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This article is about the Shakespeare play. For other uses, see Hamlet (disambiguation).

The American actor Edwin Booth as Hamlet, ca. 1870

The Tragical History of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, or more simply Hamlet, is a

tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1599 and 1601.
The play, set in the Kingdom of Denmark, recounts how Prince Hamlet exacts revenge on
his uncle Claudius for murdering the old King Hamlet (Claudius's brother and Prince
Hamlet's father) and then succeeding to the throne and marrying Gertrude (the King
Hamlet's widow and mother of Prince Hamlet). The play vividly portrays real and feigned
madness—from overwhelming grief to seething rage—and explores themes of treachery,
revenge, incest, and moral corruption.

Three different early versions of the play have survived: these are known as the First
Quarto (Q1), the Second Quarto (Q2) and the First Folio (F1). Each has lines, and even
scenes, that are missing from the others. Shakespeare based Hamlet on the legend of
Amleth, preserved by 13th-century chronicler Saxo Grammaticus in his Gesta Danorum
as subsequently retold by 16th-century scholar François de Belleforest. He may have also
drawn on, or perhaps written, an earlier (hypothetical) Elizabethan play known today as
the Ur-Hamlet.

The play's structure and depth of characterization have inspired much critical scrutiny, of
which one example is the centuries-old debate about Hamlet's hesitation to kill his uncle.
Some see it as a plot device to prolong the action, and others see it as the result of
pressure exerted by 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.

Hamlet is Shakespeare's longest play and among the most powerful and influential
tragedies in the English language. It has a story capable of "seemingly endless retelling
and adaptation by others."[1] During Shakespeare's lifetime, the play was one of his most
popular works,[2] and it still ranks high among his most-performed, topping, for example,
the Royal Shakespeare Company's list since 1879.[3] 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."[4]

The title role was almost certainly created for Richard Burbage, the leading tragedian of
Shakespeare's time.[5] In the four hundred years since, it has been performed by highly
acclaimed actors and actresses from each successive age.

 1 Characters
 2 Plot
 3 Sources
 4 Date
 5 Texts
 6 Analysis and criticism
o 6.1 Critical history
o 6.2 Dramatic structure
o 6.3 Language
 7 Context and interpretation
o 7.1 Religious
o 7.2 Philosophical
o 7.3 Psychoanalytic
o 7.4 Feminist
 8 Influence
 9 Performance history
o 9.1 Shakespeare's day to the Interregnum
o 9.2 Restoration and 18th century
o 9.3 19th century
o 9.4 20th century
o 9.5 21st century
o 9.6 Screen performances
o 9.7 Stage and screen adaptations
 10 References
o 10.1 Notes
o 10.2 Editions of Hamlet
o 10.3 Secondary sources

 11 External links

 Claudius–King of Denmark  Osric–a Courtier
 Hamlet–Son of the former king, and  Marcellus–an Officer
nephew of the present King  Bernardo–an Officer
 Gertrude–Queen of Denmark, and  Francisco–a Soldier
mother to Hamlet  Reynaldo–Servant to Polonius
 Polonius–Lord Chamberlain  Ghost of Hamlet's Father
 Ophelia–Daughter to Polonius  Fortinbras–Prince of Norway
 Horatio–Friend to Hamlet  Gravediggers–A sexton and a clown
 Laertes–Son to Polonius
 Voltimand, Cornelius–Courtiers  Player King, Player Queen,
Lucianus, etc.–Players
 Rosencrantz, Guildenstern–
Courtiers, friends to Hamlet


Horatio, Marcellus, Hamlet, and the Ghost (Artist: Henry Fuseli 1798)[6]

The protagonist of Hamlet is Prince Hamlet of Denmark, son of the lately deceased King
Hamlet and his wife, Queen Gertrude.

The story opens on a chilly night at Elsinore, the Danish royal castle. Francisco, one of
the sentinels, is relieved of his watch by Bernardo, another sentinel, and exits while
Bernardo remains. A third sentinel, Marcellus, enters with Horatio, Hamlet's best friend.
The sentinels inform Horatio that they have seen a ghost that looks like the dead King
Hamlet. After hearing from Horatio of the Ghost's appearance, Hamlet resolves to see the
Ghost himself. That night, the Ghost appears again. It leads Hamlet to a secluded place,
claims that it is the actual spirit of his father, and discloses that he—the elder Hamlet—
was murdered by Claudius' pouring poison in his ear. The Ghost demands that Hamlet
avenge him; Hamlet agrees, swears his companions to secrecy, and tells them he intends
to "put an antic disposition on"[7] (presumably to avert suspicion). Hamlet initially attests
to the ghost's reliability, calling him both an "honest ghost" and "truepenny." Later,
however, he expresses doubts about the ghost's nature and intent, claiming these as
reasons for his inaction.

Polonius is Claudius' trusted chief counsellor; Polonius's son, Laertes, is returning to

France, and Polonius's daughter, Ophelia, is courted by Hamlet. Both Polonius and
Laertes warn Ophelia that Hamlet is surely not serious about her. Shortly afterward,
Ophelia is alarmed by Hamlet's strange behaviour, reporting to her father that Hamlet
rushed into her room, stared at her, and said nothing. Polonius assumes that the "ecstasy
of love"[8] is responsible for Hamlet's "mad" behavior, and he informs Claudius and

Perturbed by Hamlet's continuing deep mourning for his father and his increasingly
erratic behavior, Claudius sends for two of Hamlet's acquaintances—Rosencrantz and
Guildenstern—to find out the cause of Hamlet's changed behavior. Hamlet greets his
friends warmly but quickly discerns that they have been sent to spy on him.

Together, Claudius and Polonius convince Ophelia to speak with Hamlet while they
secretly listen. When Hamlet enters, she offers to return his remembrances, upon which
Hamlet questions her honesty and furiously rants at her to "get thee to a nunnery."[9]

The "gravedigger scene"[10] (Artist: Eugène Delacroix 1839)

Hamlet remains uncertain whether the Ghost has told him the truth, but the arrival of a
troupe of actors at Elsinore presents him with a solution. He will have them stage a play,
The Murder of Gonzago, re-enacting his father's murder and determine Claudius's guilt or
innocence by studying his reaction to it. The court assembles to watch the play; Hamlet
provides an agitated running commentary throughout. When the murder scene is
presented, Claudius abruptly rises and leaves the room, which Hamlet sees as proof of his
uncle's guilt.
Gertrude summons Hamlet to her closet to demand an explanation. On his way, Hamlet
passes Claudius in prayer, but hesitates to kill him, reasoning that death in prayer would
send him to heaven. However, it is revealed that the King is not truly praying, remarking
that "words" never made it to heaven without "thoughts."[11] An argument erupts between
Hamlet and Gertrude. Polonius, spying on the scene from behind an arras and convinced
that the prince's madness is indeed real, panics when it seems as if Hamlet is about to
murder the Queen and cries out for help. Hamlet, believing it is Claudius hiding behind
the arras, stabs wildly through the cloth, killing Polonius. When he realizes that he has
killed Ophelia's father, he is not remorseful, but calls Polonius "Thou wretched, rash,
intruding fool."[12] The Ghost appears, urging Hamlet to treat Gertrude gently, but
reminding him to kill Claudius. Unable to see or hear the Ghost herself, Gertrude takes
Hamlet's conversation with it as further evidence of madness.

Claudius, now fearing for his life, finds a legitimate excuse to get rid of the prince: he
sends Hamlet to England on a diplomatic pretext, accompanied (and closely watched) by
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Alone, Claudius discloses that he is actually sending
Hamlet to his death. Prior to embarking for England, Hamlet hides Polonius's body,
ultimately revealing its location to the King. Upon leaving Elsinore, Hamlet encounters
the army of Prince Fortinbras en route to do battle in Poland. Upon witnessing so many
men going to their death on the brash whim of an impulsive prince, Hamlet declares, "O,
from this time forth, / My thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth!"[13]

At Elsinore, further demented by grief at her father Polonius's death, Ophelia wanders the
castle, acting erratically and singing bawdy songs. Her brother, Laertes, returns from
France, horrified by his father's death and his sister's madness. She appears briefly to give
out herbs and flowers. Claudius convinces Laertes that Hamlet is solely responsible; then
news arrives that Hamlet is still alive—a story is spread that his ship was attacked by
pirates on the way to England, and he has returned to Denmark. Claudius swiftly
concocts a plot to kill his nephew but make it appear to be an accident, taking all of the
blame off his shoulders. Knowing of Hamlet's jealousy of Laertes' prowess with a sword,
he proposes a fencing match between the two. Laertes, enraged at the murder of his
father, informs the king that he will further poison the tip of his sword so that a mere
scratch would mean certain death. Claudius, unsure that capable Hamlet could receive
even a scratch, plans to offer Hamlet poisoned wine if that fails. Gertrude enters to report
that Ophelia has drowned.
Hamlet avenged his father by killing his uncle[14] (Artist: Gustave Moreau date unknown)

In the Elsinore churchyard, two "clowns", typically represented as "gravediggers," enter

to prepare Ophelia's grave, and, although the coroner has ruled her death accidental so
that she may receive Christian burial, they argue about its being a case of suicide. Hamlet
arrives with Horatio and banters with one of them, who unearths the skull of a jester
whom Hamlet once knew, Yorick ("Alas, Poor Yorick; I knew him, Horatio."). Ophelia's
funeral procession approaches, led by her mournful brother Laertes. Distraught at the lack
of ceremony (due to the actually-deemed suicide) and overcome by emotion, Laertes
leaps into the grave, cursing Hamlet as the cause of her death. Hamlet interrupts,
professing his own love and grief for Ophelia. He and Laertes grapple, but the fight is
broken up by Claudius and Gertrude. Claudius reminds Laertes of the planned fencing

Later that day, Hamlet tells Horatio how he escaped death on his journey, disclosing that
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern have been sent to their deaths instead. A courtier, Osric,
interrupts to invite Hamlet to fence with Laertes. Despite Horatio's warnings, Hamlet
accepts and the match begins. After several rounds, Gertrude toasts Hamlet—against the
urgent warning of Claudius—accidentally drinking the wine he poisoned. Between bouts,
Laertes attacks and pierces Hamlet with his poisoned blade; in the ensuing scuffle,
Hamlet is able to use Laertes's own poisoned sword against him. Gertrude falls and, in
her dying breath, announces that she has been poisoned.

In his dying moments, Laertes is reconciled with Hamlet and reveals Claudius's
murderous plot. Hamlet stabs Claudius with the poisoned sword, and then forces him to
drink from his own poisoned cup to make sure he dies. In his final moments, Hamlet
names Prince Fortinbras of Norway as the probable heir to the throne, since the Danish
kingship is an elected position, with the country's nobles having the final say. Horatio
attempts to kill himself with the same poisoned wine, but is stopped by Hamlet—who
commands him to tell the story, as he will be the only one left alive who can give a full
When Fortinbras arrives to greet King Claudius, he encounters the deadly scene:
Gertrude, Claudius, Laertes, and Hamlet are all dead. Horatio asks to be allowed to
recount the tale to "the yet unknowing world," and Fortinbras orders Hamlet's body borne
off in honour.

Main article: Sources of Hamlet

A facsimile of Gesta Danorum by Saxo Grammaticus, which contains the legend of


Hamlet-like legends are so widely found (for example in Italy, Spain, Scandinavia,
Byzantium, and Arabia) that the core "hero-as-fool" theme is possibly Indo-European in
origin.[15] Several ancient written precursors to Hamlet can be identified. The first is the
anonymous Scandinavian Saga of Hrolf Kraki. In this, the murdered king has two sons—
Hroar and Helgi—who spend most of the story in disguise, under false names, rather than
feigning madness, in a sequence of events that differs from Shakespeare's.[16] The second
is the Roman legend of Brutus, recorded in two separate Latin works. Its hero, Lucius
("shining, light"), changes his name and persona to Brutus ("dull, stupid"), playing the
role of a fool to avoid the fate of his father and brothers, and eventually slaying his
family's killer, King Tarquinius. A 17th-century Nordic scholar, Torfaeus, compared the
Icelandic hero Amlodi and the Spanish hero Prince Ambales (from the Ambales Saga) to
Shakespeare's Hamlet. Similarities include the prince's feigned madness, his accidental
killing of the king's counsellor in his mother's bedroom, and the eventual slaying of his

Many of the earlier legendary elements are interwoven in the 13th-century Vita Amlethi
("The Life of Amleth")[18] by Saxo Grammaticus, part of Gesta Danorum.[19] Written in
Latin, it reflects classical Roman concepts of virtue and heroism, and was widely
available in Shakespeare's day.[20] Significant parallels include the prince feigning
madness, his mother's hasty marriage to the usurper, the prince killing a hidden spy, and
the prince substituting the execution of two retainers for his own. A reasonably faithful
version of Saxo's story was translated into French in 1570 by François de Belleforest, in
his Histoires tragiques.[21] Belleforest embellished Saxo's text substantially, almost
doubling its length, and introduced the hero's melancholy.[22]

Title page of The Spanish Tragedy, by Thomas Kyd.

According to a popular theory, Shakespeare's main source is believed to be an earlier play

—now lost—known today as the Ur-Hamlet. Possibly written by Thomas Kyd or even
William Shakespeare himself, the Ur-Hamlet would have been in performance by 1589
and the first version of the story known to incorporate a ghost.[23] Shakespeare's company,
the Chamberlain's Men, may have purchased that play and performed a version for some
time, which Shakespeare reworked.[24] Since no copy of the Ur-Hamlet has survived,
however, it is impossible to compare its language and style with the known works of any
of its putative authors. Consequently, there is no direct evidence that Kyd wrote it, nor
any evidence that the play was not an early version of Hamlet by Shakespeare himself.
This latter idea—placing Hamlet far earlier than the generally accepted date, with a much
longer period of development—has attracted some support, though others dismiss it as

The upshot is that scholars cannot assert with any confidence how much material
Shakespeare took from the Ur-Hamlet (if it even existed), how much from Belleforest or
Saxo, and how much from other contemporary sources (such as Kyd's The Spanish
Tragedy). No clear evidence exists that Shakespeare made any direct references to Saxo's
version. However, elements of Belleforest's version which are not in Saxo's story do
appear in Shakespeare's play. Whether Shakespeare took these from Belleforest directly
or through the Ur-Hamlet remains unclear.[26]

Most scholars reject the idea that Hamlet is in any way connected with Shakespeare's
only son, Hamnet Shakespeare, who died in 1596 at age eleven. Conventional wisdom
holds that Hamlet is too obviously connected to legend, and the name Hamnet was quite
popular at the time.[27] However, Stephen Greenblatt has argued that the coincidence of
the names and Shakespeare's grief for the loss of his son may lie at the heart of the
tragedy. He notes that the name of Hamnet Sadler, the Stratford neighbour after whom
Hamnet was named, was often written as Hamlet Sadler and that, in the loose
orthography of the time, the names were virtually interchangeable.[28] Sadler's first name
is spelled "Hamlett" in Shakespeare's will.[29]

Scholars have often speculated that Hamlet's Polonius might have been inspired by
William Cecil (Lord Burghley)—Lord High Treasurer and chief counsellor to Queen
Elizabeth I. E. K. Chambers suggested Polonius's advice to Laertes may have echoed
Burghley's to his son Robert Cecil. John Dover Wilson thought it almost certain that the
figure of Polonius caricatured Burleigh, while A. L. Rowse speculated that Polonius's
tedious verbosity might have resembled Burghley's .[30] Lilian Winstanley thought the
name Corambis (in the Ist Quarto) did suggest Cecil and Burghley.[31] Harold Jenkins
criticised the idea of any direct personal satire as "unlikely" and "uncharacteristic of
Shakespeare",[32] while G.R.Hibbard hypothesized that differences in names
(Corambis/Polonius:Montano/Raynoldo) between the First Quarto and other editions
might reflect a desire not to offend scholars at Oxford University.[33]

"Any dating of Hamlet must be tentative", cautions the New Cambridge editor, Phillip
Edwards.[34] The earliest date estimate relies on Hamlet's frequent allusions to
Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, itself dated to mid-1599.[35] The latest date estimate is based
on an entry, of 26 July 1602, in the Register of the Stationers' Company, indicating that
Hamlet was "latelie Acted by the Lo: Chamberleyne his servantes".

In 1598, Francis Meres published in his Palladis Tamia a survey of English literature
from Chaucer to its present day, within which twelve of Shakespeare's plays are named.
Hamlet is not among them, suggesting that it had not yet been written. As Hamlet was
very popular, the New Swan series editor Bernard Lott believes it "unlikely that he
[Meres] would have overlooked ... so significant a piece".[36]

The phrase "little eyases"[37] in the First Folio (F1) may allude to the Children of the
Chapel, whose popularity in London forced the Globe company into provincial touring.
This became known as the War of the Theatres, and supports a 1601 dating.[36]

A contemporary of Shakespere's, Gabriel Harvey, wrote a marginal note in his copy of

the 1598 edition of Chaucer's works, which some scholars use as dating evidence.
Harvey's note says that "the wiser sort" enjoy Hamlet, and implies that the Earl of Essex
—executed in February 1601 for rebellion—was still alive. Other scholars consider this
inconclusive. Edwards, for example, concludes that the "sense of time is so confused in
Harvey's note that it is really of little use in trying to date Hamlet". This is because the
same note also refers to Spenser and Watson as if they were still alive ("our flourishing
metricians"), but also mentions "Owen's new epigrams", published in 1607.[38]

Title page of the 1605 printing (Q2) of Hamlet

Three early editions of the text have survived, making attempts to establish a single
"authentic" text problematic.[39] Each is different from the others:[40]

 First Quarto (Q1) In 1603 the booksellers Nicholas Ling and John Trundell
published, and Valentine Simmes printed the so-called "bad" first quarto. Q1
contains just over half of the text of the later second quarto.
 Second Quarto (Q2) In 1604 Nicholas Ling published, and James Roberts printed,
the second quarto. Some copies are dated 1605, which may indicate a second
impression; consequently, Q2 is often dated "1604/5". Q2 is the longest early
edition, although it omits 85 lines found in F1 (most likely to avoid offending
James I's queen, Anne of Denmark).[41]
 First Folio (F1) In 1623 Edward Blount and William and Isaac Jaggard published
the First Folio, the first edition of Shakespeare's Complete Works.[42]

Other folios and quartos were subsequently published—including John Smethwick's Q3,
Q4, and Q5 (1611–37)—but these are regarded as derivatives of the first three editions.[42]

Early editors of Shakespeare's works, beginning with Nicholas Rowe (1709) and Lewis
Theobald (1733), combined material from the two earliest sources of Hamlet available at
the time, Q2 and F1. Each text contains material that the other lacks, with many minor
differences in wording: scarcely 200 lines are identical in the two. Editors have combined
them in an effort to create one "inclusive" text that reflects an imagined "ideal" of
Shakespeare's original. Theobald's version became standard for a long time,[43] and his
"full text" approach continues to influence editorial practice to the present day. Some
contemporary scholarship, however, discounts this approach, instead considering "an
authentic Hamlet an unrealisable ideal. ... there are texts of this play but no text".[44] The
2006 publication by Arden Shakespeare of different Hamlet texts in different volumes is
perhaps the best evidence of this shifting focus and emphasis.[45]
Traditionally, editors of Shakespeare's plays have divided them into five acts. None of the
early texts of Hamlet, however, were arranged this way, and the play's division into acts
and scenes derives from a 1676 quarto. Modern editors generally follow this traditional
division, but consider it unsatisfactory; for example, after Hamlet drags Polonius's body
out of Gertrude's bedchamber, there is an act-break[46] after which the action appears to
continue uninterrupted.[47]

Comparison of the 'To be, or not to be' soliloquy in the first three editions of Hamlet,
showing the varying quality of the text in the Bad Quarto, the Good Quarto and the First

The discovery in 1823 of Q1—whose existence had been quite unsuspected—caused

considerable interest and excitement, raising many questions of editorial practice and
interpretation. Scholars immediately identified apparent deficiencies in Q1, which was
instrumental in the development of the concept of a Shakespearean "bad quarto".[48] Yet
Q1 has value: it contains stage directions that reveal actual stage practices in a way that
Q2 and F1 do not; it contains an entire scene (usually labelled 4.6)[49] that does not appear
in either Q2 or F1; and it is useful for comparison with the later editions. The scene order
is more coherent, without the problems of Q2 and F1 of Hamlet seeming to resolve
something in one scene and enter the next drowning in indecision. This is a scene order
many modern theatrical productions follow.[citation needed] The major deficiency of Q1 is that
the language is not "Shakespearean" enough[citation needed], particularly noticeable in the
opening lines of the famous "To be, or not to be" soliloquy: "To be, or not to be, aye
there's the point. / To die, to sleep, is that all? Aye all: / No, to sleep, to dream, aye marry
there it goes."

Q1 is considerably shorter than Q2 or F1 and may be a memorial reconstruction of the

play as Shakespeare's company performed it, by an actor who played a minor role (most
likely Marcellus).[50] Scholars disagree whether the reconstruction was pirated or
authorised. Another theory, considered by New Cambridge editor Kathleen Irace, holds
that Q1 is an abridged version intended especially for travelling productions.[51] The idea
that Q1 is not riddled with error but is instead eminently fit for the stage has led to at least
28 different Q1 productions since 1881.[52]
Analysis and criticism
Main article: Critical approaches to Hamlet

Critical history

From the early 17th century, the play was famous for its ghost and vivid dramatization of
melancholy and insanity, leading to a procession of mad courtiers and ladies in Jacobean
and Caroline drama.[53] Though it remained popular with mass audiences, late 17th-
century Restoration critics saw Hamlet as primitive and disapproved of its lack of unity
and decorum.[54] This view changed drastically in the 18th century, when critics regarded
Hamlet as a hero—a pure, brilliant young man thrust into unfortunate circumstances.[55]
By the mid-18th century, however, the advent of Gothic literature brought psychological
and mystical readings, returning madness and the Ghost to the forefront.[56] Not until the
late 18th century did critics and performers begin to view Hamlet as confusing and
inconsistent. Before then, he was either mad, or not; either a hero, or not; with no in-
betweens.[57] These developments represented a fundamental change in literary criticism,
which came to focus more on character and less on plot.[58] By the 19th century, Romantic
critics valued Hamlet for its internal, individual conflict reflecting the strong
contemporary emphasis on internal struggles and inner character in general.[59] Then too,
critics started to focus on Hamlet's delay as a character trait, rather than a plot device.[58]
This focus on character and internal struggle continued into the 20th century, when
criticism branched in several directions, discussed in context and interpretation below.

Dramatic structure

Hamlet departed from contemporary dramatic convention in several ways. For example,
in Shakespeare's day, plays were usually expected to follow the advice of Aristotle in his
Poetics: that a drama should focus on action, not character. In Hamlet, Shakespeare
reverses this so that it is through the soliloquies, not the action, that the audience learns
Hamlet's motives and thoughts. The play is full of seeming discontinuities and
irregularities of action, except in the "bad" quarto. At one point, as in the Gravedigger
scene,[10] Hamlet seems resolved to kill Claudius: in the next scene, however, when
Claudius appears, he is suddenly tame. Scholars still debate whether these twists are
mistakes or intentional additions to add to the play's theme of confusion and duality.[60]
Finally, in a period when most plays ran for two hours or so, the full text of Hamlet—
Shakespeare's longest play, with 4,042 lines, totalling 29,551 words—takes over four
hours to deliver.[61] Even today the play is rarely performed in its entirety, and has only
once been dramatized on film completely, with Kenneth Branagh's 1996 version. Hamlet
also contains a favourite Shakespearean device, a play within the play, a literary device or
conceit in which one story is told during the action of another story.[62]

Hamlet's statement that his dark clothes are the outer sign of his inner grief demonstrates
strong rhetorical skill. (Artist: Eugène Delacroix 1834).

Compared with language in a modern newspaper, magazine or popular novel,

Shakespeare's language can strike contemporary readers as complex, elaborate and at
times difficult to understand. Remarkably, it still works well enough in the theatre:
audiences at the reconstruction of 'Shakespeare's Globe' in London, many of whom have
never been to the theatre before, let alone to a play by Shakespeare, seem to have little
difficulty grasping the play's action.[63] Much of Hamlet's language is courtly: elaborate,
witty discourse, as recommended by Baldassare Castiglione's 1528 etiquette guide, The
Courtier. This work specifically advises royal retainers to amuse their masters with
inventive language. Osric and Polonius, especially, seem to respect this injunction.
Claudius's speech is rich with rhetorical figures—as is Hamlet's and, at times, Ophelia's
—while the language of Horatio, the guards, and the gravediggers is simpler. Claudius's
high status is reinforced by using the royal first person plural ("we" or "us"), and
anaphora mixed with metaphor to resonate with Greek political speeches.[64]

Hamlet is the most skilled of all at rhetoric. He uses highly developed metaphors,
stichomythia, and in nine memorable words deploys both anaphora and asyndeton: "to
die: to sleep— / To sleep, perchance to dream".[65] In contrast, when occasion demands,
he is precise and straightforward, as when he explains his inward emotion to his mother:
"But I have that within which passes show, / These but the trappings and the suits of
woe".[66] At times, he relies heavily on puns to express his true thoughts while
simultaneously concealing them.[67] His "nunnery" remarks[68] to Ophelia are an example
of a cruel double meaning as nunnery was Elizabethan slang for brothel.[9][69] His very
first words in the play are a pun; when Claudius addresses him as "my cousin Hamlet,
and my son", Hamlet says as an aside: "A little more than kin, and less than kind."[70] An
aside is a dramatic device in which a character speaks to the audience. By convention the
audience realizes that the character's speech is unheard by the other characters on stage. It
may be addressed to the audience expressly (in character or out) or represent an unspoken

An unusual rhetorical device, hendiadys, appears in several places in the play. Examples
are found in Ophelia's speech at the end of the nunnery scene: "Th'expectancy and rose of
the fair state"; "And I, of ladies most deject and wretched".[71] Many scholars have found
it odd that Shakespeare would, seemingly arbitrarily, use this rhetorical form throughout
the play. One explanation may be that Hamlet was written later in Shakespeare's life,
when he was adept at matching rhetorical devices to characters and the plot. Linguist
George T. Wright suggests that hendiadys had been used deliberately to heighten the
play's sense of duality and dislocation.[72] Pauline Kiernan argues that Shakespeare
changed English drama forever in Hamlet because he "showed how a character's
language can often be saying several things at once, and contradictory meanings at that,
to reflect fragmented thoughts and disturbed feelings." She gives the example of Hamlet's
advice to Ophelia, "get thee to a nunnery", which is simultaneously a reference to a place
of chastity and a slang term for a brothel, reflecting Hamlet's confused feelings about
female sexuality.[73]

Context and interpretation


Ophelia depicts lady Ophelia's mysterious death by drowning. In the play, the clowns
discuss whether Ophelia's death was a suicide and whether or not she merits a Christian
burial. (Artist: John Everett Millais 1852).

Written at a time of religious upheaval, and in the wake of the English Reformation, the
play is alternately Catholic (or piously medieval) and Protestant (or consciously modern).
The Ghost describes himself as being in purgatory, and as dying without last rites. This
and Ophelia's burial ceremony, which is characteristically Catholic, make up most of the
play's Catholic connections. Some scholars have observed that revenge tragedies come
from traditionally Catholic countries, such as Spain and Italy; and they present a
contradiction, since according to Catholic doctrine the strongest duty is to God and
family. Hamlet's conundrum, then, is whether to avenge his father and kill Claudius, or to
leave the vengeance to God, as his religion requires.[74]

Much of the play's Protestantism derives from its location in Denmark—then and now a
predominantly Protestant country, though it is unclear whether the fictional Denmark of
the play is intended to mirror this fact. The play does mention Wittenberg, where Hamlet,
Horatio, and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern attend university, and where Martin Luther
first proposed his 95 theses in 1517, effectively ushering in the Protestant Reformation.[75]
In Shakespeare's day Denmark, as the majority of Scandinavia, was Lutheran.[76] When
Hamlet speaks of the "special providence in the fall of a sparrow",[77] he reflects the
Protestant belief that the will of God—Divine Providence—controls even the smallest
event. In Q1, the first sentence of the same section reads: "There's a predestinate
providence in the fall of a sparrow,"[78] which suggests an even stronger Protestant
connection through John Calvin's doctrine of predestination. Scholars speculate that
Hamlet may have been censored, as "predestined" appears only in this quarto.[79]


Philosophical ideas in Hamlet are similar to those of the French writer Michel de
Montaigne, a contemporary of Shakespeare's. (Artist: Thomas de Leu, fl. 1560–1612).

Hamlet is often perceived as a philosophical character, expounding ideas that are now
described as relativist, existentialist, and skeptical. For example, he expresses a
subjectivistic idea when he says to Rosencrantz: "there is nothing either good or bad, but
thinking makes it so".[80] The idea that nothing is real except in the mind of the individual
finds its roots in the Greek Sophists, who argued that since nothing can be perceived
except through the senses—and since all individuals sense, and therefore perceive, things
differently—there is no absolute truth, only relative truth.[81] The clearest example of
existentialism is found in the "to be, or not to be"[82] speech, where Hamlet uses "being"
to allude to both life and action, and "not being" to death and inaction. Hamlet's
contemplation of suicide in this scene, however, is less philosophical than religious as he
believes that he will continue to exist after death.[83]

Scholars agree that Hamlet reflects the contemporary skepticism that prevailed in
Renaissance humanism.[84] Prior to Shakespeare's time, humanists had argued that man
was God's greatest creation, made in God's image and able to choose his own nature, but
this view was challenged, notably in Michel de Montaigne's Essais of 1590. Hamlet's
"What a piece of work is a man" echoes many of Montaigne's ideas, but scholars disagree
whether Shakespeare drew directly from Montaigne or whether both men were simply
reacting similarly to the spirit of the times.[85]
Hamlet's skepticism is juxtaposed in the play with Horatio's more traditional Christian
worldview. Despite the friends' close bond, Hamlet counters Horatio's faith with the
seemingly agnostic comment, "There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt
of in your philosophy."


In the first half of the 20th century, when psychoanalysis was at the height of its
influence, its concepts were applied to Hamlet, notably by Sigmund Freud, Ernest Jones,
and Jacques Lacan, and these studies influenced theatrical productions.

Freud suggested that an unconscious oedipal conflict caused Hamlet's hesitations. (Artist:
Eugène Delacroix 1844).

In his The Interpretation of Dreams (1900), Freud's analysis starts from the premise that
"the play is built up on Hamlet's hesitations over fulfilling the task of revenge that is
assigned to him; but its text offers no reasons or motives for these hesitations".[86] After
reviewing various literary theories, Freud concludes that Hamlet has an "Oedipal desire
for his mother and the subsequent guilt [is] preventing him from murdering the man
[Claudius] who has done what he unconsciously wanted to do".[87] Confronted with his
repressed desires, Hamlet realises that "he himself is literally no better than the sinner
whom he is to punish".[86] Freud suggests that Hamlet's apparent "distaste for sexuality"—
articulated in his "nunnery" conversation with Ophelia—accords with this interpretation.
John Barrymore introduced Freudian overtones into his landmark 1922 production
in New York, which ran for a record-breaking 101 nights.

Beginning in 1910, with the publication of "The Oedipus-Complex as An Explanation of

Hamlet's Mystery: A Study in Motive,"[90] Ernest Jones—a psychoanalyst and Freud's
biographer—developed Freud's ideas into a series of essays that culminated in his book
Hamlet and Oedipus (1949). Influenced by Jones's psychoanalytic approach, several
productions have portrayed the "closet scene",[91] where Hamlet confronts his mother in
her private quarters, in a sexual light. In this reading, Hamlet is disgusted by his mother's
"incestuous" relationship with Claudius while simultaneously fearful of killing him, as
this would clear Hamlet's path to his mother's bed. Ophelia's madness after her father's
death may also be read through the Freudian lens: as a reaction to the death of her hoped-
for lover, her father. She is overwhelmed by having her unfulfilled love for him so
abruptly terminated and drifts into the oblivion of insanity.[92] In 1937, Tyrone Guthrie
directed Laurence Olivier in a Jones-inspired Hamlet at the Old Vic.[93] Olivier later used
some of these same ideas in his 1948 film version of the play.

In the 1950s, -Lacan's structuralist theories about Hamlet were first presented in a series
of seminars given in Paris and later published in "Desire and the Interpretation of Desire
in Hamlet". Lacan postulated that the human psyche is determined by structures of
language and that the linguistic structures of Hamlet shed light on human desire.[87] His
point of departure is Freud's Oedipal theories, and the central theme of mourning that
runs through Hamlet.[87] In Lacan's analysis, Hamlet unconsciously assumes the role of
phallus—the cause of his inaction—and is increasingly distanced from reality "by
mourning, fantasy, narcissism and psychosis", which create holes (or lack (manque)) in
the real, imaginary, and symbolic aspects of his psyche.[87] Lacan's theories influenced
literary criticism of Hamlet because of his alternative vision of the play and his use of
semantics to explore the play's psychological landscape.[87]


Ophelia is distracted by grief.[94] Feminist critics have explored her descent into madness.
(Artist: Henrietta Rae 1890).

In the 20th century feminist critics opened up new approaches to Gertrude and Ophelia.
New Historicist and cultural materialist critics examined the play in its historical context,
attempting to piece together its original cultural environment.[95] They focused on the
gender system of early modern England, pointing to the common trinity of maid, wife, or
widow, with whores alone outside of the stereotype. In this analysis, the essence of
Hamlet is the central character's changed perception of his mother as a whore because of
her failure to remain faithful to Old Hamlet. In consequence, Hamlet loses his faith in all
women, treating Ophelia as if she too were a whore and dishonest with Hamlet. Ophelia,
by some critics, can be honest and fair; however, it is virtually impossible to link these
two traits, since 'fairness' is an outward trait, while 'honesty' is an inward trait. [96]
Hamlet tries to show his mother Gertrude his father's ghost (artist: Nicolai A. Abildgaard
ca. 1778).

Carolyn Heilbrun's 1957 essay "Hamlet's Mother" defends Gertrude, arguing that the text
never hints that Gertrude knew of Claudius poisoning King Hamlet. This analysis has
been championed by many feminist critics. Heilbrun argued that men have for centuries
completely misinterpreted Gertrude, accepting at face value Hamlet's view of her instead
of following the actual text of the play. By this account, no clear evidence suggests that
Gertrude is an adulteress: she is merely adapting to the circumstances of her husband's
death for the good of the kingdom.[97]

Ophelia has also been defended by feminist critics, most notably Elaine Showalter.[98]
Ophelia is surrounded by powerful men: her father, brother, and Hamlet. All three
disappear: Laertes leaves, Hamlet abandons her, and Polonius dies. Conventional theories
had argued that without these three powerful men making decisions for her, Ophelia is
driven into madness.[99] Feminist theorists argue that she goes mad with guilt because,
when Hamlet kills her father, he has fulfilled her sexual desire to have Hamlet kill her
father so they can be together. Showalter points out that Ophelia has become the symbol
of the distraught and hysterical woman in modern culture.[100]

See also Literary influence of Hamlet

Hamlet is one of the most quoted works in the English language, and is often included on
lists of the world's greatest literature.[101] As such, it reverberates through the writing of
later centuries. Academic Laurie Osborne identifies the direct influence of Hamlet in
numerous modern narratives, and divides them into four main categories: fictional
accounts of the play's composition, simplifications of the story for young readers, stories
expanding the role of one or more characters, and narratives featuring performances of
the play.[102]

Henry Fielding's Tom Jones, published about 1749, describes a visit to Hamlet by Tom
Jones and Mr Partridge, with similarities to the "play within a play".[103] In contrast,
Goethe's Bildungsroman Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship, written between 1776 and
1796, not only has a production of Hamlet at its core but also creates parallels between
the Ghost and Wilhelm Meister's dead father.[103] In the early 1850s, in Pierre, Herman
Melville focuses on a Hamlet-like character's long development as a writer.[103] Ten years
later, Dickens's Great Expectations contains many Hamlet-like plot elements: it is driven
by revenge-motivated actions, contains ghost-like characters (Abel Magwich and Miss
Havisham), and focuses on the hero's guilt.[103] Academic Alexander Welsh notes that
Great Expectations is an "autobiographical novel" and "anticipates psychoanalytic
readings of Hamlet itself".[104] About the same time, George Eliot's The Mill on the Floss
was published, introducing Maggie Tulliver "who is explicitly compared with Hamlet"[105]
though "with a reputation for sanity".[106]

In the 1920s, James Joyce managed "a more upbeat version" of Hamlet—stripped of
obsession and revenge—in Ulysses, though its main parallels are with Homer's Odyssey.
In the 1990s, two women novelists were explicitly influenced by Hamlet. In Angela
Carter's Wise Children, To be or not to be[107] is reworked as a song and dance routine, and
Iris Murdoch's The Black Prince has Oedipal themes and murder intertwined with a love
affair between a Hamlet-obsessed writer, Bradley Pearson, and the daughter of his rival.

There is the story of the woman who read Hamlet for the first time and said, "I don't see
why people admire that play so. It is nothing but a bunch of quotations strung together."

—Isaac Asimov, Asimov's Guide to Shakespeare, pg vii, Avenal Books, 1970

Performance history
The day we see Hamlet die in the theatre, something of him dies for us. He is dethroned by the
spectre of an actor, and we shall never be able to keep the usurper out of our dreams.
— Maurice Maeterlinck (1890).[108]
Main articles: Hamlet in performance and Shakespeare in performance

Shakespeare's day to the Interregnum

Shakespeare almost certainly wrote the role of Hamlet for Richard Burbage. He was the
chief tragedian of the Lord Chamberlain's Men, with a capacious memory for lines and a
wide emotional range.[5] Judging by the number of reprints, Hamlet appears to have been
Shakespeare's fourth most popular play during his lifetime—only Henry IV Part 1,
Richard III and Pericles eclipsed it.[2] Shakespeare provides no clear indication of when
his play is set; however, as Elizabethan actors performed at the Globe in contemporary
dress on minimal sets, this would not have affected the staging.[109]

Firm evidence for specific early performances of the play is scant. What is known is that
the crew of the ship Red Dragon, anchored off Sierra Leone, performed Hamlet in
September 1607;[110] that the play toured in Germany within five years of Shakespeare's
death;[111] and that it was performed before James I in 1619 and Charles I in 1637.[112]
Oxford editor George Hibbard argues that, since the contemporary literature contains
many allusions and references to Hamlet (only Falstaff is mentioned more, from
Shakespeare), the play was surely performed with a frequency that the historical record

All theatres were closed down by the Puritan government during the Interregnum.[114]
Even during this time, however, playlets known as drolls were often performed illegally,
including one called The Grave-Makers based on Act 5, Scene 1 of Hamlet.[115]

Restoration and 18th century

The play was revived early in the Restoration. When the existing stock of pre-civil war
plays was divided between the two newly created patent theatre companies, Hamlet was
the only Shakespearean favourite that Sir William Davenant's Duke's Company secured.
It became the first of Shakespeare's plays to be presented with movable flats painted
with generic scenery behind the proscenium arch of Lincoln's Inn Fields Theatre.[117] This
new stage convention highlighted the frequency with which Shakespeare shifts dramatic
location, encouraging the recurrent criticisms of his violation of the neoclassical principle
of maintaining a unity of place.[118] Davenant cast Thomas Betterton in the eponymous
role, and he continued to play the Dane until he was 74.[119] David Garrick at Drury Lane
produced a version that adapted Shakespeare heavily; he declared: "I had sworn I would
not leave the stage till I had rescued that noble play from all the rubbish of the fifth act. I
have brought it forth without the grave-digger's trick, Osrick, & the fencing match".[120]
The first actor known to have played Hamlet in North America is Lewis Hallam. Jr., in
the American Company's production in Philadelphia in 1759.[121]

David Garrick's iconic hand gesture expresses Hamlet's shock at the first sight of the
Ghost. (Artist: unknown).

John Philip Kemble made his Drury Lane debut as Hamlet in 1783.[122] His performance
was said to be 20 minutes longer than anyone else's, and his lengthy pauses provoked the
suggestion that "music should be played between the words".[123] Sarah Siddons was the
first actress known to play Hamlet; many women have since played him as a breeches
role, to great acclaim.[124] In 1748, Alexander Sumarokov wrote a Russian adaptation that
focused on Prince Hamlet as the embodiment of an opposition to Claudius's tyranny—a
treatment that would recur in Eastern European versions into the 20th century.[125] In the
years following America's independence, Thomas Apthorpe Cooper, the young nation's
leading tragedian, performed Hamlet among other plays at the Chestnut Street Theatre in
Philadelphia, and at the Park Theatre in New York. Although chided for "acknowledging
acquaintances in the audience" and "inadequate memorisation of his lines", he became a
national celebrity.[126]

19th century

A poster, ca. 1884, for an American production of Hamlet (starring Thomas W. Keene),
showing several of the key scenes

From around 1810 to 1840, the best-known Shakespearean performances in the United
States were tours by leading London actors—including George Frederick Cooke, Junius
Brutus Booth, Edmund Kean, William Charles Macready, and Charles Kemble. Of these,
Booth remained to make his career in the States, fathering the nation's most notorious
actor, John Wilkes Booth (who later assassinated Abraham Lincoln), and its most famous
Hamlet, Edwin Booth.[127] Edwin Booth's Hamlet was described as "like the dark, mad,
dreamy, mysterious hero of a poem ... [acted] in an ideal manner, as far removed as
possible from the plane of actual life".[128] Booth played Hamlet for 100 nights in the
1864/5 season at The Winter Garden Theatre, inaugurating the era of long-run
Shakespeare in America.[129]

In the United Kingdom, the actor-managers of the Victorian era (including Kean, Samuel
Phelps, Macready, and Henry Irving) staged Shakespeare in a grand manner, with
elaborate scenery and costumes.[130] The tendency of actor-managers to emphasise the
importance of their own central character did not always meet with the critics' approval.
George Bernard Shaw's praise for Johnston Forbes-Robertson's performance contains a
sideswipe at Irving: "The story of the play was perfectly intelligible, and quite took the
attention of the audience off the principal actor at moments. What is the Lyceum coming

In London, Edmund Kean was the first Hamlet to abandon the regal finery usually
associated with the role in favour of a plain costume, and he is said to have surprised his
audience by playing Hamlet as serious and introspective.[132] In stark contrast to earlier
opulence, William Poel's 1881 production of the Q1 text was an early attempt at
reconstructing the Elizabethan theatre's austerity; his only backdrop was a set of red
curtains.[133] Sarah Bernhardt played the prince in her popular 1899 London production. In
contrast to the "effeminate" view of the central character that usually accompanied a
female casting, she described her character as "manly and resolute, but nonetheless
thoughtful ... [he] thinks before he acts, a trait indicative of great strength and great
spiritual power".[134]

In France, Charles Kemble initiated an enthusiasm for Shakespeare; and leading members
of the Romantic movement such as Victor Hugo and Alexandre Dumas saw his 1827
Paris performance of Hamlet, particularly admiring the madness of Harriet Smithson's
Ophelia.[135] In Germany, Hamlet had become so assimilated by the mid-19th century that
Ferdinand Freiligrath declared that "Germany is Hamlet".[136] From the 1850s, the Parsi
theatre tradition in India transformed Hamlet into folk performances, with dozens of
songs added.[137]

20th century

In 1908, Edward Gordon Craig designed the MAT production of Hamlet (1911–12). The
isolated figure of Hamlet reclines in the dark foreground, while behind a gauze the rest of
the court are absorbed in a bright, unified golden pyramid emanating from Claudius.
Craig's famous screens are flat against the back in this scene.

Apart from some western troupes' 19th-century visits, the first professional performance
of Hamlet in Japan was Otojiro Kawakami's 1903 Shimpa ("new school theatre")
adaptation.[138] Shoyo Tsubouchi translated Hamlet and produced a performance in 1911
that blended Shingeki ("new drama") and Kabuki styles.[138] This hybrid-genre reached its
peak in Fukuda Tsuneari's 1955 Hamlet.[138] In 1998, Yukio Ninagawa produced an
acclaimed version of Hamlet in the style of Nō theatre, which he took to London.[139]
Constantin Stanislavski and Edward Gordon Craig—two of the 20th century's most
influential theatre practitioners—collaborated on the Moscow Art Theatre's seminal
production of 1911–12.[140] While Craig favoured stylised abstraction, Stanislavski, armed
with his 'system,' explored psychological motivation.[141] Craig conceived of the play as a
symbolist monodrama, offering a dream-like vision as seen through Hamlet's eyes alone.
This was most evident in the staging of the first court scene.[143] The most famous
aspect of the production is Craig's use of large, abstract screens that altered the size and
shape of the acting area for each scene, representing the character's state of mind spatially
or visualising a dramaturgical progression.[144] The production attracted enthusiastic and
unprecedented world-wide attention for the theatre and placed it "on the cultural map for
Western Europe".[145]

Hamlet is often played with contemporary political overtones. Leopold Jessner's 1926
production at the Berlin Staatstheater portrayed Claudius's court as a parody of the
corrupt and fawning court of Kaiser Wilhelm.[146] In Poland, the number of productions of
Hamlet has tended to increase at times of political unrest, since its political themes
(suspected crimes, coups, surveillance) can be used to comment on a contemporary
situation.[147] Similarly, Czech directors have used the play at times of occupation: a 1941
Vinohrady Theatre production "emphasised, with due caution, the helpless situation of an
intellectual attempting to endure in a ruthless environment".[148] In China, performances
of Hamlet often have political significance: Gu Wuwei's 1916 The Usurper of State
Power, an amalgam of Hamlet and Macbeth, was an attack on Yuan Shikai's attempt to
overthrow the republic.[149] In 1942, Jiao Juyin directed the play in a Confucian temple in
Sichuan Province, to which the government had retreated from the advancing Japanese.
In the immediate aftermath of the collapse of the protests at Tiananmen Square, Lin
Zhaohua staged a 1990 Hamlet in which the prince was an ordinary individual tortured by
a loss of meaning. In this production, the actors playing Hamlet, Claudius and Polonius
exchanged roles at crucial moments in the performance, including the moment of
Claudius's death, at which point the actor mainly associated with Hamlet fell to the
Mignon Nevada as Ophelia, 1910

Notable stagings in London and New York include Barrymore's 1925 production at the
Haymarket; it influenced subsequent performances by John Gielgud and Laurence
Olivier.[150] Gielgud played the central role many times: his 1936 New York production
ran for 136 performances, leading to the accolade that he was "the finest interpreter of the
role since Barrymore".[151] Although "posterity has treated Maurice Evans less kindly",
throughout the 1930s and 1940s he was regarded by many as the leading interpreter of
Shakespeare in the United States and in the 1938/9 season he presented Broadway's first
uncut Hamlet, running four and a half hours.[152] Olivier's 1937 performance at the Old
Vic Theatre was popular with audiences but not with critics, with James Agate writing in
a famous review in The Sunday Times, "Mr. Olivier does not speak poetry badly. He does
not speak it at all.".[153] In 1937 Tyrone Guthrie directed the play at Elsinore, Denmark
with Laurence Olivier as Hamlet and Vivien Leigh as Ophelia.

In 1963, Olivier directed Peter O'Toole as Hamlet in the inaugural performance of the
newly formed National Theatre; critics found resonance between O'Toole's Hamlet and
John Osborne's hero, Jimmy Porter, from Look Back in Anger.[154]

Richard Burton received his third Tony Award nomination when he played his second
Hamlet, his first under John Gielgud's direction, in 1964 in a production that holds the
record for the longest run of the play in Broadway history (136 performances). The
performance was set on a bare stage, conceived to appear like a dress rehearsal, with
Burton in a black v-neck sweater, and Gielgud himself tape-recorded the voice for the
Ghost (which appeared as a looming shadow). It was immortalized both on record and on
a film that played in US theatres for a week in 1964 as well as being the subject of books
written by cast members William Redfield and Richard L. Sterne. Other New York
portrayals of Hamlet of note include that of Ralph Fiennes's in 1995 (for which he won
the Tony Award for Best Actor) – which ran, from first preview to closing night, a total of
one hundred performances. About the Fiennes Hamlet Vincent Canby wrote in The New
York Times that it was "...not one for literary sleuths and Shakespeare scholars. It respects
the play, but it doesn't provide any new material for arcane debates on what it all means.
Instead it's an intelligent, beautifully read..."[155] Stacy Keach played the role with an all-
star cast at Joseph Papp's Delacorte Theatre in the early 70's, with Colleen Dewhurst's
Gertrude, James Earl Jones's King, Barnard Hughes's Polonius, Sam Waterston's Laertes
and Raul Julia's Osric. Sam Waterston later played the role himself at the Delacorte for
the New York Shakespeare Festival, and the show transferred to the Vivian Beaumont
Theatre in 1975 (Stephen Lang played Bernardo and other roles). Stephen Lang's Hamlet
for the Roundabout Theatre Company in 1992 received positive reviews, and ran for
sixty-one performances. David Warner played the role with the Royal Shakespeare
Theatre in 1965. William Hurt (at Circle Rep Off-Broadway, memorably performing "To
Be Or Not to Be" while lying on the floor), Jon Voight at Rutgers, and Christopher
Walken (fiercely) at Stratford CT have all played the role, as has Diane Venora at the
Public Theatre. Off Broadway, the Riverside Shakespeare Company mounted an uncut
first folio Hamlet in 1978 at Columbia University, with a playing time of under three
hours.[156] In fact, Hamlet is the most produced Shakespeare play in New York theatre
history, with sixty-four recorded productions on Broadway, and an untold number Off

Ian Charleson performed Hamlet from 9 October to 13 November 1989, in Richard

Eyre's production at the Olivier Theatre, replacing Daniel Day-Lewis, who had
abandoned the production. Seriously ill from AIDS at the time, Charleson died eight
weeks after his last performance. Fellow actor and friend, Sir Ian McKellen, said that
Charleson played Hamlet so well it was as if he had rehearsed the role all his life;
McKellen called it "the perfect Hamlet".[158][159] The performance garnered other major
accolades as well, some critics echoing McKellen in calling it the definitive Hamlet

21st century

A 2004 revival of the play, directed by Sir Trevor Nunn and produced by Phil Cameron,
won a Laurence Olivier Award for Best Revival in 2005.

In 2008, Scottish actor David Tennant starred in a Royal Shakespeare Company

production, which then transferred to London's Novello Theatre. The production was so
great a success that a BBC television adaption was filmed with the cast and released on

In May 2009, Hamlet opened with Jude Law in the title role at the Donmar Warehouse
West End season at Wyndham's Theatre. The production officially opened on 3 June and
ran through 22 August 2009.[161][162] A further production of the play ran at Elsinore Castle
in Denmark from 25–30 August 2009.[163] The Jude Law Hamlet then moved to
Broadway, and ran for 12 weeks at the Broadhurst Theatre in New York.[164][165] In 2010
Nick Hytner adapted Hamlet for the National Olivier Theatre, focusing on his directorial
interpretation of a contemporary, media-savvy government, ruling a surveillance state.
Rory Kinnear played Hamlet. In 2011, Australia's 'Melbourne Theatre Company' (MTC)
will produce Hamlet as a part of their 2011 main season. It will star Ewen Leslie as
Hamlet, Garry McDonald as Polonius and Pamela Rabe as Gertrude.

Screen performances
Sarah Bernhardt as Hamlet, with Yorick's skull (Photographer: James Lafayette, c. 1885–
Main article: Hamlet on screen

The earliest screen success for Hamlet was Sarah Bernhardt's five-minute film of the
fencing scene,[166] produced in 1900. The film was a crude talkie, in that music and words
were recorded on phonograph records, to be played along with the film.[167] Silent
versions were released in 1907, 1908, 1910, 1913, 1917, and 1920.[167] In the 1920
version, Asta Nielsen played Hamlet as a woman who spends her life disguised as a man.
Laurence Olivier's 1948 film noir Hamlet won best picture and best actor Oscars. His
interpretation stressed the Oedipal overtones of the play, to the extent of casting the 28-
year-old Eileen Herlie as Hamlet's mother, opposite himself, at 41, as Hamlet.[168] Gamlet
(Russian: Гамлет) is a 1964 film adaptation in Russian, based on a translation by Boris
Pasternak and directed by Grigori Kozintsev, with a score by Dmitri Shostakovich.[169]
Innokenty Smoktunovsky was cast in the role of Hamlet, which won him praise from Sir
Laurence Olivier. Shakespeare experts Sir John Gielgud and Kenneth Branagh consider
this work the definitive rendition of the Bard's tragic tale.[170] John Gielgud directed
Richard Burton in a Broadway production at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre in 1964–5, the
longest-running Hamlet in the U.S. to date. A live film of the production was produced
using "Electronovision", a method of recording a live performance with multiple video
cameras and converting the image to film.[171] Eileen Herlie repeated her role from
Olivier's film version as the Queen, and the voice of Gielgud was heard as the Ghost. The
Gielgud/Burton production was also recorded complete and released on LP by Columbia
Records. Tony Richardson directed Nicol Williamson as Hamlet and Marianne Faithfull
as Ophelia in his 1969 version. Franco Zeffirelli's Shakespeare films have been described
as "sensual rather than cerebral": his aim to make Shakespeare "even more popular".[172]
To this end, he cast Mel Gibson—then famous for the Mad Max and Lethal Weapon
movies—in the title role of his 1990 version, and Glenn Close—then famous as the
psychotic other woman in Fatal Attraction—as Gertrude.[173]

In contrast to Zeffirelli, whose Hamlet was heavily cut, Kenneth Branagh adapted,
directed, and starred in a 1996 version containing every word of Shakespeare's play,
combining the material from the F1 and Q2 texts. Branagh's Hamlet runs for around four
hours.[174] Branagh set the film with late 19th-century costuming and furnishings;[175] and
Blenheim Palace, built in the early 18th century, became Elsinore Castle in the external
scenes. The film is structured as an epic and makes frequent use of flashbacks to
highlight elements not made explicit in the play: Hamlet's sexual relationship with Kate
Winslet's Ophelia, for example, or his childhood affection for Yorick (played by Ken
Dodd).[176] In 2000, Michael Almereyda's Hamlet set the story in contemporary
Manhattan, with Ethan Hawke playing Hamlet as a film student. Claudius (played by
Kyle MacLachlan) became the CEO of "Denmark Corporation", having taken over the
company by killing his brother.[177]

Notable made-for-television productions of Hamlet include those starring Christopher

Plummer (1964), Richard Chamberlain (1970; Hallmark Hall of Fame), Derek Jacobi
(1980; Royal Shakespeare Company, BBC), Kevin Kline (1990), Campbell Scott (2000)
and David Tennant (2010).[178]

Stage and screen adaptations

Further information: References to Hamlet

 The West German director Helmut Käutner adapted Hamlet into a story that deals
with civil corruption in Der Rest ist Schweigen (The Rest is Silence).[179]
 The Japanese director Akira Kurosawa adapted Hamlet into a story that deals with
civil corruption in Warui Yatsu Hodo Yoku Nemuru (The Bad Sleep Well).[179]
 In Claude Chabrol's Ophélia (France, 1962) the central character, Yvan, watches
Olivier's Hamlet and convinces himself — wrongly and with tragic results — that
he is in Hamlet's situation.[180]
 Tom Stoppard's play, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead portrays the events
of Hamlet from the perspective of Hamlet's two school friends, recasting it as the
tragedy of two minor characters who must die to fulfil their role in a drama that
they do not understand. The 1990 film version differs significantly from the play.
 A parody of Hamlet called Rosencrantz and Guildenstern was written by W. S.
Gilbert in 1874.
 In 1977, East German playwright Heiner Müller wrote Die Hamletmaschine
(Hamletmachine), a postmodernist, condensed version of Hamlet; this adaptation
was subsequently incorporated into his translation of Shakespeare's play in his
1989/1990 production Hamlet/Maschine (Hamlet/Machine).[181]
 SCTV duo Bob and Doug Mackenzie turned Hamlet into a quest for beer at the
Elsinore Brewery in the 1983 film, Strange Brew.
 Disney's animated feature The Lion King incorporates plot elements from Hamlet,
along with other mythical sources.[182]
 The story line of FX networks' show, Sons of Anarchy, is heavily influenced by
Hamlet. The lead characters, Jackson "Jax" Teller, Clay Morrow and Gemma
Teller Morrow are representative of Prince Hamlet, King Claudius and Gertrude,
respectively. Kurt Sutter, the creator of the show also stated in the commentary to
an episode of season one that the characters of Juice and Half-Sack represented
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.[183]
 The story line in Midsomer Murders' episode 'King's Crystal' is adapted with the
Hamlet story with a few twists.
 Caridad Svich's 12 Ophelias includes elements of the story of Hamlet but focuses
on Ophelia. In Svich's play, Ophelia is resurrected and rises from a pool of water,
after she her death in Hamlet. Other characters appear: Hamlet is rechristened
Rude Boy, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are androgynous helpers known simply
as R and G, Gertrude is the madam of a brothel, Horatio becomes H and continues
to be Hamlet's best friend/confidante, and a chorus of Ophelias serves as guide. A
new character, Mina, is introduced, and she is a whore in Gertrude's brothel.


All references to Hamlet, unless otherwise specified, are taken from the Arden
Shakespeare Q2 (Thompson and Taylor, 2006a). Under their referencing system, 3.1.55
means act 3, scene 1, line 55. References to the First Quarto and First Folio are marked
Hamlet Q1 and Hamlet F1, respectively, and are taken from the Arden Shakespeare
"Hamlet: the texts of 1603 and 1623" (Thompson and Taylor, 2006b). Their referencing
system for Q1 has no act breaks, so 7.115 means scene 7, line 115.
1. ^ Thompson and Taylor (2006a, 74).
2. ^ a b Taylor (2002, 18).
3. ^ Crystal and Crystal (2005, 66).
4. ^ Thompson and Taylor (2006a, 17).
5. ^ a b See Taylor (2002, 4); Banham (1998, 141); Hattaway asserts that
"Richard Burbage ... played Hieronimo and also Richard III but then was the first
Hamlet, Lear, and Othello" (1982, 91); Peter Thomson argues that the identity of
Hamlet as Burbage is built into the dramaturgy of several moments of the play:
"we will profoundly misjudge the position if we do not recognise that, whilst this
is Hamlet talking about the groundlings, it is also Burbage talking to the
groundlings" (1983, 24); see also Thomson on the first player's beard (1983, 110).
6. ^ Hamlet 1.4.
7. ^ "Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 5, Line 172.". http://shakespeare-
8. ^ Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 5, Line 99.
9. ^ a b This is widely interpreted as having a double meaning, since 'nunnery'
was slang for a brothel. Pauline Kiernan, Filthy Shakespeare, Quercus, 2006, p.
34. This interpretation has been challenged by Jenkins (1982, 493–495; also H. D.
F. Kitto) on the grounds of insufficient and inconclusive evidence of a precedent
for this meaning; Jenkins states that the literal meaning is better suited to the
dramatic context.
10. ^ a b The Gravedigger Scene: Hamlet 5.1.1–205.
11. ^ Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 3, Line 98.
12. ^ Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 4, Line 31.
13. ^ Hamlet, Act 4, Scene 4, Lines 65–66.
14. ^ The Killing Scene: Hamlet 5.2.303–309.
15. ^ Saxo and Hansen (1983, 36–37).
16. ^ Saxo and Hansen (1983, 16–25).
17. ^ Saxo and Hansen (1983, 5–15).
18. ^ Books 3 & 4 – see online text
19. ^ Saxo and Hansen (1983, 1–5).
20. ^ Saxo and Hansen (1983, 25–37).
21. ^ Edwards (1985, 1–2).
22. ^ Saxo and Hansen (1983, 66–67).
23. ^ Jenkins (1982, 82–85).
24. ^ Saxo and Hansen (1983, 67).
25. ^ In his 1936 book The Problem of Hamlet: A Solution Andrew Cairncross
asserted that the Hamlet referred to in 1589 was written by Shakespeare; Peter
Alexander (1964), Eric Sams (according to Jackson 1991, 267) and, more
recently, Harold Bloom (2001, xiii and 383; 2003, 154) have agreed. Harold
Jenkins, the editor of the second series Arden edition of the play, dismisses the
idea as groundless (1982, 84 n4).
26. ^ Saxo and Hansen (1983, 66–68).
27. ^ Saxo and Hansen (1983, 6).
28. ^ Greenblatt (2004a, 311); Greenblatt (2004b).
29. ^ Shakespeare's Last Will and Testament.
30. ^ Chambers (1930) 418: J.D. Wilson (1932) 104: Rowse (1963) 323.
31. ^ Lilian Winstanley, Hamlet and the Scottish Succession, Cambridge
University Press, 1921, 114.
32. ^ H.Jenkins (ed.) Hamlet, Methuen, 1982, p.142.
33. ^ Polonius was close to the Latin name for Robert Pullen, founder of
Oxford University, and Reynaldo too close for safety to John Rainolds, the
President of Corpus Christi College. G.R.Hibbard (ed.) Hamlet, Oxford
University Press, 1987, pp.74–5.
34. ^ MacCary suggests 1599 or 1600 (1998, 13); James Shapiro offers late
1600 or early 1601 (2005, 341); Wells and Taylor suggest that the play was
written in 1600 and revised later (1988, 653); the New Cambridge editor settles
on mid-1601 (Edwards 1985, 8); the New Swan Shakespeare Advanced Series
editor agrees with 1601 (Lott 1970, xlvi); Thompson and Taylor, tentatively
("according to whether one is the more persuaded by Jenkins or by Honigmann")
suggest a terminus ad quem of either Spring 1601 or sometime in 1600 (2001a,
35. ^ MacCary (1998, 12–13) and Edwards (1985, 5–6).
36. ^ a b Lott (1970, xlvi).
37. ^ Hamlet F1 2.2.337. The whole conversation between Rozencrantz,
Guildenstern and Hamlet concerning the touring players' departure from the city
is at Hamlet "F1" 2.2.324–360.
38. ^ Edwards (1985, 5).
39. ^ Hattaway (1987, 13–20).
40. ^ Chambers (1923, vol. 3, 486–487) and Halliday (1964, 204–205).
41. ^ Halliday (1964, 204).
42. ^ a b Thompson and Taylor (2006a, 78).
43. ^ Hibbard (1987, 22–23).
44. ^ Hattaway (1987, 16).
45. ^ Thompson and Taylor published Q2, with appendices, in their first
volume (2006a) and the F1 and Q1 texts in their second volume (2006b). Bate and
Rasmussen (2007) is the F1 text with additional Q2 passages in an appendix. The
New Cambridge series has begun to publish separate volumes for the separate
quarto versions that exist of Shakespeare's plays (Irace 1998).
46. ^ Hamlet 3.4 and 4.1.
47. ^ Thompson and Taylor (2006a, 543–552).
48. ^ Jenkins (1982, 14).
49. ^ Hamlet Q1 14.
50. ^ Jackson (1986, 171).
51. ^ Irace (1998); Thompson and Taylor (2006a, 85–86).
52. ^ Thompson and Taylor (2006b, 36–37) and Checklist of Q1 Productions
in Thompson and Taylor (2006b, 38–39).
53. ^ Wofford (1994) and Kirsch (1968).
54. ^ Vickers (1974a, 447) and (1974b, 92).
55. ^ Wofford (1994, 184–185).
56. ^ Vickers (1974c, 5).
57. ^ Wofford (1994, 185).
58. ^ a b Wofford (1994, 186).
59. ^ Rosenberg (1992, 179).
60. ^ MacCary (1998, 67–72, 84).
61. ^ Based on the length of the first edition of The Riverside Shakespeare
62. ^ Also used in Love's Labour's Lost and A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Kermode (2000, 256).
63. ^ Adamson, Sylvia; Hunter, Lynette; Magnusson, Lynne; Thompson, Ann;
Wales, Katie (Oct 1 2010). Arden Shakespeare: Reading Shakespeare's Dramatic
Language. Los Angeles: Arden. ISBN 978-1-903436-29-5.
64. ^ MacCary (1998, 84–85).
65. ^ Hamlet 3.1.63–64.
66. ^ Hamlet 1.2.85–86.
67. ^ MacCary (1998, 89–90).
68. ^ Hamlet 3.1.87–148 especially lines 120, 129, 136, 139 and 148.
69. ^ Oxford English Dictionary (2004, CD).
70. ^ Hamlet 2.1.63–65.
71. ^ Hamlet 3.1.151 and 3.1.154. The Nunnery Scene: Hamlet 3.1.87–160.
72. ^ MacCary (1998, 87–88).
73. ^ Pauline Kiernan, Filthy Shakespeare: Shakespeare's Most Outrageous
Sexual Puns, Quercus, 2006, p.34
74. ^ MacCary (1998, 37–38); in the New Testament, see Romans 12:19:
" 'vengeance is mine, I will repay' sayeth the Lord".
75. ^ MacCary (1998, 38).
76. ^ Asimov, Asimov's Guide to Shakespeare(1970, 92)
77. ^ Hamlet 5.2.197–202.
78. ^ Hamlet Q1 17.45–46.
79. ^ Blits (2001, 3–21).
80. ^ Hamlet F1 2.2.247–248.
81. ^ MacCary (1998, 47–48).
82. ^ Hamlet 3.1.55–87 especially line 55.
83. ^ MacCary (1998, 28–49).
84. ^ MacCary (1998, 49).
85. ^ Knowles (1999, 1049 and 1052–1053) cited by Thompson and Taylor
(2006a, 73–74); MacCary (1998, 49).
86. ^ a b Freud (1900, 367).
87. ^ a b c d e Britton (1995, 207–211).
88. ^ Freud (1900, 368).
89. ^ The nunnery conversation referred to in this sentence is Hamlet 3.1.87–
90. ^ The American Journal of Psychology 21.1 (January, 1910): 72–113.
91. ^ The Closet Scene: Hamlet 3.4.
92. ^ MacCary (1998, 104–107, 113–116) and de Grazia (2007, 168–170).
93. ^ Smallwood (2002, 102).
94. ^ Hamlet 4.5.
95. ^ Wofford (1994, 199–202).
96. ^ Howard (2003, 411–415).
97. ^ Bloom (2003, 58–59); Thompson (2001, 4).
98. ^ Showalter (1985).
99. ^ Bloom (2003, 57).
100. ^ MacCary (1998, 111–113).
101. ^ Hamlet has 208 quotations in "The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations; it
takes up 10 of 85 pages dedicated to Shakespeare in the 1986 Bartlett's Familiar
Quotations (14th ed. 1968). For examples of lists of the greatest books, see
Harvard Classics, Great Books, Great Books of the Western World, Harold
Bloom's The Western Canon, St. John's College reading list, and Columbia
College Core Curriculum.
102. ^ Osborne (2007, 114–133 especially 115 and 120).
103. ^ a b c d e Thompson and Taylor (2006a, 123–126).
104. ^ Welsh (2001, 131).
105. ^ a b Thompson and Taylor (2006a, 126–131).
106. ^ Novy (1994, 62, 77–78).
107. ^ Hamlet 3.1.55–87.
108. ^ Writing in La Jeune Belgique in 1890; quoted by Braun (1982, 40).
109. ^ Taylor (2002, 13).
110. ^ Thompson and Taylor (2006a; 53–55); Chambers (1930, vol. 1, 334),
cited by Dawson (2002, 176).
111. ^ Dawson (2002, 176).
112. ^ Pitcher and Woudhuysen (1969, 204).
113. ^ Hibbard (1987, 17).
114. ^ Marsden (2002, 21).
115. ^ Holland (2007, 34).
116. ^ Marsden (2002, 21–22).
117. ^ Samuel Pepys records his delight at the novelty of Hamlet "done with
scenes"; see Thompson and Taylor (1996, 57).
118. ^ Taylor (1989, 16).
119. ^ Thompson and Taylor (2006a, 98–99).
120. ^ Letter to Sir William Young, 10 January 1773, quoted by Uglow (1977,
121. ^ Morrison (2002, 231).
122. ^ Moody (2002, 41).
123. ^ Moody (2002, 44), quoting Sheridan.
124. ^ Gay (2002, 159).
125. ^ Dawson (2002, 185–187).
126. ^ Morrison (2002, 232–233).
127. ^ Morrison (2002, 235–237).
128. ^ William Winter, New York Tribune 26 October 1875, quoted by
Morrison (2002, 241).
129. ^ Morrison (2002, 241).
130. ^ Schoch (2002, 58–75).
131. ^ George Bernard Shaw in The Saturday Review 2 October 1897, quoted
in Shaw (1961, 81).
132. ^ Moody (2002, 54).
133. ^ Halliday (1964, 204) and O'Connor (2002, 77).
134. ^ Sarah Bernhardt, in a letter to the London Daily Telegraph, quoted by
Gay (2002, 164).
135. ^ Holland (2002, 203–205).
136. ^ Dawson (2002, 184).
137. ^ Dawson (2002, 188).
138. ^ a b c Gillies et al. (2002, 259–262).
139. ^ Dawson (2002, 180).
140. ^ For more on this production, see the MAT production of Hamlet article.
Craig and Stanislavski began planning the production in 1908 but, due to a serious
illness of Stanislavski's, it was delayed until December, 1911. See Benedetti
(1998, 188–211).
141. ^ Benedetti (1999, 189, 195).
142. ^ On Craig's relationship to Symbolism, Russian symbolism, and its
principles of monodrama in particular, see Taxidou (1998, 38–41); on Craig's
staging proposals, see Innes (1983, 153); on the centrality of the protagonist and
his mirroring of the 'authorial self', see Taxidou (1998, 181, 188) and Innes (1983,
143. ^ The First Court Scene: Hamlet 1.2.1–128. A brightly lit, golden pyramid
descended from Claudius's throne, representing the feudal hierarchy, giving the
illusion of a single, unified mass of bodies. In the dark, shadowy foreground,
separated by a gauze, Hamlet lay, as if dreaming. On Claudius's exit-line the
figures remained but the gauze was loosened, so that they appeared to melt away
as if Hamlet's thoughts had turned elsewhere. For this effect, the scene received
an ovation, which was unheard of at the MAT. See Innes (1983, 152).
144. ^ See Innes (1983, 140–175; esp. 165–167 on the use of the screens).
145. ^ Innes (1983, 172).
146. ^ Hortmann (2002, 214).
147. ^ Hortmann (2002, 223).
148. ^ Burian (1993), quoted by Hortmann (2002, 224–225).
149. ^ a b c Gillies et al. (2002, 267–269).
150. ^ Morrison (2002, 247–248); Thompson and Taylor (2006a, 109).
151. ^ Morrison (2002, 249).
152. ^ Morrison (2002, 249–250).
153. ^ "Olivier" by Robert Tanitch, Abbeville Press, 1985
154. ^ Smallwood (2002, 108); National Theatre reviews Retrieved: 4
December 2007.
155. ^ Vincent Canby, "Theatre Review: Ralph Fiennes as Mod Hamlet," The
New York Times May 3, 1995.
156. ^ Ari Panagako, "Dandy Hamlet Bows Uptown", Heights/Inwood Press of
North Manhattan, June 14, 1978.
157. ^ According to the Internet Broadway Database "show".;. Romeo and Juliet is the second most-produced
Shakespeare play on Broadway, with thirty-four different productions, followed
by Twelfth Night, with thirty.
158. ^ Ian McKellen, Alan Bates, Hugh Hudson, et al. For Ian Charleson: A
Tribute. London: Constable and Company, 1990. p. 124.
159. ^ Barratt, Mark. Ian McKellen: An Unofficial Biography. Virgin Books,
2005. p. 63.
160. ^ "The Readiness Was All: Ian Charleson and Richard Eyre's Hamlet," by
Richard Allan Davison. In Shakespeare: Text and Theater, Lois Potter and Arthur
F. Kinney, eds. Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1999. pp. 170–182
161. ^ Mark Shenton, "Jude Law to Star in Donmar's Hamlet." The Stage. 10
September 2007. Retrieved 19 November 2007.
162. ^ "Cook, Eyre, Lee And More Join Jude Law In Grandage's HAMLET." 4 February 2009. Retrieved 18 February 2009.
163. ^ "Jude Law to play Hamlet at 'home' Kronborg Castle." The Daily
Mirror. July 10, 2009. Retrieved July 14, 2009.
164. ^ "Shakespeare's Hamlet with Jude Law". Charlie Rose Show. video
53:55, 2 October 2009. Retrieved 6 October 2009.
165. ^ Dave Itzkoff, "Donmar Warehouse’s ‘Hamlet’ Coming to Broadway
With Jude Law." New York Times. June 30, 2009. Retrieved September 10, 2009.
166. ^ The Fencing Scene: Hamlet 5.2.203–387.
167. ^ a b c Brode (2001, 117–118).
168. ^ Davies (2000, 171).
169. ^ Guntner (2000, 120–121).
170. ^ "Innokenti Smoktunovsky - Biography - Movies & TV -".
Retrieved 2010-05-29.
171. ^ Brode (2001, 125–127).
172. ^ Both quotations from Cartmell (2000, 212), where the aim of making
Shakespeare "even more popular" is attributed to Zeffirelli himself in an interview
given to The South Bank Show in December 1997.
173. ^ Guntner (2000, 121–122).
174. ^ Crowl (2000, 232).
175. ^ Starks (1999, 272).
176. ^ Keyishian (2000, 78–79).
177. ^ Burnett (2000).
178. ^ Hamlet Great Performances, PBS
179. ^ a b Howard (2000, 300–301).
180. ^ Howard (2000, 301–302).
181. ^ Teraoka (1985, 13).
182. ^ Vogler (1992, 267–275).
183. ^ "Trivia".

Editions of Hamlet

 Bate, Jonathan, and Eric Rasmussen, eds. 2007. Complete Works. By William
Shakespeare. The RSC Shakespeare. New York: Modern Library. ISBN 0-679-
 Edwards, Phillip, ed. 1985. Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. New Cambridge
Shakespeare ser. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-29366-9.
 Hibbard, G. R., ed. 1987. Hamlet. Oxford World's Classics ser. Oxford. ISBN 0-
 Hoy, Cyrus, ed. 1992. Hamlet. Norton Critical Edition ser. 2nd ed. New York:
Norton. ISBN 978-0-393-95663-4.
 Irace, Kathleen O. 1998. The First Quarto of Hamlet. New Cambridge
Shakespeare ser. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-65390-8.
 Jenkins, Harold, ed. 1982. Hamlet. The Arden Shakespeare, second ser. London:
Methuen. ISBN 1-903436-67-2.
 Lott, Bernard, ed. 1970. Hamlet. New Swan Shakespeare Advanced ser. New ed.
London: Longman. ISBN 0-582-52742-2.
 Spencer, T. J. B., ed. 1980 Hamlet. New Penguin Shakespeare ser. London:
Penguin. ISBN 0-14-070734-4.
 Thompson, Ann and Neil Taylor, eds. 2006a. Hamlet. The Arden Shakespeare,
third ser. Volume one. London: Arden. ISBN 1-904271-33-2.
 ———. 2006b. Hamlet: The Texts of 1603 and 1623. The Arden Shakespeare,
third ser. Volume two. London: Arden. ISBN 1-904271-80-4.
 Wells, Stanley, and Gary Taylor, eds. 1988. The Complete Works. By William
Shakespeare. The Oxford Shakespeare. Compact ed. Oxford: Clarendon Press;
New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-871190-5.

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 "Nine Hamlets" — An analysis of the play and nine film versions, at the Bright
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 "The Hamlet Enigma"

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