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Abstract

As a contribution to the discussion of Shakespeare’s “appropriability” (Stanley Cavell), this paper examines some aspects of the cultural position of Hamlet on the Jacobean entertainment market, as they are indicated in Ben Jonson’s comedy Bartholomew Fair (1614). The metatheatrical features of Bartholomew Fair may be said to measure the play’s resistance against appropriating the unique and problematic aspects of Hamlet, such as the Ghost or The Mousetrap. These are deconstructed in Jonson’s comedy, which anticipates the Enlightenment views of the social functioning of theatre as a “moral institution”.