Shakespeare and the Critics

Shakespeare is possibly the greatest play writer of our time. One of his more famous plays “Hamlet” tells the story of a man, Hamlet, who is misunderstood by everyone. It is very easy for one to project his or her own faults onto someone else,

and this is exactly what happens in the play. Hamlet does many strange things and each thing is blamed on a different reason. This is similar to when a critic analysis a piece of work. They tend to compare the play to something they have gone through in their life. T.S. Elliot’s essay “Hamlet and His Problems” is a perfect example that critics are narrow minded. They only see things in the way they want and they do not have an open mind about anything.

Hamlet seems mad and acts very strange in some cases this causes the main debate that critics talk about; “KING: How is it that clouds still hang on you? Hamlet: Not so, my lord. I am too much in the sun.” Even though Hamlet is only saying he is mad to fool the king, many people think that he has really gone mad out of frustration for the tragedy that occurred. Hamlet also seems to be a liar by blaming his appearance on coincidence rather than the tragedy that took place. The first argument is a more recent argument and T.S. Elliot’s quotes Professor Stoll of the University of Minnesota saying that: “Critics of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries knew less about psychology than more recent Hamlet critics, but they were nearer in spirit to Shakespeare’s art; and as they insisted on the importance of the effect of the whole rather than on the importance of the leading character, they were nearer, in their old-fashioned way, to the secret of dramatic art in general.”

The modern critics all think he has gone mad. Clearly they never experienced a tragedy themselves; otherwise they would know what the experience could do to someone. When he throws off the king’s question he is not doing it because he doesn’t want to talk to the king he is doing it because he can’t handle all the questions. This is perfectly normal. Critics who have never been a situation like this are unable to think outside the box, and understand what someone else is going through.

Other critics misunderstand Hamlets behavior by saying he is a homosexual. This is a misunderstanding of the fact that Hamlet can’t trust any man. Therefore, he advises Ophelia to trust no man. The only man she can trust is Jesus. The only way a critic can see the real issues here would be if they went through the same thing that Hamlet did. If a woman went through a terrible divorce and then tells her friends not to trust any man, does this make her gay? No, this just means that she went through a trauma that no one can understand unless they went through the same thing.

The difference between a good critic and a bad critic is one that understands his own boundaries. If a critic can realize that he is not always able to understand what the character is going through and that he must think outside of the box in order to understand it, he will be a good critic. I agree with Elliot’s critic on the critics of Hamlet he understands like I do that you cannot judge a situation until you were put in it yourself.