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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: July ::
Re: Hamlet and Characters
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0773.  Saturday, 19 July 1997.

[1]     From:   Andrew Walker White <
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        Date:   Friday, 18 Jul 1997 13:35:43 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0764 Re: Characters and Hamlet

[2]     From:   John Robinson <
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        Date:   Friday, 18 Jul 1997 14:57:54 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0770 Re: Hamlet and Characters

[3]     From:   Rick Jones <
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        Date:   Friday, 18 Jul 1997 14:50:43 -0500 (CDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0770  Re: Hamlet and Characters

[4]     From:   Chris Kendall <
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        Date:   Friday, 18 Jul 1997 15:40:02 -0600
        Subj:   Elsinore

[5]     From:   H. R. Greenberg <
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        Date:   Friday, 18 Jul 1997 21:31:08 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0764 Re: Characters and Hamlet

[6]     From:   Gilad Shapira <
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        Date:   Saturday, 19 Jul 97 14:16:37 PDT
        Subj:   RE: SHK 8.0757 Re: Various Hamlet

[7]     From:   Gilad Shapira <
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        Date:   Saturday, 19 Jul 97 14:29:43 PDT
        Subj:   RE: SHK 8.0757 Re: Various Hamlet


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Andrew Walker White <
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Date:           Friday, 18 Jul 1997 13:35:43 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 8.0764 Re: Characters and Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0764 Re: Characters and Hamlet

Christine Mack Gordon seems to have come up with the best solution to my
question, by positing that Hamlet has hopes of Claudius being behind the
arras.  It seems more likely to me that, in his 'brainsick frame of
mind', he hopes he has caught Claudius in just the sort of act he needs
to find him in (i.e., 'drunk, asleep, or in his rage ...'), so as to
really send him to hell.  This, in spite of the fact that it isn't
really plausible-that wouldn't stop him from wishing it to be so.

And sending Claudius to hell, after all, is what it's really about.  Not
simply executing him.  King Hamlet's ghost proves that there is an
afterlife, and souls can be made to suffer; and so Hamlet's revenge must
be more than merely physical, it must be one which ensures Claudius
eternal damnation.  Which is what makes his final kill so satisfying, at
least from my point of view.

As for "A rat, a rat!"  this is borrowed from the original legend, in
which the Prince tramples the queen's bundle of hay (where the
courtier/Polonius is lying in hiding, there were no arrassas in those
days).  That Hamlet is referring to a spy, preferably a King/spy, makes
this bit of borrowing work so well.

What Shakespeare mercifully left out, but perhaps Webster might have
considered leaving in, is the next scene in which the Dane chops up
Polonius' remains and dumps them down the castle toilet, to be devoured
by the pigs at the basement trough, piece by piece.

Hope nobody's having dinner over this last bit ...

Andy White
Arlington, VA

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Robinson <
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Date:           Friday, 18 Jul 1997 14:57:54 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 8.0770 Re: Hamlet and Characters
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0770 Re: Hamlet and Characters

<< 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.
  >>

What does this quote have to do with "sledded Polacks and "rats"?

Regards
John V Robinson

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Rick Jones <
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Date:           Friday, 18 Jul 1997 14:50:43 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: 8.0770  Re: Hamlet and Characters
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0770  Re: Hamlet and Characters

C. David Frankel wrote:

> 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?

This is a good question, one I can't answer at least until such time as
I have time to do a closer reading of the play.  Certainly it has
*seemed* so in both productions I have seen, but that's the whole point
of the question, isn't it?  I should also call attention to the fact
that (for once) I was careful with my words in the earlier post: I would
suggest that there is (or can be) a distinction to be made between "it
is a truism that..." and "it is true that...".

Rick Jones

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[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Chris Kendall <
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Date:           Friday, 18 Jul 1997 15:40:02 -0600
Subject:        Elsinore

Andy White writes:

>One more Director's question:  does Hamlet really think Claudius is in
>Gertrude's room, behind the arras?  He's just left him behind in the
>chapel (which, at Elsinore, is near a spiral staircase leading to the
>Queen's chambers, I believe) and I've always wondered whether this meant
>his remarks after stabbing Polonius were meant as sarcasm.

Whether or not the floor plan at Elsinore was known to Shakespeare, I
doubt that he would have let it be a sticking point in his plot. In any
case, it seems to me that Claudius would have had ample time to
insinuate himself after Hamlet's entrance, and this is just the kind of
subterfuge Hamlet would expect, especially after being summoned to his
mother's chamber. He might reasonably conjecture that Claudius planted
himself conspicuously in the chapel to throw him off the scent. That is,
if only he could think, poor shade of art.

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           H. R. Greenberg <
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Date:           Friday, 18 Jul 1997 21:31:08 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 8.0764 Re: Characters and Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0764 Re: Characters and Hamlet

Vis a vis Claudius' use or nonuse of transporter technology:

If one posits the usual plethora of hidden stairways, secret entrances,
so forth, with which castles and such did really abound in those bad old
days, alternate and quick means for Claudius to get to the bedchamber
could be hypothecated.

The more likely explanation resides in Hamlet's febrile "wild and
whirling" psychological state immediately following Polonius' murder,
the deed as it were being father to the wish.

To paraphrase Mr Faulty -- anyone care for a rat?

HR Greenberg

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gilad Shapira <
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Date:           Saturday, 19 Jul 97 14:16:37 PDT
Subject: 8.0757 Re: Various Hamlet
Comment:        RE: SHK 8.0757 Re: Various Hamlet

>Actually, a fair amount has been written from a clinical viewpoint about
>Hamlet's "Diagnosis". Predictably, he has been said to suffer from every
>ailment from bipolar (manic depressive) disorder to multiple personality
>disorder. I don't have references at hand, but the work for the most
>part is of negligible lit/crit value.

Hello Harvey,

In my point of view, all the clinic efforts concerning literature are
problematic. We should remember that Hamlet is a character built not
from flesh and blood but from words.

We can say that some materials of manic depressive are shown in the
play, but not more. In order to explain the process of the plot or the
character motivation we have to go back to the wonderful world of words.

I myself made a psychoanalytic research on the Odyssey, and I feel, that
we should always go back to the text and analyze the correlation between
the two disciplines.

Gilad Shapira

[7]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gilad Shapira <
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Date:           Saturday, 19 Jul 97 14:29:43 PDT
Subject: 8.0757 Re: Various Hamlet
Comment:        RE: SHK 8.0757 Re: Various Hamlet

>>One more Director's question:  does Hamlet really think Claudius is in
>>Gertrude's room, behind the arras?  He's just left him behind in the
>>chapel (which, at Elsinore, is near a spiral staircase leading to the
>>Queen's chambers, I believe) and I've always wondered whether this meant
>>his remarks after stabbing Polonius were meant as sarcasm.

>>Any takers on that one?

>>Andy White

>Yes.  Hamlet says of Polonius "I took thee for thy better" and I don't
>think that's sarcastic.

Hello Melissa,

Your question is very interesting and point of course on the complexity
of that amazing play. As I see it Hamlet is busy in his revenge emotion
mixed with the desire to find any truth in this chaotic world. More of
that, his play (the Gonzago play) is now a trap not to the king but to
Hamlet. Therefore The question about Claudius is not in his mind at this
moment and as a man in a trap he act with his madness and not with his
mind.

Gilad Shapira
 

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