It is amazing how much this play runs through the culture. There are references to it all throughout literature, through film. It pops up everywhere. I’m reading Ulysses now – and hardly a page goes by without a reference to Hamlet. I can’t imagine what it would be like to read that novel without my Hamlet goggles on. Surely many people DO read it without Hamlet goggles on but because the lines are so familiar to me, I cannot miss how threaded through it all is. If I had a penny for every reference to Hamlet I caught, I’d have a pretty good piggy bank of pennies by the end.
Ulysses references many other things as well. The Odyssey, for example. Or Walt Whitman – but I don’t catch all of them. And with the Odyssey – because there’s a difference in languages of origin, there aren’t quite so many direct text references. There couldn’t be.