How can New Historicism be applied to Macbeth and Hamlet?

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New Historicism is a relatively new form of literary criticism that became part of the widespread vernacular in the 1990s. New Historicism stands in sharp contrast to the more romantic inclinations of theory of the past, stating that there is absolutely no intrinsic nature or "truth" of humankind that can be accessed by texts. Instead, New Historicism maintains that within every text can be found the values, practices, and tools of the culture in which it was written. Even works of criticism and subversion use the same methods of the society that they criticize, according to this theory. It is the objective of New Historicism to discuss the cultural factors and history that influences a particular work.

Considering that both of these works of Shakespeare deal with the murder of a king, one might be forgiven in initially thinking that they were works of criticism of power. However, Shakespeare's usurpers in the two stories, Claudius and Macbeth , are shamed for killing the respective "good...

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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on January 30, 2020