The Romantics and Their Shakespeare
Trident Scholar Project rept. No. 138
NAVAL ACADEMY ANNAPOLIS MD
Pagination or Media Count:
A consequence of the Romantic movement was a profound preoccupation with character--the desire to understand the human psyche through the exploration of personalities created through literature. Authors and playwrights of the Romantic era turned to Shakespeares works, both to seek inspiration for their own efforts, and to attempt a comprehension of the many rich and complex characters of Shakespeares own creation. One result of this fascination with Shakespeare was the birth of character criticism, or, in the words of Romantic critic Charles Lamb, the desire to know the internal workings and movements of a great mind, of an Othello or a Hamlet for instance, the when and the why and the how far they should be moved. Strangely, despite an intense interest in Shakespeares characters, Romantic authors thought his plays singularly unfit for the stage, and plays of the Romantic era were unsuccessful. The Romantic playwrights had to contend with the remarkable and influential legacy of Shakespeare--a tradition which they tried to emulate--and their desires to maintain their own original creativity. They created a large body of important and successful poetry, and many bad plays.
- Humanities and History