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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: November ::
Re: Hamlet as Gertrude's Heir
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.1160.  Monday, 17 November 1997.

[1]     From:   Sean Kevin Lawrence <
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        Date:   Saturday, 15 Nov 1997 12:14:25 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.1156  Re: Hamlet as Gertrude's Heir

[2]     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Saturday, 15 Nov 1997 16:40:32 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.1156  Re: Hamlet as Gertrude's Heir

[3]     From:   An Sonjae <
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        Date:   Mondayy, 17 Nov 1997 09:12:31 +0900 (KST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.1156  Re: Hamlet as Gertrude's Heir

[4]     From:   Abigail Quart <
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        Date:   Sunday, 16 Nov 1997 23:21:05 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.1156  Re: Hamlet as Gertrude's Heir


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Kevin Lawrence <
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Date:           Saturday, 15 Nov 1997 12:14:25 -0800
Subject: 8.1156  Re: Hamlet as Gertrude's Heir
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.1156  Re: Hamlet as Gertrude's Heir

>In any case, there can be no doubt that the king was elected.  Hamlet
>refers to Claudius having popped in between the election and his hopes;
>later he prophecies that the election lights on Fortinbras and give him
>his dying voice (vote); etc.

I hate to strain a point, but I don't believe that "election" always
implies a vote in early modern English.

Cheers,
Sean

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <
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Date:           Saturday, 15 Nov 1997 16:40:32 -0500
Subject: 8.1156  Re: Hamlet as Gertrude's Heir
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.1156  Re: Hamlet as Gertrude's Heir

Kristine Batey writes:

>The nephew's a waste as a
>potential king: a perpetual grad student, probably not as intellectually
>capable as his friend Horatio, whose philosophy he sneers at.

In the Folio text (TLN 864), Hamlet speaks to Horatio of "our
Philosophy." That "our" gives quite a different feel to the line.

Yours, Bill Godshalk

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           An Sonjae <
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Date:           Mondayy, 17 Nov 1997 09:12:31 +0900 (KST)
Subject: 8.1156  Re: Hamlet as Gertrude's Heir
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.1156  Re: Hamlet as Gertrude's Heir

It does not seem to me that the text(s) of 'Hamlet' offer clear
indications as to whether King Hamlet was killed for his crown or his
wife. Indeed, as I have been teaching it this semester, I have been
struck by what I feel to be the very limited access we are given to
reliable information about the inner motivations behind what any of the
characters in the play say and do. The play's the thing... and it's not
only the king's conscience we're trying to catch, which I assume to be
the whole point of the exercise. If you want a play about ambition
leading to regicide, try the Scottish one...

An Sonjae, Sogang University, Seoul

[4]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Abigail Quart <
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Date:           Sunday, 16 Nov 1997 23:21:05 -0500
Subject: 8.1156  Re: Hamlet as Gertrude's Heir
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.1156  Re: Hamlet as Gertrude's Heir

But what if, instead of being the power, her husband's death makes
Gertrude suddenly redundant-and she can't face the idea of a new queen
moving in, giving orders, pushing her into a dower house, or an attic,
or a convent.  Because, if the throne doesn't pass through Gertie, the
new king will have his own wife, or get one quick, so he can have
children to present as heirs or to marry off in treaties. If only there
had been a daughter for young Fortinbras!

And here's Claudius, whose brother was so afraid to let him out of his
sight, he kept him dangling around the palace for decades, wouldn't let
him marry, because no matter how she tried, Gertie had only the one
(which was a vulnerability for Hamlet Sr., who never takes the blame for
anything); Claudius, who never had anything to do except watch from the
shadows the ostentatiously happy family life of his brother.

By the way, what evidence is there that Gertrude ever did more than
merely notice her brother-in-law's unrequited passion until the day she
was suddenly free? Suppose she was so desperate to assure that nothing
would change, that she took the step which changed everything? She never
went into mourning. That's total denial. Even the ghost doesn't have the
guts to accuse her of anything more than that hasty marriage. "Leave her
to heaven," my Aunt Fanny. Does this ghost show the smallest sign of
leaving anything to heaven? He has no case against her and he knows it.

Knowing she was able to produce only one living son, might she not also
feel a burden of gratitude toward Claudius, for giving up his chance to
have children of his own by marrying her? Fortinbras maybe had a sister,
a first cousin, he could have negotiated for?
 

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