Harold Bloom is a well-known American literary critic, and Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale University. He has written over 40 books and often it is his opinions that are most interesting and overshadow the book itself. It is clear, from all that he has written, that Shakespeare has a special almost scared place in his own literary hierarchy.
Bloom in the book gives analysis and overview of each of Shakespeare's 38 plays. Shakespeare’s characters in these plays reveal what it is to be human, because you see how life affects them. You see their growth and change with events. “Shakespeare’s eminence was in a diversity of persons he presented. No one, before or since has had so many separate selves.” Both Bloom and Shakespeare see literature as just an imitation of human character.
Bloom often says in his writings, that Shakespeare did not write Shakespeare, but what he means is that the plays were written by the “social, political, and economic energies of his age”. An interesting way to say listen to your characters and they will tell you what to write. This isn’t complicated. The same could be said about everything else. Bloom said in this book that “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare” could just as soon be called “The Book of Reality”.
Bloom is the personification of the idea that in life our friends are the authors and characters we read about. In his own words he admits this saying; “I am naïve enough to read incessantly because I cannot, on my own, get to know enough people, profoundly enough”.
Of all the plays presented, Sir John Falstaff of Henry IV, parts of V, and Hamlet, are the two favorites of Bloom. The key characters in each are ones Bloom knows well and even imagines them interacting with each other because of their very different natures. In a book about Falstaff, Bloom has Falstaff, Hamlet and Socrates sitting at a pub, having an intense discussion, so this seems to be a special way he has of his own to show the true nature of the characters.
Falstaff is a character representing self-satisfaction, a happy guy. He mocks faith, can be lewd, funny and reckless.
Hamlet is self-loathing, and not a happy guy. Nietzsche said of Hamlet that he is “not a man who thinks too much, but rather a man who thinks too well”. Bloom says of Hamlet that he is an experimental thinker.
The claim by some scholars that Shakespeare didn’t write Hamlet is dissected and Bloom clearly shows why the final Hamlet had to be Shakespeare’s.
This is a big book that covers a lot, but Blooms thoughts are what make it so interesting
Quotes by Shakespeare and Harold Bloom
I am naive enough to read incessantly because I cannot, on my own, get to know enough people, profoundly enough” - Harold Bloom
There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so. -William Shakespeare
Hell is empty and all the devils are here.- William Shakespeare
It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.-William Shakespeare
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