Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 1993 :: December ::
Re: Subjectivity in *Hamlet*
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 912. Thursday, 9 December 1993.
 
(1)     From:   John Cox <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 08 Dec 1993 09:47:43 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 4.0907  Subjectivity in *Hamlet*
 
(2)     From:   James McKenna <MCKENNJI@UCBEH.BITNET>
        Date:   Wednesday, 08 Dec 1993 10:38:03 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Subjectivity in HAMLET
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Cox <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 08 Dec 1993 09:47:43 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 4.0907  Subjectivity in *Hamlet*
Comment:        Re: SHK 4.0907  Subjectivity in *Hamlet*
 
Julie Traves understandably reads Hamlet's subjectivity *forward* as an
anticipation of postmodern subjectivity.  However, it can also be read
*backward* as the culmination of late classical and medieval tradition.  As C.
S. Lewis pointed out long ago, Hamlet's "There is nothing either good or bad
but thinking makes it so" is anticipated by Chaucer's "no man is wreched but
himself it wene" and by Boethius' "Nothing is miserable unless you think it
so."  (Lewis, *The Discarded Image*, pp. 82-83).  We do not have to be
circumscribed by Lewis's somewhat old-fashioned attempt to explain the
passage, but why neglect one tradition while affirming another?  Wouldn't we
enrich our sense of *Hamlet* (or any other play) by taking both traditions into
account, rather than insisting on one at the expense of the other?
 
John Cox
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           James McKenna <MCKENNJI@UCBEH.BITNET>
Date:           Wednesday, 08 Dec 1993 10:38:03 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Subjectivity in HAMLET
 
Dear Ms. Traves,
 
I wonder whether it is subjectivity in the sense of unstable meaning and
fundamental meaninglessness, or in the sense that meanings are intended and
misunderstood.  For example, the Ghost exhorts Hamlet to "this act"; he is no
more specific, and this can of course be interpreted other than as
assassination.  But the Ghost's slight vagueness reminds me of an even more
pointed vagueness in RICHARD III.  In IV.ii, Richard demands that Buckingham
kill prince Edward, but, when forced by Buckingham's obtuseness to speak
plainly, he is furious.  I think the vagueness in HAMLET is of the same sort:
courtly inuendo with definite intended meaning that gets appropriated for other
purposes, as Hamlet appropriates the sentence of death and turns it on R and G.
That's my take on it.
 
I hope I haven't misappropirated your meaning....
 
James McKenna
U of Cincinnati
mckennji@ucbeh.bitnet
 

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.