The title of Hamlet…

The Second Quarto (1603-4): The Tragicall Historie of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark

Folger Shakespeare Library Digital Image Collection: title page (1604)
Folger Shakespeare Library Digital Image Collection: title page (1604)

 

The First Folio (1623): The Tragedie of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark

Folger Shakespeare Library Digital Image Collection: title page (1623)
Folger Shakespeare Library Digital Image Collection: title page (1623)

Tragical History or Tragedy?

What’s the difference? Is it important?

2 thoughts on “The title of Hamlet…”

  1. Ah, love the genre questions. The college professor who really turned me on to Shakespeare divided his plays into Comedy, Tragedy, History, and Romances. These are the same genres in my Complete Works, the David Bevington 4th Edition, and thus I am inclined to put each of his plays into one of these genres. I struggle most with Richard III since it fits into a tetralogy yet follows all the conventions of a tragedy. Hamlet to me is a clear cut tragedy.

    Haha, this topic makes me think of Hamlet 2.2.264, “The best actors in the world, either for tragedy, comedy, history, pastoral, pastoral-comical, historical-pastoral, tragical-historical, tragical-comical-historical-pastoral, scene individable, or poem unlimited…”

    That line always tickles my fancy, and I actually had to use my Shakespeare app to remember whether this was from Hamlet or from Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Comment?