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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: March ::
Re: Hamlet's Oath
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0273  Saturday, 28 March 1998.

[1]     From:   Andrew Walker White <
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        Date:   Friday, 27 Mar 1998 11:49:52 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Triple Oaths

[2]     From:   Melissa D. Aaron <
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        Date:   Friday, 27 Mar 1998 19:11:16 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0264  Re: Hamlet's Oath

[3]     From:   Dale Lyles <
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        Date:   Saturday, 28 Mar 1998 09:06:46 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0264  Re: Hamlet's Oath


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Andrew Walker White <
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Date:           Friday, 27 Mar 1998 11:49:52 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Triple Oaths

Actually, I've read the 'swearing' differently.  It seems to me that  in
order to reinforce the need for silence, the ghost needs to a) confirm
his presence to the others, and b) make damn sure nobody else hears
about him.  Perhaps someone on the list can tell us the specific value
attached to a treble oath, as opposed to a single one.  This may have
been standard practice, for keeping state secrets, etc., but I'm not
sure.

I see Hamlet as following his father's voice, not avoiding it; as for
his whimsical responses (hic et ubique?) that would seem to be a more
personal choice on the part of the actor.  I find a sense of dread,
overlaid by the 'antic disposition' for which this scene is just a
rehearsal.

Andy White
Arlington, VA

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Melissa D. Aaron <
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Date:           Friday, 27 Mar 1998 19:11:16 -0600
Subject: 9.0264  Re: Hamlet's Oath
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0264  Re: Hamlet's Oath

This isn't exactly what was asked, but I always thought that the
audience would be expecting the actor in Hell to be fading backwards
towards the tiring-house. Shifting under the stage apparently at random
and then howling "Swear" disconcerts the audience (and draws them in by
replicating the unnerved reactions of the characters on stage.)

Incidentally, I always read Hamlet to be *following* the sound of his
father's voice, not running away from it; that he "shifts [his] ground"
in order to be directly over the ghost for the oath, forcing the others
to run after him.

Melissa Aaron

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Dale Lyles <
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Date:           Saturday, 28 Mar 1998 09:06:46 EST
Subject: 9.0264  Re: Hamlet's Oath
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0264  Re: Hamlet's Oath

Is Hamlet trying to get *away* from the ghost?  It was always my
impression that he was pursuing the ghost from place to place, never
quite keeping up.  Certainly that's the way it's been played, hasn't
it?  I need to re-read the scene.

Still, why?

(And yes, when I first read the play in high school, I somehow connected
David's painting of the Horatii to the scene, but never thought it was a
significant connection, just two scenes of people swearing on a sword.
But then I was definitely an amateur at that point in my life.  I stand
ready to be informed.)

Dale Lyles
Newnan Community Theatre Company
 

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