Characters of Shakespeare's Plays

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William Hazlitt (1778—1830) writer and painter


Samuel Johnson (1709—1784) author and lexicographer

B. S. Johnson (1933—1973) writer


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Essays by W. Hazlitt, published 1817. They comment not only upon Hamlet, Macbeth, and other fictional heroes but also upon the distinctive qualities of each major drama, and more generally upon the ‘magnanimity’ of Shakespeare's imagination. Especially notable is the essay on Coriolanus, which considers the affinities between poetic imagination and political power. Hazlitt rebukes S. Johnson for his unimaginative treatment of Shakespeare, and attempts a more flexibly sympathetic appreciation.

Subjects: Literature.

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