This includes his personal impressions of individual characters—as the book's title would lead us to expect—but also the kind of broader consideration for which he would not be credited for at least a century and a half. Howe had already shown Hazlitt 1930, vol. Kinnaird suggests that Hazlitt no more than hints at this interpretation of Desdemona's character because of this accusation. One essay, on , was taken entire from a contribution to The Round Table series in the Examiner, first published on 26 November 1815, with a concluding paragraph tacked on from a drama review, also published in the Examiner, on 21 January 1816. As a critic, though he had passed out of the public eye, an even more select few understood how high a place he deserved in the ranking of literary critics. John Hamilton Reynolds, reviewing it in The Champion, went so far as to claim that This is the only work ever written on Shakespeare that can be deemed worthy of Shakespeare.
He wrote a stunning review, followed by several others applauding but sometimes censuring Kean's performances in other Shakespearean tragedies, including , , , , , and, what Hazlitt considered the best of Kean's performances,. Expanding upon 's idea in the that tragedy purifies the affections by terror and pity, he asserts that tragedy makes us thoughtful spectators in the lists of life. He also delves into the issue of Hazlitt's influence on Keats partly by means of Characters, particularly the chapter on King Lear, and he finds in Hazlitt's comments on Lear interesting contrasts and similarities with the critical views of Wordsworth and Shelley. He had already had it printed privately instead of offering it directly to a publisher by his friend the printer Carew Henry Reynell, who purchased the copyright for £100. As he had circulated advance copies before publication, it was noticed favourably before it formally appeared on 9 July 1817. If you chose mostly Bs, you are Beatrice of Much Ado About Nothing! All in all, Hazlitt finds this to be one of the most quotable and quoted of Shakespear's plays: There is hardly any of Shakespear's plays that contains a greater number of passages that have been quoted in books of extracts, or a greater number of phrases that have become in a manner proverbial.
The Two Princes Edward and Richard in the Tower, 1483 by Sir , 1878. Leigh Hunt proclaimed enthusiastically that it is the least of all its praises to say that it must inevitably supersede the dogmatical and half-informed criticisms of Johnson. As he does with character, Hazlitt observes patterns he discovers in the plot. He explores Hazlitt's accounts of Shakespeare's tragedies— Macbeth, Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, and especially Coriolanus—where he shows that Hazlitt reveals that our love of power in sympathising with what can involve evil can overcome the human desire for the good. For example, in Romeo and Juliet he proclaims, Perhaps one of the finest pieces of acting that ever was witnessed on the stage, is Mr. The Quarrel of the Age: The Life and Times of William Hazlitt.
Rather than an English critic, it was the German August Wilhelm Schlegel, whose lectures on the drama had recently been translated into English, whom Hazlitt believed to be the greatest critic of Shakespeare's plays. He plays Moonshine in Pyramus and Thisbe. Its beauties are primarily those of poetry: Poetry and the stage do not agree well together. Shakespear has set himself to imitate the tone of polite conversation then prevailing among the fair, the witty, and the learned. You might be next if you let infatuation run your life any more! Ale beer made with a top fermenting yeast was the drink of choice in Shakespeare's day. Hazlitt also reflects on Shakespeare's thorough understanding of the complexity of human character.
Twentieth-century critic Arthur Eastman thought that, although these remarks did insufficient justice to Chaucer, they were particularly original in revealing the sophisticated genius of Shakespeare. Portions of Shakespear's Female Characters the Examiner, 28 July 1816 found a place in the chapters on and Othello. Neither are we enamoured of Isabella's rigid chastity, though she could not act otherwise than she did. There was material from other essays. His main focus is on the characters that appear in the plays, but he also comments on the plays' dramatic structure and poetry, referring frequently to commentary by earlier critics, as well as the manner in which the characters were acted on stage.
The sense of power is as strong a principle in the mind as the love of pleasure. Much of the book synthesises Hazlitt's own views with those of his predecessors in Shakespearean criticism. When the author instills in the reader or viewer's imagination the sense of power that he must have had in grasping and conveying intertwined passions, he makes us identify with a character such as Othello, and feel in ourselves the way Iago plays upon his mind so that, ironically, his weakness is made to undermine his strength. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1990. Coleridge, Lamb, Hazlitt, and the Reader of Drama.
This play takes as its subject the strongest passions, and Shakespeare's genius rose to the occasion. The answer is that he is all these as much to amuse others as to gratify himself. The plot must be taken on its own terms. This love of power is not necessarily expressed by a will to dominate others physically; but there is at least the tendency to side with power in the imagination, to be swayed and carried away emotionally by the power of poetic language. William De La Pole held both titles during the period dramatised by Shakespeare. Hazlitt's essay on Hamlet was later used by David Bromwich in an extensive comparison of Coleridge's and Hazlitt's critical views in general. He thus finds the whole of the trial scene in The Merchant of Venice to be a master-piece of dramatic skill.
Influenced by the prophecies of three witches, he murders Duncan to take his place as king of Scotland. He kills Mercutio, and is killed by Romeo. Othello and Kinnaird further delves into the ideas in Characters of Shakespear's Plays, especially that of power as involved in Shakespeare's plays and as investigated by Hazlitt, not only the power in physical force but the power of imagination in sympathising with physical force, which at times can overcome our will to the good. No actors, he felt, could do justice to the overwhelming imaginative power of this play. Characterising the play as a whole by quoting the author's own words in it—Shakespear alone could describe the effect of his own poetry.
Most of the plays now accepted as Shakespeare's, or at least partly by Shakespeare, were also accepted as his by Hazlitt. But in effect Macbeth and Lady Macbeth exchange places as the action develops. With this focus on what Hazlitt had to say about Shakespeare's stagecraft and the way his plays were acted, Eastman thus rescued him from the opprobrium of being associated, in the most superficial way, with the character critics. The whole of the trial-scene, he remarks in this essay, is a master-piece of dramatic skill. The centre of attention is in large part on the characters, described often with a personal slant and using memorable expressions It is we who are Hamlet and incorporating psychological insights that were to become highly influential in later criticism. All is so artfully unified that that part which is only the fantastic creation of his mind, has the same palpable texture, and coheres 'semblably' with the rest.
The annotation fict is only used in entries for the English history plays, and indicates a character who is fictional. This, he felt, is a play to be read, and he noted that by his time it had already been so often read as to have become part of the common culture. Iago's peculiar genius is as Hazlitt represented it, the exuberance of one part of Shakespeare's mind—not an allegorical representation of the whole of it. She later goes mad and dies, possibly through suicide. Hazlitt thought to be a particularly pleasing play, though less as a comedy than as a serious dramatisation of an original tale by. Here, more than anywhere else, he sides with in believing Shakespeare's plays to suffer in stage presentation.