365 Days of Shakespeare

That's right – the Bard in a year.

291. Tattoo designs inspired by “Hamlet”

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“Hamlet”, perhaps Shakespeare’s best-known play, has been the source of artistic and literary inspiration for scholars over the centuries. Now, as tattoos are gaining popularity and acceptance in the mainstream, more and more people are turning to the Bard for ink ideas – and “Hamlet” has lots to offer.

Though it is ultimately a play about death, betrayal, revenge, and all other manner of dark material, the play is of course seasoned with beautiful verse and plenty of philosophical remarks. It is these passages that ought to be considered if one wants a tattoo inspired by “Hamlet”, as it is these passages that make the play such an overwhelmingly beloved piece of work.

Here are a few such passages from “Hamlet” that would be particularly good for tattoos. Please note that they are out of context and that some begin and end at the “incomplete” points. This is to ensure that they would be more appropriate as a single thought.

“To thine own self be true.”

“Words, words, words.”

“Doubt thou the stars are fire/ Doubt that the sun doth move/ Doubt truth to be a liar/ But never doubt I love.”

“More matter with less art.”

“Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice.”

“What a piece of work is man! How noble in reason! How infinite in faculty! In form and moving how express and admirable! In action how like an angel! In apprehension how like a god! The beauty of the world! The paragon of animals!”

“What dreams may come when we have shuffled off this mortal coil.”

“Sweets to the sweet.”

“The rest is silence.”

For someone seeking to get a “Hamlet” tattoo, it makes the most sense to go with words – it is a rather wordy play, after all, which is perhaps lampshaded by Hamlet’s utterance of “words, words, words.” It is harder to suggest images that would work as effective tattoos – but a skull would, of course, import the argument of the play rather nicely upon the skin. A skull with one of the quotes above would be particularly striking – the “what a piece of work is man”, “What dreams may come”, and “the rest is silence” quotes would work well surrounding the skull image.

To truly find the perfect “Hamlet” tattoo, however, one must read the play themselves…so use this article as a jumping-off point and read this glorious play for yourself, to be really inspired.

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Written by Caroline Mincks

July 19, 2010 at 12:18 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , , , ,

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