They Call It A Tragedy Because…

So, my current English assignment is Hamlet, which I’m going to make a general assumption and assume most high schoolers have to read this. However, I’m sure most high school students are lucky enough to not have to read the First Quarto of Hamlet. After reading the first couple Acts of the First Quarto I think Hamlet can be considered a tragedy for a different reason.

First, the spelling of one of the soldier’s name. In the version of Hamlet that I read for school it is spelled Bernardo (which is and actual name), but in the First Quarto they spell his name Barnardo (fyi, as I type that version of the name I’m given the dreaded red squiggly line of spell check). How do you pronounce Barnardo? Is it Barn-ar-do? Or is the a suppose to sound like an e? Also, I get that Bernardo and Francisco are only in Act I so they aren’t all that important, but they completely unidentified Francisco, he is now the unnamed First Sentinel.Also, Act I.ii. seemed really short in the First Quarto. I remember the King and Queen having asked Hamlet to stay in Denmark, but I didn’t see that in the First Quarto. Also, the line the King says before everyone but Hamlet leaves I don’t remember being in my version of Hamlet.

So, whoever wrote the First Quarto tragically butchered Shakespeare. I know, spelling of names is a minor infraction, but they cut out important lines and it seemed like they added their own in-eloquent wording into new lines that should never be included in Hamlet.


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