Essay on A Comparison of Macbeth and Hamlet

Essay on A Comparison of Macbeth and Hamlet

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A Comparison of Macbeth and Hamlet MACBETH stands in contrast throughout with Hamlet; in the manner of
opening more especially. In the latter, there is a gradual ascent from
the simplest forms of conversation to the language of impassioned
intellect,—yet the intellect still remaining the seat of passion: in
the former, the invocation is at once made to the imagination and the
emotions connected therewith. Hence the movement throughout is the
most rapid of all Shakspeare's plays; and hence also, with the
exception of the disgusting passage of the Porter (Act ii. sc. 3),
which I dare pledge myself to demonstrate to be an interpolation of
the actors, there is not, to the best of my remembrance, a single pun
or play on words in the whole drama. I have previously given an answer
to the thousand times repeated charge against Shakspeare upon the
subject of his punning, and I here merely mention the fact of the
absence of any puns in Macbeth, as justifying a candid doubt at least,
whether even in these figures of speech and fanciful modifications of
language, Shakspeare may not have followed rules and principles that
merit and would stand the test of philosophic examination. And hence,
also, there is an entire absence of comedy, nay, even of irony and
philosophic contemplation in Macbeth,—the play being wholly and purely
tragic. For the same cause, there are no reasonings of equivocal
morality, which would have required a more...


... middle of paper ...


...to the music of noblest thought in har-monious sounds. Happy he, who
not only in the public theatre, but in the labours of a profession,
and round the light of his own hearth, still carries a heart so
pleasure-fraught!

Alas for Macbeth! now all is inward with him; he has no more
prudential prospective reasonings. His wife, the only being who could
have had any seat in his affections, dies; he puts on despondency, the
final heart-armour of the wretched, and would fain think every thing
shadowy and unsubstantial, as indeed all things are to those who
cannot regard them as symbols of goodness:—

Out out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow; a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more; it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

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