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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: January ::
Re: The Mousetrap
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, SHK 8.0047.  Tuesday, 14 January 1997.

(1)     From:   Andrew Walker White <
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        Date:   Monday, 13 Jan 1997 11:44:02 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Mousetrap

(2)     From:   Jeff Myers <
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        Date:   Monday, 13 Jan 1997 17:47:27 GMT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0045  Re: Claudius and the Mousetrap

(3)     From:   Thomas Bishop <
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        Date:   Monday, 13 Jan 1997 12:35:49 -0500
        Subj:   Re: Claudius and the Mousetrap; Branagh's *Hamlet*


(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Andrew Walker White <
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Date:           Monday, 13 Jan 1997 11:44:02 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Mousetrap

Having been too busy packing for a move back east, I've let the conversation go
on a bit before I could respond.  Here goes:

There is a tendency to deny that Claudius admits his guilt in this scene, and a
lot of weight is given to Horatio's brief responses after Claudius departs.  I
find this conclusion strange and out of character with the rest of the play.
These characters say what they mean, and vice versa.

Horatio is clearly Hamlet's conscience, who questions him openly (on behalf of
the audience) about his actions.  If Claudius had not unkenneled his guilt in
that play, Horatio would have been asking questions like crazy every time he
and Hamlet talked together.  Instead, we have Horatio expressing astonishment
at the killing of R&G, and no questions at all about CLaudius' guilt or
Hamlet's plan to revenge his father's murder.  When Hamlet asks him, in the
last scene, 'isn't it perfect justice to acquit him with this arm?' (pardon the
mangled quote, my folio is in a box), all Horatio says is:

It will be shortly known to him from England ...

In effect, rather than advise Hamlet against revenge, he's advising him to do
it, and do it quickly before Claudius finds out what else he's done.

Pennington and many others write about Hamlet from Claudius' perspective, which
I find useful as an acting exercise, a sort of devil's advocate position if you
will, but I have yet to see how the lines in the text justify the position that
Claudius is completely stone-faced at the play.  As Hamlet says, all he has to
do is 'blanch' and the guilt will be clear.  The reaction doesn't have to be
that strong, but even a subtle response of the eyes would give Hamlet and
Horatio the answer they were looking for.

Andy WHite
Urbana, IL, for now

(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jeff Myers <
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Date:           Monday, 13 Jan 1997 17:47:27 GMT
Subject: 8.0045  Re: Claudius and the Mousetrap
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0045  Re: Claudius and the Mousetrap

>From:           W. L. Godshalk <
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>Date:           Saturday, 11 Jan 1997 22:30:57 -0500
>Subject:        Re: Claudius and the Mousetrap; Branagh's *Hamlet*

>And we can't be sure that old King Hamlet is a truth teller.

Does he appear in the play?  Or do you just use "old King Hamlet" as shorthand
for "the apparition that claims to be old King Hamlet"?

Sorry.  No wonder my students caim I'm too picayune.

Jeff Myers

(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Thomas Bishop <
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Date:           Monday, 13 Jan 1997 12:35:49 -0500
Subject:        Re: Claudius and the Mousetrap; Branagh's *Hamlet*

Bill Godshalk notes of BBC Hamlet:

>As I recall this scene, Claudius says, "Give me some light," before he walks
>over to Hamlet.  He uses the torch he has been handed to examine Hamlet's face,
>then says, "Away," and walks out.

I recall precisely the same actions described to me as performed by Claudius in
a production  at the Guthrie either directed by or including (or both) Sir T.
G. himself decades ago. Maybe the BBC got it from there. Or maybe it goes back
even further. Anybody know?

Tom
 

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