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Shakespeare’s Hamlet and the Controversies of Self$
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John Lee

Print publication date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9780198185048

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198185048.001.0001

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A Wave o’th Sea

A Wave o’th Sea

(p.128) 5 A Wave o’th Sea
Shakespeare’s Hamlet and the Controversies of Self

John Lee

Oxford University Press

This chapter shows that Hazlitt's Montaignesque conception of character as ‘a wave o'th' sea’, and the related constructivist discussion of the ‘real’, offer productive ways forward for the critical drama. However, the description of ‘that Within’ still remains vague. Hazlitt, in this area, is willing to repeat unaltered previous scenes. He remains satisfied with Pope's notion that Shakespeare was able to gain direct access to nature. Similarly, Hazlitt advances the notion of Shakespeare as a kind of Proteus to explain this ability. What remains, then, is the task of producing a vocabulary and methodology for discussing ‘that Within’; a way, that is, of showing ‘that Within’ to be a textual construct, and not a critic's fiction — a way of tracing, placing and differentiating the undulating lines of the waves o'th' sea.

Keywords:   Hamlet, Shakespeare, Hazlitt, critical drama, character, that Within

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