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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: May ::
Re: Bad Hamlet Line
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0583.  Wednesday, 21 May 1997.

[1]     From:   Roy Flannagan <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 20 May 1997 10:08:44 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0580  Qs: Bad Hamlet Line

[2]     From:   Bernice W. Kliman <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 20 May 1997 22:34:30 -0400
        Subj:   Hamlet "My father"


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Roy Flannagan <
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Date:           Tuesday, 20 May 1997 10:08:44 -0400
Subject: 8.0580  Qs: Bad Hamlet Line
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0580  Qs: Bad Hamlet Line

>I don't "get" how the line "My father-methinks I see my father" (I, ii,
>184) works in the play. It seems too blatant, or too slapstick, or too
>weakly ironic, or too something to fit in with the character of Hamlet
>or the situation. I notice that it is also frequently cut in
>productions.
>
>Can this line be "played" in a reasonable way?

I have heard it and seen it played very plausibly.  Hamlet says he sees
his father, which surprises Horatio and perhaps spooks him (expecting,
perhaps, a ghost).  Then Hamlet humanely clarifies the image for
Horatio, saying that it is in his mind's eye that he sees his father.

No problem, no lack of reason.  The line should be allowed, not cut.

Roy Flannagan (working from memory of Gielgud and Jacobi, among others)

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bernice W. Kliman <
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Date:           Tuesday, 20 May 1997 22:34:30 -0400
Subject:        Hamlet "My father"

You might try William RICHARDSON, re this whole speech. On 372,
Richardson says, <p. 87> "Having expressed himself strongly [in 370-1],
and possessing a delicate sense of propriety, [Hamlet]  thinks it
necessary to explain the cause. About to preface it with an account of
his father, he mentions him: 'My father-' "The thought strikes his mind
with a sudden and powerful impulse: he pauses: forgets his intention of
explaining himself to </p. 87> <<p. 88> Horatio: the image of his father
possesses him; and, by the most solemn and striking apostrophe that poet
ever invented, he impresses it on his audience."  [quotes remainder of
372-4].

A Philosophical Analysis and Illustration of some of Shakespeare's
Remarkable Characters. A New Edition, Corrected (earlier one was 1774 )
London: J. Murray. 1780.  Reprinted AMS 1966. LibC PR2989 R6 1966.

Cheers,
Bernice W. Kliman
 

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