The Play “the Mona Lisa of literature” – TS Eliot/”a vulgar and barbarous tragedy” – Voltaire/”obsessed with doubles” – Kermode
Characterisation “before Shakespeare there was characterisation, after Shakespeare there were characters.” – Bloom/”no-one in this play knows or understands anyone else.” – Linda Charnes
Hamlet “Shakespeare’s character could be almost anything” – Michael Pennington/”many different explanations for his procrastination” – Kenneth Mui/”not an individual but everyman” – CS Lewis/”the hero-villain” – Bloom
Claudius “the cunning and lecherousness of Claudius’ evil has corrupted the whole kingdom of Denmark” – Richard D Altick/a “slimy beast” with “unctuous verse rhythms” – LC Knights/”good and gentle king” – G Wilson Knight
Polonius “a bad parent” – Michael Pennington/”between knave and fool, most performances fall to one side or the other” – Michael Pennington/”knowing in retrospect and ignorant in foresight.” – Samuel Johnson
Gertrude “a character of ambiguous morality whom we can never fully know” – GF Bradby/”negative and insignificant” – TS Eliot
Ophelia “suffers a series of patriarchal oppressions” – Emi Hamana/”she appears in only 5 of the plays 20 scenes.” – Elaine Showalter/”only concern is pleasing others” – Rebecca Smith
Theatre “Shakespeare himself is speaking when Hamlet instructs the players” – Albert Tolman/”Shakespeare’s most lucid and metatheatical tragedy” – Phyllis Gorfain

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