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Home :: Archive :: 1996 :: November ::
Re: Hamlet as Sleuth
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, SHK 7.0830.  Thursday, 14 November 1996.

(1)     From:   Peter Hyland <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 13 Nov 1996 09:14:34 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0827  Qs: Hamlet as Sleuth

(2)     From:   Harry Hill <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 13 Nov 1996 09:24:23 +0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0827  Hamlet as Sleuth

(3)     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 13 Nov 1996 10:24:11 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0827  Qs: Hamlet as Sleuth

(4)     From:   Andrew Walker White <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 13 Nov 1996 14:43:55 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Hamlet as Sleuth


(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter Hyland <
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Date:           Wednesday, 13 Nov 1996 09:14:34 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 7.0827  Qs: Hamlet as Sleuth
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0827  Qs: Hamlet as Sleuth

Harvey Roy Greenberg asks about publications exploring the idea of Hamlet as a
detective. *Critical Essays on HAMLET*, published by Longman, contains an essay
by William Tydeman entitled "The Case of the Wicked Uncle".

Peter Hyland

(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Harry Hill <
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Date:           Wednesday, 13 Nov 1996 09:24:23 +0000
Subject: 7.0827  Hamlet as Sleuth
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0827  Hamlet as Sleuth

Kenneth Tynan many years ago reviewed Sir Donald Wolfit when he played Hamlet
among pillars and steps in a scaled-down Edward Gordon Craig set, around which
the already not slim Wolfit would skulk "like an Elsinore private-eye". I can
see those eyes under those eyebrows and above those Slavic cheeks as he
investigatively researches his decision to act on the ghostly information
given.

The review can be found in the splendid collection CURTAINS.

        Harry Hill

(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <
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Date:           Wednesday, 13 Nov 1996 10:24:11 -0500
Subject: 7.0827  Qs: Hamlet as Sleuth
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0827  Qs: Hamlet as Sleuth

Harvey Roy Greenberg asks:

>In any event, does anyone know
>of a specific reference to Hamlet's sleuthing, or does anyone want to make
>relevant comments on this score, or does anyone know if Kerrigan cites Hamlet
>in this respect.

Peter Alexander in _Hamlet Father and Son_ compares Hamlet to Philip Marlow,
and suggests that _Hamlet_ is a detective play, with Hamlet as the man who must
walk down these mean streets. I can't recall that Kerrigan discusses Hamlet as
detective.

Yours, Bill Godshalk

(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Andrew Walker White <
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Date:           Wednesday, 13 Nov 1996 14:43:55 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Hamlet as Sleuth

No cites for you, sorry, but as I've been studying and producing Hamlet
recently I have a couple crackpot theories for you:

My take on the Dane is that he is aware of his mental instability -- Melancholy
being a then-clinical term, referring to a volatile emotional state very like
what we call Depression.  Because of his self-awareness, he is unwilling
(wisely so) to take the testimony of a mere ghost as enough to convict his
Uncle.

He chooses the play because the playwright has conveniently provided him with a
company of actors, but also because he knows he will never be able to get the
truth out of Claudius or his co-conspirators just by asking. An intenious
device, very convincing.  How many detectives since have relied upon the
involuntary twitch of a moustache, the bulge in the eyes, to steer them on
their course towards the culprit?

In character, I find some parallels between Hamlet and Jeremy Brett's
interpretation of Sherlock Holmes (RIP, Mr. Brett).  The emotional intensity,
the fascination with the process of discovery, the awareness of nuance, all add
up to a truly masterful sleuth, a good 280-odd years before Conan Doyle began
his series.

A great topic for a paper, I wish you the best!

Andy White
Urbana. IL
 

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