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Doubtful and dangerousThe question of succession in late Elizabethan England$
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Susan Doran and Paulina Kewes

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780719086069

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719086069.001.0001

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Hamlet and succession

Hamlet and succession

(p.173) Chapter 9 Hamlet and succession
Doubtful and dangerous

Richard Dutton

Manchester University Press

Shakespeare’s chief addition to the sources of the Hamlet story was the figure of Fortinbras. With this, what had earlier been a tale mainly of revenge became also one of succession, giving it immediate relevance to late Elizabethan England. When we examine the role of Fortibras as it is developed in the three versions of Shakespeare’s play (and in the 1676 Davenant/Betterton Players’ Hamlet) we can see that relevance being addressed with various nuances. Most particularly, Fortinbras’s acquisition of the Danish throne – in addition to the Norwegian one which he will inherit when his uncle dies – mirrors the twin thrones James VI and I achieved in 1603 when the Second Quarto version apparently came into being.

Keywords:   succession, Hamlet, revision, Shakespeare, James VI and I, Fortinbras, Inhibition

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