William Shakespeare 's ' Hamlet ' Essay

1690 Words May 1st, 2016 7 Pages
Hamlet is one of the central works of modern European culture, probably thought and written about more than any other play. In a comprehensive sense it is by now William Shakespeare 's text plus its world-wide reverberations through centuries of theatrical interpretation, critical analysis, and reshaping by other creative authors—a vast body of ``commentary ' ' ranging from pious exegesis to malicious mockery. Hamlet 's intensity and complexity evoke seemingly infinite responses which say as much about their authors and periods as about the play.

The story derives from a 12th-century Danish history by Saxo Grammaticus. There are prototypes of Claudius, Gertrude, Polonius, Ophelia, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, and of course of Hamlet himself, called Amlethus, son of Horwendillus; but there is no Laertes, no Fortinbras, and no ghost. The murder of Amlethus 's father by his brother Fengo is public knowledge; Amleth is cunning (like Hamlet ``mad in craft ' ') and resolute (unlike Hamlet); it takes him long, but he achieves his revenge and becomes king. Saxo 's Latin Historiae-Danicae was printed in 1514. In 1570 François de Belleforest published a French version of it in Histoires Tragiques, adding adultery to incest and garnishing the tale with strong misogynistic and moralistic animadversions. Belleforest 's tale appeared in English as The Hystorie of Hamblet in 1608—and several phrasings suggest that the translator had seen Shakespeare 's play.

Some English…

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