Hamlet ( Folger Library Shakespeare)
Hamlet ( Folger Library Shakespeare)
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Hamlet is Shakespeare’s most popular, and most puzzling, play. It follows the form of a “revenge tragedy,” in which the hero, Hamlet, seeks vengeance against his father’s murderer, his uncle Claudius, now the king of Denmark. Much of its fascination, however, lies in its uncertainties.
Among them: What is the Ghost—Hamlet’s father demanding justice, a tempting demon, an angelic messenger? Does Hamlet go mad, or merely pretend to? Once he is sure that Claudius is a murderer, why does he not act? Was his mother, Gertrude, unfaithful to her husband or complicit in his murder?
The authoritative edition of Hamlet from The Folger Shakespeare Library, the trusted and widely used Shakespeare series for students and general readers, includes:
-Freshly edited text based on the best early printed version of the play
-Newly revised explanatory notes conveniently placed on pages facing the text of the play
-Scene-by-scene plot summaries
-A key to the play’s famous lines and phrases
-An introduction to reading Shakespeare’s language
-An essay by a leading Shakespeare scholar providing a modern perspective on the play
-Fresh images from the Folger Shakespeare Library’s vast holdings of rare books
-An up-to-date annotated guide to further reading
Essay by Michael Neill
The Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC, is home to the world’s largest collection of Shakespeare’s printed works, and a magnet for Shakespeare scholars from around the globe. In addition to exhibitions open to the public throughout the year, the Folger offers a full calendar of performances and programs. For more information, visit Folger.edu.
is not nor it cannot come to good. But break, my heart; for I must hold my tongue. enter Horatio, Marcellus, and Barnardo Horatio Hail to your lordship! 160 Hamlet I am glad to see you well. Horatio! Or I do forget myself.89 Horatio The same, my lord, and your poor servant ever. Hamlet Sir, my good friend; I’ll change that name90 with you: And what make you from Wittenberg,91 Horatio? ( turning) 165 Marcellus.92 Marcellus My good lord. Hamlet I am very glad to see you.93 Good even,
123 self-control/honesty of thought and feeling 124 skill/cunning enough to misrepresent, disguise 125 students were members of the “corporate” fellowship of a university 126 harmony, concord 127 what more precious someone better equipped to frame an argument could lay upon/command you with, be straight 128 I am keeping an eye on you 129 revealing/disclosing it 130 being in the confidence of 74 act 2 • scene 2 moult131 no feather. I have of late – but wherefore I know not – lost my
one of his subjects; here used to mean “money” 148 small sword, blunt edged, with a button on the sharp point, and a small, round shield 149 odd, moody, capricious (that is, full of “humors”) 150 loose/easy on the catch of a gun-lock (in current usage,“easy on the trigger”) 151 go lame/limp, be defective 152 troop/company of actors 153 precisely those you were used/accustomed to 154 London 155 usual place (location and status) 156 prohibition? trouble? (see note 157,immediately below) 157
of us Shakespeare any more than we are Emile Zola or Leo Tolstoy or the Beowulf poet. Breaking Hamlet into what we as editors think are its component parts, and then presenting each of those parts, can be useful to scholars, and to other editors. But it is the exact opposite of what I here try to offer—a cohesive,sensible and unitary text,about as close to what Shakespeare actually wrote as, alas, we are ever going to get. I see no point, from the perspective of the common reader, or the student,
two other characters, Banquo and, at the play’s close, Malcolm. Even soaringly preeminent Prospero, in The Tempest, appears roughly 52 percent of the time,and once again shares the stage with Ariel, at 31 percent, Miranda, at 27 percent, and Caliban, at 25 percent. Prospero, like Hamlet, has solo appearances, but so, too, does Caliban. (Note, too, that while The Tempest is a fairly short play, Hamlet is Shakespeare’s longest.) Finally, in a late problem play of more or less the same date as