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Renaissance period[ edit ] Interpretations of Hamlet in Shakespeare's day were very concerned with the play's portrayal of madness. The play was also often portrayed more violently than in later times.
The procession of mad courtiers and ladies in Jacobean and Caroline drama frequently appears indebted to Hamlet. Other aspects of the play were also remembered. Looking back on Renaissance drama inAbraham Wright lauds the humor of the gravedigger's scene, although he suggests that Shakespeare was outdone by Thomas Randolphwhose farcical comedy The Jealous Lovers features both a travesty of Ophelia and a graveyard scene.
Theatres were closed under the Puritan Commonwealthwhich ran from — Restoration[ edit ] When the monarchy was restored intheatres re-opened.
Early interpretations of the play, from the late 17th to early 18th century, typically showed Prince Hamlet as a heroic figure. On the one hand, Shakespeare was seen as primitive and untutored, both in comparison to later English dramatists such as Fletcher and especially when measured against the neoclassical ideals of art brought back from France with the Restoration.
On the other, Shakespeare remained popular not just with mass audiences but even with the very critics made uncomfortable by his ignorance of Aristotle's unities and decorum. Thus, critics considered Hamlet in a milieu which abundantly demonstrated the play's dramatic viability.
John Evelyn saw the play inand in his Diary he deplored the play's violation of the unities of time and place. Critics disparaged the indecorous range of Shakespeare's language, with Polonius's fondness for puns and Hamlet's use of "mean" i.
Even more important was the question of decorum, which in the case of Hamlet focused on the play's violation of tragic unity of time and place, and on the characters. Jeremy Collier attacked the play on both counts in his Short View of the Immorality and Profaneness of the English Stagepublished in Comparing Ophelia to Electrahe condemns Shakespeare for allowing his heroine to become "immodest" in her insanity, particularly in the "Flower Scene".
Hamlet in general and Ophelia in particular were defended by Thomas D'urfey and George Drake almost immediately. Drake defends the play's justice on the grounds that the murderers are "caught in their own toils" that is, traps. In the next decade, Rowe and Dennis agreed with Collier that the play violated justice; Shaftesbury and others defended the play as ultimately moral.
Even the many critics who defended Hamlet took for granted the necessity of the classical canon in principle.
Voltaire 's attack on the play is perhaps the most famous neoclassical treatment of the play;  it inspired numerous defenses in England, but these defenses did not at first weaken the neoclassical orthodoxy. Thus Lewis Theobald explained the seeming absurdity of Hamlet's calling death an "undiscovered country" not long after he has encountered the Ghost by hypothesizing that the Ghost describes Purgatorynot death.
Steele the psychological insight of the first soliloquy, and Addison the ghost scene. Early in the century, George Stubbes noted Shakespeare's use of Horatio's incredulity to make the Ghost credible. After midcentury, such psychological readings had begun to gain more currency. Tobias Smollett criticized what he saw as the illogic of the "to be or not to be" soliloquy, which was belied, he said, by Hamlet's actions.
More commonly, the play's disparate elements were defended as part of a grander design. Horace Walpolefor instance, defends the mixture of comedy and tragedy as ultimately more realistic and effective than rigid separation would be. Samuel Johnson echoed Popple in defending the character of Polonius; Johnson also doubted the necessity of Hamlet's vicious treatment of Ophelia, and he also viewed skeptically the necessity and probability of the climax.
Hamlet's character was also attacked by other critics near the end of the century, among them George Steevens. Goethe had one of his characters say, in his novel Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship"Shakespeare meant A lovely, pure, noble, and most moral nature, without the strength of nerve which forms a hero, sinks beneath a burden which it cannot bear, and must not cast away.
InWilliam Richardson sounded the key notes of this analysis: Hamlet was a sensitive and accomplished prince with an unusually refined moral sense; he is nearly incapacitated by the horror of the truth about his mother and uncle, and he struggles against that horror to fulfill his task.
Richardson, who thought the play should have ended shortly after the closet scene, thus saw the play as dramatizing the conflict between a sensitive individual and a calloused, seamy world.
To this analysis Thomas Robertson adds in particular the devastating impact of the death of Hamlet's father. The most extended critique of the play's language from the end of the century is perhaps that of Hugh Blair.Feb 16, · May the Force be with you.
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An “I am not Terry Beatty's Girlfriend” letter-writing contest ensues. Mao Zedong (December 26, – September 9, ), also known as Chairman Mao, was a Chinese communist revolutionary who became the founding father of the People's Republic of China, which he ruled as the Chairman of the Communist Party of China from its establishment in .
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