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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: June ::
Re: Various Hamlet Postings
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0596  Friday, 26 June 1998.

[1]     From:   Carol Barton <
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        Date:   Thursday, 25 Jun 1998 12:25:39 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0593  Re: Various Hamlet Postings

[2]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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        Date:   Thursday, 25 Jun 1998 09:32:37 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0588  Re: Various Hamlet Postings

[3]     From:   Ed Taft <
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        Date:   Thursday, 25 Jun 1998 12:02:12 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Various Hamlet Postings


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Carol Barton <
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Date:           Thursday, 25 Jun 1998 12:25:39 EDT
Subject: 9.0593  Re: Various Hamlet Postings
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0593  Re: Various Hamlet Postings

>  I'm not sure what the rhetorical
> figure is called, but I've noticed that often the words "certainly,"
> "obviously," and "surely" are used when there is no evidence to
> support a claim.

The figure is called argumentum ad populum, Steve; see example (3)
below:

------------------------------------------------------------------------
Definition:

A proposition is held to be true because it is widely held to be true or
is held to be true by some (usually upper crust) sector of the
population.

This fallacy is sometimes also called the "Appeal to Emotion" because
emotional appeals often sway the population as a whole.

Examples:
(i) If you were beautiful, you could live like this, so buy Buty-EZ and
become beautiful. (Here, the appeal is to the "beautiful people".)
(ii) Polls suggest that the Liberals will form a majority government, so
you may as well vote for them.
(iii) Everyone knows that the Earth is flat, so why do you persist in
your outlandish claims?

Other logical fallacies it may be useful to all educators to be aware of
are listed at:

http://www.assiniboinec.mb.ca/user/downes/fallacy/pop.htm

Best,
Carol Barton
Department of English
Averett College - Northern Virginia Campus
Vienna, Virginia

Si hoc legere scis, nimium eruditionis habes

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
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Date:           Thursday, 25 Jun 1998 09:32:37 -0700
Subject: 9.0588  Re: Various Hamlet Postings
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0588  Re: Various Hamlet Postings

Bill writes:

> May I pursue this a bit further?  Do you think that when Professors of
> English use "situated" rather than "placed," they are consciously
> referring to Heidegger's "historicity of Dasein"?

If only.  No, I don't think that English profs are generally so
conscious of the philosophical baggage their terms carry.

Cheers,
Sean.

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ed Taft <
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Date:           Thursday, 25 Jun 1998 12:02:12 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Various Hamlet Postings

Having been away for a while, I was glad to read Carol Barton's fine
comments of about a week ago. Let me respond to two of the points she
makes. First, I agree that we seem now to be moving out of the binary
mode imposed by Enlightenment philosophy, but I think that the play
imposes its own binary that still remains a mystery to be solved. I
would suggest that the opposition between what Hamlet thinks and what he
does is one major piece of evidence in this regard. For example, in "To
be, or not to be," which seems to come out of nowhere, Hamlet seems to
conclude that he will bear the ills he has and not act to correct them.
But right after-wards (in the nunnery scene), Hamlet seems to be telling
Ophelia to "get out of Dodge," apparently because he *will* be taking
action against Claudius soon! And Hamlet also seems (line 148) to be
covertly threatening the king, who is overhearing Hamlet's conversation
with Ophelia! Now, the interpretation of the nunnery scene is difficult,
but lots of scholars would basically agree with the one I've just
outlined. So, what's up?  Hamlet's soliloquy and his actions right
afterwards appear to conflict.

Another example, shorter, would be the end of 4.4, which Carol, Larry,
and I discussed about a month ago. As we all know, Hamlet's final lines
are ""O, from this time forth/My thoughts be bloody or be nothing worth"
(66-67)! But then hamlet meekly follows R&G to his apparent doom!

What to make of all this? Similar arguments could be made for at least
two other soliloquies. Surely one can say that it is the situation and
the task imposed on Hamlet that leads to this "duality" between thought
and action. And perhaps the audience is cued in early on that one
function of Hamlet's soliloquies is to "blow off steam," after which he
goes about his business, either action or inaction, as the circumstances
seem to warrant. If so, then, as I argued some time ago, we need to pay
particular attention to the plot to see what Hamlet is up to, and
perhaps, to infer that he really is thinking about more than just what
he tells us in the famous (too famous?) soliloquies (!?).

Point number two: Carol writes that in the final analysis, "Hamlet is
serving himself." (This quote is not quite right, Carol, sorry, but I
don't have your post in front of me.) Well, maybe, but he is also
fulfilling the ghost's command, no? Maybe Hamlet's loss of life weighs
so heavily on him as a sure consequence of killing Claudius that
Providence has to let hamlet know he is already dying for him to be able
to kill the king? If so, this is one more piece of evidence that
providence is at work at the end of the play-a point of view that I
think should be taken more seriously than it is by some postmodern
critics.

--Ed
 

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