The Origin of Hamlet

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The origin of Hamlet is believed to date back to the death of his son Hamnet in 1596 of an unknown illness, and it is thought to be a prominent factor in leading Shakespeare to write Hamlet. To go along with this, early in 1601 (the year he released Hamlet), he lost his father. The grieve that he felt from the death of his child and father left him in a state of sorrow which led him to write this great tragedy. The death of his father may be a reason to why Shakespeare writes of a grieving son because this is a manner in which he is trying to express his pain. The basic plotline for Hamlet stems from the Danish legend of Amleth in which a king is murdered by his brother who then goes and marries the ex-king’s wife. The ex-king’s son then plots against his uncle in order to obtain revenge for the death of his father. There are many similarities between these two plays, and it is believed that Shakespeare may have possibly adapted ideas from Amleth.

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The first of Amleth was written in Latin, so it is highly unlikely he read this play from its first version. However, a French adaptation was printed in 1971, and this is the version that Shakespeare more than likely read. Since there was no written data or historical data from this time period about him, nothing can be fully confirmed. There is no physical evidence that completely confirms any specific theories there are, but most evidence proves that these two are most likely to be the origins of Hamlet.

The play of Hamlet was written in 1601, and there are three other versions of the play that was made. They were released in 1603, 1604, and 1623 while each are a version of the original Hamlet each one is said to have its own background and history. During the time of the release of Hamlet, the reign of Queen Elizabeth the firsts was coming to an end. The people of England had no idea who the successor would be or what would happen to England during this time. The queen had no heir to take the throne since she was the last in her family. A great wave of uncertainty and fear of change swept throughout the nation, and Shakespeare forms Hamlet to display this skepticism and uncertainty. In Hamlet, the king is murdered by his brother who jumps onto the throne and self proclaims himself to be the ruler of the nation.

Shakespeare plays on the fear of people’s change with the ruler, and he uses this current event of the time to implement a similar storyline. This was not very common at this time, and it brought a sense of change to theater. This is what makes him successful for his time period. Shakespeare is known to many as one of the most influential and expert playwrights ever, and he had lots of success throughout his career. This play was written right in the midst of Shakespeare’s career, and it was the 22nd piece he had written at the time. He went on to write a total of 37 different pieces which shows his great expertise and credentials that go with his name. This has become one of his most popular piece of work, and it is being recited worldwide on a daily basis while also factoring into modern day literature.

When the play first began to be released, it was met with mixed reviews. At the time, the most genre for plays by him were histories. Hamlet on the other hand is a tragedy which was not as prominent as histories during this time period. Most critics during the mid 17th century were indifferent towards Hamlet, and they actually preferred many other pieces of work over this. It wasn’t until approximately 80 years after Hamlet was first performed that it was officially published and copies were handed out on a wide scale. However even with the lack of interest and popularity that was shown towards Hamlet, Shakespeare was able to obtain some of the premier performers of the time.This included John Heminges, Thomas Pope, Augustine Phillips, and Robert Armin. All the roles were played by males which was a commonality of this time period. Women had little to no role in the acting industry at this time, and all roles no matter the gender were filled by males. This continued to be the case for a long time to come until 1960 at one of Shakespeare’s plays 44 years after his death. Overtime, Hamlet has become regarded as a masterpiece, and it will forever be one. It is seen to be one of the most influential and greatest plays of all time with numerous spinoffs.

Since the official release of Hamlet in 1601, it has only grown in popularity. At first it was a little slow because tragedies were not very common during the first few decades of the 1600’s. After the 1660’s the traction picked up, and it became extremely popular. Especially throughout the 18th century, people would go watch it anytime it was being performed. It helped people rise to celebrity status throughout this time period. This made the play even more popular because many of the viewers would come to watch the play to see these celebrities in London. Thomas Betterton portrayed the character of Prince Hamlet for over 50 years, and this led him to a great load of stardom. He began portraying him in 1661, and he was still receiving praise well into the 18th century for his part. In the 18th century, the popularity was mainly centralized in London. It wasn’t until early in the 19th century that it became popular elsewhere. It was performed to Napoleon (the ruler of France), and he slowly opened up to it. People begin to love the play as the 19th century continues on, and people grow greatly fond of Shakespeare.

They begin to greatly praise him by devoting art on an international scale to him, and this includes majority of Europe. As time moved on, Hamlet begin to grow even in more popularity. There have been 13 Hamlet movies which have been made and each have been extremely popular. Furthermore, it is performed on a daily basis at theaters all around the world. There have also been multiple loose adaptations with movies, tv shows or books that have plots based on the play. One major loose adaptation is Lion King because the king’s brother (Scar) murders the king (Mufasa) and in the end the son (Simba) enacts his revenge on his hateful uncle. Leading it to be eerily similar to Hamlet with there similar plots.

Being able to achieve a successful legacy is an extremely difficult task, but Hamlet achieves this with ease. It is viewed as one of the most prolific plays ever written, and it continues to be read and performed daily. Back in the 17-18th centuries, it helped bring lots of attention to theater due to its extreme popularity. Hamlet completely revolutionized the theater setting with all of the twists and turns it provided throughout the play. It helped bring a new era upon theater, and it brought along new genres and plays. Stories began to change and evolve to attempt to match the greatness of Hamlet and Shakespeare.Not only did it impact theater in the 17th and 18th century, it has greatly impacted modern literature as well, and many other authors have utilized specific literary tools that were used in Hamlet in their own writing.

However, there are a few critiques to Hamlet which exist with the character himself. These are because people wonder why Hamlet did not kill Claudius at an earlier time because he was given multiple opportunities to do so. There is also the great debate as to whether Hamlet was pretending to be crazy or if it was a ploy he was playing. Even with these great debates, Hamlet has an extraordinary legacy of completely changing the playwright world, and this leads it to earn the honor of being one of the greatest and most influential plays ever made.

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The Origin Of Hamlet. (2019, Apr 10). Retrieved December 1, 2022 , from

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