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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: July ::
Re: Hamlet and Characters
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0770.  Friday, 18 July 1997.

[1]     From:   Michael Mcclintock <
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        Date:   Thursday, 17 Jul 1997 10:33:42 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0764  Re: Characters and Hamlet

[2]     From:   C. David Frankel <
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        Date:   Thursday, 17 Jul 1997 11:01:10 -0400
        Subj:   RE: SHK 8.0764  Re: Characters and Hamlet

[3]     From:   Freddie Rokem <
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        Date:   Friday 18 Jul 1997 07:23:48 +0300 (IDT)
        Subj:   e: SHK 8.0764  Re: Characters and Hamlet


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Michael Mcclintock <
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Date:           Thursday, 17 Jul 1997 10:33:42 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 8.0764  Re: Characters and Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0764  Re: Characters and Hamlet

> Actually, I have a better solution.  What are Hamlet's words?  "How
> now?  A rat?".  Given the fact that Shakespeare's characters always mean
> what they say, it must be that Hamlet thought he was killing a rat.  The
> scene in which he was appointed Royal Exterminator was inexplicably cut
> from Quarto and Folio alike...
>
> Rick Jones

Traces of Hamlet's secret occupation do remain in the Q2 version of the
play. Consider Hamlet's first soliloquy:

                O that this too too sallied flesh would melt,
                Thaw and resolve it selfe into a dewe,
                Or that the euerlasting had not fixt
                His cannon gainst seale slaughter

Here we have the key to all of Hamlet's problems: he would far rather be
out with the sledded Polacks on the ice clubbing seals than locked up in
Elsinore exterminating rats.

Michael McClintock
University of Toronto

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           C. David Frankel <
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Date:           Thursday, 17 Jul 1997 11:01:10 -0400
Subject: 8.0764  Re: Characters and Hamlet
Comment:        RE: SHK 8.0764  Re: Characters and Hamlet

Rick Jones said:

>Milla Riggio is of course correct that 1) the number of scenes of
>deception *of the audience* in Shakespeare for which there is absolute
>textual authority for the "sarcasm" or other performance-based tip-off
>to the deception is zero, 2) any line can be read ironically, 3) it is a
>truism of Shakespearean acting that, except in the cases of
>pre-confessed manipulators (Iago, Richard III), characters say what they
>mean and mean what they say.

So I have a question.  In _Richard II_ both Bolingbroke and Mowbry swear
that they are telling the truth.  Is one of them lying?  If so, is there
any evidence *in the play* that one is lying?  In other words, does the
play, as a whole, suggest that Richard (and Mowbry) did do in the Duke
of Gloucester?

And now for an unrelated, and probably really dumb, question:  Does
anyone know of an interpretation of _Othello_ that posits the play as an
allegory about Queen Elizabeth  (with Othello "standing in" for the
Queen?)

cdf

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Freddie Rokem <
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Date:           Friday 18 Jul 1997 07:23:48 +0300 (IDT)
Subject: 8.0764  Re: Characters and Hamlet
Comment:        e: SHK 8.0764  Re: Characters and Hamlet

The discussions about the person or the thing hiding behind the arras in
Gertrude's bedroom  are interesting indeed. My view is that Hamlet
thinks he is now killing that which he most fears, the ghost. Hamlet
thinks that it is the ghost who is situated behind the screen - this is
the mouse, mole, rat gnawing on his mind. And that is why the Mousetrap
is so interesting. The consequences of this interpretation are very
interesting.  I have had the opportunity to work on these as dramaturg
for a production of Hamlet which I have described briefly in "Western
European Stages" 9,2 1997, 57-60. This publication is published by the
Center for Advanced study in Theatre Arts, at CUNY.

This production will be renewed this fall, again in Sweden.  The central
idea realized there is that Polonius is playing the ghost, cheating
Hamlet to believe Claudius killed his father. There is in fact no real
'ghost', and Hamlet kills the Polonius-ghost in his mother's bedroom.
The question who plays the ghost after Polonius is killed is solved but
I will not go into that now.

With warm greetings
Freddie Rokem
Theatre Studies
Tel Aviv University
 

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