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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: April ::
Re: Evil that Men Do
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.0793  Friday, 30 April 1999.

From:           Sean Lawrence <
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Date:           Thursday, 29 Apr 1999 08:45:55 +0000
Subject: 10.0785 Several Queries
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0785 Several Queries

Michelle Irene Towle asks:

>When facing the evil of deception, murder, and lies of Claudio (and
>perhaps even his mother), Hamlet is confronted with the evil within
>himself as well. This is, in fact, what we face today, as we watch our
>country go to war for "justice." But what is justice? Is it possible to
>have pure motivation for justice? In light of Hamlet, was there a "just"
>way for him to confront the evil that was before him, even though he was
>painfully aware of the evil in him?

I should start a conference paper on the subject any day now, so I was
interested to see your note.  In my mind, there's a further question:
should we wait for pure motivations before acting?  Isn't that
tantamount to absolute quietism?

I would say that quite apart from whatever Hamlet might do, the first
and most important command impinging on him is to acknowledge the ghost
of his father.  He fumbles the ball in worrying about the ghost's
metaphysical status, which is purely secondary.  We might similarly
fumble a bit in worrying about first defining justice, before acting
conscientiously, instead of the other way around.  As with Hamlet, we
find ourselves in a situation where doing nothing is inherently wrong,
and introspectively defining our terms is merely self-indulgent.  Then
again, like Hamlet, we may not be offered any right move.

Cheers,
Se

 

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