Cultural Icons?In his study, Shakespeare's Professional Career, Peter Thompson, an Englishman, claims that the characters of Hamlet are "part of our cultural heritage."  Is the same true...

Cultural Icons?

In his study, Shakespeare's Professional Career, Peter Thompson, an Englishman, claims that the characters of Hamlet are "part of our cultural heritage."  Is the same true for Americans?  If so, where do we see Hamlet's players repeated in popular or literary American culture?

Expert Answers
linda-allen eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Shakespeare shows up everywhere--there are references IF you know how to recognize them--in the Simpsons, on Star Trek, and even in commercials.

Snippets from Shakespeare's characters are ubiquitous--"to be, or not to be"..."it's all Greek to me!"  Many of the phrases and saying coined by Shakespeare are not even recognized as coming from Shakespeare.

 

 

You are so right! I love the "Doctor Who" series, especially the new one. Last season, there was an episode in which he went back to Shakespeare's time to watch an "opening night" of a play. The Doctor Who character would throw out quotes from plays, and Shakespeare would say, "That's wonderful. I must write it down." Shakespeare ended up saving the planet from evil alien witches just with his words--a wonderful statement of the power of language!

linda-allen eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Disney's found Shakespeare, too.  The Lion King is the story of Hamlet while High School Musical is a watered-down teeny-bopper version of Romeo and Juliet.  I had a ten year old Girl Scout see the correlation between Hamlet and The Lion King when I took my troop to Shakespeare in the Park... she's the one who pointed it out to me!  Imagine a ten year old discussing Hamlet (we were working on our Theatre badge) and making those connections!  Those are the moments that make me glad to be a teacher!  She's 25 now...

And your story is an example of why it is important to teach and be able to recognize allusions! I love it! I can't wait until I have a story like that to tell.

Susan Woodward eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Disney's found Shakespeare, too.  The Lion King is the story of Hamlet while High School Musical is a watered-down teeny-bopper version of Romeo and Juliet.  I had a ten year old Girl Scout see the correlation between Hamlet and The Lion King when I took my troop to Shakespeare in the Park... she's the one who pointed it out to me!  Imagine a ten year old discussing Hamlet (we were working on our Theatre badge) and making those connections!  Those are the moments that make me glad to be a teacher!  She's 25 now...

amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Shakespeare shows up everywhere--there are references IF you know how to recognize them--in the Simpsons, on Star Trek, and even in commercials.

Snippets from Shakespeare's characters are ubiquitous--"to be, or not to be"..."it's all Greek to me!"  Many of the phrases and saying coined by Shakespeare are not even recognized as coming from Shakespeare.

 

 

Kristen Lentz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I am a huge Star Wars fan, and in Empire Strikes Back there is a scene when the Wookie is trying to reassemble the droid and he holds up his golden skull in an intentional (according to George Lucas) homage to Hamlet via the traditional imagery of Yorick.

linda-allen eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Well, there is that "Gilligan's Island" episode I mentioned in an earlier post. :)

Seriously, can we not see Hamlet in Batman, the young man haunted by the death of his parents, seeking some way to avenge them?