Shakespeare’s Early Gothic Hamlet

in Critical Survey
Author: Gary Taylor1
View More View Less
  • 1 Florida State University
Restricted access


This article proposes that Q1 Hamlet is best understood as an early Gothic tragedy. It connects Catherine Belsey's work on Shakespeare's indebtedness to ‘old wives’ tales’ and ‘winter's tales’ about ghosts with Terri Bourus's evidence of Q1's connections to Stratford-upon-Avon, the 1580s, and the beginnings of Shakespeare's London career. It conducts a systematic lexical investigation of Q1's Scene 14 (not present in Q2 or F), showing that the scene's language is indisputably Shakespearian. It connects the dramaturgy of Q1 to the dramaturgy of Titus Andronicus, particularly in terms of issues about the staging of violence, previously explored by Stanley Wells. It also shows that Titus and Q1 Hamlet share an unusual interest in the barbarity and vengefulness of Gothic Europe (including Denmark and Norway).

Contributor Notes

Gary Taylor is Dahl and Lottie Pryor Professor of Shakespearian Literature at Florida State University, where he chairs the Department of English. He is one of four General Editors of the New Oxford Shakespeare (2016–17), and previously general edited the Oxford edition of Thomas Middleton's Collected Works (2007), which won the MLA prize for a Distinguished Scholarly Edition. He has published widely on textual and editorial problems in early modern drama since 1979, but has also written on the history of Shakespeare's reception (Reinventing Shakespeare, 1990), on the history of masculinity (Castration: An Abbreviated History of Western Manhood, 2000), and on the origins of the racial category ‘white’ (Buying Whiteness: Race, Culture and Identity from Columbus to Hip-Hop, 2005).