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At a crucial turning point in online access to quality productions of Shakespeare, the (April 2010) Great Performances airing of Hamlet (with David Tennant and Patrick Stewart), the occasion arose to turn the open access to it into teaching strategies. Along with all else quirky about it, the production accepts what seems to be a trend in recent film adaptations, dating from at least Zeffirelli's with Mel Gibson in 1991; that is, to rearrange the sequence of Hamlet's 2.2 and 3.1 soliloquies. The precedent dates to the 1603 First Quarto, perhaps, but everything else about the first quarto deserves its "bad quarto" designation. Why rearrange the two speeches and the action leading into them and accept nothing else about the validity of the 1603 quarto? In classes, I think it is important to distinguish between the results of this production choice and the text as almost always printed (either the second quarto or the 1604 text as informed by the Folio). One might make the case that the streamlining of the action of the performed text is likely the convenience of an actor and directorial choice. Psychologically, it may seem as if a Hamlet who revisits his brooding and melancholy within 65 lines of him coming up with his brilliant idea to "catch the conscience of the king" is on an emotional roller coaster. Does it not make more sense to deal with Hamlet's melancholy that is apparent in the "To Be or Not to Be?" and then bring in the players? Well, that's not exactly how Shakespeare (in the second quarto) or his company (in the Folio) left the play. Furthermore, a 1904 PMLA article by Lewis F. Mott argues that the repeated pattern of swings from resolve to hesitation in the later texts is what truly makes Hamlet so captivating.

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Presented for a panel in Teaching Shakespeare for PCAS/ACAS (Popular Culture / American Culture Association in the South) Conference in Savannah, GA. October 2010.