‘Something After’?: Hamlet and Dread

  • Bradley J. IrishEmail author
Part of the Palgrave Shakespeare Studies book series (PASHST)


This chapter argues that dread, as it was featured in early modern usage, is an affective touchstone in Hamlet—and that the features of the emotion, as it is understood in a variety of intellectual traditions, can shed light on the play’s dramaturgical structure. The ambiguous nature of dread, I suggest, reflects the central dramatic conflict of Hamlet, in which both the titular character and Claudius are locked in an affective struggle, each fearing and inspiring fear in the other. Drawing on understandings of dread from both the existentialist philosophical tradition and the modern psychological school of Terror Management Theory, this essay maps the career of dread in Hamlet, suggesting how the emotion functions complementarily as a thematic and a structural element.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Arizona State UniversityTempeUSA

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