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drama literature Shakespeare

The “Hamlet” Murder Mystery

1.  Old King Hamlet, sleeping in his orchard, was secretly murdered by Claudius, his brother and successor on the throne. His son, the Prince bearing his name, learns of this when he’s given a gruesome, detailed account of the crime from the Ghost of his father, the dead king returned from the grave. Prince Hamlet […]

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drama literature Shakespeare

“King, Father, Royal Dane”? Hamlet’s Dubious Father

1.“Where  else in Shakespeare,” A.C. Bradley once asked, “is there anything like Hamlet’s adoration of his father? His words melt into music whenever he speaks of him.” Really?  t may be, as Bradley insists, that the prince waxes lyrical whenever he has occasion to speak of his father’s high qualities, but that doesn’t mean they […]

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drama literature political ethics political theory politics Shakespeare

A Tainted Election? “Hamlet” and Politics

For roughly the first half of Hamlet, the audience is left in suspense as to whether or not Claudius, the present king, had in fact secretly murdered his predecessor, Prince Hamlet’s father. Then the prince devises and executes a plan to find out, and deems his suspicions confirmed; we in the audience get to be […]

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drama literature Shakespeare

The Player Prince

1. My favorite line in  Hamlet is a casual remark of Hamlet’s to Horatio, late in the play. It occurs just after he agrees to take part in his fatal fencing match with Laertes.  Hamlet had just been telling Horatio of the devious means by which his uncle the king has tried to get him killed, […]

Categories
drama literature Shakespeare

Toward a Theory of “Hamlet”: Six Theses

1.  It’s no accident that the Players arrive at Elsinore when they do.  Hamlet is just pretending to be surprised when Rosencrantz & Guildenstern  tell him of their arrival. He knows they’re coming, because it was he who had sent for them.  He’s been waiting for the players to arrive, so he can carry out […]