Shakespeare's Hamlet (1914) Free PDF eBook

Download Shakespeare's Hamlet  (1914) Free PDF eBook

Shakespeare's Hamlet

Set in Denmark, the play depicts Prince Hamlet and his revenge against his uncle, Claudius, who has murdered Hamlet's father in order to seize his throne and marry Hamlet's mother.

An excerpt from the book's introduction:
William Shakespeare was baptized at Stratford-on- Avon on April 26, 1564, so that the date of his birth is probably April 22 or 23. He was the son of John Shakespeare, who had left his father's farm at Snitterfield about thirteen years before, and had come to Stratford, where he engaged in business (especially in the sale of agricultural produce), and became one of the prominent citizens of the town, holding office in the borough more than once.

He married, in I557, Mary Arden, the daughter of a wealthy farmer of excellent family, whose home was at Wilmcote, near Stratford. The dramatist, accordingly, came of good English stock. Shakespeare grew up in the little town of Stratford, in one of the most beautiful districts of England. He received his education in the Stratford grammar school, where he got the " small Latin and less Greek " with which Ben Jonson credited him. But his training, at least in Latin, was doubtless pretty thorough, and Jonson's statement must be interpreted in the light of his own very unusual scholarship. Shakespeare, nevertheless, was not primarily a scholar; his immense knowledge of men and things was gained in other ways. In 1582, when he was a mere boy of fewer than nineteen years, Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway, a woman of twenty-seven, the daughter of a neighboring farmer in the little village of Shottery.

The marriage does not seem to have been a very happy one; and three years later, in 1585, Shakespeare left Stratford, without his family (three children had been born to him), and went up to London. The tradition that he abandoned Stratford on account of difficulties into which he had fallen through poaching on the estate of Sir Thomas Lucy may have at least an element of truth in it, but there is no certainty regarding the details. The London to which Shakespeare went in 1585 or 1586 must not be thought of as the vast metropolis we know today. It was a city of between one and two hundred thousand inhabitants only.

But it was the center of the stirring life of a period more keenly alive, perhaps, than any other in English history, and it afforded a stimulating environment for the development of a genius like Shakespeare's. It was a time when horizons had been almost immeasurably widened. The discovery of the New World, with the possibilities which it was still thought to hold of realizing the dreams of centuries, had quickened men's imaginations to a degree which it is difficult for us to grasp. The Reformation had brought with it new freedom of thought; the Revival of Learning had opened up another new world, and from Italy especially — " that great limbec of working brains," as one of Shakespeare's contemporaries called it — young English- men were eagerly bringing back new literary forms. The war with Spain, that culminated in the defeat of the Armada, was awakening a new national consciousness. In a word, when Shakespeare came up to London, he found a community intensely alive at every point, — a community surpassingly adapted to call out just such powers as he possessed, and no less ready to respond to what is thus called out.

Author: Shakespeare
Publication Date:1914 

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