Exploring ‘Love and Friendship in Hamlet’

Prof. David Bevington explains Shakespeare’s move from romantic comedy to doomed love

Prof. David Bevington is the Phyllis Fay Horton Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in the Humanities, professor in English and Comparative Literature, and chair of Theater and Performance Studies. He is also senior editor of the Norton Anthology of Renaissance Drama and the forthcoming Complete Works of Ben Jonson.


Last November, renowned University of Chicago Shakespeare scholar David Bevington delivered this Harper Lecture in Miami on the subject of “Love and Friendship in Hamlet.” Bevington places Hamlet in the context of William Shakespeare’s career and evolving writing. Unlike Shakespeare’s earlier comedies, which focus on amorous courtship and a march to marriage, Hamlet presents amorous love as problematic and doomed to failure. Male friendship emerges as a spiritual bulwark, Bevington says, and Horatio becomes the figure with whom Hamlet can share an abiding love and trust.

The University of Chicago Alumni Association offers the Harper Lecture series to the UChicago community across the country and around the world. Named for the University’s first president, William Rainey Harper, the series carries on his vision of broadly accessible and innovative education. The Alumni Association and the Chicago Booth Alumni Club of South Florida hosted Bevington’s lecture.