Cover image for Hamlet
Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616.
Publication Information:
London : Thomson Learning : Arden Shakespeare, 2001.

Physical Description:
xvii, 574 pages ; 20 cm.
General Note:
Reprint. Originally published by Methuen, 1982.
Added Author:

Format :


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Material Type
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PR2807.A2 J4 1982C Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



The text of the classic tragedy about the struggle of Prince Hamlet to avenge his father's murder is accompanied by extensive critical notes and historical commentary.


Along with Macbeth and Othello, Hamlet falls into the category Shakespeare's mature tragedies. Focusing on the play's vital characters and complex storyline, Harold Jenkins discusses the work's major themes as well as many nuances that may escape the reader's study.

Author Notes

William Shakespeare, 1564 - 1616 Although there are many myths and mysteries surrounding William Shakespeare, a great deal is actually known about his life. He was born in Stratford-Upon-Avon, son of John Shakespeare, a prosperous merchant and local politician and Mary Arden, who had the wealth to send their oldest son to Stratford Grammar School.

At 18, Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway, the 27-year-old daughter of a local farmer, and they had their first daughter six months later. He probably developed an interest in theatre by watching plays performed by traveling players in Stratford while still in his youth. Some time before 1592, he left his family to take up residence in London, where he began acting and writing plays and poetry.

By 1594 Shakespeare had become a member and part owner of an acting company called The Lord Chamberlain's Men, where he soon became the company's principal playwright. His plays enjoyed great popularity and high critical acclaim in the newly built Globe Theatre. It was through his popularity that the troupe gained the attention of the new king, James I, who appointed them the King's Players in 1603. Before retiring to Stratford in 1613, after the Globe burned down, he wrote more than three dozen plays (that we are sure of) and more than 150 sonnets. He was celebrated by Ben Jonson, one of the leading playwrights of the day, as a writer who would be "not for an age, but for all time," a prediction that has proved to be true.

Today, Shakespeare towers over all other English writers and has few rivals in any language. His genius and creativity continue to astound scholars, and his plays continue to delight audiences. Many have served as the basis for operas, ballets, musical compositions, and films. While Jonson and other writers labored over their plays, Shakespeare seems to have had the ability to turn out work of exceptionally high caliber at an amazing speed. At the height of his career, he wrote an average of two plays a year as well as dozens of poems, songs, and possibly even verses for tombstones and heraldic shields, all while he continued to act in the plays performed by the Lord Chamberlain's Men. This staggering output is even more impressive when one considers its variety. Except for the English history plays, he never wrote the same kind of play twice. He seems to have had a good deal of fun in trying his hand at every kind of play.

Shakespeare wrote 154 sonnets, all published on 1609, most of which were dedicated to his patron Henry Wriothsley, The Earl of Southhampton. He also wrote 13 comedies, 13 histories, 6 tragedies, and 4 tragecomedies. He died at Stratford-upon-Avon April 23, 1616, and was buried two days later on the grounds of Holy Trinity Church in Stratford. His cause of death was unknown, but it is surmised that he knew he was dying.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

Applying the Classics Illustrated formula (interpreting canonical literature in a graphic format) to Shakespeare's moody tragedy unfortunately doesn't make the play's structure less complex or more readily accessible. But the imagery does translate some of the main tropes of the drama: the ravages of age, the innermost fears of outwardly self-confident youth. Speeches placed in snippets within balloons are difficult to follow unless the reader is already familiar with who should be saying what from experience with the original text. This is then best suited as supplementary, rather than introductory, material for the classroom.--Goldsmith, Francisca Copyright 2009 Booklist

Library Journal Review

Wouldn't you know that Branagh would finally tackle Hamlet on screen. This official tie-in includes a production diary, stills from the film, and the screenplay. But where's Emma? (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Review

Perhaps the best known of Shakespeare's tragedies, this story of destiny and revenge pits a young prince against the murderous uncle who has stolen the throne and queen. Students often struggle when reading Shakespeare, and listening can serve as a bridge, facilitating understanding. This excellent full-cast production includes musical interludes and an insert with scene-by-scene summaries, making it not only a strong listening experience, but also the perfect adjunct to literary appreciation. Fans of the long-running British science-fiction series Doctor Who, and David Tennant's portrayal of the Doctor, will be mesmerized by the 2010 BBC television production featuring Tennant as Hamlet, with Patrick Stewart as the nefarious uncle, Claudius. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

To the "New Cambridge Shakespeare" text of Hamlet printed in the second part of this volume, Hapgood (Univ. of New Hampshire) appends a performance history and analysis. This format defines this "Shakespeare in Production" series, which, like Manchester University Press's "Shakespeare in Performance" series, provides a record of the stable and changing relationship between text and performance. Hapgood contains the bulky stage history of Hamlet through a prudent use of reviews, promptbooks, memoirs, and other performance materials. His introduction speaks of the complications of a five-text play (two quartos, the Folio, the abridgements that prevailed from the Restoration through the 19th century, the modern conflated text), then moves chronologically through an intelligent selection of Hamlet productions: from Burbage (1601-18), to Sarah Bernhardt (1899), to several of the 20th century's better known productions (Barrymore, Gielgud, Olivier, Burton, Jacobi, Branagh), to a few of the lesser-known (from Continental Europe, East and West), to several that qualify as "director's theater" (Zadek, Bergman, Brook). Hapgood's careful scholarship and engaging writing throughout result in a volume that all libraries will want to own. J. Schlueter; Lafayette College



Dramatis Personae * ghost of Hamlet, the former King of Denmark Claudius, King of Denmark, the former King's brother Gertrude, Queen of Denmark, widow of the former King and now wife of Claudius Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, son of the late King and of Gertrude Polonius, councillor to the King Laertes, his son Ophelia, his daughter Reynaldo, his servant Horatio, Hamlet's friend and fellow student Voltimand, Cornelius, Rosencrantz, Guildenstern,         members of the Danish court Osric, a gentleman, a lord, Bernardo, Francisco,                officers and soldiers on watch Marcellus, Fortinbras, Prince of Norway captain in his army Three or Four players, taking the roles of  prologue, player king, player queen, and Lucianus Two messengers first sailor Two clowns, a gravedigger and his companion priest first ambassador from England Lords, Soldiers, Attendants, Guards, other Players, Followers of Laertes, other Sailors, another Ambassador or Ambassadors from England scene: Denmark] * BERNARDO, FRANCISCO, officers and soldiers on watch MARCELLUS, FORTINBRAS, Prince of Norway CAPTAIN in His army Three or Four PLAYERS, taking the roles of PROLOGUE, PLAYER KING, PLAYER QUEEN, and LUCIANUS Two MESSENGERS FIRST SAILOR Two CLOWNS, a gravedigger and his companion PRIEST FIRST AMBASSADOR from England Lords, Soldiers, Attendants, Guards, other Players, Followers of Laertes, other Sailors, another Ambassador or Ambassadors from England SCENE: Denmark] 1.1 Location: Elsinore castle. A guard platform. 2 me (Francisco emphasizes that he is the sentry currently on watch.) unfold yourself reveal your identity. 14 rivals partners 16 ground country land. 17 liegemen to the Dane men sworn to serve the Danish king. 18 Give May God give BERNARDO Who's there? FRANCISCO Nay, answer me. Stand and unfold yourself. 2 BERNARDO Long live the King! FRANCISCO Bernardo? BERNARDO He. FRANCISCO You come most carefully upon your hour. BERNARDO 'Tis now struck twelve. Get thee to bed, Francisco. FRANCISCO For this relief much thanks. 'Tis bitter cold, And I am sick at heart. BERNARDO Have you had quiet guard? FRANCISCO Not a mouse stirring. BERNARDO Well, good night. If you do meet Horatio and Marcellus, The rivals of my watch, bid them make haste. 14 Enter Horatio and Marcellus. FRANCISCO I think I hear them--Stand, ho! Who is there? HORATIO Friends to this ground. 16 MARCELLUS And liegemen to the Dane. 17 FRANCISCO Give you good night. 18 MARCELLUS Oh, farewell, honest soldier. Who hath relieved you? 27 fantasy imagination 30 along to come along 31 watch keep watch during 33 approve corroborate 39 Last... all i.e., This very last night. (Emphatic.) 40 pole polestar, north star 41 his its. t'illuine to illuminate FRANCISCO Bernardo hath my place. Give you good night. Exit Francisco. MARCELLUS Holla! Bernardo! BERNARDO Say, what, is Horatio there? HORATIO A piece of him. BERNARDO Welcome, Horatio. Welcome, good Marcellus. HORATIO What, has this thing appeared again tonight? BERNARDO I have seen nothing. MARCELLUS Horatio says 'tis but our fantasy, 27 And will not let belief take hold of him Touching this dreaded sight twice seen of us. Therefore I have entreated him along 30 With us to watch the minutes of this night, 31 That if again this apparition come He may approve our eyes and speak to it. 33 HORATIO Tush, tush, 'twill not appear. BERNARDO Sit down awhile And let us once again assail your ears, That are so fortified against our story, What we have two nights seen. HORATIO Well, sit we down, And let us hear Bernardo speak of this. BERNARDO Last night of all, 39 When yond same star that's westward from the pole 40 Had made his course t'illume that part of heaven 41 Where now it burns, Marcellus and myself, The bell then beating one-- Enter Ghost. 46 scholar one learned enough to know how to question a ghost properly 47 'ahe 49 It... to (It was commonly believed that a ghost could not speak until spoken to.) 50 usurp'st wrongfully takes over 52 buried Denmark the buried King of Denmark 53 sometimes formerly 59 on't of it. 61 sensible confirmed by the senses. avouch warrant, evidence MARCELLUS Peace, break thee off! Look where it comes again! BERNARDO In the same figure like the King that's dead. MARCELLUS Thou art a scholar. Speak to it, Horatio. 46 BERNARDO Looks 'a not like the King? Mark it, Horatio. 47 HORATIO Most like. It harrows me with fear and wonder. BERNARDO It would be spoke to. MARCELLUS Speak to it, Horatio. 49 HORATIO What art thou that usurp'st this time of night, 50 Together with that fair and warlike form In which the majesty of buried Denmark 52 Did sometimes march? By heaven, I charge thee, speak! 53 MARCELLUS It is offended. BERNARDO See, it stalks away. HORATIO Stay! Speak, speak! I charge thee, speak! Exit Ghost. MARCELLUS 'Tis gone and will not answer. BERNARDO How now, Horatio? You tremble and look pale. Is not this something more than fantasy? What think you on't? HORATIO Before my God, I might not this believe Without the sensible and true avouch 61 Of mine own eyes. MARCELLUS Is it not like the King? 65 Norway King of Norway 66 parle parley 67 sledded traveling on sleds. Polacks Poles 69 jump exactly 70 stalk stride 71 to work i.e., to collect my thoughts and try to understand this 72 gross and scope general drift 74 Good now (An expression denoting entreaty or expostulation.) 76 toils causes to toil. subject subjects 77 cast casting 78 mart shopping 79 impress impressment, conscription 81 toward in preparation 87 Thereto... pride (Refers to old Fortinbras, not the Danish King.) pricked on incited. emulate emubus, ambitious 89 this ... world i.e., all Europe, the Western world 90 sealed certified, confirmed 91 heraldry chivalry 93 seized possessed HORATIO As thou art to thyself. Such was the very armor he had on When he the ambitious Norway combated. 65 So frowned he once when, in an angry parle, 66 He smote the sledded Polacks on the ice. 67 'Tis strange. MARCELLUS Thus twice before, and jump at this dead hour, 69 With martial stalk hath he gone by our watch. 70 HORATIO In what particular thought to work I know not, 71 But in the gross and scope of mine opinion 72 This bodes some strange eruption to our state. MARCELLUS Good now, sit down, and tell me, he that knows, 74 Why this same strict and most observant watch So nightly toils the subject of the land, 76 And why such daily cast of brazen cannon 77 And foreign mart for implements of war, 78 Why such impress of shipwrights, whose sore task 79 Does not divide the Sunday from the week. What might be toward, that this sweaty haste 81 Doth make the night joint-laborer with the day? Who is't that can inform me? HORATIO That can I; At least, the whisper goes so. Our last king, Whose image even but now appeared to us, Was, as you know, by Fortinbras of Norway, Thereto pricked on by a most emulate pride, 87 Dared to the combat; in which our valiant Hamlet-For so this side of our known world esteemed him-- 89 Did slay this Fortinbras; who by a sealed compact 90 Well ratified by law and heraldry 91 Did forfeit, with his life, all those his lands Which he stood seized of, to the conqueror; 93 94 Against the in return for. moiety competent corresponding portion 95 gaged engaged, pledged. had returned would have passed 96 inheritance possession 97 cov'nant i.e., the sealed compact of line 90 98 carriage... designed purport of the artide referred to 100 unimproved mettle untried, undisciplined spirits 101 skirts outlying regions, outskirts 102--4 Sharked... in't rounded up (as a shark scoops up fish) a troop of lawless desperadoes to feed and supply an enterprise of considerable daring 110 head source 111 posthaste and rummage frenetic activity and bustle 113 Well.., sort That would explain why 115 question focus of contention 116 mote speck of dust 117 paliny flourishing 118 Julius Julius Caesar 119 sheeted shrouded 121 As (This abrupt transition suggests that matter is possibly omitted between lines 120 and 121.) trains trails 122 Disasters unfavorable signs or aspects. moist star i.e., moon, governing tides 123 Neptune's ... stands the sea depends 124 Was ... eclipse was eclipsed nearly to the cosmic darkness predicted for the second coming of Christ and the ending of the world. (See Matthew 24:29 and Revelation 6:12.) 125 precurse heralding, foreshadowing 126 harbingers forerunners. still always Against the which a moiety competent 94 Was gaged by our king, which had returned 95 To the inheritance of Fortinbras 96 Had he been vanquisher, as, by the same cov'nant 97 And carriage of the article designed, 98 His fell to Hamlet. Now, sir, young Fortinbras, Of unimproved mettle hot and full, 100 Hath in the skirts of Norway here and there ioi Sharked up a list of lawless resolutes i02 For food and diet to some enterprise 103 That hath a stomach in't, which is no other-- 104 As it doth well appear unto our state-But to recover of us, by strong hand And terms compulsatory, those foresaid lands So by his father lost. And this, I take it, Is the main motive of our preparations, The source of this our watch, and the chief head I 10 Of this posthaste and rummage in the land. iii BERNARDO I think it be no other but e'en so. Well may it sort that this portentous figure 113 Comes armed through our watch so like the King That was and is the question of these wars. 115 HORATIO A mote it is to trouble the mind's eye. 116 In the most high and palmy state of Rome, I 17 A little ere the mightiest Julius fell, I 18 The graves stood tenantless, and the sheeted dead 119 Did squeak and gibber in the Roman streets; As stars with trains of fire and dews of blood, 121 Disasters in the sun; and the moist star 122 Upon whose influence Neptune's empire stands 123 Was sick almost to doomsday with eclipse. 124 And even the like precurse of feared events, 125 As harbingers preceding still the fates 126 127 omen calamitous event 129 climatures dimes, regions 130 soft i.e., enough, break off 131 cross stand in its path, confront. blast wither, strike with a curse. 131 s.d. his its 137 privy to in on the secret of 138 happily haply perchance 144 partisan long-handled spear. 146--7 'Tis here! / 'Tis here! (Perhaps they attempt to strike at the Ghost, but are baffled by its seeming ability to be here and there and nowhere.) And prologue to the omen coming on, 127 Have heaven and earth together demonstrated Unto our climatures and countrymen. 129 Enter Ghost. But soft, behold! Lo, where it comes again! 130 I'll cross it, though it blast me. (It spreads his arms.) Stay, illusion! 131 If thou hast any sound or use of voice, Speak to me! If there be any good thing to be done That may to thee do ease and grace to me, Speak to me! If thou art privy to thy country's fate, 137 Which, happily, foreknowing may avoid, 138 Oh, speak! Or if thou hast uphoarded in thy life Extorted treasure in the womb of earth, For which, they say, you spirits oft walk in death, Speak of it! (The cock crows.) Stay and speak!-Stop it, Marcellus. MARCELLUS Shall I strike at it with my partisan? 144 HORATIO Do, if it will not stand. [They strike at it.] BERNARDO 'Tis here! 146 HORATIO 'Tis here! [Exit Ghost.] 147 MARCELLUs 'Tis gone. We do it wrong, being so majestical, To offer it the show of violence, For it is as the air invulnerable, And our vain blows malicious mockery. BERNARDO It was about to speak when the cock crew. 156 trumpet trumpeter 160 extravagant and erring wandering beyond bounds. (The words have similar meaning.) hies hastens 162 probation proof 164 'gainst just before 168 strike destroy by evil influence 169 takes bewitches. charm cast a spell, control by enchantment 170 gracious full of grace 172 russet reddish brown HORATIO And then it started like a guilty thing Upon a fearful summons. I have heard The cock, that is the trumpet to the morn, 156 Doth with his lofty and shrill-sounding throat Awake the god of day, and at his warning, Whether in sea or fire, in earth or air, Th'extravagant and erring spirit hies 160 To his confine; and of the truth herein This present object made probation. i 62 MARCELLUS It faded on the crowing of the cock. Some say that ever 'gainst that season comes 164 Wherein our Savior's birth is celebrated, This bird of dawning singeth all night long, And then, they say, no spirit dare stir abroad; The nights are wholesome, then no planets strike, 168 No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm, 169 So hallowed and so gracious is that time. 170 HORATIO So have I heard and do in part believe it. But, look, the morn in russet mantle clad 172 Walks o'er the dew of yon high eastward hill. Break we our watch up, and by my advice Let us impart what we have seen tonight Unto young Hamlet; for upon my life, This spirit, dumb to us, will speak to him. Do you consent we shall acquaint him with it, As needful in our loves, fitting our duty? MARCELLUS Let's do't, I pray, and I this morning know Where we shall find him most conveniently. Exeunt. 1.2 Location: The castle. 0.2 as i.e., such as, induding. 0.3 cum aijis with others 1 our my (The royal "we"; also in the following lines.) 8 sometime former 9 jointress woman possessing property with her husband 11 With.., eye with one eye smiling and the other weeping 13 dole grief 17 Now... know Next, you need to be informed that 18 weak supposal low estimate 20 disjoint... frame in a state of total disorder 21 Co-leagued... advantage joined to his illusory sense of having the advantage over us and to his vision of future success 23 Importing having for its substance 24 ..... .law (See 1.1.91, "Well ratified by law and heraldry") [1.2] Flourish. Enter Claudius, King of Denmark, Gertrude the Queen, [the] Council, as Polonius and his son Laertes, Hamlet, cum aliis [including Voltimand and Cornelius]. KING Though yet of Hamlet our dear brother's death The memory be green, and that it us befitted To bear our hearts in grief and our whole kingdom To be contracted in one brow of woe, Yet so far hath discretion fought with nature That we with wisest sorrow think on him Together with remembrance of ourselves. Therefore our sometime sister, now our queen, 8 Thimperial jointress to this warlike state, 9 Have we, as 'twere with a defeated joy-- With an auspicious and a dropping eye, ii With mirth in funeral and with dirge in marriage, In equal scale weighing delight and dole- 13 Taken to wife. Nor have we herein barred Your better wisdoms, which have freely gone With this affair along. For all, our thanks. Now follows that you know young Fortinbras, 17 Holding a weak supposal of our worth, 18 Or thinking by our late dear brother's death Our state to be disjoint and out of frame, 20 Co-leagued with this dream of his advantage, 21 He hath not failed to pester us with message Importing the surrender of those lands 23 Lost by his father, with all bonds of law, 24 To our most valiant brother. So much for him. Now for ourself and for this time of meeting. Thus much the business is: we have here writ To Norway, uncle of young Fortinbras- 29 impotent helpless 31 His i.e., Fortinbras'. gait proceeding 31--3 in that.., subject since the levying of troops and supplies is drawn entirely from the King of Norway's own subjects 38 dilated set out at length 39 let... duty let your swift obeying of orders, rather than mere words, express your dutifulness. 41 nothing not at all. 44 the Dane the Danish king 45 lose your voice waste your speech. 47 native dosely connected, related 48 instrumental serviceable 51 leave and favor kind permission 56 bow... pardon entreatingly make a deep bow, asking your permission to depart. Excerpted from Hamlet by William Shakespeare All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.