T.S. Eliot (1888–1965). The Sacred Wood: Essays on Poetry and Criticism. 1922.
Hamlet and His Problems
In this essay , Eliot discussed his idea of "objective correlative", and applied it on Hamlet “the character.” He stated first some poets "interpretation" of Hamlet, such as Goethe and Coleridge, whom had created a Hamlet of his own in the process, were as he state that they , critics , tried to understand issues in Hamlet`s character which wasn`t understood by Shakespeare himself, as he believe. “the work of art cannot be interpreted” this was the bottom line that Eliot believed to be true, that “there is nothing to interpret; we can only criticize it according to standards, in comparison to other works of art; and for "interpretation" the chief task is the presentation of relevant historical facts which the reader is not assumed to know.” The second point which Eliot discussed after that art is not something to interpret, was his main idea of "objective correlative", “in other words, a set of objects, a situation, a chain of events which shall be the formula of that particular emotion; such that when the external facts, which must terminate in sensory experience, are given, the emotion is immediately evoked.” He believed that Shakespeare did this correlation well in some of his “successful” plays, but not in Hamlet, were he believe that taking inspiration and knowing the past works is important, but not throw stating it as it is, but in making a correlation instead, were he felt that in Hamlet Shakespeare didn`t do that, “there are verbal parallels so close to the Spanish Tragedy as to leave no doubt that in places Shakespeare was merely revising the text of Kyd.” That the feeling was missing, the events which drove it was missing “Hamlet, 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. You cannot point to it in the speeches.” That this kind of revising made the play look like an empty imitation “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.” Finally, he state that the job of an artist is to keep the emotions alive “he intense feeling, ecstatic or terrible, without an object or exceeding its object, is something which every person of sensibility has known; it is doubtless a study to pathologists. It often occurs in adolescence: the ordinary person puts these feelings to sleep, or trims down his feeling to fit the business world; the artist keeps it alive by his ability to intensify the world to his emotions.” Due to this lose of objective correlative Eliot feels that Hamlet of Shakespeare is puzzling and deficient “The Hamlet of Laforgue is an adolescent; the Hamlet of Shakespeare is not, he has not that explanation and excuse. We must simply admit that here Shakespeare tackled a problem which proved too much for him. Why he attempted it at all is an insoluble puzzle; under compulsion of what experience he attempted to express the inexpressibly horrible, we cannot ever know.”
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