hamlet critics ao5

Hamlet has “a self-awareness so acute that there is no self, but only selves” – ROSSITER alternate personalities – link to antic disposition(rossiter)
‘Laerte’s idealizes his desperate sister rather as Hamlet idealizes his dead father’ Ann Thompson L and H as doubles – both suffer loss(ann thompson)
‘Hamlet is a new man in act 5′ – Harold bloomcould link to his ’emancipation’ (Lynn Wood) more resolute, set on revenge in a5emancipation – set free from being enslaved by this pressure and burden – now set on fulfilling it(bloom and wood)
‘This is I/Hamlet the Dane,’ he announces, as if owning himself fully for the first time.’ – DIANA DEVLIN first recognition as individual ? – takes over fathers position(diana devlin)
‘the loving ophelia dies chanting as an image less of victimization than of the power of shakespeare’s language to evoke a unique beauty’- harold bloom ophelia – victimised or romanticised – very romanticised in art after hamlet(bloom)
‘No one in this play ‘knows’ or ‘understands’ anyone else’ LINDA CHARNES duplicity – anxious sense and tension in the play(linda charnes)
‘believed that ‘Gertrude seems too colourless a woman to be connected with anything as positive as murder’ VICTOR KIERNEN gertrude lacks any substance and depth – claudius stated ‘theres matter in these sighs’ – implies her sighs are often trivial and unnecessary(victor kiernen)
audiences are ‘unable to agree whether his disturbed and antisocial behaviour is a geniuine ailment or a put up job, an entirely manufactured ‘antic disposition’.’ – katie flint complexity and uncertainty at the Hamlets antic disposition.(katie flint)
AO5 ADAPTATION – in Olivier’s adaptation’the way he shortened the play was to cut out the characters Rosencrantz, Guildenstern and Fortinbras. In doing so, it cut out the plays political element and made it entirely an intense personal drama’ – john farndon focus on characters personal lives and struggles – removes any political social drama that might take away from this intensity(john farndon)
‘is hamlet too long?’ – John Farringdon much longer than other SS plays(john farringdon)
Hamlet is a ‘tragedy of thought’ and downfall ‘is connected rather with [his] intellectual nature and reflective habit than with any yielding to passion’.- A C Bradley mistake of delay and overthinking – multiple opportunities to kill C but morals and indecisiveness stop him(ac bradley)
(due to line To be or not to be that is the QUESTION) ‘we may well regard it (question) as the key-word of the play … Furthermore, besides direct inquiry, there are other modes of questioning, notably doubt and irony- Harry Levin indecisiveness – questioning and use of irony and doubt as delay(harry levin)
ophelia – ‘represents a powerful archetype in which female insanity and female sexuality are inextricably intertwined’ELAINE SHOWALTER female sexuality and representation – fears and anxiety around sexuality(elaine showalter)
‘hamlet has no firm belief in himself or in anything else; from expression to religious confidence he passes over to sceptical doubt’SCHLEGEL his faith is superficial and inconstant – no clear set beliefs he follows(schlegel)
Soliloquies “make us in a way his [Hamlet’s] accomplices” – Marian Cox intense involvement in the play – vulnerable, honest insight to characters inner thoughts(marian cox)
for hamlet soliloquy’s act as a “substitute for action” – Marian Cox soliloquys as method of delaying(marian cox)
The soliloquy is ther perfect vehicle for internalizing contesting forces and for capturing the shifting nature of a mind at work” – Marian Cox shifting character – development of character through play(marian cox)
coleridge (romantic poet) – 1800s- attacked H for lack of ”real action” delay – lack of action(coleridge – romantic poet 1800s)
‘hamlet is the most formidable ironist ever to walk the stage’Harold Bloom ironic character of hamlet(bloom)
Madness in hamlet ‘challenges the concept of there being a stable norm of personality, against which deviation, named ‘madness’ or ‘melancholy’ may be measured’KATIE FLINT madness and melancholy – defying ideals/norms(flint)
‘hamlets rapid, quibbling speech is seldom totally, or even partially understood by his companions on stage’KATIE FLINT hamlets antic disposition and nonsensical language(flint)
each character has a ‘tragic flaw’ ‘hamlets is of course his indecisiveness’JOHN CUNNINGHAM hamlets indecisiveness as his downfall – “flaw”(john cunningham)
‘no simple villain, but a complex, compelling figure’ Hawkes claudius – clever villain, very complex and manipulative – evokes fear
‘Hamlet subconsciously recognises thr unacceptable nature of his Oedipal desires and instead engages with his mother sexually through language to punish her for having sex w another man’LYNDA ONYETT oedipus complex – relationships w women(lynda onyett)
AO5 ADAPTATIONSProducer of KB version decides ‘is polonius played for laughs, or are we to see the more sinister person over whose body hamlet can casually say ‘thou findest to be too busy with some danger” polonius in dif interpretations
‘the number of images of sickness and disease’ represent ‘the unwholesome condition of denmark morally’spurgeon sickness infects the entire state of denmark (spurgeon)
ophelia is ‘passive, almost to the point of non existence’ – LYNN WOODS ophelia lacks dimension – not enough on her?(lynn woods)
1736 – THOMAS HAMNERspoke abt delay (conventional in SS revenge tragedies) – identified that if the Prince has carried out his father’s instructions straight away, “there would have been an end of our play” delay necessary to make the play exciting and complex(1736 – THOMAS HAMNER)
1748 – VOLTAIREparticularly scathing, saying “one would think that this work was the fruit of the imagination of a drunken savage” 1700’s criticism – didnt recognise much skill or style in the play(1748 – VOLTAIRE)
1765 – DR JOHNSONdescribes “useless and wanton cruelty” of Hamlet’s treatment of Ophelia. – coming into romantic perioddescribes H as ‘rather an instrument than an agent’ 1700s – believed hamlet was cruel to ophelia and lacks much personal will – critical of the character of Hcoming into romanticism1765 – DR JOHNSON
1795 – GOETHE (german poet)”A beautiful, pure, noble and most moral nature, without the strength of nerve which makes the hero, sinks beneath a burden which it can neither bear nor throw off” sympathy with hamlet1795 – GOETHE (german poet)
late 1700s (romanticism) – SS elevated to God like status, anyone who suggested anything he wrote was ‘less than transcendental’ was regarded as blasphemy – LYNN WOOD abt late 1700s romanticism – SS gained admiration(lynn wood)
Lynn Wood – in late, romantic 1700s ‘Hamlet invited identification; the complexity of his thoughts and the ambiguity of his actions made him appear life like…couldn’t easily be summed up.”Hamlet began to be talked about as a real person, often independent to the play lynn wood on the 1700s- hamlet became more intriguing to critics, who sought to define and analyse him – gained his own personality away from the play itself
COLERIDGE – ROMANTIC POET – early 1800s’intellectual energy and alertness understandably made action impossible’ early 1800s – coleridge – H is incapable of action as he thinks too much
1817″He is the most amiable of misanthropes” – William Hazlitt most likeable of outcasts/outsiders – early 1800s1817 – WILLIAM HAZLITT
1872 – Nietzsche (german philosopher)argues in The Birth of Tragedy that ‘Hamlet’s problem is not that he thinks too much but that he thinks too deeply.’It is not reflection but understanding which prevents action; “the apprehension of truth and its terror” late 1800’s – nietzsche – doesn’t overthink but thinks too deeply and over analyses1872 – Nietzsche (german philosopher)
EARLY 1900S – more focussed criticism on the characters of the play – e.g. hamlets delay as his shortcoming early 1900s – criticism of characters and their flaws
1904 – AC BRADLEY “whole story turns upon the peculiar character of the hero”(also tried to show that the tragic hero is someone suffering from a particular weakness of character) each hero has a flaw – whole text is more focussed on him – link to oliviers adaptation – political side removed 4 intense personal drama1904 – AC BRADLEY
1919 – play was known for being ‘endlessly problematic’ (lynn wood)TS ELLIOT – describes as an ‘artistic failure’ v problematic play – critics overwhelmed by this in early 1900s
“Was ever a figure so torn and tortured” – ERNEST JONES “the character is repulsive in its conception, based on a self-dislike and a spirit of disintegration” – D.H. LAWRENCE dislike/negative reception/pity for Hamlets character in early 1900s
1930 – G WILSON KNIGHT wrote he has become “an element of evil in the state of Denmark””the story of a sweet prince, wrenched from life and dedicate alone to death”theme of sickness/madness hamlet poisoned by grief according to early 1900s critics (g wilson knight)
in 1934 – Dover Wilson – articulated the ‘ambiguous nature of the Ghost and the impossibility of Hamlet’s translating its instruction into a coherent plan of action’ (Lynn Wood) ghost and its ambiguity
1956 – HARRY LEVIN”Hamlet is the most problematic play ever written by Shakespeare” defined as a problem play
1967 – NIGEL ALEXANDER – worries “how does one deal with such a man [Claudius] without becoming like him” concern for hamlets mentality – implications that antic disposition could manifest into real madness
late 1500’s – initial popularity – high up figures attendedearly 1700s – critical of the characters and the style of writing – more negativelate 1700s/early 1800s – romanticism – SS high rep and admiredearly 1900’s – focus on it being a problem play and on the characters (alot of analysis of H) summary of critical views over time
1920 BRIDGES ADAMS ADAPTATIONghost given no figure – only appears as a voice to hamlet certain productions emphasise ambiguity of the ghost – implies it could be in hamlets head
1992 – NOBLE PRODUCTION2001 – PIMLOTT PRODUCTION both present ghost as comforting to Hamlet hugs him, comforts him and explains himself shows hamlets need for comfort – sense of grief at fathers death -sympathy
2004 – BOYD PRODUCTIONactors who played ghost and ophelia also played gravediggers – constantly haunting hamlet, even from the grave – theme of death throughout contrast with comforting presentations of the ghost

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