Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor's Name

James Sutton

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Richard Sugg

Third Advisor's Name

Vernon Dickson


Hamlet, Shakespeare, Amleth, Ur-Hamlet, archetype

Date of Defense



The purpose of my thesis was to explore the problem surrounding the sources believed to constitute the Ur-Hamlet from which Shakespeare derived Hamlet. By utilization of close reading, analysis, and archetypical criticism, my thesis confirms Shakespeare’s usage of the “Hero as Fool” archetype present in the Danish legend of Amleth, translated by Saxo Grammaticus and Francois Belleforest, as the Ur-Hamlet.

My study is significant because it further develops the notion that the earlier legend served as the originary source for Hamlet, while providing evidence that rejects the validity of other sources of the Ur-Hamlet. The evidence was corroborated by presenting analytical comparisons of the framework both works share. Focusing on the archetypal origins of Shakespeare’s plot, characters and their actions revealed a more complex understanding of the play. These findings indicate and substantiate the claim that the Ur-Hamlet can be no other source but the Danish legend of Amleth.





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