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Home :: Archive :: 1993 :: November ::
Re: The Ghost in *Hamlet*
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 803.  Tuesday, 16 November 1993.
 
(1)     From:   Nick Clary <
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        Date:   Monday, 15 Nov 1993 12:28:01 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Claudius doubled as Ghost
 
(2)     From:   Nick Clary <
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        Date:   Mondy, 15 Nov 1993 13:31:21 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Ghost in HAMLET
 
(3)     From:   Cary M. Mazer <
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        Date:   Monday, 15 Nov 93 20:17:09 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 4.0797  Re: The Ghost in *Hamlet*
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Nick Clary <
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Date:           Monday, 15 Nov 1993 12:28:01 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Claudius doubled as Ghost
 
May I offer a more specific answer to McFadden's inquiry.  In the Kabuki
version of HAMLET performed by the Tokyo Globe Company at the Mermain Theatre
in London (October 1991), the same actor played both Claudius and the Ghost of
Hamlet's Father.  Incidentally, the star actor of the company played three
parts: Hamlet, Ophelia, and Fortinbras.  The play was presented entirely in
Japanese.  I, for one, was riveted by the performance.  For many of us in the
audience who do not read or speak Japanese, including myself, this performance
was a dumb show that had fully enveloped the play we thought we knew.
 
The program notes: "Kabuki got its start in 1603 when a foxy little nun by
the name of Okuni left her life of nunnery at Izumo Grand Shrine behind and
went to the big city of Kyoto with a group of like-minded fellow nuns to
become stars of the riverbed."
 
Hmmm, 1603.....The rest, as they say, was/is history.
 
Nick Clary

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(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Nick Clary <
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Date:           Mondy, 15 Nov 1993 13:31:21 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Ghost in HAMLET
 
There is quite an array of contemporary documents that address the question of
ghostly apparitions, including James VI/I's DAEMONOLOGIE and L. Lavater's OF
GHOSTES AND SPIRITES, both of which Bullough cites as texts written by authors
who held "Hamlet's Protestant view...that ghosts were probably devils but might
be angels, never the souls of men" (VII, 27).  Some certainly dispute
Bullough's view of Hamlet's theology, citing other contemporary texts as
relevant documents.  Let me add to the array of extant publications the
controversy in print between John Deacon and John Darrell (also joined by
Samuel Harsnett and George More) between 1600 and 1602.  This controversy
centered on a case of dispossession that was ultimately judged to be
fraudulent. Throughout this controversy, as well as in most of the other
documents that address the question of whether the dead can be sent back to the
living, the biblical story of Samuel's appearance to Saul is regularly cited as
a focus in the writer's advancement one or the other side of the theological
debate over such appearances.  I should think that some of this might affect an
audience's reaction or response to HAMLET and might shape their understanding
of Hamlet's problem.
 
Incidentally, Lavater's chapter 12 ("A proofe out of the Gentiles histories,
that Sprites and Ghoasts do oftentimes appeare") begins with the example of
Julius Caesar, who saw "a man of excelling stature and shape...pyping on a
reede" (G3r).  Julius Caesar is the first example that Horatio recalls in his
own effort to "figure out" the Ghost he has just seen.  I might not neglect the
contemporary context of published materials if I were attempting to understand
the effect of such a play on an Early Modern audience.
 
Nick Clary

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(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Cary M. Mazer <
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Date:           Monday, 15 Nov 93 20:17:09 EST
Subject: 4.0797  Re: The Ghost in *Hamlet*
Comment:        Re: SHK 4.0797  Re: The Ghost in *Hamlet*
 
Claudius and the Ghost were doubled in Peter Hall's production in the 1970s
(which premiered at the Old Vic, and then opened the new National
Theatre building).  Dennis Quilly played both roles.  Samuel Crowl
has, I believe,  written most eloquently about that production.  The
doubling does add a particularly piquant twist to Hamlet's comparisons of
"Hyperion to a Satyr," and  "I to Hercules," etc.  Needless to say, the
ACTER productions of *Hamlet* (David Rintoul et. al. in the 80s, Sam Dale et.
al. currently) double the roles, along with the Player King.
 
I have long wondered whether this may have been doubled in the original
performances.  The relevant question, though, is:  which performance?
Perhaps the presence of some extra speeches at the end of 1.1 and the
beginning of 1.3 in the Folio were designed to give the actor a chance to
change.  No such costume change would be necessary between the Prayer
scene and the Closet scene when Q1 was performed, since, as you well know,
the Ghost enters there in his nightgown.  I leave further speculations to
the heroic Urquartowitz.
 
Cary M. Mazer
 

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