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I read a sentence in the introductory pages of "Hamlet" by William Shakespeare which was:

The eponymous character himself is a renaissance scholar-prince---clever, melancholic and introspective.

I think that the sentence means that Hamlet was a prince who was a scholar as well and was born in the period of Renaissance, in 14th-15th centuries. But, according to Wikipedia, the story of Shakespeare's Hamlet was derived from the legend of Amleth, preserved by 13th-century chronicler Saxo Grammaticus in his Gesta Danorum. So I want to ask am I construing the sentence right?

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    You are correct in your interpretation of the sentence. Just because a story is "derived" or "based on" another story does not mean that all of it's need to be preserved - especially in fiction. For example, The Lion King is based off of Hamlet but all of the characters are African animals. – katatahito Jul 3 at 3:56
  • It seems the author is talking about the archetypal renaissance scholar-prince and traits typical of him. I doubt those were Shakespeare's words. Please include the full source: book title, author, a link, etc. – Eddie Kal Jul 3 at 3:59
  • The words are certainly not of Shakespeare himself but they were included in "context" at the starting of the play. – kelvin Jul 3 at 4:49
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You are right in your interpretation.

Hamlet is set in medieval Denmark, but Shakespeare doesn't try to create a historically accurate drama. His characters behave like people from the 16th century.

This is true in most (all?) of Shakespeare's plays. Think of "A midsummer's night's dream", It is set in ancient Greece, but again the characters all act like people from the 16th century.

It is also true of other authors. In Game of Thrones (set in a fantasy middle ages) you could say that the characters act more like people from the 21st century.

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