Jessica's Reviews > Hamlet: Prince of Denmark

Hamlet by William Shakespeare
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's review
Jun 06, 11

bookshelves: play, re-reads
Read from June 02 to 06, 2011

How can you rate Hamlet? It gets an automatic five stars for being so ingrained in our consciousness that the whole thing reads like one quote after another. So, five stars.

I've read Hamlet at least twice before, but it had been more than a decade, and I wanted to re-read it in preparation for reading Infinite Jest this summer, since I know there are many parallels. I'd even forgotten that one of the most famous lines from Hamlet goes on to provide the title of David Foster Wallace's opus: "Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio, a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy."

It's funny reading Shakespeare - I'd breeze through a page that felt easy to understand, and then get completely steamrolled trying to figure out his language on the next page. I can understand why so many high school kids get frustrated; Shakespeare is actually perfect humor for that age set (lowbrow and punny) but it can be hard to recognize the jokes when the language is so different from what we're used to.

I actually really enjoyed coming back to Hamlet - I had forgotten a lot of the plot twists - and hope that I can find time to revisit some other Shakespeare plays as an adult.

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Reading Progress

06/02/2011 page 98

Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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Larry My favorite of the Bard's plays... Would love to discuss...

Larry I read Hamlet as a tragic "coming of age" story. It is the story of a prince coming into his inheritance and rising out from beneath the shadow of his elders.

message 3: by *Kate (new)

*Kate I have been wanting to give Hamlet another read, but I think my brain is still too mushy from being out of college and being a mom. I would actually really like to take another Shakespeare course, now that I'm an adult. It's always fascinating to reread something with a completely new perspective.

Jessica Larry, I think that's a good angle on it. I think the real reason it ends up being a tragedy is that he acts mad around Ophelia just like he does around the king and others - most of the characters who die probably wouldn't have if he'd handled that relationship differently. But it wouldn't be a Shakespearean tragedy if everyone didn't die at the end. :)

Kate, I did feel like some parts of Hamlet were surprisingly easy to read and others took a lot of concentration and re-reading to figure out, so it would probably feel a little challenging to re-read some Shakespeare if your brain is feeling mushy right now, but I don't think it would be insanely difficult to do. Maybe watch one of the movies first and then read the play with the story fresh in your mind? I was tempted to do it that way but didn't make the time to track down one of the movies before diving in.

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