A Short Analysis of T. S. Eliot’s ‘Hamlet and his Problems’

A summary of an influential essay

‘Hamlet and his Problems’ is one of T. S. Eliot’s most important and influential essays. It was first published in 1919. In ‘Hamlet and his Problems’, Eliot makes the bold claim that Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, far from being a triumph, is an artistic failure. Why? Eliot is being provocative with such a statement, but he does provide some reasons for this position. In this article, we’re going to analyse Eliot’s essay, which you can read here.

In summary, Eliot’s argument in ‘Hamlet and his Problems’ is that Shakespeare’s play is a ‘failure’, but the play has become so familiar and ubiquitous as a work of art that we are no longer able to see its flaws. This bold revisionist claim is founded on several points, not least of which is the fact that Shakespeare inherited the original play-text of Hamlet from another…

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