The Tragedy of
Hamlet, Prince of Denmark is a tragedy by William
Shakespeare. Set in
the Kingdom of Denmark, the play dramatizes the revenge Prince Hamlet exacts on his uncle Claudius for murdering King Hamlet, Claudius's brother and Prince
Hamlet's father, and then succeeding to the throne and taking as his wife Gertrude, the old king's widow and Prince
Hamlet's mother. The play vividly portrays both true and feigned madness – from
overwhelming grief to seething rage – and explores themes of treachery,
revenge, incest, and moral corruption and family.
Hamlet is Shakespeare's longest play and
among the most powerful and influential tragedies in all of English literature,
with a story capable of "seemingly endless retelling and adaptation by
others." The play was one of Shakespeare's most popular works during his
lifetime and still ranks among his most-performed, topping the Royal
performance list 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".
It has been theorized that Hamlet
is based on the legend of Amleth, preserved by 13th-century chronicler Saxo Grammaticus in his Gesta Danorum as subsequently retold by 16th-century scholar
may also have drawn on or perhaps written an earlier (hypothetical) Elizabethan play known today as the Ur-Hamlet. 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
and actresses 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 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 a mere 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
examined Hamlet's unconscious desires, and feminist
re-evaluated and rehabilitated the often maligned characters of Ophelia and Gertrude.
To be, or not to be-that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing end them. To die, to sleep--
No more--and by a sleep to say we end
The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to. 'Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep--
To sleep--perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub,
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause. There's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life.
Find the parts of the modern translation that correspond to the original text of the soliloquy
This is one great way of avoiding these problems – then
we can sleep.
B Is it better to tolerate problems and difficulties, or
to fight them?
But there is another problem: if we die, we sleep, and
if we sleep, we might
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
to take arms against a sea of troubles,
by opposing end them?
To die: to sleep;
more; and by a sleep to say we end
heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
to be wish'd.
To die, to sleep;
sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
in that sleep of death what dreams may come
we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
give us pause
Ex.2 (Home Task)
Here is a summary of how the story ends. Can you
complete it with the names of the characters?
An example: 1.
Hamlet kills several other people…
kills several other people but not __________, the man who
2. In turn, __________
tries to kill him several times but he is not successful
tries to kill __________ one last time by arranging a sword duel
4. There is a
trap for __________ : the tip of __________' sword is poisoned.
also poisons the victory cup in case __________ wins.
poisoned drink is offered to __________ but he turns it down, and
losing to __________, scratches him with the poisoned sword
to ensure his
then changes swords with ___________, and cuts and poisons
__________’s mother dies, screaming that she has been poisoned.
__________ gets weaker, he stabs __________, who dies, and so finally
has his revenge. As he dies, his last words are ‘The rest is silence’.