Hamlet : Critic Quotes

Elaine Showalter -For the Elizabethans, Hamlet was the prototype of melancholy male madness, associated with intellectual and imaginative genius; but Ophelia’s affliction was erotomania, or love-madness. -The Romantic Ophelia feels too much, as Hamlet thinks too much; she drowns in a surfeit of feeling.-The Al-Hamlet Summit (2002), by Sulayman Al-Bassain, which imagines Shakespeare’s characters from a modern Islamic perspective and resets the play in an unnamed Arab kingdom. Hamlet becomes an Islamist militant, while Ophelia becomes a suicide bomber.
Lee Edwards ‘we can imagine Hamlet’s story without Ophelia, but Ophelia literally has no story without Hamlet’.
Peter Gillies It is Horatio who makes Hamlet who he is, and it is Horatio who makes Hamlet into the powerful tragedy it has proven itself to be.
Greg Beamish on the ghost -The ghost in a literary setting almost always directs attention backwards in time and causes the living characters to reflect on prior events.-Those that can see [Old Hamlet’s ghost] remember, those that cannot have forgotten.
Harold Bloom Hamlet’s consciousness is ‘infinite, unlimited and at war with itself’
Andrew Brown Hamlet is a ‘thinker in a society of doers, a student surrounded by warriors’
Leithart The tragic tension in the story is ‘to be individual means to be put on a collision course with the society ‘
Terry Eagleton The real tragedy is that hamlet is unable to find self definition within formal society patterns. Being true to oneself may prove false to others
A.C. Bradley Hamlet is an element of evil in the state of Denmark
Belsey: Revenge “Revenge is not justice. It is rather an act of injustice on behalf of justice”
Brucher “Revengers create their own civil justice”
Showalter: Ophelia’s character “Ophelia is deprived of thought, sexuality and language..she represents the strong emotions that the Elizabethans thought womanish”‘Hamlet’s disgust at the feminine passivity in himself is translated into violent revulsion against women and into his brutal behaviour towards Ophelia’
Ernest Jones Oedipus complex
Carolyn Heilbrun Gertrude is vital to the play
Wilson Knight: Claudius is a good King “Claudius, as he appears in the play, is not a criminal…He is..a good and gentle king, enmeshed by the chain of causality linking him with his crime.” ‘Can hardly he blamed for his later actions’
Nietzsche Hamlets problem is not thinking too much but thinking too deeply. It is not a reflection but understanding which prevents hamlet taking action.
Goethe Hamlet is too pure for the task he is told to perform ‘a beautiful pure noble and most moral nature, without the strength of nerve which makes the hero’
Samuel Johnson Hamlet is, through the whole play, rather an instrument than an agent
Wilson Knight: Hamlet’s Morality “He [Hamlet] is in fact the poison in the veins of the community”

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