SparkNotes Blog

28 Rejected Titles Shakespeare Considered Before Finally Settling on Hamlet

Coming up with titles for things is hard, which I know from the 72 combined hours I’ve spent thinking of names for the paranormal space opera I haven’t yet written and, in all likelihood, will never actually write. (Would you read a book about a werewolf who wants to destroy the moon? Be honest. Your options are “yes” or “obviously.”)

Not even William Shakespeare was immune to the soul-sucking creative deficit that comes along with trying to craft the perfect title. So before he settled on the short, sweet, and enduring Hamlet, here are a few things I’ll bet he considered along the way:

1. Murder Most Unnatural

2. An Antic Disposition

3. “Get Thee to a Nunnery!” and Other Things You Probably Shouldn’t Scream at the Woman You’re Trying to Flirt With

4. One Man’s Battle with Crippling Indecision

5. How to Speak to Ghosts (The Trick is to Be College-Educated)

6. Turns Out It’s Not All That Easy to Murder

7. Polonius, Stop

8. “The Lady Doth Protest Too Much, Methinks” (and Other Lines People Will Confidently Misquote for the Next Four Hundred Years)

9. A Series of Regrettable Decisions by the Danish Royal Family

10. Who Is Fortinbras Again?

11. The Time for Revenge is Now (Or Just Whenever You Feel Like It, That’s Fine Too)

12. Stabbing People By Accident: Hey, It Happens

13. Something is Rotten in the State of Denmark, and It’s Hamlet’s Attitude Towards Women

14. Always Be Ready for Pirate Attacks

15. The Best Revenge is Living Well, Also Murder

16. Is It Better to Be Dead, or Alive? Who’s to Say?

17. A Fictional Play That Speaks to Everyone’s Very Real Fears about the Question of Royal Succession

18. The Art of Touching Skulls and Having Poignant Thoughts About Them

19. I Know You’re Really Sad About Your Dead Dad, But Have You Tried Not Being Sad?

20. The Pros and Cons of Just Dying Already

21. The Time for Ghosts is Midnight, As Everyone Here Knows

22. Life is Just a Series of Moments Between Existential Crises

23. Procrastination: A Play in Five Acts

24. Horatio’s Philosophy and Why There Are More Things in Heaven and Earth Than Are Dreamt Of In It

25. This Harrowing Descent Into Madness Involves More Dirty Jokes Than I Was Anticipating

26. Everyone Gets to Avenge Their Dead Father Except for Ophelia, Who Gets to Be Crazy

27. Maybe Having the Wedding Immediately After the Funeral Wasn’t Such a Good Idea

28. And That’s Why You Should Never Eavesdrop