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Hamlet: A Book Review

Title: Hamlet (print+audio)

Author: William Shakespeare

Publisher: Folger Shakespeare Library (Audible)

Length: 3 hours 32 minutes

Photo Credit: Audible

In the past decade I have not had the chance to add a new Shakespearean play to my log. Admittedly, I don’t turn to Shakespeare to scratch my itch for literature or fiction. I don’t find myself in want of a new drama or comedy, but if those genres were atop my list then Shakespeare would be king and my collection of his books complete. There is no ill-will within me toward the great bard, but Shakespeare is a little out of category from the typical books I reach for on a shelf.

I am currently in the middle of earning my Master’s degree in English (from BGSU) and as one of my course assignments, I read Hamlet for the first time EVER!

Admittedly, Romeo and Juliet is the only play I’ve read by Shakespeare in its entirety. But, in my defense I read it annually with my English 9 students so it should count that I’ve read this selection no less than ten times.

Hamlet reflected the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet in many ways.

Both tales are drowned in the macabre. Both protagonists meet their deaths on the final pages. Both have conflicts of honor, love, dowry, and wealth.

Hamlet is the young son of a king whose death is still mourned on the opening pages. When the ghost of his kingly father begins to haunt the soldiers of Denmark, the young prince seeks out the will of the apparition and in doing so learns that the country has been deceived as to his father’s cause of death. The rest of the tragedy is Hamlet seeking revenge for his father’s murder which leads him to question the motives of his uncle, the new King Claudius. Talk about family dysfunction–when the play opens, King Claudius has recently married Hamlet’s mother making him also Hamlet’s step-father.

When you approach Shakespeare you know that there are certain things that come with the territory–poetic language, allusions, ironic conflict, and dark humor. Hamlet delivered on all of these expectations and then some.

As a teacher, I know that many of my students struggle with our study of Shakespeare. Over the past several years I have given the option to students to use audio versions of Romeo and Juliet. Curious to the benefits of such reading I decided to give it a try with this first read of Hamlet. I found that the Audible version (pictured above) of Hamlet was enticing. This rendition was a recorded dramatization and so hearing the effects and emotion in the parts really did aide in my understanding. I highly recommend listening while also following along with the text.

This reading was a great reminder for me to return to the classics every now and again. Check out my Goodreads account if you want to see what’s up next in my reading. I am aiming for 24 books this year. What about you!?!

The Ameri Brit Mom

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