This essay explores the intertextual use of Hamlet in Sydney Owenson's Wild Irish Girl and Germaine de Staël's Corinne to shed new light on these writers' interventions in European Romantic politics. Both Owenson and Staël associated their male protagonists with the figure of Hamlet at a time when Shakespeare's Danish prince was being reinvented as an embodiment of Romantic weltschmerz and as a symbol for the powerless, isolated intellectual. Instead of contributing to the Romantic cult of a melancholy Hamlet, Owenson and Staël confront their protagonists with the influence of empowered Ophelias who illustrate a less solipsistic version of melancholy. Thus both authors criticize the inertia that gripped their male counterparts directly after the French Revolution. Staël's novel ultimately follows a tragic pattern, while Owenson's gestures toward the possibility of a comic ending. But beyond the different levels of optimism implied by those endings, Owenson and Staël deliver a similar message to the Romantic intellectual, a message that most Romantics ignored in their persistent cultivation of Hamletic attitudes.
Research Article| June 01 2011
The Critique of Hamletism in The Wild Irish Girl and Corinne
Modern Language Quarterly (2011) 72 (2): 201–223.
Raphaël Ingelbien, Benedicte Seynhaeve; The Critique of Hamletism in The Wild Irish Girl and Corinne. Modern Language Quarterly 1 June 2011; 72 (2): 201–223. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00267929-1161336
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