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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:

-The exact text of the printed book for easy cross-reference
-Hundreds of hypertext links for instant navigation
-Freshly edited text based on the best early printed version of the play
-Newly revised explanatory notes conveniently linked to 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 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781476788432
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 10/15/2014
Series: Folger Shakespeare Library
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 219,410
File size: 12 MB
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About the Author

William Shakespeare was born in April 1564 in the town of Stratford-upon-Avon, on England’s Avon River. When he was eighteen, he married Anne Hathaway. The couple had three children—an older daughter Susanna and twins, Judith and Hamnet. Hamnet, Shakespeare’s only son, died in childhood. The bulk of Shakespeare’s working life was spent in the theater world of London, where he established himself professionally by the early 1590s. He enjoyed success not only as a playwright and poet, but also as an actor and shareholder in an acting company. Although some think that sometime between 1610 and 1613 Shakespeare retired from the theater and returned home to Stratford, where he died in 1616, others believe that he may have continued to work in London until close to his death.

Barbara A. Mowat is Director of Research emerita at the Folger Shakespeare Library, Consulting Editor of Shakespeare Quarterly, and author of The Dramaturgy of Shakespeare’s Romances and of essays on Shakespeare’s plays and their editing.

Paul Werstine is Professor of English at the Graduate School and at King’s University College at Western University. He is a general editor of the New Variorum Shakespeare and author of Early Modern Playhouse Manuscripts and the Editing of Shakespeare and of many papers and articles on the printing and editing of Shakespeare’s plays.

Date of Death:


Place of Birth:

Stratford-upon-Avon, United Kingdom

Place of Death:

Stratford-upon-Avon, United Kingdom

Read an Excerpt

Act 1 Scene 1 running scene 1

Excerpted from "Hamlet"
by .
Copyright © 2011 William Shakespeare.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Young Readers Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Hamlet - William Shakespeare - Edited by Sylvan Barnet Samuel Taylor Coleridge: From The Lectures of 1811- 1812, Lecture XII
A. C. Bradley: From Shakespearean Tragedy
Maynard Mack: The World of Hamlet
Robert Ornstein: From The Moral Vision of Jacobean Tragedy

Catherine Belsey: From The Subject of Tragedy
Carolyn Heilbrun: The Character of Hamlet's Mother
Sylvan Barnet: 'Hamlet' on the Stage and Screen

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

Jonathan Bate is a passionate advocate of Shakespeare and his introductions are full of striking and convincing observations ... footnotes at the bottom of each page gloss unfamiliar items of vocabulary, paraphrase tricky meanings and uncover bawdy puns. There is a universe to be found in these annotations: the Renaissance world of power and fate, sex and death, language and philosophy.' – Times Educational Supplement

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Hamlet 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 369 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
There are many editions of Hamlet available, but I have never encountered one as exemplary as this one. The footnotes and margin notes are not overwhelming, but provide the perfect amount of assistance in understanding the text. In addition, the lines are spaced out nicely, making it easy to read. In purchasing an edition of Hamlet, this is the one to choose!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This review is not of Hamlet itself, but rather on this edition of Hamlet 'ISBN: 9781411400344', which was edited by Jeff Dolven and David Scott Kastan. I read a lot of heavily annotated books, and I have to say this is one of the best book designs I¿ve ever encountered. The various reference materials (footnotes and definitions for archaic words) appear in a manner that makes the text very easy to follow. The scholarship is also top-notch. The annotations give you enough information to make things clear, without insulting your intelligence, or without overburdening you with unnecessary detail. The essays are also interesting and informative. I¿ve been avoiding Shakespeare ever since high school, which was many years ago. Now that I¿m reading him again, I¿m glad I¿m in such good hands. It is making the experience a joy, rather than a chore. My compliments to the editors and the book designer. They have done a superior job of making this difficult text accessible to the modern reader. I wish my editions of Dante and Milton had similar layouts. Highly recommended.
RobinBaker More than 1 year ago
The font size is the equivalent of the smallest size possible on a regular Nook Book. Since one can't adjust the font size on a Pageperfect Nook Book, that makes it difficult to read. Also, the 2-page format (footnotes on left page, text on right page) is very awkward. Footnotes should have been done with popups initiated by touching the subscript number of the footnote. Much more elegant, and might be programmatically similar to the "Article View" pop-up window function for magazines. Difficult words are translated in the left-hand margin of the text page itself, and line numbers are provided in the right-hand margin. Margins are too wide, which helps explain why the font has to be so small to fit everything on the line.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Hamlet is without question one of the greatest literary works of all time, and should be read by anyone with a desire to improve his or her mind and attain a deeper understanding of literature. Philosophical, tragic, and even humorous by turns, Shakespeare's brilliantly crafted lines capture the mental torment of the title character with a skill which most writers struggle to aspire to. Personally, I didn't think much of Shakespeare until I read Hamlet, but the play about the Prince of Danes is truly at the pinnacle of his work, and of English literature as well.
Bookworm95AO More than 1 year ago
I had read Romeo and Juliet and Othello before going into Hamlet. Though Othello and RJ were my favorites, I really did enjoy Hamlet. It's very interesting and makes you think about common issues in life such as revenge, and right and wrong. The notes make it easy to understand. Shakespeare is once again, brilliant.
Dag-Stomberg-Scotland More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best annotated books of Hamlet yet produced, in my opinion it is superb! All the pathos, intrigue and tragedy are explained in highly readable interpretations because of the annotations. In this day and age, Elizabethan English must be explained to reach a broader understanding. The essay in this book by Harold Bloom is excellent and appreciated!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was forced to read this for English, but it didn't feel that way at all, it was great. The revenge, murder, drama, and sneakiness of Hamlet all add this as one of Shakespeare's great plays.
Nighteen-Eighty-Four More than 1 year ago
This is one of my favorates of Shakespire's writings. I originally had to read this for eleventh Grade English and write a paper on it, but I fell in love with the tragedy of it all. The Emotions you get to experience fist hand: Revenge, Dispair, Rage, insest, morral coruption, and lets not forget the all impending Madness! It's an illustrious story!
Benedick_101 More than 1 year ago
YES, YES, YES! Read it! It's a great story and the Barnes and Noble edition makes understanding the sixteenth century language easy.
Good_Pilgrim More than 1 year ago
This is, in my personal opinion, Shakespeare's greatest play of all time. The story has so many levels: madness, death, revenge, love, age, etc. A reader/viewer/director/actor of this play has so much to consider it will keep you forever thinking even after the final curtain or final page is turned. I personally find the topic of death in the play particularly stimulating. Hamlet's view of the dead is so drastically different than the views of any other in the play (closely followed by Laertes', however). Without spoiling anything I can say that to Hamlet, the dead are still alive in the attitudes and memories of their survivors. This is one of the great causes of his angst towards Claudius and Gertrude at the beginning of the play, before he even knows that his father was murdered. One of my favorite scenes is in the graveyard at the beginning of Act 5 when Hamlet is considering the skull of Yorick. The contrast of Hamlet and the Clown in this scene is so vast and exemplary of Hamlet's attitude. The Clown does not even consider the dead to be human, but dirt, and to Hamlet this is an abomination. But I have said too much. Read it or view it (even better, both) for yourself. I hope you will see what I mean.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Hamlet is bar none the single greatest work of all time. One has not lived until he has read Hamlet. It is impossible to due justice to Hamlet in a short blurb, but know that if you have not read Hamlet, you are seriously missing out, and need to reevaluate your priorities in life.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Riddled with madness, backstabbing, and bitter love, Hamlet has been unwillingly exposed to the worst side of humanity. Everyone around him tries to hide their blemishes but it is Hamlet's gruesome job to bring light upon their dark. He is constantly harassed by inner and outer demons, and seems to be the only one noticing the fall of people around him. There are times in life when it seems that 'you are the only one' and that 'noone understands you', and so was the case with poor Hamlet.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have usually mildly enjoyed those plays I've read of Shakespeare (I have read and viewed about 5) So when I read 'Hamlet' I was expecting the same, however, I was pleasantly surprised that I found myself intensely enjoying the play, its theological and moral questions, as well as the interesting characters and their complex relationships. This is truly a masterpiece.
txrefugee More than 1 year ago
The Bard after all is the Bard. What is compelling about Burton Raffel's editing is his focus on Shakespeare as heard poetry. As he noted in his Introduction his is a "nonscholarly" edition meant for the student, the actor and the casual reader. The footnotes explain the meanings of words, rather than the nuances and historical contexts that are the domain of literature and specifically, Shakespeare scholars. This is Shakespeare as his actors and his audiences would have heard and understood him. And what a dandy ride it is!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love Hamlet. Dislike this version. "Footnotes" are interspersed within the text, breaking the flow of reading. They should have been moved to end notes or removed altogether. Makes it very annoying to read. That's the kind of thing I'd expect from a free eBook, not one I paid $5 for. Preview was all front matter, so I didn't see the footnote problem until after I bought it. :-/
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Do NOT get this book if you want to see the notes and will be reading it on a nook. The notes are in black text on a black background. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Paid additional to have both express mailed. Every time I spoke to CS got a different story as to what "Express" means. Supervisor equally confused and misleading. Was promised refund on shipping - never happened. Book came directly from B&N and not third party. Will avoid using B&N at all costs in the future.
Book_Addict92 More than 1 year ago
"Hamlet," in my opinion, is the best written Shakespearean play. The questions it creates about sanity and human nature was pure brilliance. You can almost feel the chaos jump off the page and it keeps you turning the pages till the very end. This play will not disappoint you.
JohnLemon More than 1 year ago
This review is not of Hamlet itself, but rather on this edition of Hamlet (ISBN: 9781411400344), which was edited by Jeff Dolven and David Scott Kastan. I read a lot of heavily annotated books, and I have to say this is one of the best book designs I've ever encountered. The various references materials (footnotes and definitions for archaic words) appear in a manner that makes the text very easy to follow. The scholarship is also top-notch. The annotations give you enough to make things clear without insulting your intelligence, or without overburdening you with unnecessary detail. The essays are also interesting and informative. I've been avoiding Shakespeare ever since high school, which was many years ago. Now that I'm reading him again, I'm glad I'm in such good hands. It is making the experience a joy, rather than a chore. My compliments to the editors and the book designer. They have done a superior job of making this difficult text accessible to the modern reader. I wish my editions of Dante and Milton had similar layouts. Highly recommended.
ballet-shoes More than 1 year ago
This is truly one of the BEST books i have ever read. This was my first time reading a book by Shakespeare and i was certainty not disappointed. This is a very dramatic and eventful tragedy about the prince of Denmark. Although the language is sort of difficult to understand this version provides excellent notes that made me understand completely what it was about. I loved this book so much i read it in one day.
avinash More than 1 year ago
The name Shakespeare pretty much says it all for this piece really. The story that has been critically analyzed thousands of times somehow never seems to diminish in value. Of the old classics, this is one of the few I adore.
ArneyT More than 1 year ago
A great way to really get into Shakespeare's world. Clean, clear print, excellent notes and articles, awesome story, and, of course, the one of the world's greatest playwrights.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Hamlet is a very good book. William Shakespeare out did himself when he wrote it. Hamlet finding out that his father was murdered by his uncle, made just the right type of storyline. He loved Ophelia, but had to get revenge for his father. I won't give away the ending, but I will say that this book is one of Shakespeare's best Tragedies.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I don't know if I would like this play any better if it didn't have the supernatural quality to its overall meaning. We can assume that had his father's ghost not appeared to him, Hamlet would have lived a normal life as Prince and heir to the throne. But the ghost of his dead father appears to set the tragedy in motion. Realism is violated with the device of a ghost. Hamlet's goal is to avenge his father's murder. When he starts meditating about that request, he is labelled 'mad' by the family and friends that surround him. Their initial concern is to alleviate the disquiet of his mind. Hamlet expresses the play's theme in his speeches. Something unnnatural has entered his environment, upsetting the sense of personal, social, and political normality, making the play thus apocalyptic, as tragedy can be, and because of which his rational position in life is nullified. What is natural is the principle of the Good. Or, has that problem preceded Hamlet's life and times, so that Hamlet can be called another sorry example of a diseased society? 'To be or not to be': in other words, why continue living if people will not think and behave sanely and rightly? Hamlet turns to philosophizing because of what has happened. After expressing his dissatisfaction, the friends and family who previously had wanted to help him have resolved to kill him. For they are content with the ways of the world and they do not need Hamlet inducing guilt in them. On the other hand, Hamlet still has to get around to the business of killing Claudius, the King, as he was bidden to do. The tragedy lies in the fact that Hamlet stops living as a man integrated within the Denmark society he was born into. And, in terms of fulfilling the theme's requirements, he does kill Claudius in the last scene. The King sends Hamlet to England to let someone kill him there. But because of a mishap on the ship, Hamlet sends for Horatio to come to bail him out. He will return to Denmark. As a fitting correlate to this tragic plot, Ophelia, who is Hamlet's woman, eventually goes mad and commits suicide. If the environment were functioning well, Hamlet and Ophelia could be married and live happily together. Instead Hamlet shuns her. It is a fascinating irony that Hamlet declares in the abstract that he does love Ophelia. However, there is no reason to love Hamlet because the natural course of human existence has been overturned by the present king's foul murder. A sick world is useless, and so is Hamlet's love for a woman, or for anything else, for that matter. Hamlet, moreover, is fully aware of his divine purpose. Conversely, he cannot handle his life as a prince anymore. Laertes, Polonius' son, after returning from France, wants to kill Hamlet because he murdered his father. The king and Laertes devise a specific plan, with a contingency plan, to kill Hamlet when they see him upon return. Osric, a courtier, delivers the news of the suggested duel to Hamlet. Hamlet is game and accepts the challenge, which is couched as a wager. At the end, Horatio, like a true friend, is by Hamlet's side to offer moral support and to tell the tale of noble Hamlet's 'woe and wonder.' The duel takes place rather quickly. Hamlet apologizes to Laertes that his madness was a force external to him, incited by unforeseen circumstances, and, therefore, being a good man, he was not truly responsible for Ophelia's and Polonius' deaths. Laertes responds that he is not listening to his self-proclaimed judgments. They fight with swords, one of which was dipped in poison, and both wind up killing each other. The Queen drinks a cup of wine that contains poison, meant for Hamlet's throat, and she dies. Hamlet also kills the king. In this elaborate death scene, the apocalyptic theme comes to fruition. A reader of 'Hamlet' has to understand from the get-go that any metaphysical framework, as the Elizabethan 'theory of corr
Guest More than 1 year ago
When I first discovered Hamlet, my only experience with Shakespeare was 'Romeo and Juliet' early in my english studies at high school. At that time, I despised it!!! But then I found first the movie, staring Kenneth Branagh and I was swept away with the passion, anger, love, hatred, and hopelessness of the script. Since then I've read the book numerous times, knowing many lines by heart. It is fantastic. Take your time when reading it and absorb as much as you can!! My opinion on Shakespeare now?? 'He was a man, take his for all in all, I shall not look upon his like again'.