Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 1993 :: November ::
The Ghost in *Hamlet*
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 816.  Thursday, 18 Nov. 1993.
 
(1)     From:   Nick Clary <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 17 Nov 1993 10:31:12 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Ghosts and Hamlet
 
(2)     From:   Sean Lawrence <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 17 Nov 1993 12:45:51 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 4.0810  Re: The Ghost in *Hamlet*
 
(3)     From:   Rick Jones <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 17 Nov 93 21:31:03 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 4.0810  Re: The Ghost in *Hamlet*
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Nick Clary <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 17 Nov 1993 10:31:12 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Ghosts and Hamlet
 
During the summer that Sir Laurence Olivier passed away, I attended a
performance of the RSC HAMLET, directed by Ron Daniels, at the main theatre in
Stratford-upon-Avon.  I had front-row seats for the performance, which I was
seeing just a few days after I heard the announcement of this passing.  There
was a call for silence and then applause from the stage of the Swan Theatre
following a performance of a Jonson play.
 
In each of the scenes in which the Ghost of Hamlet's father appeared, I was
repeatedly reminded of the passing of Sir Larry.  The make-up, in fact, almost
evoked Olivier's Lear.  During the closet scene, when Hamlet and Gertrude
studied a picture of King Hamlet in a locket, I swear that I could see the
image of Sir Larry there.  My host seconded this identification.  Was I seeing
a ghost or what?
 
Sometimes the world we bring into the theatre meets us on the stage.  We are,
after all, such stuff.
 
Anecdotally,
 
Nick Clary

 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 17 Nov 1993 12:45:51 -0400
Subject: 4.0810  Re: The Ghost in *Hamlet*
Comment:        Re: SHK 4.0810  Re: The Ghost in *Hamlet*
 
I'd say that contemporary beliefs regarding ghosts in Shakespeare's day is
*extremely* relevant.  By providing Hamlet, et. al. with a number of different
interpretations of the ghost, Hamlet Sr. is changed from the absolute ideal who
it would be impious to refuse, into just another person trying to co-opt
Hamlet, to make him part of a play of their own scripting, if you will.
 
Northrop Frye comments (somewhere, maybe *Frye on Shakespeare*) that the
depiction of purgatory and the ghost is extremely suspicious.  In Dante, the
souls in purgatory undergo their suffering with a will, and with a knowledge of
final redemption.  It isn't the sort of place that should thrust back demons
howling for revenge.  For that matter, purgatory is an RC notion, specifically
condemned by the 39 articles, and therefore probably heretical to a good
portion of Shakespeare's audience. I would have to say that the depiction of
the ghost makes him another of the "other"s through whom Hamlet tries to define
himself--to ex-sist, in something approaching a Heidegerrian sense--much like
Ophelia, who also lacks the integrity to be a viable source of Hamlet's
self-definition, or his mother, for that matter.
 
I'm planning to do a lecture or two on the subject after Christmas, so I'd be
interested in comments.
 
        Cheerio,
        Sean K. Lawrence
        
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Rick Jones <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 17 Nov 93 21:31:03 EST
Subject: 4.0810  Re: The Ghost in *Hamlet*
Comment:        Re: SHK 4.0810  Re: The Ghost in *Hamlet*
 
It's been a while since I've dealt with this issue, but I believe the
official Anglican church position was that all apparitions are *by
definition* creations of the devil.  Church dogma would therefore have us
believe that Hamlet the younger ought to be more than merely cautious of
anyone/anything purporting to be the ghost of Hamlet the elder: he ought in
fact to shy away from the ghost's advice no matter how persuasive it may be.
If the ghost is really the Devil, he certainly has a jolly old time at the
expense of the mere mortals throughout the course of the play -- similar,
perhaps, to the "true facts" of the Trojan War as presented in Euripides'
_Helen_.  The relevant question for this interpretation, of course, is
whether the flock (i.e. Shakespeare's audience) paid any attention to the
bishopric, and indeed whether what the church wrote and what it practiced
were necessarily the same: certainly our own age provides innumerable
examples of common practice at odds with official proclamation.
 
Where all this takes us, I'm not sure...
 
Rick Jones

 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 
 

Other Messages In This Thread

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.