Richard Wilson
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Denmark’s a prison
Hamlet and the rules of art
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Srigley suggests Hamlet was, in fact, revived at Greenwich in July 1606, when 'the King of Denmark would have watched a play in which the mirror was held up' to his inebriated and philandering court. William Shakespeare goes to conspicuous lengths in the Hamlet quartos to make Elsinore a vertiginous 'place of desperation'. Andrew Hadfield speaks for a current consensus when he deciphers Hamlet as 'a coded warning' of 'the problems that James might bring with him to England political instability. Far from being Shakespeare's own artistic manifesto, Hamlet's patronizing 'advice' to the players as their self-appointed Maecenas would have made for 'a disastrous failure in the Elizabethan commercial theatre'. On 23 January 2009 fresh evidence was published to confirm that Shakespeare's apprehension about the rottenness of Denmark had been acute. 'It is even suggested', one newspaper reported breathlessly, 'that Shakespeare used the alleged liaison as an inspiration for Hamlet'.

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Free Will

Art and power on Shakespeare’s stage


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