Critics’ Quotes: Hamlet

Von Goethe: Religion “All duties seem holy for Hamlet”
Swinburne: Hamlet’s character “The single characteristic of Hamlet’s innermost nature is by no means irresolution or hesitation…but rather the strong conflux of contending forces.”
Bradley: Religion “Hamlet is unable to carry out the sacred duty, imposed by divine authority, of punishing an evil man by death”
Samuel Johnson: Hamlet’s character “Hamlet is…rather an instrument than an agent”
Coleridge: Hamlet’s character “Hamlet is obliged to act on the spur of the moment”
Wilson Knight: Claudius is a good King “Claudius, as he appears in the play, is not a criminal…He is..a good and gentle king, enmeshed by the chain of causality linking him with his crime.”
Wilson Knight: Hamlet’s character “Hamlet is an element of evil in the state of Denmark”
Alexander: Human aggression “The play does not offer any conclusions about what is the right response to the questions it poses about human aggression”
Belsey: Revenge “Revenge is not justice. It is rather an act of injustice on behalf of justice”
Belsey: Justice “Revenge is always in excess of justice”
Belsey: Morals “Revenge exists on a margin between justice and crime”
Wilson Knight: Hamlet’s Morality “He [Hamlet] is in fact the poison in the veins of the community”
Alexander: Vengeance “The desire for vengeance is seen as part of a continuing pattern of human conduct”
Alexander: Audience Reaction “The audience are entertained because they are asked to see, feel and understand a little more about the hidden springs of action”
Rebecca Smith: Polonius’ character “Polonius seems to love his children; he seems to have the welfare of the kingdom in mind. His means of actions, however, are totally corrupt”
Rebecca Smith: Polonius and Ophelia’s relationship “Trained his daughter to be obedient and chaste and is able to use her as a piece of bait for spying”
Marilyn French: R&G “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern sacrifice the bond of human friendship to a coial propriety”
Showalter: Ophelia’s character “Ophelia is deprived of thought, sexuality and language..she represents the strong emotions that the Elizabethans thought womanish”
Brucher: Revenge and Justice “Revengers create their own civil justice”
Sir Herbert Tree: Comedy “But for humour he should go mad. Sanity is humour.”
Jonathon Dollimore: Corruption “Articulates a crisis in the decay of a traditional social order in England”