Author: William Shakespeare
Publication Date: 1603
One of the most popular Shakespearean plays, Hamlet is a revenge tragedy written around 1601–02. William Shakespeare is said to have been inspired by Thomas Kyd’s Spanish Tragedy, which belongs to the same genre, and Ur-Hamlet. Both these works can be traced back to a Danish revenge story first recorded by Saxo Grammaticus in the 1100s. Shakespeare’s aim was to write a popular work that would appeal to the sensibilities of the theater-going masses.
Hamlet focuses on the moral dilemma of the protagonist, who is unable to decide whether he should avenge his father’s death. This was different from his contemporaries’ works, which emphasized the action on stage rather than the psychological landscape of the characters. Shakespearean tragedies usually arise out of the complexity of themes such as death, betrayal, and loyalty.
Hamlet’s role is said to have been originally written by Shakespeare for John Burbage, one of the most well-known Elizabethan actors. Since then, complete and truncated versions of the play have been adapted for different eras, settings, and audiences with well-known modern actors, including Jude Law, Laurence Olivier, Paapa Essiedu, and Ethan Hawke playing Hamlet’s role. Despite conspiracy theories suggesting that the play was perhaps not the work of a single writer, most critics and scholars agree that Shakespeare is the creator of this well-regarded play.
Hamlet Summary and Analysis
Hamlet Discussion Questions