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Hamlet

Hamlet a legendary prince of Denmark, hero of a tragedy by Shakespeare. The story is based on one in Saxo Grammaticus's Historiae Danicae, in which the young prince is opposed to the usurping uncle who has murdered Hamlet's father and married his mother.

In Shakespeare's play, Hamlet, adjured by his father's ghost to seek revenge, is torn between hatred of his usurping uncle and love for his mother; in allusive use, his name may indicate not only tragedy but also an ultimately fatal indecision.
Hamlet without the prince a performance or event taking place without the principal actor or central figure. The phrase derives from an account given in the Morning Post of September 1775, of a theatrical company in which the actor who was to play the hero ran off with the innkeeper's daughter; when the play was announced, the audience was told ‘the part of Hamlet to be left out, for that night.’

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Hamlet

Hamlet. Shakespeare's play (1600–1) has inspired operas and orch. mus. e.g.(1) Opera in 5 acts by Ambroise Thomas to lib. by Barbier and Carré, prod. Paris 1868, London 1869, NY 1872.(2) Opera (Amleto) by Faccio to lib. by Boito, prod. Genoa 1865.(3) Sym.-poem by Liszt, comp. 1858 as prelude to play.(4) Fantasy-ov. Op.67a by Tchaikovsky, 1888, and incid. mus. (16 items) Op.67b, 1891.(5) Opera in 3 acts by Searle to his own lib., prod. Hamburg 1968, London 1969.(6) Ballets on the subject have used mus. by Tchaikovsky, Clerico, Gallenberg, Blacher, and Shostakovich.(7) Other operas on the subject by Gasparini, D. Scarlatti, Mercadante, Grandi, and Szokolay among others.(8) Film music by Shostakovich and Walton.

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Hamlet

Hamlet

Prince Hamlet of Denmark, the main character in Shakespeare's famous play Hamlet, is one of the most complex figures in Western literature. Faced with avenging the murder of his father by killing his uncle, Hamlet struggles with the conflict between good and evil, weakness and strength, and his own indecision.

Hamlet is based on a legendary character found in Danish and Icelandic myths and folktales. An early version appears in an Icelandic saga of the a.d. 800S. Later the Prose Edda, a book of Norse* mythology from the 1220s, mentions a man named Amloi or Amlothi, whose story is similar to that of Hamlet.

Another source for the legend is Historiae Danicae (Danish Histories), written by Saxo Grammaticus in the 1100s. The work contains a story about a figure named Amleth who, like Hamlet, slays the uncle who has murdered his father. Modern scholars have found characters in early Celtic* mythology that seem related to the legend of Hamlet as well.

In Shakespeare's play, first performed in about 1600, Hamlet's uncle Claudius has murdered Hamlet's father and married his mother. Although eager for revenge, Hamlet is reluctant to act. The play focuses on his emotional turmoil and eventual acceptance of his fate. Although Hamlet finally kills Claudius, his actions lead to his own death as well as the deaths of others, including his mother.

saga story recounting the adventures of historical and legendary heroes; usually associated with Icelandic or Norse tales of the Middle Ages

* See Names and Places at the end of this volume for further information.

See also Celtic Mythology; Norse Mythology.

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Hamlet

Ham·let / ˈhamlit/ a legendary prince of Denmark, hero of a tragedy by Shakespeare. PHRASES: Hamlet without the Prince a performance or event taking place without the principal actor or central figure.

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hamlet

ham·let / ˈhamlit/ • n. a small settlement, generally one smaller than a village.

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hamlet

hamlet XIV. — AN. hamelet(t)e, OF. hamelet, f. hamel (mod. hameau), dim. f. ham — MLG., MDu. See -LET.

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hamlet

hamletmallet, palette, pallet, valet •tablet • pamphlet • aglet • anklet •candlelit • hamlet •Caplet, chaplet •lamplit • flatlet • mantlet •haslet, Hazlitt •scarlet, Scarlett, starlet, starlit, varlet •armlet • lancelet • branchlet •martlet, tartlet •plantlet • pellet • reglet • necklet •playlet • lakelet • bracelet •platelet, statelet •wavelet • leaflet • eaglet • streamlet •billet, filet, fillet, millet, skillet, willet •driblet, triblet •piglet • singlet • gimlet • inlet •kinglet, ringlet, springlet, winglet •ripplet, triplet •wristlet •eyelet, islet, stylet, twilit •pikelet •collet, Smollett, wallet •goblet • rodlet •omelette (US omelet) • droplet •torchlit •corselet, corselette •gauntlet (US gantlet) • owlet •townlet • toadlet • notelet • toilet •moonlit • sextuplet • fruitlet •bullet, pullet •booklet, brooklet, hooklet •quadruplet • annulet • septuplet •rivulet • quintuplet •gullet, mullet •doublet • floodlit •runlet, sunlit •couplet • cutlet • frontlet • violet •coverlet • circlet • verselet

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