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Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: April ::
Re: Plain Dealing; Ophelia
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0330.  Tuesday, 12 April 1994.
 
(1)     From:   John Cox <
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        Date:   Monday, 11 Apr 1994 09:54:05 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   plain dealing
 
(2)     From:   Rick Jones <
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        Date:   Monday, 11 Apr 94 10:38:47 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0329  Ophelia
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Cox <
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Date:           Monday, 11 Apr 1994 09:54:05 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        plain dealing
 
As various people have pointed out, both Cordelia and Kent are plain dealers
in *Lear*, and it gets them into trouble.  No one has yet pointed out, I think,
that when Lear recovers consciousness in 4.7, he speaks more truly than he has
at any point in the play previously:  "I am a very foolish fond old man" etc.
Moreover, he says, "And, to deal plainly . . . ."  I like to think that among
other virtues he has learned in his madness is the virtue of plain dealing.
 
John Cox
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Rick Jones <
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Date:           Monday, 11 Apr 94 10:38:47 EDT
Subject: 5.0329  Ophelia
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0329  Ophelia
 
Re Karla Walters' student's interpretation of "the quick and the dead".
Certainly it is the sort of pun Shakespeare was fond of using, and I do
recall hearing (as opposed to reading) this idea somewhere in the murky past.
 
I think the wordplay must be intentional: but that doesn't mean that Ophelia
is pregnant.  To my mind, the scene is analogous to the "mousetrap" scene,
which doesn't really prove Claudius guilty of anything (an innocent Claudius
would be upset by an enactment of a nephew killing his uncle the king,
especially when C knows Hamlet chose the entertainment).  Hamlet uses C's
reaction to justify what he has already decided to do [I had a dean like that
once, but that's another story....].  So does Laertes fuel his desire for a
confrontation with Hamlet based on... what?  Anything from truth to evidence
to suspicion to paranoia to "MY sister wouldn't have done that unless...".
Maybe, for example, he overheard the "rue" conversation and jumped to
conclusions...
 
To me, Hamlet and Laertes are a lot closer temperamentally than either might
choose to admit.  And avenging a father's death is serious business, not to
be impeded by the application of mere logic.  The fact that both are "right"
about their respective fathers' killings does little to change the
bloodthirstiness of their responses.
 
Rick Jones

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