In this useful guide, Paul Cantor provides a clearly structured introduction to Shakespeare's most famous tragedy. Cantor examines Hamlet's status as tragic hero and the central enigma of the delayed revenge in the light of the play's Renaissance context. He offers students a lucid discussion of the dramatic and poetic techniques used in the play. In the final chapter he deals with the uniquely varied reception of Hamlet on the stage and in literature generally from the seventeenth century to the present day.
Chronology; Part I. Hamlet and the Renaissance: 1. The Renaissance context; 2. Heroism in the Renaissance epic tradition; 3. Tragedy and Renaissance man; 4. The place of Hamlet in Shakespeare's career; Part II. The Tragedy of Hamlet: 5. The problem of Hamlet; 6. Hamlet and the revenge play tradition; 7. Hamlet and classical heroism; 8. Hamlet and Christianity; 9. Hamlet as tragic hero; 10. The end of Hamlet; Part III. Dramatic and Poetic Technique: 11. The drama of Hamlet; 12. The language of Hamlet; Part IV. The Heritage of Hamlet: 13. Hamlet in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries; 14. Hamlet in the nineteenth century; 15. The comic Hamlet; 16. Hamlet in the twentieth century; Works cited; Guide to further reading.