Hamlet Critics

F. Bowers “Hamlet as Minister and Scourge”
1968 Hamlet as Minister and Scourge date
Hamlet as Minister and Scourge based on response to killing Polonius, explains Hamlet’s complexities. Hamlet delays action in favor of God’s Providence.
minister righteous agent used against evil
scourge damned human used for revenge
A.C. Bradley “Hamlet” (Shakespearean Tragedy)
1904 date AC Bradley’s Hamlet written
1964 date AC Bradley’s Hamlet written (2)
“Hamlet” focuses on character of Hamlet, his passivity based on melancholy; melancholy explains Hamlet’s action; studies Ophelia/Gertrude/Claudius/Ghost; Acknowledges many facts of Hamlet are untouched.
M. Doran “Excerpt from Shakespeare’s Dramatic Language”
1986 Excerpt from Shakespeare’s Dramatic Language date
“Excerpt from Shakespeare’s Dramatic Language” Hamlet is voice of truth in world of lies; his speech is more realistic than players and Claudius; Hamlet’s speech is more controlled than Laertes’. 4 styles of Hamlet’s voices: language of passion, language of mockery, language of reflection, everyday conversation. Hamlet is most complete and human character in the play.
T.S. Eliot “Hamlet and His Problems”
1991 “Hamlet and His Problems” date
“Hamlet and His Problems” Hamlet is an artistic failure, few evaluate Hamlet as a play, Eliot hates superfluous scenes, variable maturity with mishandled motives, Hamlet has too many emotions (in excess of facts), no “objective correlative” to express emotions.
GK Hunter “The Heroism of Hamlet”
1963 The Heroism of Hamlet date
“The Heroism of Hamlet” Crucial midpoint of Shakespeare’s study of “nature of heroism”, evolves from superhuman king to general; hamlet sees qualities of heroism in peers and assimilates them into his personality; Fortinbras’ action/Laertes’ passion/Horatio’s “Christian-Stoicism”; Hamlet can’t just compile or imitate heroic ideas; Hamlet goes mad to handle paradox: coherence in experience and capacity to generalize; Hamlet faces “slings and arrows” and maintains control.
E. Jones “Hamlet and Oedipus”
1949 Hamlet and Oedipus date
“Hamlet and Oedipus” psychoanalytic approach finds repressed attraction for Gertrude; mix of guilt over father’s death, repulsion over mom’s behavior, revenge for Claudius’ usurpation; repressed desire to kill dad resurfaces to kill Claudius; Neurosis explains Hamlet’s character and inability to have relationship with Ophelia; doesn’t explain why Hamlet speaks well of dad he wants to kill.
H. Levin “Chapter 2: Doubt”
1959 Chapter 2: Doubt date
“Chapter 2: Doubt” Structures around study of 3 tropes: interrgatio (interrogation), dubitatio (doubt), ironia (irony); “Duality” – exists because hamlet’s state of mind is doubt; questioner faces no single answer nor lack of one; double entendre/double talk/dual roles/dual responsibilities/double dealing/what is and what was/being or not being; doubt leads to hesitation; hamlet is state of perplexity.
M. Maynard “The World of Hamlet”
1968 “The World of Hamlet” date
“The World of Hamlet” Hamlet can’t be understood outside of his world; dominant attributes of Hamlet’s world; mysteriousness/recurrent discrepancy between reality and appearance/sense of morality; mystery in opening scene. Hamlet’s problem is that of the avenger, act V: hamlet comes to terms with responsibility and context.
JD Wilson “Hamlet’s Make-Up”
1936 “Hamlet’s Make-Up” date
“Hamlet’s Make-Up” Rejects interpretations of Hamlet that depend on terms or ideas; must be studied in terms of Elizabethan dramatic context; focuses on plot, argues Hamlet is not glaring procrastinator until after the Mousetrap; mental hysterics: supreme illusion of great and mysterious character; hero is complex and contradictory and human.
WH Auden “Hamlet” (Lectures on Shakespeare)
2000 “Hamlet” (Lectures on Shakespeare) date
Hamlet (Lectures on Shakespeare) Hamlet has lots of faults: Polonius’ burial/Fortinbras’ portrayal/lack of motivation/Hamlet’s age/love for Ophelia; points out subplot issues; is hamlet just big and bored and spoiled and rich?

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