Shakespeare’s works and its translation

For my final project, I revealed what the difficulty and differences are between the English version and Japanese version of Shakespeare. I have focused on the translation of Hamlet into Japanese, and observed about how different Shakespeare’s work becomes when translated. I concluded with an observation of why Shakespeare is culturally respected in Japan. The reason why I chose this topic is because of my personal experience of having a different impression of reading Shakespeare’s work in both English and Japanese.

Of course, there is difficulty in translating English into Japanese because of the fundamental difference between the two languages. For example, in Japanese, there are specific words that must be used to use to show respect to an elder, while in English, it is not used as much or used differently. However, the difficulty is not just about the language, but also about the difference in the culture and different interpretations between the translators. I was amazed at how different the translations become according to who has translated Shakespeare’s plays and for what purpose.

Despite the differences that lie between Japanese and English versions of Shakespeare, Shakespeare is accepted in Japanese society. Through my project, it made me realize, how great and universally accepted Shakespeare’s works are. If you want to learn more, please contact me so I can send you my full paper.


Shakespeare in Japan today

In Japan, Shakespeare’s plays are very popular. Throughout the year, in some form or other, Shakespeare’s plays appear on the stage and film. Some are parodies and modernized versions, but some are the original versions of Shakespeare that has been translated into Japanese. I haven’t seen any of the plays myself, but the plays are being implicitly and explicitly engraved into our hearts. It shows how Shakespeare’s plays are not just accepted in English speaking countries, but also universally accepted. In Japan some of the most famous and popular actors are playing main roles, and the plays receive a lot of attention from the media. I have attached some YouTube links below to show some examples of how they are performed in Japan.

This is the behind the scenes video of the Japanese version of Romeo and Juliet. This was a stage in 2012, and two very famous and popular actors played as Romeo and Juliet. Jonathan Mumby, who is a British, was the stage director. Caution: The video is in Japanese, but I hope you can see how the stage was performed.

These videos are advertisements for the stage Hamlet that was played last year. One of the most famous stage directors in Japan, Yukio Ninagawa, directed this stage, and many actors with both popularity and ability took part in this performance. Ninagawa interpreted Hamlet in a unique way, which included combining Japanese and English culture such as in music and costume. Caution: These videos are also in Japanese.

Adding to the Conversation:Macbeth

In this article I want to talk about another one of Shakespeare’s well known pieces, Macbeth. Last year in one of my English classes, we watched a PBS movie version of Macbeth, it was based in the early 20th century.  This is a modern adaptation to this play, the  dress, the setting, and the speech is somewhat modern.  The communication seems to be easier to understand, yet it still sounds like Shakespeare.  It was a very interesting adaptation, I personally really enjoyed this movie. Sir Patrick Stewart starts as Macbeth, his acting is outstanding.  The way he portrays the scenes where he is seeing things cannot compare to other versions of this movie. This movie has many parallels to the version of Hamlet we watched in class. macbeth.PNG

My Final Project

In this post I am going to discuss my drafting process for our final.  Although this may look like a painting, it is actually a political cartoon.  This idea stemmed from one of our journal writings. My idea for a political cartoon initially came from our class discussions about how there are political issues spread throughout Hamlet, hence a political cartoon. Although I do not address the political issues brought up in Hamlet in this cartoon, many other Hamlet cartoons do. After I researched political cartoons, I figured mine needed to be cleaver but still relate to the plot so it could make a point.  Mine shows the betrayal within the family: Elder Hamlet is murdered by his brother, who then marries his wife, and Young Hamlet is the only one who knows the truth and he is desperate to get revenge for his father’s murder. So thinking in a clever fashion, I had Elder Hamlet call his brother a son of a bitch, this is ironic because they are brothers so they are from the same mother. One of Hamlet’s famous lines is “I doubt foul play,” so I decided to use this and make it so they were all chickens or fowl birds. I am not the best at painting so I decided to use clip art images of chickens so they would look more cartoon like, this helped with the political cartoon aspect as well.  I also included pictures that would be next to my painting offering comparative and interpretive insight as well as more artwork inspired by Hamlet.  This project, overall, was quite easy in the drafting process aside from the research aspect, some articles were hard to access and with such a large pool of content that uses ideas from Hamlet, it is not always easy to narrow down what is helpful for your project.  I liked that I could be creative for this project, and I hope others can gain something from my project, or at least get a little chuckle out of it.


Hamlet Character Presentation

The purpose of this presentation is to clearly present the notable characters in Hamlet and their significance to the play. My target audience is high school students reading Hamlet. This prezi presentation is designed to easily outline each character and describe why Shakespeare wrote this character into the play.

My Drafting Process

I started my project by making a list of which characters from Hamlet I wanted to use. I wrote a brief bio for each character and then included two pictures on each character’s slide. One photo from the David Tennent version of Hamlet we watched and another photo from another work. After writing each bio I wrote each character’s significance in the play. Something that character did that put something else into action, the overall contribution the character had. I had never used prezi before to make a presentation and had a hard time getting the hang of how to get the presentation to flow the way I wanted it to. It also took me a while to get my presentation to look the way I wanted it to. Overall for drafting my project it took the longest amount of time for me to organize my presentation in a way that looked nice and flowed as it should. 

Elsinore Diorama

The story of Hamlet by William Shakespeare takes place at a fictional castle called Elsinore in Helsingør, Denmark. Hamlet’s castle is known to have been modeled off of the famous Kronborg Castle in Denmark. This castle has been noted as one of the most important renaissance castles in Northern Europe. Today, the castle has been used several times for the play and features real guards from the castle. According the the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), the Kronborg Castle was added to the World Heritage List back in 2000 because of its notability. Shakespeare uses the power of setting in the castle to draw emotion from the play. By using the Kronborg Castle for the setting of Hamlet, Shakespeare is able to create story that is intertwined with secrets within the walls of the old castle. The tragedy of the story is emphasized by the castle as the castle’s purpose is to protect the royal family, but tragically enough the family tore itself apart from inside it’s walls. For my final project, I have created a simplified diorama of the castle that highlights a few of the key architectural aspects like the towers, the chapel, the moat under the bridge, and the levels of elevated walls around the castle.

History and Today

The Kronborg Castle dates back to the 1420s when it was first built. It was strategically placed to govern the stretch of water between Denmark and Sweden called the Sound (Kronborg Castle). The castle has been destroyed and rebuilt over the centuries since then. According to the UNESCO, “Work began on the construction of this outstanding Renaissance castle in 1574, and its defenses were reinforced according to the canons of the period’s military architecture in the late 17th century” (Kronborg Castle). Since then it has stayed intact. The restorations made to the castle have been done with precautions to keep the original building materials and designs of the castle. The UNESCO says, “Kronborg Castle and the surrounding fortifications belong to the Danish State. The castle and the adjoining fortress are listed buildings and protected in accordance with the Preservation of Buildings Act and the Museum Act” (Kronborg Castle). Because of this, any changes made to the castle have to be passed by the Danish Agency. The main risks that the castle faces are weathering, ground shifting, and lack of maintenance. These risks can be prevented by thorough inspections of the Agency for Palaces and Cultural Properties (Kronborg Castle). The castle was the home for the royal family up until 1785. Since 1935, it has been transformed into a museum for tourists. (Kronborg Castle in Denmark).

The Diorama
Screen Shot 2016-04-28 at 9.42.40 PM

The setting of the Diorama focuses on the Kronborg Castle during the 16th Century. This has been based off of a hand drawn map from the Shakespeare Association of America at George Town University. As seen in the drawing, the castle has an open interior with walls surrounding it. My model of the castle focuses on some notable aspects like the bridge entering the castle which is surrounded by a moat. IMG_1761The moat was crucial to discourage invaders as it left one major entry into the castle, the bridge. Merchant ships are depicted which means trade must have been very influential. The gates on the castle are opened representing that the town surrounding Kronberg was welcoming to traders. The stone walls around the castle are elevated with short-cut grass on each level of the walls like the real castle. Part of the open interior has a church built into a side of the wall which can be referenced to the church used in Hamlet.  One of the buildings in the inside of the walls has a clock and so there is a clock on the tower. The towers are painted green to represent the aged-green towers of the actual castle. I used popsicles for the sides of the gates and the foundation of the bridge to represent the original material I used on the first castle I made but was unfortunately destroyed. This is just like restorations of the castle that have been done to repair the damages that have been done over time as they use they use the original building materials. The choices I have made in creating the castle are the most interesting aspects I found.

Not Shown

If you are a visual learner, the diorama of Elsinore should aid in your understanding of the setting Shakespeare uses in Hamlet. Because of the difficulty of trying to capture all of the features of the Kronborg Castle, there are many features of the castle that were left out which is important to note. For instance, there are only four towers on the model but there are actually nine on the castle. For more information about the Kronborg Castle, visit these websites below.

Works Cited

Bolt, Rodney. “Shakespeare’s Danish Links.” The Telegraph. Web. 14 Apr. 2016.<

“Kronborg Castle.” United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. Web. 14 Apr. 2016. <

“[illustration]: Elsinore and Kronberg Castle as Known to the Elizabethans”. Shakespeare Quarterly 12.4 (1961): 424–424. Web. 14 April 2016.

“Kronborg Castle in Denmark: The Setting of Hamlet.” ReverseHomeSickness. 12 July 2014. Web. 14 Apr. 2016. <

Hamlet Comic


I chose to use this comic strip for my extra credit assignment because it shows the “why” behind Hamlet’s behavior. As shown in the first three panels, Hamlet is mourning the loss of his father, a normal thing to do. His mother and uncle/ step father wish he would quit acting so childish about the matter, thus making Hamlet despise them more. In the last three panels we see Hamlet’s late fathers ghost. The ghost tells Hamlet his death wasn’t an accident. Though not shown, we know this is where Hamlets odd behavior kicks in. Hamlet is repulsed by Claudius after learning he is the reason behind his fathers death and disgusted at his mother for marrying such a wretched man. This comic strip is the “why” behind Hamlet’s actions. This comic strip does not give major key moments throughout the “whole” play but it does give you a different perspective while also giving you comic relief.

Second Time’s a Charm

Second Time’s a Charm

For my final project, I made a model of Hamlet’s castle based off of the Kronborg Castle in Denmark. I started building it out of popsicle sticks and made sure that each stick was placed carefully as I knew that I only had a certain amount of time before the glue would dry. I was very close to being finished when one day, just like the big bad wolf, my roommate knocked the house of sticks down. I then realized that I had to have a new plan of action. I thought about doing a different project entirely but knew that time was limited so instead I decided that I had to change the building material that would be used for the castle. I found a shoe box and made cut outs on it to fit the dimensions I wanted. I then found some paper with a brick design on it and pasted it to the walls. The second model now looks like it is made out of brick and is a lot more study than the popsicle sticks ever were. Maybe if I would’ve listened to The Three Little Pigs this detour could have been avoided all together.

Image from: <