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6 - Understanding art

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 June 2014

Richard Eldridge
Affiliation:
Swarthmore College, Pennsylvania
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Summary

Six strategies for understanding art

Consider the following six very broad strategies for understanding Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

Hamlet can be seen in light of the conscious preoccupations of a roughly identifiable historical epoch such as Jacobean England, the Renaissance, or early modern Europe. For example, one may see the play as addressing problems of political authority and succession, problems of conscience in the light of the Reformation’s resistance to priestly mediation between individuals and God, problems of stagecraft and performance, or some combination of these and other problems. Shakespeare may reasonably be supposed to have known and thought about these problems. To explore Hamlet in this light will mean relating the text to varieties of contemporary documents – for example, political treatises, religious tracts, and instruction manuals for actors – that likewise evidently address such problems. Reading will focus on how the action of the play presents characters confronting these problems. Hamlet is here seen as a consciously formed document that partakes of the spirit of its times.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2014

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  • Understanding art
  • Richard Eldridge, Swarthmore College, Pennsylvania
  • Book: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Art
  • Online publication: 05 June 2014
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781107300538.007
Available formats
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  • Understanding art
  • Richard Eldridge, Swarthmore College, Pennsylvania
  • Book: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Art
  • Online publication: 05 June 2014
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781107300538.007
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Understanding art
  • Richard Eldridge, Swarthmore College, Pennsylvania
  • Book: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Art
  • Online publication: 05 June 2014
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781107300538.007
Available formats
×