How does one introduce a play that is already dizzy on its own superlatives? For this Salon, we come to study Hamlet afresh, not worrying about whether we see it as Shakespeare’s greatest play ever or whether we stand breathless at the language – but finding within the play that that has so riveted audiences and readers for centuries. We welcome to this Salon those who have never read or seen the play along with those who have memorized entire soliloquies – we will need both perspectives to carefully negotiate our way through the “constantly shifting register not only of action but of language” (Frank Kermode, Shakespeare’s Language, 2000).
What is Hamlet about? Themes include the most precise questions of loyalty, revenge and allegiance, what it means to be human, the role of fate and self-will, the truth of madness- the essences of human experience. The language must stand up to the weight of these themes – we will closely examine the words and structures to decide if it does and if so, how. Hamlet as a character is utterly compelling: the sinuous dance of his mind, his outrage at human frailty, his exquisite language infused by his agony at a world too small and mean for his spirit inspires the reader.
As with any other Salon dealing with a dramatic work, we will read aloud — sections of the text and view various filmed adaptations
- Two meeting study
- Any standard edition of Hamlet with line numbers
If you would like to request this study or have any questions about it, please contact us.