The legend of Hamlet was first recorded at the end of the XI century by the Danish historian Samson Grammatik in his collection of legends and chronicles entitled “The History of Denmark”.
This legend says that during paganism, one of the rulers of Jutland was killed at the feast by his brother Feng. Then Fengon married the widow of the murdered man and took possession of his lands. The son of the murdered, young Hamlet had to avenge the death of his father. To deceive Fengon, Amlet pretended to be insane. His actions spoke of insanity, but in the speeches there was undoubted treachery, and no one could unravel the meaning of Amlet’s words to the end. So Fengon continued to suspect his nephew. He tried to lure him into a trap and make him talk about his true intentions. But Amleta warned of the danger of his faithful friend and milk brother. One of the courtiers tried, hiding, to overhear Amlet’s talk with his mother. But Amlet found him in a corner under
a straw, killed, and threw the corpse to be eaten by pigs. He rebuked his mother,
Fengon sent Amlet to England, accompanied by two courtiers with a letter to the English king, in which he asked to kill his nephew. But Amlet replaced the letter, and instead of him executed his companions. Amlet married a daughter of the English king and returned with her to Jutland, where everyone considered him dead. A sudden visit forced courtiers to turn trizna into a holiday. Amlet drank all the drunkards, and then set fire to the palace. The courtiers perished in the fire, and he cut off Fengon’s head, finally fulfilling the duty of blood revenge.
In the seventies of the 16th century this legend was re-told by the French writer Belfort. And in the 90s of the 16th century a play about Hamlet was staged in London, which has not reached our days. It is only known that in it the phantom of the king-father appeared, appealing to revenge.
Shakespeare wrote his play in about 1610. Taking as a basis the old story, he showed us England XVII century. Shakespeare speaks with his contemporaries about the main issues
What is Hamson Samson Grammar? Intelligent, quirky, strong, cruel, capable not only without disinterest to kill a person, but also to mock the corpse of the enemy. This Hamlet almost does not know the moral torments, he is the true son of his time. In Shakespeare, the tragedy of Hamlet is that a man with a heart and mind broke, seeing the horrible aspects of life – incest, betrayal, murder of loved ones. He lost faith in people, in love, disappointed in life. Pretending to be insane, he really nearly went mad with the meanness of others. But when they start to poison him like a beast, the prince of blood, the man of his era, wakes up in him. Then, above all, the ability to own a sword was valued, and cunning was not considered a vice. And Hamlet begins to act, assuring himself that he is fighting not for his own life and the throne, but for restoring universal justice:
The age has shaken – and the worst of all,
That I’m born to rebuild it.
Perhaps Hamlet, as a former student at the University of Wittenberg, was thinking about science, about art, about activities for the benefit of mankind. And he had to take revenge, intrigue, pretend, kill – in open battle, like Laertes, or indirectly. His insanity is not only a way to protect himself, but also an opportunity to tell the truth to others. He frankly fools Polonius, Rosenkrania and Guildenstern – the insidious flatterers serving Claudius, and dispassionately sends them to the next world. But, making a check for Claudius himself, Hamlet wants to make sure of his guilt. Do not just kill, but show that the king-fratricide expects punishment. Hamlet is not inactive, he is preparing revenge. Although the prince understands that the murder will turn his life around. The meaning of the famous monologue “To be or not to be?” is precisely what Hamlet is trying to choose, become a killer or a victim. This question could not be faced with the Amlet of an ancient legend. The tragedy of the Renaissance man, which Shakespeare himself was and how he made his hero, is the discrepancy between ideals and reality, the impossibility to live in accordance with the attitudes of the soul.
A man manifests itself in relation to a woman. In the legend, Hamlet did not have a lover. The hero of Shakespeare pushes Ophelia away and destroys her: life is more precious to him than love and a beloved woman. Then he regrets and repents. Then he perishes – not as a fighter for justice, but as an ordinary victim of court intrigue. So the difference is found. In Grammar, Hamlet is the winner, in Shakespeare – a victim. He does not fight, but defends himself. And the reason for this – a worm of doubt, damned high thoughts, transforming the mind, but not able to temper the soul. Shakespeare showed us that people going before the era often become its victims. But without them, humanity would have remained in the darkness of the Middle Ages, where Samson’s Ammon Grammar, without hesitation, destroyed both the right and the guilty.