For over four hundred years The Tragedy of Hamlet Prince of Denmark has exceptionally captivated the interest of the world. Since its conception on the global stage this play has been the subject of interpretation and analysis by some of history’s greatest minds. Some of the most notable elucidation of this play were made by Hugo, Hegel, Nietzsche, Freud, Jung, Elliot, Vygotsky, Turgenev, Lewis, Asimov, Russell, Ecco and Joyce, just to name a few. Although their methods and approaches have widely differed, the only consistent conclusion is that Hamlet is “a mystery,” “a riddle,” “a puzzle,” “an enigma”.
Over a decade ago I noticed some general similarities in the use of symbolism between Shakespeare's Hamlet and Plato's Phaedo. Upon further comparison I realized that the relationship between these two texts was uncanny. I believe to have discovered a very intricate (and thereby intended) line-by-line relationship or interaction, which not only has gone unnoticed by the vast tradition of examination but is also in contradiction to many popular opinions held by scholars today in regard to Shakespeare's familiarity with Plato's work and the intended philosophic depth and sophistication of the Bard's plays.
The popular belief has been that Shakespeare, along with the rest of his English contemporaries, did not read Plato directly (his work thought to have been unavailable in translation prior to the middle of the 17th century). The absence of an English translation (or the lack of evidence to its availability) has been the driving force for this assumption, which has been challenged, in the recent years by a few books concerning Plato's influence on Elizabethan scholars. Furthermore, Latin, French and Italian translations were available to Shakespeare, as well as the means for a private commission to translate Plato from any of these languages as well as the original Greek.
An ongoing search has yet to generate any findings of direct comparisons between the texts of Hamlet and Phaedo although both texts hold a place amongst a very small group of books with unrivaled popularity and influence in the history of the western literary tradition. Furthermore Plato is altogether absent from any mention of the numerous sources commonly attributed to Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
One work however, comes closest of all to my hypothesis, that book is titled Hamlet's Mill by Giorgio De Santillana and Hertha Von Dechend, in which Hamlet is connected to a ancient cosmological myth of Amledi or Amleth. This work will be considered throughout The Hamlet Enigma, at this juncture however, it would suffice to merely state that Plato and Socrates play a larger role in Hamlet's Mill (which mostly concerns itself with the myth of Amledi), than either Shakespeare or his Hamlet. In fact an entire chapter of Hamlet's Mill is devoted specifically to the dialogue of Phaedo. But, alas, Hamlet's Mill falls short of a direct and detailed comparison of the two works.
I propose that Phaedo is the intended “key” to the mystery of Hamlet and have sufficient evidence which proves that a juxtaposition of the two texts results in the solution of The Hamlet Enigma and provides a unique insight into Shakespeare’s creative methodology.
The vast evidence I have collected categorically proves the relationship, which is revealed by a line-to-line juxtaposition of the two texts. This evidence is statistical (whereby it should become clear on the most superficial level that the amount of symbolic correlations between the two texts cannot be coincidental and is therefore undoubtedly intentional) as well as contextual in nature and proves the intended solution to this mystery supported by the text itself. The comparison of the two works results in the unraveling of the puzzle, a solution to which (at hindsight) becomes as obvious as with any good riddle when the answer is hidden in plain sight.
About the author:
Elmar Manafov is 31 years old, lives in Orange County, California and works as a Clinical Director for a group which provides Intraoperative Neurophysiologic Monitoring (IONM) services to hospitals throughout Southern California. He received a Bachelor’s in Neuroscience and Master’s in Applied Cognition and Neuroscience degrees from the University of Texas at Dallas. His previous work experience includes functional neuroanatomy research as an undergraduate and in graduate school as a special education instructor to individuals with pervasive developmental disorders at the Autism Treatment Center in Dallas, Texas; most recently he held a Regional Director's position in Denver, Colorado, prior to which he lived and worked as a senior IONM specialist in Chicago, Illinois, and before that held a supervisory position in the department of Intraoperative Neurophysiologic Monitoring at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland.