Hamlet – Critic Opinions

Horatio and Kitteridge Horatio shows a scholar’s knowledge of reasons why, conventionally, a ghost might revisit Earth. Establishes him as pragmatic and logical. Seeing the Ghost forces him to accept the fact that not everything is as clear cut as he once thought – follows the theme of illusion and mystery.
Yale Professor Maynard Mack and Tone Describes the tone as ‘mysterious and equivocal, a mixture of bright surfaces and dark forces where what seems both and is not.’
Andrew Bennett and Nicholas Royle (Ghosts) The very embodiment of strange repetition and recurrence: it is a revenant, it comes back.
Peter Mercer (re: Polonius, Laertes, Ophelia) ‘certainly this family is much addicted to the giving of earnest advice.’
Anna Brownell Jameson (Ophelia) ‘Ophelia – poor Ophelia! O far too soft, too good, too fair, to be cast among the briers of the working day world, and fall and bleed upon the thorns of life’ (1832)
Feminists (Ophelia) Some feminist critics claim that Ophelia seems to have no scope for following her own wishes. Others, contrasting her with Juliet, accuse her of a complete lack of spirit.
Elaine Showalter (Ophelia) “a Cubist Ophelia of multiple perspectives,” because she is both fetishised and expected to maintain her virginity.
Amanda Mabillard (Claudius) ‘A man who cannot refrain from indulging his human desires’
Harold Bloom (on To Be or Not To Be) Resisted the interpretation that Hamlet genuinely considers killing himself, arguing that Hamlet is waxing philosophical.
G. Wilson Knight (ambassador) Hamlet is “death’s ambassador to us.”
A.C. Swinburn (inaction) Hamlet’s inaction is not simply down to weakness, but contending forces and indecision.
Lee Edwards (Ophelia) We can imagine Hamlet’s story without Ophelia, but Ophelia literally has no story withoutHamlet.
David Leverenz (Ophelia) There are many voices in Ophelia’s madness speaking through her… none of them her own. She becomes the mirror for a mad-inducing world.
Mitchell (Ophelia) If you just take the 5 scenes she’s in, it would be a short play about abuse.
Rebecca Smith (Polonius) He seems to love his children and he seems to have the welfare of the kingdom in mind. His means of action, however, are totally corrupt.
Elaine Showalter (Hamlet) Hamlet’s disgust at the feminine passivity in himself is translated into a violent revulsion against women and is brutal behaviour towards Ophelia.
Yi-Chi Chen (Ophelia) Ophelia and Hamlet are doomed to experience the collapse of the family, social, and political hierarchy.
Juliet Dusinberre (Ophelia) Stifled by the authority of the male world
Jacqueline Rose (Gertrude) Gertrude is the scapegoat of the play.
Sean McAvoy (Claudius) He knows himself and he is torn by the knowledge of how morally ‘ugly’ his conduct has been. There is a clear contrast with Hamlet here, and perhaps a modern kind of tragic heroism in his clear-eyed contemplation of his situation.
Richard D Atlick (Claudius) The cunning and lecherousness of Claudius’ evil has corrupted the whole kingdom of Denmark.
Linda Barmer (Gertrude) Hamlet continually deflects our impulse to judge Gertrude. First of all, we have no firsthand evidence. Although Hamlet sees his mother as a disgustingly sensual creature, the relationship that we see between Gertrude and Claudius is domestic and ceremonial, never sexual at all… The Gertrude that we see — as opposed to the one that Hamlet imagines — is her son’s mother and a worried, affectionate partner to her husband, who happens to be going through a period of political danger.
Angela Pitt (Gertrude) Gertrude is wholly ignorant of Claudius’ successful plot against her first husband and equally oblivious of Hamlet’s protectively possessive feelings towards her.
Marguerite Tassi (Gertrude) In fulfilling her tragic role, the end crowns all; in the final moments of her life, she performs an extraordinary act that gives Hamlet motive and cue for killing the King’
Rebecca Smith (Gertrude) 1. Gertrude prompts violent, physical and emotional reactions from the men in the story.2. Polonius seems to love his children; he seems to have the welfare of the kingdom in mind. His means of actions, however, are totally corrupt.
Schlegel (Hamlet) He has no firm belief either in himself or in anything else.
A.C. Swinburn (Hamlet) Hamlet’s inaction is not simply down to weakness, but contending forces and indecision.Hamlet cannot or does not make up his mind.
James Calderwood (Hamlet) Hamlet’s killing of Claudius is an act of restorative destruction
D.H. Lawrence (Hamlet) The character is repulsive in its conception, based on self-dislike and a spirit of disintegration
A.C. Bradley (Hamlet) Hamlet is unable to carry out his sacred duty, imposed by a divine authority, of punishing an evil man by death.
J.W. Von Goethe (Hamlet) All duties seem holy for HamletAt last does all lose his purpose from this thoughts.Without the strength of nerve which forms a hero.
Samuel Johnson (Hamlet) He (Hamlet) makes no attempt to punish Claudius and his death is at last affected by an incident in which Hamlet has no part in producing.Of the feigned madness of Hamlet there appears no adequate cause, for he does nothing which he might not have done with the reputation of sanity. He plays the madman most when he treats Ophelia with so much rudeness which seems to be useless and wanton cruelty.
S.T. Coleridge (Hamlet) There is an equilibrium between the real and imaginary worlds. In Hamlet, this balance is disturbed, the thoughts and the images of his fancy are far more vivid than his actual perceptions.Hamlet is brave and careless of death.
T.S. Eliot (Hamlet) The effect of his madness is not to lull, but to arouse, the king’s suspicion.
William Hazlitt (Hamlet) His ruling passion is to think, not to actIt is more to his taste to indulge his imaginationBecause he cannot have his revenge perfect, according to the most refined idea his wish can form, he declines it all together.
Hartley Coleridge (Hamlet) More of a thinker than a doer.Sorrow contracts around his soul.
Mercer (Polonius) In some ways, Polonius is more like an aged comic reduction of Hamlet himself, just as his son is yet another mirror for a part of that reality. He has the same fascination with words, the same passion for the theatre. Perhaps he is a warning of what an excess of those enthusiasms can bring you to—all art and little matter indeed.
Harley Granville-Barker (Setting) The entire play is set in Elsinore, and we do not leave to see Hamlet and the pirates, or Laertes in France. Gertrude also remarks that Hamlet will not walk in the air, but stay for 4 hours in the lobby. The place itself, thus acquires a personality of itself and even developed a sort of sinister power.
Prosser (Laertes) Laertes is like a hurricane. He rushes into the palace in an uncontrolled rage, roaring for blood.
Hall (Laertes) Laertes and Fortinbras are both representatives of action, and as such furnish a most expressive contrast to the non-activity of the Danish prince.
Moberley (Laertes) Hamlet wishes . . . to go, not as Laertes does, to Paris, the centre of frivolous gaiety (and study music and fencing there), but to Wittenberg, the university dear to the Protestant heart of England.

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