Shakespeare's first Hamlet : the 1602 Spanish Tragedy additions
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While scholars have argued that Shakespeare’s Hamlet was modeled after two earlier plays by Thomas Kyd—the so-called Ur-Hamlet and The Spanish Tragedy—this dissertation finds a middle step in this trajectory of influence: the systematic character revision of the role of Hieronimo in the 320 anonymous lines added to the 1602 Spanish Tragedy quarto. The increasingly persuasive arguments for Shakespeare’s hand in these Additions offer an opportunity to explore the implications of this specific emendation, which is represented here as a small-scale exercise for Shakespeare and Richard Burbage to attempt and rehearse more modern, philosophical personations of grief and madness before their great undertaking of Hamlet. This dissertation reads the Shakespearean Additions to The Spanish Tragedy alongside Hamlet to trace Shakespeare’s developing style and to demonstrate how the Additions may be seen as Hamlet’s verbal and thematic precursor. In its introduction and six chapters, this project provides several reinterpretations of primary records relevant to Shakespeare’s theatrical career in a roughly chronological narrative of The Spanish Tragedy’s stage history, ultimately viewing the play’s multiple revisions and revivals as a creative point of departure between competitive companies and players.