Hamlet: An Historical and Comparative Study

By Elmer Edgar Stoll | Go to book overview

HAMLET1
CHAPTER I
DIFFICULTIES, AND ONCE NO DIFFICULTIES

It is in humility of spirit that one must, in these latter days, approach Hamlet, pen in hand. How many pens have touched it, and the riddle still unread! A German critic, who for the moment spoke as if he had somehow got on the wrong side of the Rhine, once said that in every essay on Hamlet there are two parts, a good and a bad: the good being the part in which the author confutes all previous theories; the bad, the part in which he produces a theory of his own. It is almost wholly the bad, then, that I have now to offer, for with previous theories I shall deal only as they stand directly in the way.2 Two excuses I have for so doing. As for the one, paper, nowadays, and your printer's and your reader's time are precious; as for the other, the purpose that I set before me is not the ordinary one. It is to discover, if possible, something of the dramatist's intention. Many other students, no doubt, have had the same purpose, though they have generally proceeded as if their purpose were another and the play were written yesterday. Many have directly or indirectly confessed that the dramatist's intention did not matter to them at all. In doing so they fly in the face of venerable precept,--though not of practice, to be sure, whether in this or in any day:

In every work regard the writer's end.

A perfect judge will read each work of wit
With the same spirit that its author writ.

It is in two ways that I undertake to ascertain this spirit, to discover this end. One is by studying the technique, construction, situations, characters, and sentiments of the play in the light of other plays in which similar construction, situations, characters, and sentiments appear. It is thus, ever since George Steevens made the suggestion, that philologists have proceeded in the study of Shakespeare's language. They arrive at the meaning of old phrases by comparing them with the same or similar ones elsewhere in Shakespeare or in other Elizabethan books. The method is equally necessary for the understanding of his technique and ideas, though it has been but little used. If the meaning of the lesser

____________________
1
In this little monograph are to be found some views presented in my article on Hamlet in the Kittredge Anniversary Papers, though generally much modified and altered. From the article I sometimes quote--without quotation marks,--but otherwise, save in one reference, I ignore it. In part, and in simpler form, the present piece of writing was read in April, 1917, as a public lecture at Stanford University. A forthcoming monograph on the "Problem of Hamlet" by the Right Hon. J. M. Robertson is announced in the Times as I go to press.
2
For a review of the principal theories, and an estimate of them in which I concur, I beg to refer the reader to Professor Bradley Shakespearean Tragedy ( 1908), pp. 94-108.

-1-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Hamlet: An Historical and Comparative Study
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 76

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.