Hey flags, start denting. I just read the Hamlet chapter. He is describing Hamlet as caught between the feudal world and the Renaissance: "He wants to shape the old chaotic and corrupt world according to the principles of the new rationality which he has studied at Wittenberg. And of course you cannot do this; you cannot live in one world according to the principles of another world. This is what we call tragedy." (. 48)
Here are the details (p. 50):
This is the contradictory Hamlet who takes his father's ghost's orders seriously enough to say that he doesn't care if he dies in carrying them out, and who then does not execute them. This is the Hamlet who says that theatre is a lie and then says that it can reveal the truth, the Hamlet who laughs at the idiocy of Young Fortinbras and says that he should try to be more like him. The is the Hamlet who believes that he can deal in a world of death and yet bring order to it, the man who would try to make the irrational reasonable. It is the contradictions of his time, embodied in his own thinking that make for Hamlet's delay, not his desire to sleep with his mother or his tragic flaw as a shirker. By accepting his duty to kill and then trying the make that killing significant in all the proper details, Hamlet is trying to keep a foot in each of two contradictory worlds, to use the ideas of one for the sordid tasks of the other.
I'm heading towards Othello now.
Edit The book is called Shakespeare Is Hard, but so Is Life.