The first of the above passages is from Brecht’s “Little Organum for the Theatre.” The second is from Jean-Louis Barrault’s “À Propos de Shakespeare et du théâtre.” I quote them not to show that “Hamlet” is all things to all men, but to show that it is rather precisely opposite things to two types of modern men-the first type, materialist and collectivist; the second, religious and individualist. It will be noted that Brecht considers the events a challenge and the intellect of Hamlet inadequate to meet it, while Barrault considers the events disgusting and Hamlet too intellectual to lower himself to them. Brecht asks whether Hamlet can master the situation that confronts him. Barrault asks whether he can keep himself pure despite the situation that confronts him. Both, as interpreters of Shakespeare, are extremists. They pull Shakespeare in their own direction. They even do violence to facts. (It is not quite true that Hamlet turns back on seeing Fortinbras; he sets sail for England. It is not true that Richard II is chaste; it is intimated that he has homosexual relations with Bushy, Bagot, and Greene.) We live in a doctrinaire age.