be or not to be …” is the most obvious and unforgettable, of course, but there are many more! How about “This above all: to thine own self be true” (1.3), or “What a piece of work is man!” (2.2). And, in some modern English equivalent, who has not said, “Though this be madness, yet there is method in ‘t” (2.2). The wise old adage about the danger of doing business with friends is from Hamlet, too: “Neither a borrower nor a lender be,/For loan oft loses both itself and friend” (1.3). But alas, “The lady doth protest too much, methinks” (3.2). Finally, I couldn’t but marvel at Shakespeare’s continued influence some four hundred years after his time; and this lead me to wonder who, if any, among our contemporary writers, will we (well, not you and I, but others) be quoting four centuries hence?more
Lacks the excitement of the true play, but it did provide some new information. A good resource book.more
It's said that someone once read this, and said, "I don't see what the fuss is about, it's just a bunch of quotes strung together." That has advantages and disadvantages in reading. The more you're familiar with Elizabethan language, the better you can comprehend and appreciate the plays. But sometimes reading something such as "To Be or Not to Be" I'm reminded of a friend's reaction to the presence of Ted Danson in Private Ryan. He said all he could see was Sam of Cheers. It can be disconcerting to hear or read something that familiar. And I recommend doing both--hearing and reading if you want to get the most out of Hamlet. Precisely because the language and some of the literary and historical allusions are unfamiliar, reading an annotated copy of the play is a must--all the more because this is Shakespeare's longest play. But the text of a play is after all just a scaffolding--it's really not meant to be read, but seen. The title role is the quintessential test of an actor; Hamlet appears in a larger proportion of the play than in any other Shakespeare role--two thirds--and some fine Hamlets have appeared on film. There's the classic 1948 film directed by and starring Laurence Olivier, there's the 1990 Zeffirelli version starring Mel Gibson with Glenn Close as Gertrude and there's the 1996 film directed by and starring Kenneth Branagh. Branagh's film is visually stunning, has incredible depth of casting with celebrated actors taking even the minor roles, and it's the longest using the full "eternity text;" it's a little over four hours. Those with less stamina might prefer Zeffirelli's version, at close to half the length. One thing about performances you're likely to see. Especially because the title role is so demanding, you usually see mature, veteran actors as Hamlet. Olivier was in his forties when he played the role, Gibson and Branagh in their thirties. I think this throws off the character. Hamlet is young--still a student and often referred to as "young." And age matters. One thing I loved about Zefirelli's Romeo and Juliet was how he cast actors that actually were the right ages--it made so much more sense of their actions, and I think that's true of Hamlet too. It makes more sense of his famous hesitations, his emo soliloquies, his grief over his father, his near suicidal musings and manic turns and why he feels so betrayed by his mother. If she married young and he is still young, she could possibly still produce a child that could displace him as heir. But all that is lost with a Hamlet pushing 40 and a post-menopausal Gertrude. One of those books/plays you have to read or you're an ignoramus, but one that pays to know, and is even enjoyable if you have one whit of poetry in your soul. It's not my favorite Shakespeare play, but if by some miracle you got through high school and college without being exposed to Shakespeare, this is probably the one you really should know over all the others.more
Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth are my favorite Shakespeare plays. I remember being bored to tears reading it in school and then being overwhelmed by the power of Hamlet seeing it performed shortly thereafter. How can you have kids read a play (alone and not aloud)?more
Hamlet is my favorite and most quotable of all Shakespeare's plays. It is much more than a straightforward tale of revenge and focuses a great deal on the philosophical, moral and psychological, and even the reader/audience is left with many unanswered questions at the play's end. However, I prefer to be immersed in a play, listening to the beautiful language, rather than reading the text, so it's difficult for me to rate as simply a book.more
Forced reading from high school - I hated every moment of this.more
This is the tragedy of Shakespeare.But this story don't contain love.This story is a man whose father was killed.So he tried to revenge.Can he accomplish it?more
Shakespeare is good to teach in any classroom, because it is so timeless. The struggles Hamlet faces throughout this play, wondering who he is and what he should do, are things that everyone goes through at some point in their life. Students could really see character development and inner struggles within a character while reading Hamlet. It could also be a good way to get students to interact with a text, because it is a play and they could act it out.more
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Reviews

Last time I read Hamlet, I was in school and I remember having some difficulty with the language... This time I found the language easier (although still hard to follow in places -- "The canker galls the infants of the spring
Too oft before their buttons be disclos'd,
And in the morn and liquid dew of youth
Contagious blastments are most imminent." Laertes to Ophelia; I have read this over & over and still don't understand it).more
There: you can all stop nagging me, I've finally read it. The plot was mostly as expected, though I think whatever version I read as a child was less kind to Ophelia, as I had a rather different image of her in mind. I had a whole book of Shakespeare retellings, now I think about it: I can't really remember many of them, but I suppose they haunt me a little in my vague ideas of what the plays are like before I read them...

Anyway, Hamlet: justly famous, and full of phrases and quotations that even people who've never read a Shakespeare play can quote. It's always interesting coming to those in situ at last.

Still terribly glad I don't have to study Shakespeare now. If I end up somehow forced to read Shakespeare in my MA, I may scream. Much happier to come to his plays now, in my own good time.more
One of my favorites. Best film adaptation: surprisingly, Mel Gibson's. Branagh's was way too long (yeah, I know, but still) and had Robin Williams in it; we won't talk about Ethan Hawke's.more
Story:
Everyone knows Hamlet. Okay, maybe not everyone, but most people do. Now, if you were to ask me if I liked Hamlet, my short answer would probably be 'no.' Really, though, it's not fair for me to encapsulate my feelings on Hamlet into such a simple answer. If Hamlet and I were in a relationship on facebook (assuming he it could ever decide whether to be in one...punned!), it would most definitely be complicated.

Here's the thing: Hamlet is a great play. There's no denying it. When I think about the play objectively, there's a lot of amazing stuff in there. Shakespeare's wit is fantastic; gotta love all of those dirty jokes he makes in here. And, of course, the language is completely gorgeous.

The characters I have never been particularly tied to, which is one reason Hamlet does not rank among my favorite plays; the tragedies often lack the sassy heroines you can find in the comedies. Hamlet's indecisiveness frustrates me endlessly. Whine, whine, whine, think about doing something, wimp out, wine more. Cry moar, anon. Yoda judges you. Hamlet's uncle father and his aunt mother are not especially likable, even if you don't think they're guilty of what Hamlet's ghosty father accused them of (namely, turning him into a ghost). Ophelia isn't the brightest; plus, her end does not for admiration make. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are probably my favorites, and that's only because of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard.

Truly though, the reason that I don't really like Hamlet is how prevalent it is. I just get so tired of always hearing this same play over and over. I mean, who didn't have to read this in high school, and again in college?

Performance:
This audiobook is the recording of a stage version of the play, performed by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival cast. They do a good job, and I imagine it was quite a fun performance that they did. It sounds like they did some interesting things with the characters, such as changing gender in some cases and some modernizing (thus the leather jacket Hamlet's wearing).

Unfortunately, listening to a play and watching it just aren't the same. Had I not already been very familiar with Hamlet, I have little doubt that I would at time have been confused by some of the quick scene changes or by which voice belonged to which character. Some of the actors did have rather similar sounding voices.

Between scenes, there is creepy dramatic music, which definitely set a mood, but I don't think I liked. Nor did I care for the fact that the players rapped everything. That was kind of weird. At least Ophelia didn't rap her crazyface songs. Speaking of Ophelia, she was my favorite part of the performance. Her voice and manner definitely reminded me of River Tam (Summer Glau's character in Firefly, who has a couple of screws loose). What an awesome way to portray Ophelia. Now I kind of want to try to write some fan fiction with the characters from Firefly performing Hamlet. Maybe not.more
What didn't I learn from this book? ;-)more
This continues to remain my second-least-favorite of the seven Tragedies I've read so far. This preference isn't based upon the quality of the play qua play; it boils down to the fact that I simply don't enjoy Mr. Prince Hamlet, Jr. Despite some arguments to the contrary, he still comes across to me as a bipolar obsessive with impulse control problems, a distinct lack of responsibility, a poor attitude toward girlfriends and who, if we read only what is written, appears to make monumental judgments about his mother on little or no evidence. In other words, I don't like him. Of course, I don't particularly like fellows such as Mr. Macbeth either, but it's a different lack of esteem: a dislike for the bad guy (which is a sneaking regard) rather than a disdain for the self-absorbed.I find the characters of Polonius, Ophelia and Gertrude much more intriguing in this play and I do enjoy it for them. So, while I love the language of this play, and the supporting cast, and acknowledge the structure and plot, I still don't enjoy it as much as a romp through Birnham Wood or, better yet, Lear's Britain.more
One of the bard's all time classics, so frequently performed that it occasionally needs to be re-read to experience it the way he wrote it, without all the directorial impulses to pretty it up or modernize it. It had been a long time since my last read, and I was somewhat surprised to realize that this play comes with very few stage directions outside of entrances and exits; there are so many things that directors do exactly the same, you forget they weren't mentioned in the stage directions, and have simply become habit. Anyway, this play, about ambition and revenge, still holds up well through the centuries, though many of the actions seem outdated to us now. The poetry of the language and the rich texturing of the characters, even the most minor of characters, creates a complex story that successfully holds many balls in the air at once. Shakespeare's frequent use of ghosts is noteworthy, since that is something that modern day playwrights are told to be very careful about, and avoid if at all possible. A satisfying story, and a satisfying re-read.more
While it can be quite long and tedious in parts, it's still Hamlet.I mean, it's hard to beat Hamlet.more
This is it. The big kahuna. The Shakespeare play to end all Shakespeare plays. And I confess, I have fallen in love with it completely.When I was a child reading about Shakespeare plays in my Tales from Shakespeare (and seeing occasional live performances of the comedies), and later when I was a teenager watching them on videotape, I couldn’t quite see what the big deal was with Hamlet. It sounded to me like it lacked the romance of Romeo and Juliet, the fun of the comedies, the magic of the romances, and the bloodiness of some of the other tragedies like Macbeth.How wrong I was.While I wouldn’t necessarily advocate using a complete performance text—that would make for a long evening—and there are actually a large number of contradictions in the play as it has come down to us, what a joy it is to read all of Shakespeare’s words! Hamlet is a long play, but in general it flows beautifully, with long, elaborate scenes that fold into each other. I haven’t made a count, but I’d wager that in addition to being Shakespeare’s lengthiest play, Hamlet has, on average, the longest scenes. To me, this makes it read easier, but I might be in the minority in that respect.Hamlet as a character is a vehicle for some of Shakespeare’s most beautiful poetry and most searching philosophy. The play has gained its worldwide renown almost solely because of his soliloquies, which are many and lengthy. With all due respect to the famous “To be or not to be,” my favorite of the lot is “O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I!” I’m not an actor by profession, and haven’t been on the stage since junior high, but this speech stirred the actor in me. It’s a virtuosic piece, which opens with Hamlet’s typical melancholy and self-deprecation and ends with a moment of true resolve and excitement. Of course, the next time we see him, he’s depressed again and contemplating suicide.Going in, of course, I already knew about the wonderful poetry and philosophy in Hamlet. What I didn’t expect was how powerfully I would relate to the main character. Perhaps this is because I was approaching the play for the first time with the understanding that Hamlet is a very young man. He has traditionally been thought to be about 30 due to a remark of the gravedigger’s, but all other internal evidence points to him being in his late teens or so, and it’s very much possible that the gravedigger’s remark was a later addition to accommodate an older actor. When I instead read him as a teenager or young adult, all the pieces came together and the play made sense to me for the first time.Not that one has to be young in order to relate to Hamlet—he is a universal character, and it’s really remarkable how many different ways he can be interpreted. A friend and I were discussing how we might each play the role were we ever given the chance: he would probably emphasize his intellectualism, his shrewdness, his struggle with madness, and his quest for revenge, whereas I would stress his youth, depression, and emotional variance.There’s so much in this play that it is utterly impossible to touch on everything in a single review, so I suppose I’ll stop while I’m ahead. I’m sure that when I reread, I will notice new things that I never saw before. And I do plan on rereading Hamlet. Like all truly great works of literature, it’s an inexhaustible gold mine, a fountain of insight one can’t help returning to.more
Imagine my surprise when browsing through Kernaghan Books in the Wayfarers Shopping Arcade in Southport for these editions when I stumbled across Hamlet somewhat working against the purpose of me utilising these Oxfords to discover literature. Edition editor G.R. Hibbard chooses the First Folio as the basis for his text on the assumption that it was produced from a clean, revised manuscript of the play by Shakespeare himself, a final revision of the material that increases the pace but also clarifies the story in other places. His argument is sound, but I do much prefer the much later Arden 3’s approach of suggesting that all the close textual analysis in the world won’t definitively confirm which of the versions is definitive, so it’s best just to present all three (unless like the RSC edition, the mission is to reproduce an edition of the folio in particular). More inevitably posted here.more
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 context at all, but the spiritual import of this thought is so profound. The more I think about it, the more profound it becomes. In short: Hamlet is brilliant. I know some of it went over my head, but the pieces I grasped are sharply intelligent and pithy. And the best part of this entire experience? It leaves me hungry for more Shakespeare.more
This is probably the most famous play in the world. It is so well-known that I don't think I need to outline the plot.I can see why this play, and Shakespeare, have wowed audiences and readers through the ages.I find my reactions to the bard's work quite interesting. I don't know if I've gained in literary maturity, or if his writing is so uneven. In either case, while I've certainly enjoyed his works in the past, it isn't until I read Richard III recently that I understood why Shakespeare has been considered so great, so far above any other playwright since his time. I've certianly enjoyed his work, previously, but I had thought him slightly over-rated. Now I know that I was so wrong!In any case, I'm now a confirmed fan of The Bard, and look forward to reading more of his work!more
“Something is rotten in the state of Denmark!” (1.4) Indeed!I thoroughly enjoyed a recent reread of Hamlet, and was much impressed with its layers of illusion, ambiguity, and deception – absolutely brilliant! And I had forgotten how many great lines, still used today with regularity, had their origin in Hamlet; “To be or not to be …” is the most obvious and unforgettable, of course, but there are many more! How about “This above all: to thine own self be true” (1.3), or “What a piece of work is man!” (2.2). And, in some modern English equivalent, who has not said, “Though this be madness, yet there is method in ‘t” (2.2). The wise old adage about the danger of doing business with friends is from Hamlet, too: “Neither a borrower nor a lender be,/For loan oft loses both itself and friend” (1.3). But alas, “The lady doth protest too much, methinks” (3.2). Finally, I couldn’t but marvel at Shakespeare’s continued influence some four hundred years after his time; and this lead me to wonder who, if any, among our contemporary writers, will we (well, not you and I, but others) be quoting four centuries hence?more
Lacks the excitement of the true play, but it did provide some new information. A good resource book.more
It's said that someone once read this, and said, "I don't see what the fuss is about, it's just a bunch of quotes strung together." That has advantages and disadvantages in reading. The more you're familiar with Elizabethan language, the better you can comprehend and appreciate the plays. But sometimes reading something such as "To Be or Not to Be" I'm reminded of a friend's reaction to the presence of Ted Danson in Private Ryan. He said all he could see was Sam of Cheers. It can be disconcerting to hear or read something that familiar. And I recommend doing both--hearing and reading if you want to get the most out of Hamlet. Precisely because the language and some of the literary and historical allusions are unfamiliar, reading an annotated copy of the play is a must--all the more because this is Shakespeare's longest play. But the text of a play is after all just a scaffolding--it's really not meant to be read, but seen. The title role is the quintessential test of an actor; Hamlet appears in a larger proportion of the play than in any other Shakespeare role--two thirds--and some fine Hamlets have appeared on film. There's the classic 1948 film directed by and starring Laurence Olivier, there's the 1990 Zeffirelli version starring Mel Gibson with Glenn Close as Gertrude and there's the 1996 film directed by and starring Kenneth Branagh. Branagh's film is visually stunning, has incredible depth of casting with celebrated actors taking even the minor roles, and it's the longest using the full "eternity text;" it's a little over four hours. Those with less stamina might prefer Zeffirelli's version, at close to half the length. One thing about performances you're likely to see. Especially because the title role is so demanding, you usually see mature, veteran actors as Hamlet. Olivier was in his forties when he played the role, Gibson and Branagh in their thirties. I think this throws off the character. Hamlet is young--still a student and often referred to as "young." And age matters. One thing I loved about Zefirelli's Romeo and Juliet was how he cast actors that actually were the right ages--it made so much more sense of their actions, and I think that's true of Hamlet too. It makes more sense of his famous hesitations, his emo soliloquies, his grief over his father, his near suicidal musings and manic turns and why he feels so betrayed by his mother. If she married young and he is still young, she could possibly still produce a child that could displace him as heir. But all that is lost with a Hamlet pushing 40 and a post-menopausal Gertrude. One of those books/plays you have to read or you're an ignoramus, but one that pays to know, and is even enjoyable if you have one whit of poetry in your soul. It's not my favorite Shakespeare play, but if by some miracle you got through high school and college without being exposed to Shakespeare, this is probably the one you really should know over all the others.more
Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth are my favorite Shakespeare plays. I remember being bored to tears reading it in school and then being overwhelmed by the power of Hamlet seeing it performed shortly thereafter. How can you have kids read a play (alone and not aloud)?more
Hamlet is my favorite and most quotable of all Shakespeare's plays. It is much more than a straightforward tale of revenge and focuses a great deal on the philosophical, moral and psychological, and even the reader/audience is left with many unanswered questions at the play's end. However, I prefer to be immersed in a play, listening to the beautiful language, rather than reading the text, so it's difficult for me to rate as simply a book.more
Forced reading from high school - I hated every moment of this.more
This is the tragedy of Shakespeare.But this story don't contain love.This story is a man whose father was killed.So he tried to revenge.Can he accomplish it?more
Shakespeare is good to teach in any classroom, because it is so timeless. The struggles Hamlet faces throughout this play, wondering who he is and what he should do, are things that everyone goes through at some point in their life. Students could really see character development and inner struggles within a character while reading Hamlet. It could also be a good way to get students to interact with a text, because it is a play and they could act it out.more
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