On some level, Freud understood that Shakespeare had invented psychoanalysis by inventing the psyche, insofar as Freud could recognize and describe it. Girard sees Shakespeare discovering and fleshing out his understanding of mimetic desire as the structure of interdividual relations in the comedies; the histories particularly those set in Roman and Greek antiquity and tragedies show how mimetic crisis leads to scapegoating and sacrifice; and the romances present forgiveness as the alternative to mimetic circularity. Nowhere in the play does anyone, including Hamlet and the Ghost, tell us that the uxorious father loved the son.
Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human
In Hamlet, the very absence of a case against revenge becomes a powerful intimation of what the modern world is really about. Even at those later stages in our culture when physical revenge and blood feuds completely disappeared or were limited to such marginal milieu as the underworld, it would seem that no revenge play, not even a play of reluctant revenge, could strike a really deep chord in the modern psyche.
Should our enormous critical literature on Hamlet fall into the hands of people otherwise ignorant of our mores, they could not fail to conclude that our academic tribe must have been a savage breed, indeed. The only way to account for this curious body of literature is to suppose that back in the twentieth century no more was needed than the request of some ghost, and the average professor of literature would massacre his entire household without batting an eyelash. The psychiatrist sees the very thought of.
It is no accident if the sanctity of revenge provides a perfect vehicle for all the masks of modern ressentiment. It is not Hamlet that is irrelevant, but the wall of conventions and ritualism with which we surround the play, in the name now of innovation rather than tradition. As more events, objects, and attitudes around us proclaim the same message ever more loudly, in order not to hear that message, we must condemn more of our experience to insignificance and absurdity.
With our most fashionable critics today we have reached the point when history makes no sense, art makes no sense, language and sense itself make no sense Theater of Envy There can be little doubt that Bloom means what he says here; earlier, as we have noted, he confesses to being a romantic, and these sentiments are certainly consistent with such an identity. The real source of his pessimism is the fatalism, always latent but now emerging full-blown, that inheres in the anxiety of influence, a mimetic process Bloom views as not only inescapable, but desirable for its power to goad literary ephebes to great artistic achievement.
By expelling competition from canon-formation, argues Bloom, the School of Resentment makes genuine literary accomplishment impossible. Great writers like Shakespeare, argues Girard, go beyond merely intuiting the haunting resemblances between the modes of artistic mimesis they employ in their works and the existential forces that called them to become writers in the first place.
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I was by my sense of uselessness, my not exactly vitalizing fear that my chosen profession reduced to an incoherent blend of antiquarianism and culture-mongering. I recall also that I would solace myself by thinking that while a scholar-teacher of literature could do no good, at least he could do no harm, or anyway not to others, whatever he did to himself. But that was at the very start of the decade of the fifties, and after more than twenty years I have come to understand that I under-rated my profession, as much in its capacity for doing harm as in its potential for good works.
Even our treasons, our betrayals of our implicit trusts, are treasons of something more than of the intellectuals, and most directly damage our immediate students, our Oedipal sons and daughters. Our profession is not genuinely akin any longer to that of the historians or the philosophers.
Without willing the change, our theoretical critics have become negative theologians, our practical critics are close to being Agaddic commentators, and all of our teachers, of whatever generation, teach how to live, what to do, in order to avoid the damnation of death in life. Emerson abandoned his church to become a secular orator, rightly trusting that the lecture, rather than the sermon, was the proper and luminous melody for Americans. Resentment, like water, finds its lowest point, and so trickles down through state and community colleges, into high school, and, presumably, even down to elementary school, where, stripped along the way of its theoretical subtleties, it manifests itself in peremptory dismissals of the canonical works to which both Bloom and Girard are cognitively, and whether Bloom likes it or not, ethically indebted.
Works Cited Bloom, Harold. The Anxiety of Influence. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, Violence and the Sacred. Search WorldCat Find items in libraries near you. Advanced Search Find a Library. Your list has reached the maximum number of items. Please create a new list with a new name; move some items to a new or existing list; or delete some items. Your request to send this item has been completed.
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William Shakespeare's Hamlet (Bloom's Modern Critical Interpretations)
Your rating has been recorded. Write a review Rate this item: 1 2 3 4 5. Preview this item Preview this item. Series: Bloom's modern critical interpretations. This invaluable new study guide to one of Shakespeare's greatest plays contains a selection of the finest contemporary criticism of Hamlet. Find a copy online Links to this item 0-ebooks. Allow this favorite library to be seen by others Keep this favorite library private. Find a copy in the library Finding libraries that hold this item