is generally considered the greatest revenge tragedy, if not the greatest tragedy, if not the greatest play, ever written. The central reason for the play's reputation is the character of Hamlet. His brooding (=gloomy), unpredictable nature has been analysed by many of the most famous thinkers and artists of the past four centuries. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe described him as a poet - a sensitive man who is too weak to deal with the political pressures of Denmark.
The story of the play originates in the legend of as recounted in the 12th-century a Latin text by Saxo the Grammarian. Shakespeare was probably aware of this version, together with another play performed in 1589 in which a ghost apparently calls out, "Hamlet, revenge!" The 1589 play is lost, but most scholars attribute it to Thomas Kyd, author of of 1587. shares many elements with , such as a ghost seeking revenge, a secret crime, a play-within-a-play, a tortured hero who feigns madness, and a heroine who goes mad and commits suicide.
What a piece of work is a man! how noble in reason!
how infinite in faculty! in form and moving how
express and admirable! in action how like an angel!
in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the
world! the paragon of animals! And yet, to me,
what is this quintessence of dust? man delights not
me: no, nor woman neither, though by your smiling
you seem to say so.
Hamlet (Act II, Scene 2)