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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: January ::
Places: Elsinore, Brideshead, and Helsingborg
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, SHK 8.0162.  Friday, 31 January 1997.

(1)     From:   Peter Seary <
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        Date:   Thursday, 30 Jan 1997 16:57:06 -0500
        Subj:   Places: Elsinore, Brideshead

(2)     From:   Andrew Walker White <
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        Date:   Thursday, 30 Jan 1997 22:10:25 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Helsingborg


(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter Seary <
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Date:           Thursday, 30 Jan 1997 16:57:06 -0500
Subject:        Places: Elsinore, Brideshead

The architect for Blenheim and Castle Howard was the same: Sir John Vanbrugh
(1664-1726), the playwright.

(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Andrew Walker White <
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Date:           Thursday, 30 Jan 1997 22:10:25 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Helsingborg

Having been to Elsinore, or Helsingborg as I believe the Danes call it, I was
fascinated by details of the town and castle which fit in nicely with the play,
and which lead me to believe that Shakespeare and his company really knew the
place when they set out to produce Hamlet.

To begin with, there's a private spiral staircase which is situated not too far
from the great hall, where performances were/are held.  Once down those stairs,
it's an equally short walk to the castle's Chapel.  Hard not to think of
Claudius' itinerary after the play when I saw that.

In addition, the "arrasses" are not just decrative tapestries; they are
portraits of the historic and legendary kings of Denmark, stitched well beyond
life-size and hung at that time throughout the castle, by the score.  One in
particular, King Abel, is a masterpiece; no matter where you are in the room,
he appears to be looking at you and walking toward you.  This creates quite a
few possibilitites for the scene with Gertrude; Hamlet stabs an arrass of his
father's image?  Thinking his Uncle may be behind it?  And uses it in his
subsequent diatribe 'look on this, and on this', with his uncle's image only in
little and his father's image much, much larger indeed.

One more thing; the graveyard at Elsinore is just a few minute's walk from the
Castle.  In those days, it represented the city limits.  There is a large wall
separating the graveyard from the rest of town, so that it's an ideal place to
meet in private; beyond the graveyard, contemporary drawings indicate nothing
but countryside.  There's also a high hill there, from which one can look down
into the city and castle. I've always wondered why Hamlet and Horatio would
just happen to be walking there, after his return from England.  The fact that
they're also in the potter-s field (where miscreants and comics are buried)
makes me wonder even more why there isn't more conversation between the two of
them there, to establish the purpose of their walk.

These are musings, which helped me to prepare my productions of the past couple
years; I'd be curious to see if anyone has been to Elsinore and come away with
the same or different impressions.

Andy White
Arlington, VA
 

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