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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: July ::
Various Re: Hamlet
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0746.  Thursday, 10 July 1997.

[1]     From:   Chris Clark <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 9 Jul 1997 17:00:43 -0400
        Subj:   Madness of Hamlet

[2]     From:   Chris Clark <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 9 Jul 1997 17:00:47 -0400
        Subj:   To Be Or Not To Be? Let Be

[3]     From:   Chris Clark <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 9 Jul 1997 17:00:51 -0400
        Subj:   Ophelia's 'Pregnancy?'


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Chris Clark <
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Date:           Wednesday, 9 Jul 1997 17:00:43 -0400
Subject:        Madness of Hamlet

> As for why Ophelia gets such rotten treatment from Hamlet, keep in mind
> that he knows she is there to spy on him, and she refuses to admit that
> she's working for Polonius and Claudius.

This is conjecture surely? I know that Dover Wilson reckons that there's
an Enter Hamlet during the planning of the loosing of Ophelia, but we
can't really be sure that that's what was intended (can we?), though I
agree that it probably WAS the case... if there's some proof for this
argument beyond Dover Wilson, then it would be tres useful for the
argument I'm taking.

Also, if, as I believe, Hamlet is sane and suffering from melancholy
separately from his antic disposition, then what is Hamlet doing blaming
the murder of Polonius on 'madness' in the confrontation with Laertes?
Is he lying through necessity [and having been corrupted by all the evil
around him], or being polite? I suspect it's more just keeping up the
claim of madness, and to show that he has finally realised that to make
his way he cannot just take the path of virtue all the time...

Chris

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Chris Clark <
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Date:           Wednesday, 9 Jul 1997 17:00:47 -0400
Subject:        To Be Or Not To Be? Let Be

In my edition of Hamlet (Arden, based on Q2), Jenkins writes in the
notes that 'Let be' in Hamlet's dialogue with Horatio just before the
beginning of the duel has been 'wrongly' viewed as a continuation of the
observations about 'readiness is all' and that it is *not* the answer to
'To be or not to be.'

The thing is, that this theory does seem compellingly likely to me. The
more I consider it, the more it makes sense, because it ties in with his
character and the delay, showing that it is this whole point of view
that is the fatal flaw (I like this) or alternatively that fate rules
and there is no point in resisting (but this is possible)...

What do you guys think of this interpretation?

Chris

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Chris Clark <
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Date:           Wednesday, 9 Jul 1997 17:00:51 -0400
Subject:        Ophelia's 'Pregnancy?'

I have in many places seen the theory that Ophelia is pregnant. The
*idea* that she and Hamlet might have had relations of that kind does
not strike me as particularly feasible... surely all the stuff about
whores and fishmongers etc is aimed at Polonius and women in general
because of the actions of Gertrude which have tainted Hamlet's mind,
rather than any basis in fact?

The graphic depiction of at least some form of intimacy that I saw in
Branagh's Hamlet disappointed me, because the relationship between
Hamlet and Ophelia is one thing that I interpret as something pure and
beautiful, wrecked by the actions of the older generation... [which
links in nicely with the view of the old that was expressed in Lear,
no?  Surely this shows that if the old did not act so irresponsibly, the
young would have no problems] the view that the whore-images have any
basis in fact disgusts me... yes, I'm quite willing to accept the
language is there - loosing, horse and carters, remove the violet... set
a blister, conceive, nunnery, etc - and yet why speak of 'honourable
fashion' etc if it were not so? [okay, to get away with it,
obviously...] I'm interested in seeing views on both sides of this, as I
really do want to see how people can back this up...

Some might argue that in religious drama (as which Hamlet can easily be
interpreted) only the guilty are punished, leaving Ophelia open to some
crime [the implication of which would be obvious], but I view this play
as a tragedy, and am intrigued by the parallels between Hamlet, Laertes
& Fortinbras [Holy Trinity to bring religion in again?] and Hamlet and
Ophelia [the madness contrast, the dispriz'd love, etc...]

Just a few theories I felt the need to expound. Thanks very much.

Chris
 

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