Hamlet

hamlet poster“Hamlet” is the longest and most performed Shakespeare play. The original did not come from Shakespeare. It is based on what was an already popular English play at the time, which in turn was based on European . What Shakespeare did was to turn this story into what many critics say is the most powerful in English literature. There are no happy endings here. How many other stories do you know where all of the main characters end up either killing themselves or being killed?

English Learner Vocabulary Help

The words and expressions in our Simplified English story which are not in our Pre-Intermediate level 1200 word list are: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , and .

General Comments on the Story

beautiful stories from shakespeareOur source for this story was not the original play. To prepare a Simplified English narrative from this would take us much longer than a normal story. Instead, we started from a story in a book called Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare by Edith Nesbit. This was written over 100 years ago to introduce young children to Shakespeare’s work. Although said to be written for children under 10 years of age, some of the vocabulary is quite advanced. The book was first published in 1907 – before TV or even radio! In those days, reading for enjoyment (and parents taking the time to read to their children) was much more common than now. Shakespeare enthusiasts will see that some parts of Nesbit’s stories are a little different to the originals. This is because she changed the plot in some cases to make the stories suitable for young children. You can get e-book versions of the complete book from Project Gutenberg here. If you would like to read and listen, there is an audiobook available on LibriVox here.

Very advanced learners might be interested in another book called Tales from Shakespeare. Written over two hundred years ago by brother and sister team Charles and Mary Lamb, this book was aimed at older children. The Project Gutenberg e-book link is here, and the Librivox audiobook is available here.


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(n: plot pl plots) The series of events that form the story in a movie, novel, play, etc. 3000

legend(n: legend pl legends) A story from the past that is believed by many people but cannot be proved to be true.
(adj: legendary) 1. Mentioned etc in legend. King Arthur is a legendary hero. 2. Very famous because of being very great, good etc. He was a legendary football player. 6000

(n: tragedy pl tragedies) 1. A very bad event that causes great sadness and often involves someone's death. (เหตุการณ์ร้ายแรง) 2. A play, movie, etc. that is serious and has a sad ending such as the death of the main character. (โศกนาฏกรรม) 3000

arrive(v: arrive, arrives, arrived, arriving) To come to or reach a place after traveling, being sent, etc. 2000

bone(n: bone pl bones) The hard substance forming the skeleton of man, animals etc. 2000

bury(v: bury, buries, buried, burying) To place in the earth and cover with soil. 3000

devil(n: devil pl devils) The most powerful spirit of evil; The ruler of Hell; Satan. 3000
(adj: devilish) Looking or acting like a devil; wicked, evil.

funeral(n: funeral pl funerals) The ceremony held for a dead person before their body is put in the ground [buried] or burned [cremated]. 3000

(n: grave pl graves) A piece of ground, or the hole dug in it, in which a dead person is buried.
(adj: grave, graver, gravest) To look serious and formal in what you are doing. 4000

grave grave look.jpg

honor(n: honor pl honors; British honour) 1. Respect given to someone or something that is admired. We fight for the honor of our country. 2. Something [such as a title or medal] that is given to a person as a sign of respect. He has received many honors for his research into cancer. 3. The quality of being honest. He is a man of honor. 2000

insult(n: insult pl insults) An action or comment that is rude or disrespectful. 3000
(v: insult, insults, insulted, insulting) To do or say something to or about someone in a way that is rude or not respectful. 3000

murder(n: murder pl murders) The crime of deliberately killing a person. 2000

pirate(n: pirate pl pirates) A person who attacks and robs ships at sea. 5000

poison(n: poison pl poisons) A substance that can cause people or animals to die or to become very sick if it gets into their bodies. 3000

pray(v: pray, prays, prayed, praying) 1. To speak to God or someone or something that has special powers in order to express thanks or ask for something. 2. To hope or wish very much for something to happen.
(n: prayer; pl prayers) The words spoken to God when you give thanks or ask for something. 2000

punish(v: punish, punishes, punished, punishing) To make someone suffer for a crime or for something done that is wrong.
(n: punishment pl punishments) The act or way of making someone suffer for a crime or for something done that is wrong. 3000

respect(n: respect, noncount) Admiration or high opinion of someone or something that is good, valuable, important, etc.
(adj: respectful) Treating someone or something that is important, serious, etc., in an appropriate way.
(v: respect, respects, respected, respecting) To show or feel respect. 1000

scratch(n: scratch pl scratches) A shallow and narrow cut in the skin or a surface caused by something sharp.
(v: scratch, scratches, scratched, scratching) 1. To make a line in a surface or object by rubbing or cutting it with a sharp point. 2. To rub your skin with something sharp to stop an itch. 3000

scuffle(n: scuffle pl scuffles) A fight that lasts for a short time and is not very serious, often by people close together holding on to each other. 7000

shock(n: shock pl shocks) A sudden usually unpleasant or upsetting feeling caused by something unexpected. (อาการตกใจสุดขีด) 2000

skull(n: skull pl skulls) The bones that form the head and face of a person or animal and protect the brain. (กะโหลก) 5000

(n: spirit pl spirits) 1. The inner quality or nature of a person. She has a kind and loving spirit. (น้ำใจ) 2. The force within a person that is believed to give the body life, energy, and power. Often thought of as not part of the body and to remain alive (eg as a ghost or able to be born again) when the body dies. He may be dead, but his spirit still lives on. 2. A similar force which some cultures believe to exist in all non-human entities (animals, plants, rivers, mountains, etc.). (จิตใจ) 2000

soul rising spirit house

(adj: tragic) Causing strong feelings of sadness, often because someone has died or been badly hurt in a way that seems very shocking, unfair, etc. (อนาถ) 3000

upset(v: upset, upsets, upset, upsetting) To make someone feel unhappy or a little angry. (เศร้า) 2000

wedding(n: wedding pl weddings) The act of getting married; marrying. (การแต่งงาน) 2000

wicked(adj: wicked) 1. Morally bad; evil; sinful. A wicked witch. (ชั่วร้าย) 2. (informal) Having or showing slightly bad thoughts in a way that is funny or not serious. She wore a wicked smile after beating me at tennis. 3. (informal) Very bad or unpleasant. She had a wicked case of food poisoning. 4. (informal) Very good. He is a wicked dancer. 3000

wise(adj: wise, wiser, wisest) Having gained a lot of knowledge from books or experience or both and able to use it well. (ฉลาด)
(n: wisdom; noncount) 1. The knowledge gained from books or experience. 2. The quality or state of being wise. (ปัญญา; สติปัญญา) 2000

An excellent 26 minute animated version of the story, produced as part of a project to introduce British children to Shakespeare for the first time. To watch online, click here. To download the mp4, click here.

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