Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Dr. Johnson’s Criticism of Shakespeare Essay

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), a flamboyant and versatile scholar, expresses his view of Shakespe be in his mutation of Shakespe ars plays which are enriched by his prefaces. But like new(prenominal) critics he does not eulogize the poet on the contrary, he dwells on the faults in his plays. He shows a very balanced and unbiased mind capable of resolve the merits and demerits of his plays without being influenced by the h on the wholeow effect. He reads neither to admire everything, nor does he contradict his excellence he performs the task of weighing and considering what he reads and offers his comments which view as a lesson bias. In The Preface to Shakespeare he admires him as the poet of nature, not of learning the creator of timbers who spring to life and a writer whose whole kit and caboodle express the full range of human passions (Norton.1255)His judgment of Shakespeare has both the supportive and the negative aspects and he does not indulge in bardolatry like other cri tics. He believes that dead writers are unnecessarily glorified and the living ones are neglected. He rightly says, The great contention of criticism is to find the faults of the moderns and the beauties of the ancients. (Norton.1256) He also advocates the critical theory that an author net be evaluated further by comparing his works with others, so in the production of genius, vigour can be styled excellent till it has been compared with other works of the aforesaid(prenominal) kind. (Norton.1256) He also upholds the view that a literary work can be called great only when it has stood the test of time.He thinks, Shakespeare is, above all writers, at least above all modern writers, the poet of nature, the poet that holds up to his readers a faithful reverberate of manners and of life. (Norton.1257) It is difficult to surpass this succinct summing up of Shakespeares genius. But Johnson disparages the uncritical acceptance of Shakespeare as perfect he points out his faults as wel l, without undermining his genius.Johnson praises Shakespeares nontextual matter of characterization highlighting their variety, depth, credibility and the power of delighting his readers. Using his comparative method, he observes, they are the genuine take of common humanity In the writings of other poets a character is too often an individual in those of Shakespeare it is commonly a species. (Norton.1257) The characters and the situations are so impressive because Shakespeare has no heroes, his scenes are occupied only by men, who act and speak as the reader thinks that he should himself have talk or acted on the corresponding occasion(Norton.1258) This culminates in his view, his drama is the mirror of life. (Norton.1258)Being a believer in didactic function of literature, he appreciates how his plays are full of practical axioms and domestic wisdom (Norton.1257) but for the same reason he criticizes him when it is absent, He sacrifices virtue to convenience, and is so much much careful to please than to instruct that he seems to write without any moral purpose. (Norton.1259) It is clear that he does not believe in art for arts sake like Oscar Wilde and Walter Pater. Johnson vainly castigates Shakespeare for not being a moralist, he that thinks reasonably, must think morally, but his precepts and axioms drop casually from him he makes no just distribution of good or evil (Norton.1259)

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