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Hamlet by William Shakespeare

Download Hamlet as PDF

Shakespeare's immortal play Hamlet needs little introduction, but in short: A Danish prince learns from his father (now a ghost) that he was murdered by his own brother Claudius, who married the prince's mother and took the throne. Full of angst and doubt, Hamlet spends the rest of the play wracked with indecision: to kill or not to kill Claudius, that is... one of the nagging questions. But all the uncertainty at hand is the best part - Is Hamlet really crazy or is he just putting on a show? Is the ghost really his dad or is Hamlet truly nuts?

It is its layers of potential meaning that make Shakespeare's play so monumental. There is the standard reading that says Hamlet lags in action because he's in fact torn with guilt; then there's the alternative reading that says he hated his father and loved his mother a little too much, thus his inaction is based on some Oedipal complex. Again, it's up to the reader to decide. What's more we have some of the most vivid soliloquies in Shakespeare, including "to be or not to be" and many more. Finally, before reading Hamlet for the first time, it's advisable to see a staging of the play, as it was written to be performed. To do otherwise would be like reading a screenplay of a movie you have never seen.

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