Literary Precedents for Gertrude and Claudius

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Throughout this discussion it has been necessary to associate Updike's novel with Shakespeare's play as well as Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, a play that depends on the audience's knowledge of Hamlet for much of its effect. While Shakespeare's tragedy is one of the most important works in the western literary tradition, it is not in itself an original narrative. Upon examination of the known and surmised sources Shakespeare drew upon to craft his great play, we may infer that Updike has staked out a position similar to that which Shakespeare took in the creation and refinement of an existing narrative. In fact Updike calls attention to the continuity of authorship he implies by appropriating and modernizing the Hamlet narrative. His Foreword acknowledges his debts to two of the sources many scholars believe Shakespeare drew upon. That acknowledged debt accounts for the three-part structure of Updike's narrative...

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This section contains 840 words
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