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Reader Response Criticism
Transcript of Reader Response Criticism
By Christian Vaccaro
What is Reader Response?
Hamlet is very confused at the beginning of the play with whether or not he wants to live or die.
Through the ghost of his father, he learns his duty to carry out an act of revenge against King Claudius.
Although he does not get to live in his glory, his story will continue to live on through his close friend Horatio who has been with Hamlet since his earliest motives and plans.
King Hrothgar's Heorot hall is attacked by Grendel and many Danes are killed. He calls upon Beowulf, leader of the Geats, to help him defeat this monster and make his village safe.
Beowulf seeks revenge upon the fallen soldiers, and fights Grendel. He rips the monsters arm off and kills him. Beowulf gets to live in his glory and his a hero to Hrothgar and the Danes.
Response to works
Both Hamlet and Beowulf were called upon to carry out a duty of revenge.
Hamlet, battled much against his own conscience whether to carry out his duty or not. He was also working against Claudius and Laertes, who were plotting to kill him.
Beowulf took the challenge head on determined to gain glory from the heroic victory. He worked against fear and the great strength of Grendel.
Both characters came out on top in different ways. Hamlet could've killed Claudius early on, but waited for the opportune time. He also died shortly after completing his duty, and his story lives on through legend. Beowulf used his great strength to over power Grendel and defeat him. He lived on to tell his story and live a life of glory.
Every reader/audience has their own unique interpretation of different stories. That's the beauty of Reader Response criticism!
You are free to interpret what the author is saying any way you want.
Reader Response : school of literary theory that focuses on the reader (or "audience") and their experience of a literary work, in contrast to other schools and theories that focus attention primarily on the author or the content and form of the work
Hamlet and Beowulf
Both stories have heros that can be compared.
Hamlet and Beowulf
Shakespeare, William. Hamlet (The New
Folger Library Shakespeare). Simon &
Schuster; New Folger Edition, 2003.
Beowulf: A New Verse Translation. Trans.
Seamus Heaney. New York: Norton, 2000.