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Home :: Archive :: 1993 :: November ::
Re: The Ghost in *Hamlet*
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 820.  Friday, 19 November 1993.
 
(1)     From:   William Godshalk <
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        Date:   Thursday, 18 Nov 1993 23:03:44 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 4.0816  The Ghost in *Hamlet*
 
(2)     From:   John Mucci <
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        Date:   Thursday, 19 Nov 93 07:53:51-0500
        Subj:   Doubling the Ghost
 
(3)     From:   Ronald Dwelle <
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        Date:   Friday, 19 Nov 93 09:08:23 EST
        Subj:   ghosting
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           William Godshalk <
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Date:           Thursday, 18 Nov 1993 23:03:44 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 4.0816  The Ghost in *Hamlet*
Comment:        Re: SHK 4.0816  The Ghost in *Hamlet*
 
Sean Lawrence and Rick Jones, I enjoyed your comments on the ghost and Hamlet,
and thought you were both on target. Sean, I liked your idea of "scripts" in
the play. Hamlet has a script for the players, and Claudius has his script for
Hamlet, and the Ghost is just one more script writer! And in the closet scene,
the Ghost becomes a director. Does the Ghost tell Hamlet the whole truth about
his death? Stanley Clavel argues not.
 
And, yes, Rick, experience tells us (even if history didn't) that people don't
always (or often?) react by the book. If we reacted by the book, we'd all drive
at 55 miles an hour in urban areas. I actually saw someone going 55 the other
day. What a shock!
 
Yours, Bill Godshalk
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Mucci <
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Date:           Thursday, 19 Nov 93 07:53:51-0500
Subject:        Doubling the Ghost
 
The question of doubling has come up before here, but I am interested that Rick
Jones believes Claudius and the ghost are "almost always" doubled these days.
Having never seen the doubling myself, (it nonetheless sounding like a good
idea), I discovered that in the essay "The Doubling of Parts In Shakespeare's
Plays" by Arthur Colby Sprague, the doubling of Ghost/Claudius is never
mentioned. After examining the casts derived from many records and bills,
Sprague mentions that the most popular doubling in _Hamlet_ is the Ghost and
the First Player (they both require perhaps the most stentorian diction).
Furthermore, since doubling was usually concealed by pseudonyms in centuries
before, by the omission of the Gravediggers or the Player King/Queen, Sprague
concludes that these parts were doubled at the time (he calls it "deficiency
doubling").
 
Another interesting double was that in the parts of the Ghost/Laertes and
Polonius/1st Gravedigger. In fact, he says "Of all Shakesperian doubles,
Polonius and the First Gravedigger has been the most popular," culminating in a
performance of 1796 at Swansea, in which Charles Matthews played "Polonius and
the First Gravedigger, written in larger type than that given Hamlet." Only
Hamlet, Claudius, Gertrude, and Horatio lead a full and continuous life in
Shakespeare's tragedy; the rest come and go, inviting replacement.
 
I tend to think that the thought of doubling the Ghost and Claudius is a more
modern idea than a popular, old one: and its implications psychologically are
much more interesting to us in the 20th century than would be appealing in
times before us.
 
John Mucci
Stamford, CT
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ronald Dwelle <
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Date:           Friday, 19 Nov 93 09:08:23 EST
Subject:        ghosting
 
Regarding the ghost, Anglican purgatory, and the audience, we probably
shouldn't forget that Shakespeare set the play in the dim, murky past of
Denmark (and Wittenburg), pre-Luther and pre-Henry VIII. Shakespeare's audience
would have known (as we know) that things were different in the olden days.
 
          Ron (thoroughly-up-to-date-in-Elsinore) Dwelle
          (
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