THE HEART OF HAMLET by Bernard Grebanier


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The author, who has taught Shakespeare courses since he was a young man and believes that Hamlet is the greatest of the plays, feels that the plethora of interpretations of Hamlet's behavior serve more to confuse than enlighten. It seems to Mr. Grebanier that nothing is now of less moment than Shakespeare's intentions in writing the play, and that in some quarters it is only the playwright's unconscious intentions that are respected. His own theory is a straightforward one: Hamlet is not a procrastinator; he is not too sensitive, too thoughtful, too moral or too irresolute to act. He is in fact too rash and this is his tragic flaw. He begins by discussing the nature of the tragedy and the proper hero of a tragedy who must be, to some extent, the author of his own doom and he briefly considers Shakespeare's practice in writing tragedy. He presents the leading interpretations of Hamlet -- Goethe, Schlegel, Coleridge, Ulrici, Werder, Klein, Bradley, Stoll, Eliot and Freud --answers them and then outlines the play as he believes its author understood it. Emphasizing plot and action he examines the play in detail, then turns to an analysis of the characters, Hamlet's actions and the meaning of the soliloquies. His summary: Hamlet is an extraordinarily active man; he is a scholar, courtier and warrior. He is thirty, a man of energetic figure and he is probably the most admirably intellectual of all literature's tragic heroes. A sensible and engaging study, fortunately both erudite and witty.

Publisher: Crowell