#22 – Shakespeare’s Hamlet Pt. 1: The First Modern Masterpiece?

Producer Trent returns to the podcast to discuss the first modern piece of literature to appear on the podcast: Shakespeare’s Hamlet. A dark, introspective, sprawling drama, Hamletis arguably Shakespeare’s masterpiece, and certainly one of the best of the twelve tragedies he penned. Scott and Trent discuss how Hamlet remains vital and relevant even in contemporary culture, and how Shakespeare’s incisive wit and rhetorical devices permeate the English language.

 

Despite his dense, layered verse and immense vocabulary — scholars estimate Shakespeare used over 25,000 words — Shakespeare wrote for a wide variety of people, commoners and kings alike, and found a way to weave language and story into plays that are accessible regardless of one’s education or background. Many readers encountering Shakespeare for the first time are intimidated by the complexity of the language. However, as Trent argues, Shakespeare’s plays are first and foremost meant to be seen, and good actors bring life and context to the language that help the audience understand the direction of the plot, the comportment of the characters, and their internal motivations. Any person attempting to read a play for the first time should see a good theatrical production, or, if that is not possible, watch an unabridged film adaptation. Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet (1996) is a must-watch, full of excellent Shakespearean actors and popular film actors.