'An act hath three branches': Being and Acting in 'Hamlet'

William Christie

Abstract


Not all the ‘forms, moods, shapes of grief’ can denote Hamlet truly (or so he insists) ‘for these are actions that a man might play’. This article looks at the pun on acting that is verbally and conceptually focal to Shakespeare’s 'Hamlet', starting with the fascination with Hamlet the character manifest in the nineteenth century – when the play became the central text, not just of the Shakespeare canon, but of modernity itself – and ending with speculation about Hamlet’s emotional and ideological paternity.

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