1993

Re: Hypertext Conference

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 751.  Wed., 10 November 1993.
 
From:           Tom Blackburn <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 9 Nov 1993 15:03:08 +0000
Subject: 4.0732  Re: Hypertext Student Essays
Comment:        Re: SHK 4.0732  Re: Hypertext Student Essays
 
Michael,
 
I too would be interested in getting together with other Hypertext
experimenters  at SAA, or under some other auspices.
 
Cheers,
Tom Blackburn
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Re: Incest

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 750.  Wed., 10 November 1993.
 
From:           Fran Teague <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 09 Nov 93 14:40:38 EST
Subject: 4.0737  Re: Incest
Comment:        Re: SHK 4.0737  Re: Incest
 
Roland Mushat Frye's _Renaissance Hamlet_ has an excellent discussion of the
incest problem in _Hamlet_ within the Renaissance context.  He says it was a
real problem, not a repressed concern with sexuality, as I recall.
 
But for those who read independently of historical contexts, the issue would, I
suppose, remain wide open.  As for its implications about Gertrude's character,
I must confess that I agree completely with Cary Mazer.  Gertrude et al. are
roles written for performance.  Obviously a particular director and performer
may choose to play Gertrude as a cow (what a phrase), but just as obviou sly
they might choose to play her as a woman caught in a horrifying situation.  I
sometimes tell classes that we can easily determine Hamlet's age, but no one
can specify what color are Hamlet's eyes:  eyes vary from actor to actor.

Re: *Titus*

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 748.  Wed., 10 November 1993.
 
From:           David McFadden <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 9 Nov 1993 11:47:45 -0500
Subject: 4.0738  Re: *Titus*
Comment:        Re:  SHK 4.0738  Re: *Titus*
 
Also, re John Harrison's query, a thunderous and frightening *Titus* by the
RSC at the Swan Theatre in Stratford UK in spring 1987.
 
-David W. McFadden

Re: Ontology, Shakespeare, and History

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 749.  Wed., 10 November 1993.
 
From:           William Godshalk <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 09 Nov 1993 12:04:30 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Shakepeare, History and Ontology
 
Dear Sean, Tim, Jack, Michael, Jim, David, and Nancy,
 
I was very interested in your responses to my (I hoped) provocative comments
and questions. Thanks Jack Lynch for calling my attention to Berel Lang's essay
on Hamlet's grandmother. I suppose my own position is closest to the one
described by Jim Schaefer - though not exactly. Jim suggests that Hamlet exists
only in the words of the text, but that's not totally true. Literary characters
do tend to become detached from their texts, characters like Hamlet and
Falstaff, and then lead independent cultural lives. I speak only in metaphor,
of course. I'm not suggesting that they have the ontological status of  humans.
We humans imagine these characters outside their texts.I liked Michael
Friedman's analysis of MEASURE FOR MEASURE, and I admit that, in my younger and
less thoughtful days, I fell into the trap of judging the play by reference to
English customs. I was, I now believe, young and wrong. But does "any
playwright" assume "a shared body of assumption with his or her audience"?
Gerald Graff would suggest that people living in a culture don't share
assumptions; they share controversies. Do we Americans agree on what is right
and what is wrong? No. Then why should we assume that sixteenth and seventeenth
century audiences agreed? This was an age of heterodoxy and divergent opinion.
Witness, e.g., Richard Popkin's work on Renaissance skepticism.For Nancy Miller
I have several questions. The OED (unrevised) lists 8 definitions of HISTORY
with many sub-definitions, and I think this is the tip of the iceberg. Number 6
is interesting: HISTORY defined as "a story represented dramatically, a drama."
But, Nancy you say that literature is history. In what sense is literature
history?One recurring proverb in Renaissance literature is: "So many men, so
many minds." Because a playwright has his characters take certain concepts and
ideas for granted, can we argue that he wished or thought his audience would
take these ideas for granted? Let's question THE SHREW and A WOMAN KILLED WITH
KINDNESS . How did Shakespeare expect his audience to react to Petruccio's
torturing of his wife, his depriving her of food, sleep, sex, clothes, etc.?
Did he expect all of his audience to react in the same way precisely? Did
Heywood expect his audience to cheer Sir Charles Mountford on as he prepares to
prostitute his sister? Did Heywood's audience approve of John Frankford's
torturing of his wife? I have my answers to these questions, and I imagine that
they aren't the same as yours.More questions: do we react the same way to
literature or plays, if you wish, as we react to real-life occurrences? William
Empson argued that we don't, and my colleague Jon Kamholtz argues that
Renaissance audiences reacted romantically to plays and classically to the same
situations in their lives. Ifthis is true, can we use non-imaginative
literature to gauge Renaissance reactions to imagined worlds? Or would we be
comparing eggs to oranges?A penultimate question: what does Elihu Pearlman
think of all this?
 
And David Schalkwyk, I knew I was opening up a can of worms by using the
Sherlock Holmes allusion to the whole philosophic debate over references to
fictional worlds, etc. How do present promises related to a possible future
reality? Are both parts subsumed under intentionality? The speaker intends to
dine and intends that there shall be a dinner, just a playwright intends to
write a play, and intends that the play will have certain meanings.  That's the
best I can do. What's your answer?
 
Questionably yours, Bill Godshalk

Re: Gertrude

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 747.  Wed., 10 November 1993.
 
(1)     From:   Ann Dean <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 09 Nov 1993 10:50:14 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Gertrude
 
(2)     From:   Annalisa Castaldo <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 09 Nov 93 15:25:09 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 4.0730  Re: Gertrude
 
(3)     From:   David McFadden <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 9 Nov 1993 15:43:29 -0500
        Subj:   Re: Gertrude
 
(4)     From:   David Glassco <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 09 Nov 1993 22:50:42 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 4.0723  Re: Gertrude
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ann Dean <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 09 Nov 1993 10:50:14 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Gertrude
 
Folks,
 
The discussion of Gertrude makes me realize that Carolyn Heilbrun's essay
*Hamlet's Mother* written sometime in the late 50s and reprinted recently in a
book with the same title, is still a valuable argument.  Critics often seem
inspired by the idea of a guilty woman to fantasize about Gertrude's sinfulness
and stupidity without much textual evidence.  Heilbrun argues that while
Gertrude is certainly sexual, there is no reason to assume that she is stupid.
Because our sense of what incest is has changed, it is important to try to
think clearly about what exactly Gertrude is guilty of, if in fact she is not
an accomplice in the murder.  Certainly, she does not feel as much grief as
would seem appropriate, and certainly she has an odd taste in second husbands.
But I think it is letting our identification with Hamlet run away with us to go
on and on, as he does, about her guilt, embellishing it with our own ideas of
what she must have been like.
 
Ann Dean
Rutgers U.
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Annalisa Castaldo <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 09 Nov 93 15:25:09 EST
Subject: 4.0730  Re: Gertrude
Comment:        Re: SHK 4.0730  Re: Gertrude
 
For what it's worth the Q1 version of *Hamlet* (which many people believe to
have at least some connection with a staged version of the Q2F version; editors
often appropriate the fuller stage directions of Q1) is very clear about
Gertrude's lack of guilt.
 
I don't have a copy of the text with me, so I can't provide exact quotes. But
in the closet scene, Gertrude asks Hamlet to believe that she never knew of the
murder, and promises that she will protect his secret and aid him. Later, in a
scene uniqe to the First Quarto, Horatio and Gertrude meet so that Horatio can
tell her that he has received word of Hamlet's return from England. She again
clearly declares her loyalty to her son and her intention to help him if
possible.
 
There is no proof (and much debate) about Q1's relationship to the text we call
*Hamlet*. But if it does represent an acting tradition current with the play,
then this view of Gertrude should, perhaps, hold some sway with us now.
 
Annalisa Castaldo
Temple University
V796CF01
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David McFadden <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 9 Nov 1993 15:43:29 -0500
Subject:        Re: Gertrude
 
Further to Gertrude: Northrop Frye in *On Shakespeare* says that, in the
First Quarto, Gertrude "explicitly states that she knew nothing of Hamlet
senior's murder." In an age when it wasn't unusual for kings to be murdered
by usurpers (for Darwinian reasons, as has been suggested, though not by Frye
to my knowledge), to ensure the realm is in the strongest hands, Claudius'
guilt seems maybe not so great, particularly since he is courteous enough (and
wise enough) not to burden Gertrude with all this added unpleasantness.
Perhaps this was spelled out more fully in Kyd's Hamlet, which would have
been fresh in theatre-goers' minds, and if so it may explain why Shakespeare
didn't feel bound to get into the question in his version. If Gertrude simply
accepts that it was a convenient death by snakebite, and is clever enough not
to want to pry any further, then perhaps the same might be said for everyone
else at court, except of course for Hamlet, whose naivete forces the
appearance of the aggrieved Ghost--all of which gives added strength to an
"Oedipal" interpretation of Hamlet's actions, and ensures that the play
remains more interesting than, say, The Postman Always Rings Twice. It also
makes Polonius seem even more of a dunce, when he keeps assuring Claudius
that Hamlet's strange behaviour is on account of his love for Ophelia.
 
David W. McFadden
 
(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Glassco <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 09 Nov 1993 22:50:42 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 4.0723  Re: Gertrude
Comment:        Re: SHK 4.0723  Re: Gertrude
 
In response to Kimberly Nolan's questions: does anyone else feel as I do that
the interesting question here has to do with Hamlet Sr.? And the observation
one might make there is that he smells a bit--sexually speaking--like a priss.
Don't we begin to suspect that for him *all* lust is/was "shameful"?  He speaks
of Claudius' lust and compares it to his love which "was of that dignity/ That
it went hand in hand even with the vow/ I made to her in marriage..." Dignity
in the marriage bed...no wonder she was tempted by Claudius!
 
How do we take the ensuing six lines? "But virtue, as it never will be
moved/Though lewdness court it in a shape of heaven, /So lust, though to a
radiant angel linked,/Will sate itself in a celestial bed/ And prey on
garbage." Doesn't that sound interestingly priggish? (Where does Ham sr. see
himself in that cluster of images? As a "radiant angel"? What is going on in
that "celestial bed" that even satiety will not suffice?)
 
Claudius is the Kissinger of his time...he loves handling power and power is
sexy. Gertrude's guilts are about neither incest nor adultery but about being
attracted sexually to her dead husband's brother--an attraction that reminds
her of absences (and presences!) she cannot think about or articulate.
 
My sense is that Ham jr is quite like his old man. He doesn't like power, and
he seems to be to be a sexual innocent. His "dirty" talk to Ophelia smacks of
bravado and inexperience (cf Hot and Kate in 1HIV)
 
Does any of this sound plausible to anyone...or have I simply been marking too
many essays?
 
David Glassco
trentu.ca

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