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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: June ::
Re: Various Questions Related to *Ham.*
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0718.  Friday, 27 June 1997.

[1]     From:   Louis C Swilley <
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        Date:   Thursday, 26 Jun 1997 07:32:40 -0500 (CDT)
        Subj:   Hamlet's "madness"

[2]     From:   Syd Kasten <
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        Date:   Thursday, 26 Jun 1997 16:15:11 +0200 (IST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0705 Various Questions Related to *Ham.*

[3]     From:   J. Kenneth Campbell <
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        Date:   Friday, 27 Jun 1997 03:44:52 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0705 Various Questions Related to *Ham.*


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Louis C Swilley <
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Date:           Thursday, 26 Jun 1997 07:32:40 -0500 (CDT)
Subject:        Hamlet's "madness"

If Hamlet is really mad, the character is reduced from a tragic to a
pathetic figure somewhat like Ophelia, an irrational "storm"  that may
figure in another's tragedy, but who can no longer be held responsible
for rational choices (and the dignity associated with that
responsibility) and who therefore falls out of the tragic "loop."  Only
those who are willing to accept Hamlet as no more than another Ophelia
and who see the essential play as the story of some other character in
it should entertain the idea that Hamlet is really mad.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Syd Kasten <
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 >
Date:           Thursday, 26 Jun 1997 16:15:11 +0200 (IST)
Subject: 8.0705 Various Questions Related to *Ham.*
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0705 Various Questions Related to *Ham.*

The theme of pretended madness is an element of the story from which the
play was made. Betty Bealey, the editor of The Falcon Shakespeare
*Hamlet* (Longmans Canada Ltd 1963), tells us that the 12th century
history of the Danes by Saxo Grammaticus has Hamlet feigning idiocy as a
cloak under which to plan vengeance.  His foster-sister is placed in his
way by his enemies to test his sanity but his foster brother warns him.
Other elements of the story like the ostracism to England, its purpose
and its result are also there, but the ending is different: "Amleth
retutns, slays his uncle, and is named successor to the throne" and
"After many deeds of craft and daring ...is killed in battle."

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           J. Kenneth Campbell <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Friday, 27 Jun 1997 03:44:52 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 8.0705 Various Questions Related to *Ham.*
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0705 Various Questions Related to *Ham.*

Chris

It has long been my theory that Hamlet is drinking heavily after the
death of his father and the marriage of his mother to Claudius.

I like to go to the end of a play and work backwards.  Richard III for
instance has no deformity on a horse with the reigns in one hand and a
mace in the other.  Beginning the play in the saddle and dismounting to
illustrate his deformities works well to begin the circle of his life.
To begin at the end.  What does Claudius offer Hamlet, just in case
Laertes can't get the job done?  A drink.

What are Hamlet problems?  Indecision, distrust of what he sees and
hears, depression, thoughts of suicide, scorn for other peoples drinking
and merriment and impetuous actions like stabbing someone for
ease-dropping.  These can all be symptoms of someone under the
influence.  I'm not advocating a vaudevillian parody of intoxication but
something organic to the progression of the scenes.

It seems to me that Hamlet comes back from England in a different and
more reasonable state then when he left, (sober) he even claims to be
working out daily.

It certainly makes dramatic sense to make him an alcoholic and I think
many on this list know a few tippling scholars who fit very well into
Hamlet's mold.

Who doffs off the fatal wine?  Gertrude.  Her behavior really fills the
flagon, the genetic link to his weakness.

Just another way to go towards resolving Hamlet's too too sullied flesh
in a "dew".

 "We'll teach you to drink deep ere you depart"
 

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