Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: September ::
Re: Ophelia and Claudius
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0901.  Monday, 8 September 1997.

[1]     From:   Richard Bovard <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Friday, 05 Sep 1997 09:08:46 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0897  Qs: Ophelia and Claudius

[2]     From:   Richard Regan <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Saturday, 6 Sep 1997 00:01:53 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re:  SHK 8.0897  Qs: Ophelia and Claudius

[3]     From:   Cora Lee Wolfe <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Saturday, 06 Sep 1997 06:45:35 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0897  Qs: Ophelia and Claudius

[4]     From:   Andrew Walker White <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Saturday, 6 Sep 1997 12:37:12 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0897 Qs: Ophelia and Claudius


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Richard Bovard <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Friday, 05 Sep 1997 09:08:46 -0500
Subject: 8.0897  Qs: Ophelia and Claudius
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0897  Qs: Ophelia and Claudius

Perhaps poor Yorick, she knew him well?  The clowns and jesters in
Shakespeare's works sing many a base tune.

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Richard Regan <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Saturday, 6 Sep 1997 00:01:53 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 8.0897  Qs: Ophelia and Claudius
Comment:        Re:  SHK 8.0897  Qs: Ophelia and Claudius

Perhaps Ophelia heard the bawdy songs from the servants, and so many
times that they were in effect rehearsed in her mind.

Richard Regan
Fairfield University

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Cora Lee Wolfe <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Saturday, 06 Sep 1997 06:45:35 -0600
Subject: 8.0897  Qs: Ophelia and Claudius
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0897  Qs: Ophelia and Claudius

I cared for an Alzheimer's patient who before her infirmity seemed not
to understand anything of the vulgar, but who in her dementia could make
me believe that in some former life she must have been as absolutely
debauched and degraded slut.  I have no trouble believing that somewhere
in the medulla oblingata are stored songs and images that surface when
our super ego is no longer functioning..

Cora Lee Wolfe

[4]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Andrew Walker White <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Saturday, 6 Sep 1997 12:37:12 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 8.0897 Qs: Ophelia and Claudius
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0897 Qs: Ophelia and Claudius

With regard to the first question, I can offer two pet theories:  one to
do with facts of childhood, the other to do with the nature of Ophelia's
madness.

As children, it is safe to say that we all relish eavesdropping on the
conversations and parties of adults.  When songs are sung, especially
ones of questionable content, we fully enjoy memorizing them, even if we
haven't got the faintest notion what they're really about-all we know is
that they are scandalous, and hence great fun to sing.  For those who
prefer Ophelia to remain true to herself, and hence an innocent, this
explains how she could have picked up such an obscene lyric.  Parties,
even before the ascendance of Claudius, would have taken a very raunchy
turn, and the Danish royal family was notorious for thoroughly debauched
parties long before the arrival of King James and his Danish Queen.
Having a child or two within earshot of the festivities more than
accounts for Ophelia's knowledge of grown-up songs.

As for why she sings it when she does, it seems to me that in her
distraction, it is the voice of Claudius, and her association of him
with these wild parties where dirty songs are sung with great spirit,
that prompts her.  Her visual and audio stimuli in these scenes are
complex, and the voice of a rowdy could certainly
trigger-involuntarily-a song of that nature, which she would certainly
_never_ sing in front of an adult if she were in her right mind.

"As for your intent on going back to Wittenburg"-one way of handling
this, which seems to work on stage, is to treat this as news Claudius
has received from Gertrude.  It is really Gertrude who wants Hamlet to
stay nearby, anxious as she is for his forgiveness for marrying so
soon.  There's no need for Claudius to hesitate here; he's been told
about the back-to-school plan, and for his own selfish reasons will not
allow Hamlet to leave the castle.  Hamlet, for his own part, can dart a
glance of betrayal towards his mother, as if he had intended to leave
quietly.  His assent, in this instance, can be very sarcastic and
bitter, since his mom has accused him of faking sorrow, and has also
barred his path back to Wittenburg.

Mere possibilities, but an example of how fertile these lines can be.

Andy White
Arlington, VA
 

Other Messages In This Thread

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.