Desdemona and emilia are weak characters who fail to gain our sympathy. Discuss
Characters of Shakespear’s Playsis an 1817 book of criticism of, written by early nineteenth century English essayist and literary critic. Composed in reaction to theapproach to‘s plays typified by, it was among the first English-language studies of Shakespeare’s plays to follow the manner of German critic, and, with the work of, paved the way for the increased appreciation of Shakespeare’s genius that was characteristic of later nineteenth-century criticism. It was also the first book to cover all of Shakespeare’s plays, intended as a guide for the general reader.
Then becoming known as a theatre critic, Hazlitt had been focusing increasingly on drama as literature, contributing miscellaneous literary criticism to various journals, including the prestigious. This was the first of his book-length literary studies. The plays, the thirty-five that Hazlitt considered to be genuine, are covered in thirty-two chapters, with new material added to passages reworked from periodical articles and reviews. A Preface establishes his main theme of the uniqueness of Shakespeare’s characters and looks back at earlier Shakespearean criticism. Two concluding chapters on “Doubtful Plays of Shakespear” and the “Poems and Sonnets” round out the book.
The centre of attention is in large part on the characters, described often with a personal slant and using memorable expressions (“It iswewho are Hamlet”) and incorporating psychological insights that were to become highly influential in later criticism. Though at first less influential, Hazlitt’s comments on the plays’ dramatic structure and poetry and on the central themes and general mood of each play laid the groundwork for later critics’ more elaborate interpretations. Frequently expressing the view that stage presentation could not do justice to Shakespeare’s plays, Hazlitt nevertheless also found certain plays eminently actable, and he frequently admired the performances of certain actors, particularly.