Hamlet Critical Quotations



Kerrigan: 'the ghost condemns Hamlet to an endless, fruitless yearning for a lost figure', 'Hamlet never promises to revenge, only to remember'

Wiggins: 'the ghost may be a demon tempting him to murder an innocent man'

Williams: 'form of revenge expressly against the teachings of the church'

Belsey: 'Revenge is not justice. It is rather an act of injustice on behalf of justice'

Hazlitt: 'Hamlet cannot have a perfect revenge...so declines it altogether', 'he is sensible of his own weakness...and tries to reason himself out of it'

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A. C. Bradley: 'total reversal of fortune...upon a man...in high degree', Hamlet's fall from power ultimately as a result of contrasting types of power that he cannot manipulate for his own use

Knight: '[Claudius] is a good and gentle king, enmeshed by the chain of causality linking him with his crime'

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T. S. Eliot: 'Hamlet...is a play about dealing with the effects of a mother's guilt upon her son'

Adelman: 'Hamlet's principal concern is not revenge but a desire to purify his mother'

Adelman: 'as an avenger, Hamlet seems motivated more by his mother than his father'

A.C. Bradley: 'Eruption of coarse sexualility...rough work of vengence in repugnant to him'

Smith: 'Although he clearly loves her- Claudius shares Hamlet's conception of Gertrude as an object', 'female virtue is identical to chastity'

Showalter: 'Ophelia is deprived of though, sexuality and language', 'Hamlets disgust at the feminine passivity in himself is translated into violent revulsion against women and into his brutal behaviour towards Ophelia'

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Mangan: 'Hamlet becomes temporarily obsessed with the image of warrior masculinity which Pyrrhus represents'

Sienfield: 'Hamlet is presented as fashionably introspective and melancholy'

Alexander: 'The other characters in the play do not hesitate to act because they are sure of their own values and beliefs. Fortinbras and Laertes act because they believe that certain actions are right or honourable'

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Williams: 'Claudius knows he must divorce Gertrude and surrender the crown before his penitence will be meaningful', 'Hamlet is talking self evident nonsense'

Wiggins: 'Hamlet is reasoning, not rationalising in the prayer scene and therefore...means what he says'

Hazlitt: 'Hamlet is the prince of philosophical speculators'

Knight: 'Hamlet is a figure of nihilism and death', 'The question of relative morality of Hamlet and Claudius reflects the ultimate problem of the play'

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Mack: 'Madness...contains both punishment and insight', 'special insight and freedom to speak the truth'

Sienfield: 'Hamlet is presented as fashionably introspective and melancholy', [Ophelia's] madness is somatized and it's content eroticised'

?: 'Hamlet does not play the madman, rather he plays the Fool, mocking and telling truths that no one wants to hear'

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Surveillance and Deception

Trevor: argued Hamlet’s illness is purely physical and we shouldn’t push beyond into psychological as the theories surrounding it are not contextual

Charnes: ‘No one in this play knows or understands anyone else’

Shapiro: ‘Shakespeare was always writing out of his own cultural moment’

French: 'Rosencratz and Guildenstern sacrifice the bond of human friendship to a social propriety'

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Kastan: 'Tragedy, for Shakespeare, is the genre of uncompensated suffering'

A. C. Bradley: 'Depicts the troubled parts of the hero's life with proceeds and leads up to his death'

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