Cover

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Title page, Copyright page

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pp. i-vi

Table of Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Preface and Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xiv

Hamlet became a modern hero, I contend, as soon as Shakespeare put his hands on him four hundred years ago. At least, the only other Hamlets who have come down to us are distinctly medieval, even ancient, if folk and classical analogues are taken into...

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Chapter One: Medieval Hamlet Gains a Family

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pp. 3-25

Ignorance about the lost play that was performed on the English stage some years before Shakespeare’s Hamlet makes it all the more imperative to compare his play—traditionally the conflation of two texts, the quarto of 1604 and folio of 1623—with the still earlier narrative versions of the...

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Chapter Two: Hamlet's Mourning and Revenge Tragedy

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pp. 26-70

Because death imposes itself so heavily on the action—and because there is a much lamenting ghost—it seems odd that more interpretations of Hamlet are not directly concerned with grief and mourning. In 1930 Lily Bess Campbell contributed a chapter on the...

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Chapter Three: History, as between Goethe's Hamlet and Scott's

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pp. 71-101

Revenge as the real or imagined recourse of mourning has its human appeal, and the popularity of Shakespeare’s Hamlet both attests to this appeal and very likely enhanced it. The conventions of revenge tragedy were not put to an end by the closing of the English theaters; some were...

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Chapter Four: Hamlet's Expectations, Pip's Great Guilt

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pp. 102-139

In the polity of Shakespeare’s plays, expectations tend to be royal. Expectations that matter most and absorb the interest of all ranks are those of princes for the ensuing kingship. In Ophelia’s distraught summary of what Hamlet seemed to be before his mind was overthrown, he was “th’ expectancy and rose of...

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Chapter Five: Hamlet Decides to Be a Modernist

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pp. 140-174

Mindful perhaps of the correlation between analysis and synthesis in chemical engineering, Freud toyed with the idea of dream synthesis in his own work of analysis, The Interpretation of Dreams. “I cannot disguise from myself,” he rather wistfully remarks, “that the easiest way of making...

Index

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pp. 175-178