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.
when I saw’t. 240 Hamlet Not when I saw’t. His beard was grizzled, no? Horatio It was, as I have seen it in his life, A sable silvered.125 Hamlet I will watch to-night; Perchance ’twill walk again. Horatio I warrant126 it will. Hamlet If it assume my noble father’s person, 245 I’ll speak to it, though hell itself should gape And bid me hold my peace. I pray you all, If you have hitherto concealed this sight, Let it be tenable127 in your silence still, 123 bottom of a helmet’s
change, revolution, rebellion, insurrection (referring either to the success of 76 act 2 • scene 2 Hamlet Do they hold the same estimation158 they did when I was in the city? Are they so followed?159 Rosencrantz No, indeed, are they not. Hamlet How comes it? Do they grow rusty? Rosencrantz Nay, their endeavour keeps in the wonted pace,160 330 but there is, sir, an eyrie161 of children, little eyases, that cry out162 on the top of question, and are most tyrannically clapped163
placed for capture) 215 actions/words be too daring/presumptuous 216 my love makes me rude/discourteous/wanting in good manners 217 I do not know how to touch/play on it 218 manage/work these finger holes/stops 219 utter 220 control, master to any harmonious/pleasing/agreeable effect 221 secrets 222 measure, plumb, examine 125 act 3 • scene 2 350 the top of my compass223 – and there is much music, excellent voice, in this little organ,224 yet cannot you make it speak. ’Sblood, do you
which he was turned/transformed, might they not close/seal a beer-barrel 108 imperious ( and imperial) 109 Alexander (men were made by God from/out of dust/dirt/earth) 110 keep out the winter’s blast, gust 111 as mourners and with such crippled/cut-off/incomplete rites 112 point to, signal, be a sign of 113 did with despairing/hopeless/reckless hand end/do away with its own life 114 degree of rank/dignity/status. Let us hide, conceal 199 act 5 • scene 1 Laertes What ceremony else? 210
“separate but still connected” 26 friendly relations 27 many repeated uses of “as,” of great weight/importance 28 that immediately after reading and becoming aware of this intention 29 without discussion/argument, completely/exactly as instructed 30 Rosencrantz and Guildenstern 31 confession and absolution 32 directing, ordaining 207 act 5 • scene 2 I had my father’s signet in my purse,33 50 Which was the model of that Danish seal,34 Folded the writ up in form of th’ other,35