Hamlet critics

Who first drew attention to Hamlet’s reasons for delay and when? Thomas Hanmer in 1736
Who was Coleridge? One of the first and most influential critics of Hamlet
Which school of thought was Ernest Jones from? The psychoanalytical critics
What did Ernest Jones argue Hamlet suffered from in 1949? The Oedipus complex
Which school of thought was Stuart M Kurland from? New historicism
Stuart M Kurland focused on the more general relevance of the play to the late Elizabethan anxiety over the succession, which was accompanied by what? Fear of foreign intervention
Stuart M Kurland said ‘Shakespeare’s audience would have been unlikely to see in Hamlet’s story Merely a private tragedy’
What was George Wilson Knight known as? A deliberately provocative critic
What did GWK say to oppose Claudius as a Machiavellian character? ‘Very human. Now these are the qualities Hamlet lacks’
‘Excessive Reflectiveness’ – Schlegel
Coleridge says Hamlet ‘loses The power of action in the energy of resolve’
Hazlitt says Hamlet ‘seems incapable Of deliberate action, but is only hurried to extreme ties on the spur of the occasion’
Hazlitt says Hamlet ‘is the Prince Of philosophical spectators’
Goethe says Hamlet has a ‘pure, noble and most moral nature without The strength of nerve which makes the hero sink beneath a burden’
Taine says Hamlet ‘can only do the thing on a sudden suggestion; He must have a moment of enthusiasm’
Granville-Barker calls it a ‘tragedy of Inaction’. Other critics agree that this inaction is as a result of Hamlets unsuitability for the task he has been given by the ghost.
What does Philip Edwards argue is part of the reason for Hamlet’s delay? ‘Fear that he is being deluded by the devil’
What does Hannah Bond describe Claudius in his repentance scene as? ‘Hamlet in another condition’
Why does Dr. Johnson see Hamlet’s madness as pointless? ‘He does nothing which he might not have done with the reputation of sanity’
What does Harry Levin think Hamlet stands in need of? ‘A new persona…to speak his mind with impunity’
What does Alex Newell say on ‘To Be or Not to be’? ‘Hamlet’s soliloquies are entirely motivated by reason’
What does Philip Edwards describe Hamlet as ‘released from’ in Act 5 with his changed persona? ‘The alternating belief in the meaningless and mindless drift of things’
What does Goethe argue all duties seem for Hamlet? ‘Holy’
What does Mark Rose argue that Laertes becomes for Hamlet? ‘The model of the kind of revenge that Hamlet so disdains’
What does Philip Edwards argue Shakespeare plays off Denmark’s elective monarchy against? ‘His Elizabethan audience’s deep emotional commitment to primogeniture and the right of a son to inherit’
What does Philip Edwards described Hamlet’s reaction to the ghost as? ‘A religious conversion…he baptises himself a new man’
What does David Levered argue caused Hamlet’s ‘revulsion against women’? ‘Hamlet’s disgust at the feminine passivity in himself’
What does Eli Hamana argue Ophelia suffers from? ‘A series of patriarchal oppressions’
What does Hudson argue Hamlet becomes in Act 5 which he has not been in the previous four acts? ‘The action hero’
What does George Wilson Knight argue the ghost instructs Hamlet? ‘Never to let the past be forgotten’
What does Tennenhouse argue is ‘to possess Gertrude’s body’? ‘Is to possess the state’
What does Spurgeon argue Hamlet’s mind is too philosophic to do? ‘Act quickly’
What does Coleridge argue is the ‘chief end of existence’? ‘Action’
Who does Schlegel argue are ‘equally involved in the general destruction’? ‘The less guilty and the innocent’
In Claudius’ inaugural address in Act 1 Scene 2, Shakespeare gives Claudius: ‘Just enough hollow phrases to alert the audience to hypocrisy’ Wood
Through New Historicist perspective, Philip Edwards sees Hamlet as the ‘Dispossessed prince’
Michael Bristol recognises Claudius’ competitive malice in stating that… ‘Hamlet and Claudius stalk each other like two murderous clowns attempting to achieve strategic advantage over the other’
AC Bradley pithily sums up Hamlets doubt in himself and the world around him as his ‘Disgust at life and everything in it’
AC Bradley describes Hamlet as ‘Melancholy’
Dr Johnson says that Hamlets treatment of Ophelia Is useless and wanton cruelty
Henry Mackenzie says that until act 5 hamlet is Deeply affected by the poison of deep grief which has perplexed his conduct

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