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Shakespeare's Letters$
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Alan Stewart

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199549276

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199549276.001.0001

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Rewriting Hamlet

Rewriting Hamlet

(p.261) 7 Rewriting Hamlet
Shakespeare's Letters

Stewart Alan

Oxford University Press

Hamlet is the most prolific letter-writer in William Shakespeare's drama. He writes a love letter to Ophelia. He writes to his uncle and stepfather king Claudius, advising him that he has returned to Denmark. He writes to his mother. He writes to his friend Horatio, with news and instructions on how to deliver other letters. He writes to the king of England, although not under his own name. Three of his letters are read out on stage in their entirety. Four, if not all, of these letters make a physical appearance on stage. Hamlet is thus filled with letters, its plot often dependent on them, and its hero its leading writer. As this chapter suggests, however, it is through the writing — or rather the rewriting — of one of Hamlet's letters that Shakespeare provides a different perspective on one of the play's central themes: how and what to remember.

Keywords:   Hamlet, William Shakespeare, drama, love letter, Ophelia, rewriting

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