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Sharpe, E.F. (1948). An Unfinished Paper on Hamlet: Prince of Denmark. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 29:98-109.

(1948). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 29:98-109

An Unfinished Paper on Hamlet: Prince of Denmark

Ella Freeman Sharpe

[INTRODUCTION. This publication consists of extracts from an unfinished paper on Hamlet with which Ella Sharpe intended to continue the series begun with 'From King Lear to The Tempest.' The sub-title of the latter paper, 'Some conclusions taken from a study in progress on "The Cyclic Movement in Shakespeare's Plays"' indicates the scope of the project on which she was engaged at the time of her death. Among her papers there is a rough diagram, a 'First Scheme of Cyclic Movement'; this divides the total movement into two phases based on the chronological sequence of the plays. Each phase is distinguished by an alternating tragedy and comedy rhythm and each shows a descent to a nadir of depression followed by an ascent to successful 'Re-instatement of the ideal'.

The first phase runs from Richard III through Titus Andronicus (off-set by The Taming of the Shrew) and Romeo and Juliet (Love's Labour Lost) to the first nadir represented by Richard II and the compensatory Midsummer Night's Dream. The movement then ascends through King John, the Merchant of Venice (annotated as 'key comedy?') and Henry IV (Much Ado About Nothing) to a climax in Henry V.

The second phase includes the descent from this climax through Julius Caesar (As You Like It and Twelfth Night), through Hamlet (Merry Wives of Windsor) and Troilus and Cressida (All's Well That Ends Well) to Measure for Measure, which is queried as the key comedy of this second phase. The curve then plunges down through Othello and King Lear, Anthony and Cleopatra and Macbeth, to the second nadir of Coriolanus and Timon of Athens.

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