Trace the devlopment of Shakespearean criticism.

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Hrold Bloom, one of the great critics of Shakespeare's works, writes in Shakespeare:  The Invention of the Human that the more one reads and ponders the plays of Shakespeare, the more "one realizes that the accurate stance toward them is one of awe."  Bloom sought to extend a "tradition of interpretation" that includes Samuel Johnson, William Hazlitt, A.C. Bradley and Harold Goddard, who are now "out of fashion." Contending that what matters most in Shakespeare is shared

by him more with Chaucer and with Dostoevsky than with his contemporaries Marlowe and Ben Jonson

Bloom certainly takes a different perspective on Shakespeare from Thomas Carlyle, the once respected Victorian critic.  In learning, intellect, and personality, Bloom feels Samuel Johnson is "first among all Wesern literary critics."  Johnson praised Shakespeare for his "invention," meaning that Shakespeare teaches his readers to understand human nature.

Another aspect of Shakespeare's writings that has been given much attention is its certain universalism, but this, too, has gone out of fashion.  Hamlet was Freud's mentor, Bloom also contends, as such theories as "primal ambivalence" popularized by Sigmund Freud "remain central to Shakespeare."  Literary movements such as Romanticism and Modernism have also contributed to the criticism of the works of Shakespeare.

appletrees eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In recent years, a number of fields of literary analysis have opened up exciting and interesting new ways to analyze and discus Shakespeare's work from a critical perspective. These fields have all arisen as a result of shifting emphasis on social questions such as sexuality, gender, social equality and imperialism. A few examples of these critical approaches include feminist, Marxist, Queer Theory, post-colonialism, and psychoanalytic. Psychoanalytic theory is also sometimes known as Freudian, or sometimes Jungian (Jung was a follower of Freud but further developed and refined his main ideas). Post-modernism is another approach to literary criticism and media studies that has opened up possibilities for Shakespeare study.