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Flashcards in critics over time Deck (14)
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AC Bradley - late 19th and early 20th century

- Hamlet is a character with a psychology as realistic as a real person.
- hamlet is unable to carry out revenge because of the circumstances ( mothers incestous act and fathers death) which throws him into melancholy - a state of depression- and makes him suicidal


Freud - oedipal urges

it is psychologically impossible for Hamlet to kill Claudius until Gertrude is dead
- claudius personifies hamlets sexual desires for his mother
subconscious desire for his mother
- hamlet finds female sexuality disgusting because he hasn't matured enough to recognise his mothers a human being with needs


TS Eliot - 20th century critic-

- regards hamlet as a real person rather than the play being a work of art
- Shakespeare's Hamlet is an artistic failure because there is no functional plot because it doesn't follow the proper arrangements of incidents or 'impose a dramatic order'
- its not like Shakespeare's other works makes it seem as if its not his work but rather modified from 'ur -hamlet'
the earlier version that got lost
- hamlets emotions 'is in excess of the facts' -


Dover wilson - later 20th c

rejects Elliot's argument that killing has no motive.
- for 17th century audience after reign of Henry viii the marriage is seen as incest as that was what justified his annulment


Goethe - mid 18th to the romantics(1800-50)

- all duty is sacred to Hamlet
- what hamlet is trying to achieve is impossible and he is so burdened that he is in the process of being destroyed. (Goeth uses Wilhelms metaphor of vase flying to pieces to explain Hamlets psychology


Henry Mackenzie - mid 18th to the romantics ( focused on nature, emotion, heroism)

- Hamlet is a sweet and tender prince burdened with a task his conscience abhors


Richardson -

the cause of hamlets melancholy lies in his mothers conduct more than in his fathers death
- hamlet knows he is on the brink of madness because of his inconsistent and incoherent speech.



- hamlet delays his revenge because he is contemplative rather than active and the overwhelming burden of his thought paralyses his power to act
- he doesnt have the correct balance of thought and action there is an overbalance where he thinks more than acts
- isn't sympathetic to outward circumstances like goethe and mackenzie focuses more on psyche


Hartley Coleridge

- his discourse is philosophical, serious his anguish is stern and masculine throughout the play therefore he can not be the sentimental view that is given by romantics critics


ben Jonson

- shakespeare is at fault because he has 'small latin less greek'
- meaning lacking typical characteristics of greek tragedy because shakespeare lacked the skill to read the poetics and liked to take plots from other stories and reinvent it which is what he did with hamlet because there is ur-hamlet which came out a year before Shakespeare's play



- many scenes in hamlet are coarse and improper although did admire language
- 'vulgar and barbarous'
- seems like the work of a 'drunken savage'
- critical because its so different from Aristotle's tragedy which a lot of french critics admired


Adaption - Branagh version - the mousetrap scene

horatio standing with opera glasses
survelliance highlighted through continous back and forth movement of camera lens
build up of dramatic music until claudius realises they're talking about him in the play


Richard Burton - Adaption - Hamlets second solliloquy

Hamlet wears all black and looks around as if hes being watched
- burtons sits alone and then walks around frantically looks into the camera when he asks am i a coward i.e unsure of himself has to ask audience for assurance


David Tenant version - adaption - Hamlets 2nd soliloquy

- wearing t-shirt with muscles drawn on them - representing his physical strength but not mental - putting it on like a mask so that he can gain courage
- survelliance through camera lens at a height like a cctv camera at beginning of the scene