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Shakespeare Survey Shakespeare Survey
An Annual Survey of Shakespeare Studies and Production
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The Year's Contributions to Shakespearian Study 1 - Critical Studies

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 March 2007

Peter Holland
Affiliation:
Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham
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Summary

Stephen Greenblatt’s Hamlet in Purgatory is more about Purgatory than about Hamlet; the play, though ‘the subtext of this entire book’ (p. 157), is given sustained treatment only in the fifth and final chapter. In the first three (the fourth is on ghosts elsewhere in Shakespeare), Greenblatt focuses on the earliest imaginings and theological foundations of Purgatory and its elimination in Reformation England. He acknowledges the venal system of indulgences that served the material interests of a clerical elite but concentrates on the psychic fears and desires which Purgatory answered to and provoked – anxieties about one’s own afterlife but also, as a ritualized process to maintain connection with others who have died, a remediation for trauma. Purgatory ‘gave mourners something constructive to do with their feelings of grief . . . abandonment and anger’ (pp. 102, 103). Greenblatt’s Hamlet responds to the deprivation that followed the eradication of Purgatory, resituating in the theatre an experience of commemoration and belief – ‘the communal ritual assistance given to the dead by the living’ (p. 246) – no longer accessible in its original theological and ecclesiastical sites.

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Shakespeare Survey
An Annual Survey of Shakespeare Studies and Production
, pp. 336 - 366
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2002

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  • Critical Studies
  • Edited by Peter Holland, Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham
  • Book: Shakespeare Survey
  • Online publication: 28 March 2007
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CCOL0521815878.025
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  • Critical Studies
  • Edited by Peter Holland, Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham
  • Book: Shakespeare Survey
  • Online publication: 28 March 2007
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CCOL0521815878.025
Available formats
×

Send book to Google Drive

To send 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 sending content to Google Drive.

  • Critical Studies
  • Edited by Peter Holland, Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham
  • Book: Shakespeare Survey
  • Online publication: 28 March 2007
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CCOL0521815878.025
Available formats
×