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Hamlet’s MomentDrama and Political Knowledge in Early Modern England$
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András Kiséry

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198746201

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198746201.001.0001

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‘I Lack Advancement’

‘I Lack Advancement’

Political Agents and Political Servants in Hamlet’s Moment

3 ‘I Lack Advancement’
Hamlet’s Moment

András Kiséry

Oxford University Press

Shakespeare’s Hamlet departs both from earlier English dramatic representations of the world of politics, and from previous treatments of the story of the Prince of Denmark. While Shakespeare’s source, François Belleforest’s histoire tragique of Amleth, directly engages polemics about hereditary monarchy and about the subjects’ right to resist and depose the monarch, the play reflects a cultural turn away from public-minded polemic and towards the pressures on the self-interested subject. Differences between the first and second quarto of the play register a similar shift. And most importantly, the transformation of the cast of characters, the fall of the Polonius family and the rise of Horatio, capture a change in the understanding of the realm of politics, a change of emphasis from public office and action to loyalty and service.

Keywords:   Belleforest, Hamlet, Horatio, Polonius, service, friendship, First Quarto of Hamlet, Shakespeare

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