English@Banagher College, Colaiste na Sionna.


William Shakespeare’s


Marty Rea as Hamlet

Banagher College LCI students recently attended a performance of Shakespeares’s famous play at the Black Box theatre in Galway. The performance was produced by Second Age Productions.

The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, or more simply Hamlet, is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1599 and 1601. The play, set in Denmark, recounts how Prince Hamlet exacts revenge on his uncle Claudius, who has murdered Hamlet’s father, the King, and then taken the throne and married Gertrude, Hamlet’s mother. The play vividly charts the course of real and feigned madness—from overwhelming grief to seething rage—and explores themes of treachery, revenge, incest, and moral corruption.

Despite much literary detective work, the exact year of writing remains in dispute. Three different early versions of the play have survived: these are known as the First Quarto (Q1), the Second Quarto (Q2) and the First Folio (F1). Each has lines, and even scenes, that are missing from the others. Shakespeare probably based Hamlet on the legend of Amleth, preserved by 13th-century chronicler Saxo Grammaticus in his Gesta Danorum and subsequently retold by 16th-century scholar François de Belleforest, and a supposedly lost Elizabethan play known today as the Ur-Hamlet.

Given the play’s dramatic structure and depth of characterization, Hamlet can be analyzed, interpreted and argued about from many perspectives. For example, scholars have debated for centuries about Hamlet’s hesitation in killing his uncle. Some see it as a plot device to prolong the action, and others see it as the result of pressure exerted by the complex philosophical and ethical issues that surround cold-blooded murder, calculated revenge and thwarted desire. More recently, psychoanalytic critics have examined Hamlet’s unconscious desires, and feminist critics have re-evaluated and rehabilitated the often maligned characters of Ophelia and Gertrude.

Hamlet is Shakespeare’s longest play and among the most powerful and influential tragedies in the English language. It provides a storyline capable of “seemingly endless retelling and adaptation by others”.[1] During Shakespeare’s lifetime, the play was one of his most popular works,[2] and it still ranks high among his most-performed, topping, for example, the Royal Shakespeare Company’s list since 1879.[3] It has inspired writers from Goethe and Dickens to Joyce and Murdoch and has been described as “the world’s most filmed story after Cinderella“.[4] The title role was almost certainly created for Richard Burbage, the leading tragedian of Shakespeare’s time.[5] In the four hundred years since, it has been played by highly acclaimed actors, and sometimes actresses, of each successive age.


Hamlet Interpreted

Kenneth Branagh performs the first soliloquy


‘To be or not to be……’


Modern………Ethan Hawke takes on ‘What a piece of work is man…..’


Key Scene: Act III, Scene IV (Closet Scene)

Part 1

Part 2


South Park produce the final scene:



For the younger viewer……..


Useful Links

Shakespeare online: almost everything you could ever want to know about Hamlet – summaries, characters, analysis, quotations, quizzes etc.

Spark Notes: straightforward guide to the play.

Cliff Notes: study guide.

Hamlet Regained: provides a simplified translation alongside the original text of the play.

RTE’s Hamlet in Howth: Alan Stanford gives  a four-part masterclass on Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the featured play on this year’s Leaving Certificate, with the pupils of Santa Sabina, Dominican College, St. Fintan’s High School (Sutton), Scoil Iosa, (Malahide) and PobalScoil Neasáin, (Baldoyle).

or download the podcasts from itunes.

SCC English: Useful podcasts on Hamlet from the English Department at St. Columba’s college in Dublin.


Quick Revision….


Very Quick Revision……



Some useful quotations for a Hamlet question

‘This is I/ Hamlet the Dane.’

‘most generous and free from all contriving.’

‘The glass of fashion and the mould of form.’

‘How weary, flat and unprofitable/Seem to me all the uses of this world!’

‘this goodly frame the earth, seems to me a sterile promonotory’

‘I have of late – but wherefore I know not – lost all my mirth, foregone all custom of exercises.’

‘As I perchance hereafter shall think meet/ To put an antic disposition on’

‘O cursed spite, that ever I was born to set it right’

‘Thus conscience doth make cowards of us all.’

‘some crown scrupple, of thinking too precisely on th’ event.’

‘O cursed spite, that ever I was born to set it right.’

‘…is drunk asleep or in his rage, or in the incestuous pleasure of his bed.’

‘He’s loved of the distracted multitude.’

‘How all occasions do inform against me/ And spur my dull revenge.’

‘I am proud, revengeful, ambitious.’

‘for though I am not splentive and rash/ Yet I have in me something dangerous.’

‘rightly to be great/ is not to stir without great argument/ but greatly to find quarrel in a straw/ when honour’s at the sake.’

‘There’s a divinity that shapes our ends.’

‘Is’t not perfect conscience to quit him with this arm?’

‘Now could I drink hot blood.’

‘He was likely, had he been put on, to have prov’d most royally.’

‘Good-night, sweet prince,/And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.’

‘he was likely, had he been put on, / To have proved most royal’

*New* More useful quotations – here


And finally………..Hamlet: Hollywood style!



One Response to Hamlet

  1. Valerie says:

    Thank you for the useful links, information and videos you posted on Hamlet. And I also enjoy the humor! To me Shakespeare leaves room in his writing so the actors can put in their personal take on Hamlet. What do you think?

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