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Hamlet

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Charles Kean as Hamlet, 1838

Hamlet is a revenge tragedy by William Shakespeare. It was probably written sometime between 1600 and 1604. It was probably first performed shortly after its completion.

The play was published during Shakespeare's lifetime as a single, small book called a quarto. After his death, it was published by his friends and fellow actors in a large book, called the First Folio, collecting 36 of his plays. Hamlet is about a young Danish prince named Hamlet. His murdered father returns as a ghost. He identifies his murderer, and bids Hamlet to take revenge. Hamlet lets every chance for revenge slip away. The play ends with Hamlet finally killing his father's murderer, but then Hamlet himself is killed in a duel.

Richard Burbage was probably the first actor to play Hamlet. Since then, every great actor has wanted to play Hamlet. It is a very challenging role. Laurence Olivier and Mel Gibson have both starred in movie versions of the play.


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