Ts Eliot Essay Hamlet And His Problems

Ts Eliot Essay Hamlet And His Problems-82
According to Eliot, Hamlet’s true feelings are unknowable because they do not find adequate representation in the play.The “objective correlative” requires that emotion in art be expressed through an equivalent, or as Eliot puts it, “a set of objects, a situation, a chain of events which shall be the formula of the emotion.” Emotion cannot be expressed directly, Eliot says, but “when the external facts, which must terminate in sensory experience, are given, the emotion is immediately evoked.” Eliot’s theory has stoked controversy almost from its first appearance.You cannot point to it in the speeches; indeed, if you examine the two famous soliloquies you see the versification of Shakespeare, but a content which might be claimed by another, perhaps by the author of the , Act v, sc. We find Shakespeare’s Hamlet not in the action, not in any quotations that we might select, so much as in an unmistakable tone which is unmistakably not in the earlier play.

According to Eliot, Hamlet’s true feelings are unknowable because they do not find adequate representation in the play.

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In several ways the play is puzzling, and disquieting as is none of the others. Both workmanship and thought are in an unstable position. It is not merely the “guilt of a mother” that cannot be handled as Shakespeare handled the suspicion of Othello, the infatuation of Antony, or the pride of Coriolanus.

Of all the plays it is the longest and is possibly the one on which Shakespeare spent most pains; and yet he has left in it superfluous and inconsistent scenes which even hasty revision should have noticed. We are surely justified in attributing the play, with that other profoundly interesting play of “intractable” material and astonishing versification, “[Hamlet’s] tone is that of one who has suffered tortures on the score of his mother’s degradation. The subject might conceivably have expanded into a tragedy like these, intelligible, self-complete, in the sunlight.

For Shakespeare it is less than madness and more than feigned.

The levity of Hamlet, his repetition of phrase, his puns, are not part of a deliberate plan of dissimulation, but a form of emotional relief.

In the essay, Eliot notoriously deems Shakespeare’s most famous tragedy an “artistic failure,” maintaining that the play represents a “primary problem,” and that it contains certain weaknesses as a whole.

For Eliot, the most glaring is that Hamlet’s emotional response to his situation exceeds the realities of that situation as dramatized in the play itself: “Hamlet (the man) is dominated by an emotion which is inexpressible, because it is in of the facts as they appear.” Eliot uses this “problem” to formulate his definition of the “objective correlative”; though not the first person to use the term, Eliot made it a permanent fixture in the literary and critical fields., like the sonnets, is full of some stuff that the writer could not drag to light, contemplate, or manipulate into art.And when we search for this feeling, we find it, as in the sonnets, very difficult to localize.And the supposed identity of Hamlet with his author is genuine to this point: that Hamlet’s bafflement at the absence of objective equivalent to his feelings is a prolongation of the bafflement of his creator in the face of his artistic problem.Hamlet is up against the difficulty that his disgust is occasioned by his mother, but that his mother is not an adequate equivalent for it; his disgust envelops and exceeds her.It is thus a feeling which he cannot understand; he cannot objectify it, and it therefore remains to poison life and obstruct action.None of the possible actions can satisfy it; and nothing that Shakespeare can do with the plot can express Hamlet for him.Eliot’s impact on the field of literary criticism is immense; F. Leavis called him “a very penetrating influence, perhaps not unlike the east wind.” In his criticism Eliot generally emphasized difficulty in poetry, appreciated metaphysical techniques like the conceit, and championed ideas such as “impersonality” and the influence of tradition upon the poet.Eliot also believed that poetry should be judged from an objective set of criteria, and perhaps his most famous formulation of such criterion came in an essay originally titled “Hamlet” and published in his influential volume of criticism, (1920).And finally there are unexplained scenes—the Polonius-Laertes and the Polonius-Reynaldo scenes—for which there is little excuse; these scenes are not in the verse style of Kyd, and not beyond doubt in the style of Shakespeare. Robertson believes to be scenes in the original play of Kyd reworked by a third hand, perhaps Chapman, before Shakespeare touched the play.And he concludes, with very strong show of reason, that the original play of Kyd was, like certain other revenge plays, in two parts of five acts each. Robertson’s examination is, we believe, irrefragable: that Shakespeare’s , so far as it is Shakespeare’s, is a play dealing with the effect of a mother’s guilt upon her son, and that Shakespeare was unable to impose this motive successfully upon the “intractable” material of the old play. So far from being Shakespeare’s masterpiece, the play is most certainly an artistic failure. The guilt of a mother is an almost intolerable motive for drama, but it had to be maintained and emphasized to supply a psychological solution, or rather a hint of one.” This, however, is by no means the whole story.


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