Many of you may not know this, ( I personally didn’t either until now) but Shakespeare is just a plagiarist! Today in my English class, we received a piece of text to read which was named Amleth’s Revenge. Sound familiar? Maybe that’s because it seems to sound EXACTLY like Hamlet! Amleth’s Revenge was written by Saxo Grammaticus, about four hundred years before Shakespeare’s Hamlet. There’s more: the title of the play isn’t the only thing that is similar between these two pieces of work, the story line and character connections might as well be the exact same thing.
Click here for a copy of Amleth’s Revenge by Saxo Grammaticus to see just how similar the two are.
If you still don’t believe me, let me just list a few things which – if you’ve read Hamlet – you’ll be able to see that the “great mind” of Shakespeare really can be accused of taking his ideas from other pieces of work…
Here is the first paragraph from Amleth’s Revenge:
“Feng has murdered his brother, the King of Denmark and the father of Amleth, and has married the queen. Amleth, the heir to the throne, feels that his life is threatened.”
Right off the bat we can easily see that the plot line is exactly the same from Hamlet. Let’s see what happens when we take the same paragraph but replace it with the appropriate character from Hamlet: Claudius has murdered his brother, the King of Denmark and the father of Hamlet, and has married the queen. Hamlet, the heir to the throne, feels that his life is threatened. As you can easily see, it`s pretty much the exact same concept.
There are several other connections between the two plays, but I don’t think that you would want me to bore you will all of the details. If you do however wish to look into this further, here is a link to another source which explains more in depth the connection between the two plays.
Rather than going into detail about how similar these two pieces are, I would rather discuss what kind of an impact this has on the play Hamlet and Shakespeare as a writer. I used to have some sort of an idea that a few things from Shakespeare’s plays were from other places, but I never knew how similar they really were. These connections between Hamlet and Amleth’s Revenge came as a complete shock for me and I’m sure a few of you would feel the same. The fact that I now know that Shakespeare barely even wrote anything from his own ideas, kind of makes me think of him in a different way. Many individuals always refer to Shakespeare as a “brilliant literate mind” or someone who helped shape the way we study literature, but frankly, now it just seems that he was a plagiarist who was smart enough to make someone else’s work even more famous under his own name. I don’t doubt it that Shakespeare had certain plays which were (majority of) original, but the fact that one of his most famous and most well known plays was “copied” from someone else’s work, just seems to ruin the entire effect and help show what type of a person Shakespeare was while he was alive.
Side note: If you want to see something just for kicks, go into Google, type in the search bar “Amleth’s Revenge”, click Images, and just look at how many images for Hamlet pop up.