Ranking of the Play Hamlet

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Ranking of the Play Hamlet Literary critics give the highest ranking to the Shakespearean tragedy Hamlet. This essay will explore critical opinion and the reasons for the Bard’s exceptional rating. This play is ranked by many as the very greatest ever written. Cumberland Clark in “The Supernatural in Hamlet” gives the consensus regarding Hamlet that exists among literary critics of today: At least six or seven years pass after the writing of Midsummer Night’s Dream before we find Shakespeare engaged on Hamlet, the second of the great plays with an important Supernatural element, and, in the opinion of many, the greatest tragedy ever penned. (99) There is no more exalted ranking than the above. Richard A. Lanham in the essay “Superposed Plays” maintains that no other English tragedy has generated the literary comment which this play has produced: “Hamlet is one of the great tragedies. It has generated more comment than any other written document in English literature, one would guess, reverent, serious comment on it as a serious play” (91). Robert B. Heilman in “The Role We Give Shakespeare” relates the high ranking of Shakespeare to the “innumerableness of the parts”: But the Shakespeare completeness appears graspable and possessable to many men at odds with each other, because of the innumerableness of the parts: these parts we may consider incompletenesses, partial perspectives, and as such they correspond to the imperfect (but not necessarily invalid) modes of seeing and understanding practiced by imperfect (but not necessarily wrongheaded) interpreters and theorists of different camps. Each interpreter sees some part of the whole that does, we may say, mirror him, and he t... ... middle of paper ... ...1965. Lanham, Richard A. “Superposed Plays.” Modern Critical Interpretations: Hamlet. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1986. Rpt. from The Motives of Eloquence: Literary Rhetoric in the Renaissance. N.p.: Yale University Press, 1976. Levin, Harry. General Introduction. The Riverside Shakespeare. Ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1974. Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 1995. http://www.chemicool.com/Shakespeare/hamlet/full.html No line nos. Wright, Louis B. and Virginia A. LaMar. “Hamlet: A Man Who Thinks Before He Acts.” Readings on Hamlet. Ed. Don Nardo. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1999. Rpt. from The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Ed. Louis B. Wright and Virginia A. LaMar. N. p.: Pocket Books, 1958.
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