How many times do you need to reread Hamlet? Stephen Marche says he’s reread the play more than a hundred times. And all that reading has not been without effect. Marche says that by rereading Hamlet, its meaning has changed:
The main effect of reading Hamlet a 100 times was, counter-intuitively, that it lost its sense of cliche. “To be or not to be” is the Stairway to Heaven of theatre; it settles over the crowd like a slightly funky blanket knitted by a favorite aunt. Eventually, if you read Hamlet often enough, every soliloquy takes on that same familiarity. And so “To be or not to be” resumes its natural place in the play, as just another speech. Which renders its power and its beauty of a piece with the rest of the work.