CR Episode 193: Hamlet, Act I

Hamlet and the Ghost
Hamlet and the Ghost

Download Link: Released on 18 September 2023

The panel reads the first act of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, providing an overview of the action and the textual history, with selected readings from within the five scenes paying particular attention to puns, irony, and the mirroring of characters.


  1. Way late commenting, but just wanted to say thank you for the exellent readalong and discussions of Frankenstein!

    Finished reading Act I this morning. Very excited to listen to the episode tomorrow!

  2. Speaking of puns, a friend and I once worked up an idea of a restaurant where all the dishes were based on philosophical aphorisms, one of them being “To Thine Own Self: Beet Roux.”

  3. I really enjoyed the discussion about how reading a Shakespeare play is different than seeing the play. It is so interesting that a character can seem guilty or innocent, naive or sly, truly mad or just pretending, etc., depending on how a line is delivered.

    If Shakespeare had used emojis to let readers know his intent, do you think this would make the play better or diminish it? Is it known if there was a “right” way to perform the plays when Shakespeare was around to tell people what he meant?

    The book “srsly Hamlet” by Courtney Carbone consists of Hamlet and Ophelia texting each other. You can imagine Hamlet texting “2 (picture of bee) or (circle with a slash) 2 (picture of bee)”. It is probably not as bad as Emoji Dick; or the (picture of a whale), but not by much.

    One thing that puzzles me about Hamlet is that I don’t think he ever tells us how he feels about not being chosen as the king. Instead, he seems more upset about his mother’s possible infidelity. In Act 1 Scene 4 line 30 he talks about people who have a stamp of one defect – which is not their fault – which can lead to their corruption. Could he be implying that his “defect” is the possibility that his birth was not legitimate, thus fueling his own internal crisis and inability to act? If this isn’t the reason, I don’t understand why a 30 year old crown prince would not be very distressed at being passed over.

    I am not reading or watching Hamlet. Instead, I am listening to it on The Hamlet Podcast. I find it really helpful because Conor Hanratty explains the meaning, or possible meanings, of each line. Otherwise, I would be totally lost!

    Tanzenmatt – I would love to go to your restaurant! Is there a recipe for “To Thine Own Self: Beet Roux.” (emoji laughing face)

  4. I downloaded Hamlet to my kindle and am reading along as you discuss it. The Hamlet I am reading has the original text and a modern translation below the original. You may say that is cheating but it greatly helps understanding for me.
    That said, I enjoy the original text when reading those classic axioms that appear mostly spoken by Hamlet.
    So far I characterize Hamlet as a self absorbed ruminator. Clearly very intelligent and thus cursed by seeing different sides of an issue to a point where he can’t act. Caught in a rational hall of mirrors where a less ruminative person would feel an explosion of rage and instantly kill his father’s murderer. But Things are only getting started in the play.

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