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Read an in-depth analysis of Orsino. She and Orsino are similar characters in that each seems to enjoy wallowing in his or her own misery. Olivia seems to have no difficulty transferring her affections from one love interest to the next, however, suggesting that her romantic feelings—like most emotions in the play—do not run deep. Read an in-depth analysis of Olivia.

When he arrives in Illyria, traveling with Antonio, his close friend and protector, Sebastian discovers that many people think that they know him. Furthermore, the beautiful Lady Olivia, whom he has never met, wants to marry him. Sebastian is not as well rounded a character as his sister.

Writing Tips: How to Use Irony Like William Shakespeare

He seems to exist to take on the role that Viola fills while disguised as Cesario—namely, the mate for Olivia. Malvolio is very efficient but also very self-righteous, and he has a poor opinion of drinking, singing, and fun. His priggishness and haughty attitude earn him the enmity of Sir Toby, Sir Andrew, and Maria, who play a cruel trick on him, making him believe that Olivia is in love with him.

In his fantasies about marrying his mistress, he reveals a powerful ambition to rise above his social class.

Read an in-depth analysis of Malvolio. He earns his living by making pointed jokes, singing old songs, being generally witty, and offering good advice cloaked under a layer of foolishness. In spite of being a professional fool, Feste often seems the wisest character in the play.

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Olivia lets Sir Toby Belch live with her, but she does not approve of his rowdy behavior, practical jokes, heavy drinking, late-night carousing, or friends specifically the idiotic Sir Andrew. Sir Toby also earns the ire of Malvolio. Together they bring about the triumph of chaotic spirit, which Sir Toby embodies, and the ruin of the controlling, self-righteous Malvolio.

Maria is remarkably similar to her antagonist, Malvolio, who harbors aspirations of rising in the world through marriage. But Maria succeeds where Malvolio fails—perhaps because she is a woman, but, more likely, because she is more in tune than Malvolio with the anarchic, topsy-turvy spirit that animates the play. Like the Bourbons, they had learnt nothing and forgotten nothing. The Quarterly Review moved—for a quarterly—with something like agility.

William Shakespeare

A second edition of the book had been prepared, and was selling briskly, when this Review launched one of its diatribes against the work and its author. Taylor and Hessey [the booksellers] told him subsequently that they had sold nearly two editions in about three months, but after the Quarterly review of them came out they never sold another copy. I had just prepared a second edition—such was called for—but then the Quarterly told the public that I was a fool and a dunce, and more, that I was an evil disposed person: and the public, supposing Gifford to know best, confessed that it had been a great ass to be pleased where it ought not to be, and the sale completely stopped.

The review, when examined, is seen to be a smart essay in detraction with its arguments ad invidiam very deftly inserted. But as a piece of criticism it misses even such points as might fairly have been made against the book; as, for example, that it harps too monotonously upon the tense string of enthusiasm.

Jeffrey noted this in the forefront of a sympathetic article in the Edinburgh.

Illuminating Shakespeare

It is, in truth, rather an encomium on Shakespeare than a commentary or a critique on him—and it is written more to show extraordinary love than extraordinary knowledge of his productions. The author is not merely an admirer of our great dramatist, but an Idolater of him; and openly professes his idolatry. We have ourselves too great a leaning to the same superstition to blame him very much for his error: and though we think, of course, that our own admiration is, on the whole, more discriminating and judicious, there are not many points on which, especially after reading his eloquent exposition of them, we should be much inclined to disagree with him.

The book, as we have already intimated, is written less to tell the reader what Mr. He seems pretty generally, indeed, in a state of happy intoxication—and has borrowed from his great original, not indeed the force or brilliancy of his fancy, but something of its playfulness, and a large share of his apparent joyousness and self-indulgence in its exercise.


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It is evidently a great pleasure to him to be fully possessed with the beauties of his author, and to follow the impulse of his unrestrained eagerness to impress them upon his readers. I choose to understand drama through my feelings. But in Hazlitt had all the odds against him when he stood up and accused the great Dr. Nothing is easier to prove than that in this world nobody ever invented anything. But when it comes to setting out the theory, grasping the worth of the principle, stating it and fighting for it, I think Hazlitt may fairly claim first share in the credit.

He did not, when he wrote the following pages, know very much, even about his subject. As his biographer says:. My grandfather came to town with very little book-knowledge. He had a fair stock of ideas. Now while it may be argued with plausibility, and even with truth, that the first qualification of a critic—at any rate of a critic of poetry—is, as Jeffrey puts the antithesis, to feel rather than to know ; while to be delicately sensitive and sympathetic counts more than to be well-informed; nevertheless learning remains respectable.

He who can assimilate it without pedantry which is another word for intellectual indigestion actually improves and refines his feelings while enlarging their scope and at the same time enlarging his resources of comparison and illustration. At all events learning impresses; it carries weight: and therefore it has always seemed to me that he showed small tact, if some modesty, by heaping whole pages of Schlegel into his own preface.

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For Schlegel [Footnote: Whose work, by the way, cries aloud for a new and better English translation. Nor is this impression removed by his admirer the late Mr. Well, for the second half of this pronouncement—constat. Ireland ought to be right—since Hazlitt, as we have seen, came to literary criticism by the road of philosophical writing—I confess to finding very little philosophy in this book. He really understood that Shakespeare was a dramatic craftsman, studied him as such, worshipped him for his incomparable skill in doing what he tried, all his life and all the time, to do.

I harbour an ungracious doubt that he may have done so in —17 for the simple and sufficient reason that he had less than a bowing acquaintance with the other Elizabethan dramatists. But he made their acquaintance in due course, and discussed them, yet never so far as I recall committed the error of ranking them alongside Shakespeare.

With all love for the memory of Lamb, and with all respect for the memory of Swinburne, I hold that these two in their generations, both soaked in enjoyment of the Elizabethan style—an enjoyment derivative from Shakespeare—did some disservice to criticism by classing them with him in the light they borrow; whenas truly he differs from them in kind and beyond any reach of degrees. Some few men are absolute and can only be judged absolutely. It is observed by Mr. Homer himself drew not his art so immediately from the fountains of nature; it proceeded through AEgyptian strainers and channels, and came to him not without some tincture of the learning, or some cast of the models, of those before him.

The poetry of Shakespeare was inspiration: indeed, he is not so much an imitator, as an instrument of nature; and it is not so just to say that he speaks from her, as that she speaks through him.

His characters are so much nature herself, that it is a sort of injury to call them by so distant a name as copies of her. Those of other poets have a constant resemblance, which shows that they received them from one another, and were but multipliers of the same image: each picture, like a mock-rainbow, is but the reflection of a reflection. But every single character in Shakespeare, is as much an individual, as those in life itself; it is as impossible to find any two alike; and such, as from their relation or affinity in any respect appear most to be twins, will, upon comparison, be found remarkably distinct.

To this life and variety of character, we must add the wonderful preservation of it; which is such throughout his plays, that had all the speeches been printed without the very names of the persons, I believe one might have applied them with certainty to every speaker. The object of the volume here offered to the public, is to illustrate these remarks in a more particular manner by a reference to each play.

The Project Gutenberg eBook of Shakespeare in the Theatre, by William Poel.

A gentleman of the name of Mason, [Footnote: Hazlitt is here mistaken. Hazlitt confused T. Certainly, no writer among ourselves has shown either the same enthusiastic admiration of his genius, or the same philosophical acuteness in pointing out his characteristic excellences. In a word, as he carries with him the most fruitful and daring fancy into the kingdom of nature,—on the other hand, he carries nature into the regions of fancy, lying beyond the confines of reality. We are lost in astonishment at seeing the extraordinary, the wonderful, and the unheard of, in such intimate nearness.

He gives us the history of minds; he lays open to us, in a single word, a whole series of preceding conditions. His passions do not at first stand displayed to us in all their height, as is the case with so many tragic poets, who, in the language of Lessing, are thorough masters of the legal style of love. He paints, in a most inimitable manner, the gradual progress from the first origin. There are, it is true, passages, though, comparatively speaking, very few, where his poetry exceeds the bounds of true dialogue, where a too soaring imagination, a too luxuriant wit, rendered the complete dramatic forgetfulness of himself impossible.

With this exception, the censure originates only in a fanciless way of thinking, to which everything appears unnatural that does not suit its own tame insipidity. Hence, an idea has been formed of simple and natural pathos, which consists in exclamations destitute of imagery, and nowise elevated above every-day life.