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Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: April ::
Re: Hamlet's Trial; Richard 3; Stylistics;
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0299.  Friday, 2 April 1994.
 
(1)     From:   Christine Mack Gordon <
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        Date:   Friday, 01 Apr 1994 09:11:24 -0600
        Subj:   Hamlet's trial
 
(2)     From:   Joel A. Plotkin <
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        Date:   Friday, 1 Apr 1994 11:14:27 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Richard III
 
(3)     From:   Lynne Magnusson <
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        Date:   Friday, 1 Apr 1994 14:01:46 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: Stylistics
 
(4)     From:   Douglas Bruster <
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        Date:   Friday, 1 Apr 94 18:23:43 CST
        Subj:   Plain-dealing
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Christine Mack Gordon <
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Date:           Friday, 01 Apr 1994 09:11:24 -0600
Subject:        Hamlet's trial
 
For those who have been anxiously awaiting the outcome, here's the report
compliments of the Associated Press (it appeared in the Minneapolis Star
Tribune on Thursday, March 31).
 
Killing Polonius was felonious
 
The insanity defense worked for John Hinckley Jr. and Lorena Bobbitt, but
Shakespeare's melancholy Dane might be in big trouble if he went on trial today
for killing poor Polonius.
 
Despite lawyers' vigorous arguments, a mock-trial jury at the Supreme Court
didn't buy the argument that the protagonist of Shakespeare's royal blood bath,
*Hamlet,* was insane when he stabbed Polonius to death.
 
Hamlet's "to be or not to be" speech was not the babble of a mentally
unbalanced man, but a deep thinker's musing about the condition of humanity,
prosecutors convinced a jury that included Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
 
The exercise was all in fun, but made a valuable point, said presiding Justice
Anthony Kennedy. "The issue of criminal responsibility is quite manageable and
doesn't have to be a circus." The Shakespeare Theatre's Lawyers Committee
sponsored the event.
 
The insanity defence has long been a controversial one. Those who failed to
prove they were insane include Jack Ruby, killer of Lee Harvey Oswald, and
Sirhan Sirhan, who was convicted of assassinating Robert Kennedy.
 
A finding that Hamlet could be held criminally responsible would not
necessarily end the case in real life. Given the chance, his lawyers said, they
would argue that the killing of Polonius was justified. But there wasn't time
for that issue. For now, Kennedy told an actor portraying Hamlet, "We remand
you to the pages of our literary history where you may emerge again and again
to challenge us to examine ourselves." (Associated Press)
 
Have a lovely weekend, everyone! --Chris Gordon
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Joel A. Plotkin <
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Date:           Friday, 1 Apr 1994 11:14:27 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Richard III
 
Last month, while visiting my daughter at Marlboro College in Vermont, I
saw a student-written and -directed play  (Title did not stick with me)
about a student faced with finishing a thesis about the Richard III
question--was he he or was he not guilty of murdering the young princes
and other atrocities. In despair, he makes a deal with the devil, not
quite selling his soul, to get definitive evidence one way or another. The
result is to call up Ross and two other scholars who present their
alternative pictures of the nature of Richard.
 
Very funny...and a wonderfully imaginative way for this particular student
to avoid finishing her thesis!
 
Joel Plotkin   SUNY Inst. of Tech. at Utica/Rome
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Lynne Magnusson <
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Date:           Friday, 1 Apr 1994 14:01:46 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Re: Stylistics
 
Michael Caulfield asks what works might help explain the "undeniably
Shakespearian sound" of "Wilt thou, upon the high and giddy mast." The best
piece I know on this sort of imbalanced adjectival doublet in Shakespeare is
"Hendiadys and _Hamlet_" by George T. Wright in _PMLA_, 96 (1981): 168-93. Some
of the older books on Shakespeare's poetry also deal with it, perhaps George
Rylands.
 
Lynne Magnusson
University of Waterloo
 
(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Douglas Bruster <
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Date:           Friday, 1 Apr 94 18:23:43 CST
Subject:        Plain-dealing
 
Re: the recent discussion of "plain dealing" arising from the "good character"
debate.  Those interested may wish to consult the remarks on the character
named "Plaine-dealing" in Dekker's *Whore of Babylon* in Jean Howard's new *The
Stage and Social Struggle in Early Modern England* (New York and London:
Routledge, 1994), chapter 3.
 
Doug Bruster
 

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