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“The plot is a mishmash of disparate narratives; the expository opening scene, when soldiers on the night watch recount the tensions between Denmark and Norway, is deadening; and Shakespeare’s need to get Hamlet back to Denmark after his exile to England forces the playwright to resort to the preposterous expedient of having Hamlet’s ship be boarded by a subspecies of men previously unknown to history,  well-intentioned pirates , who helpfully spirit the prince back to Elsinore without even demanding a ransom,” notes Fr. Edward Oakes in today’s “On the Square” article, The Suffering, Abominable Hamlet .

That, he continues, is not the real problem T. S. Eliot complained about that about ninety years ago:

It has never been clear to the audience, he claimed, exactly  why Hamlet did not seek revenge for his father’s murder after promising his father’s ghost that he would do so. Indeed, no sooner has the ghost of his father returned to his place of punishment than Hamlet tells Horatio that he plans to “put an antic disposition on.” Why?

Fr. Oakes has an answer.



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