How can The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood be related to Hamlet? What other texts could be related to Hamlet, and why?

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In The Penelopiad, Margaret Atwood retells Homer’s Odyssey from the perspective of Penelope, who waited at home for Odysseus. Both the original and Atwood's version might be contrasted to Hamlet. Penelope remained loyal to her husband and king during years of his absence, using the trick of unraveling her weaving as one way to fend off the suitors who surrounded her. Gertrude, on the other hand, married immediately right after her husband’s death.

Hamlet’s enduring popularity has both generated works that take the perspective of different characters and encouraged analysis and comparison with classic works. This first type is masterfully executed by Tom Stoppard in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, where he takes the two courtiers (who are so peripheral in the original) and places them at the center of the drama. For an example that focuses on a female character—perhaps similar to Atwood’s undertaking—Ophelia has become the subject in Ophelias Zimmer. Originally written in German and first performed in England in 2016, this play by Alice Birch puts the young noblewoman in a modern prison, where not only Hamlet but also her own family members denigrate her.

In terms of classics, Sophocles’s Oedipus Rex has been used to analyze Hamlet, with Oedipus’s marriage to his mother likened to Hamlet’s highly conflicted attitudes toward Gertrude.

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