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HOW DOES 'HAMLET' TRANSFORM ITS SOURCE MATERIAL?



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Essay from the year 2004 in the subject English Language and Literature Studies - Literature, grade: 17 (1,3), University of Aberdeen, course: EL2006: Reading Shakespeare, 9 entries in the bibliography, language: English, abstract: Like those of many other playwrights of his time, most story-lines of Shakespeare's plays were not invented by himself. On the contrary, Shakespeare used a wide range of different sources - from ancient myths to historical facts, from northern legends to popular contemporary tales. In this respect, Hamlet is not an exception. There are two early versions of the Hamlet story that definitely influenced Shakespeare in some way: the Historia Danica (or, The Danish History) by Saxo Grammaticus from the 12 th century and the Histoires Tragiques by François de Belleforest from the 16 th century. Furthermore, there is said to be another version from the late 16 th century named the Ur-Hamlet, which might have had an impact on Shakespeare's play as well. As there are, of course, countless similarities and differences between Shakespeare's Hamlet and its predecessors, I will, in the following comparisons, concentrate on a few aspects that I consider essential.

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