Carol Rutter, Professor of Shakespeare and Performance Studies in the Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies at the University of Warwick, has appeared on BBC Radio 4's In Our Time discuss Shakespeare's best known, most quoted and longest play - Hamlet.
Written c1599 - 1602 and rewritten throughout Shakespeare's lifetime, the story saw Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, encouraged by his father's ghost to take revenge on his uncle who murdered him, and is set at the court of Elsinore.
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In soliloquies, the Prince reveals his inner self to the audience while concealing his thoughts from all at the Danish court, who presume him insane. Shakespeare gives him lines such as 'to be or not to be,' 'alas, poor Yorick,' and 'frailty thy name is woman', which are known even to those who have never seen or read the play. And Hamlet has become the defining role for actors, men and women, who want to show their mastery of Shakespeare's work.
Speaking on the origins of the play, Professor Rutter spoke during the discussion about how Shakespeare drew inspiration from Thomas Kyd's Spanish Tragedy "which is a play that invents the idea of a revenge inside of a revenge play" and also included promiment soliloquies.
Discussing one of the most famous skulls in all of literature, Professor Rutter said of Yorick's skull in Act V that "moment has become iconic".
"Yorick in conversation with the Prince has become the poster boy because it distills so many of the themes of youth, death, conversation and trying to get to the end of conversarions - this is a play that starts by asking 'Who's there?' and winds up at the end still asking the same question".
3 January 2018
Tom Frew - Senior Press and Media Relations Manager:
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