Hamburg: Heroldsche Buchhandlung, 1777
[Rare] YHEN 777
This version of Hamlet is shown as a gesture of the changes made to Shakespeare’s text, no less abroad than in England, in the eighteenth-century. It is an adaptation made by actor-producer Friedrich Ludwig Schröder (1744-1816), based on a version by Franz Heufeld and originally acted in Hamburg in 1776. Not only is the text in prose, but Schröder, dependent for his livelihood upon box-office success, had to please his patrons. This meant keeping plays within the decorum of domestic drama, and in Schröder’s version, Hamlet does not confront Laertes over Ophelia’s grave, Ophelia’s account of Hamlet’s madness is omitted, obscene talk is excised, Ophelia’s mad scene is more decorous than Shakespeare’s, the prayer scene is moved from after the play-scene to before it (Schröder being concerned to present the rationality of Hamlet’s conduct) and, most strikingly, Hamlet remains alive at the end, and speaks the final words. This form of Hamlet remained the standard adaptation in Germany until the early nineteenth century.