The Prince of Denmark
• Willie’s most popular play
• The longest of Shakespeare’s plays (when
performed in full)
• This play gets beat up on stage more than his
others (because of its length)
• There are a variety of written versions of the play
(Quartos I, II and III and Folio I)
• You are reading a combination of Quarto II and
Folio I—standard practice among Hamlet geeks.
More fascinating Hamlet facts
• Was probably first performed in 1600 by Shakespeare
and his theater company (known at this time as Lord
• A revenge play based on a story well known to
• Loosely based on a 12th century historical document
called Historia Danica by a guy named Saxo
• When someone got a call for him I’m sure they yelled,
• Hamlet was first printed in 1602, which was no big deal
because it is only six letters.
Still more Hamlet
• The famous actor (and W.S.’s partner)
Richard Burbage was the first well known
• Willie himself played the ghost of Hamlet’s
• Shakespeare had a son named Hamnet
who died very young, but there seems to
be no clear connection between the dead
kid and the living drama.
Hamlet—the fun never ends
• As you will discover, there has been a ton
of criticism written about Hamlet. If any
piece of literature in English has been
examined more closely, I’m surprised.
• For tomorrow read Ii.
• Note how you have a wealth of wonderful
info on all of the left-facing pages, so don’t
whine too much about comprehension
• All of W.S.’s plays begin with pizazz. This
one has the tension of impending war, a
ghost, and the possible murder of a king
(not unlike the 6 0’clock news).
The final slide is a special
Behold—the lost lines from the ending of
Hamlet. The few remaining characters chant
this together while dancing something like the
Hamlet, Hamlet, two by four
You said your momma was a whore.
You think your uncle offed your dad.
It ain’t no wonder you always feel so bad.
Ooh Hamlet—it’s not your birthday
Ooh Hamlet—you so dead!