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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: May ::
Re: Ophelia, Hamlet, Names
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.0870  Tuesday, 18 May 1999.

[1]     From:   Larry Weiss <
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        Date:   Monday, 17 May 1999 13:57:36 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0863 Re: Ophelia, Hamlet, Names

[2]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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        Date:   Monday, 17 May 1999 13:02:09 +0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0863 Re: Ophelia, Hamlet, Names

[3]     From:   Lucia Anna Setari <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 18 May 1999 01:34:29 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0863 Re: Ophelia Hamlet


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Larry Weiss <
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Date:           Monday, 17 May 1999 13:57:36 -0400
Subject: 10.0863 Re: Ophelia, Hamlet, Names
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0863 Re: Ophelia, Hamlet, Names

Andy White observes:

>Ophelia's entire speech while returning the letters is a lie and both of them know
>it.
>
>Ophelia is accusing Hamlet of dumping her, which is exactly the opposite
>of what has happened; she has been the one denying him her presence,
>sending back letters, etc.  Hamlet's response can be read as coming from
>a full knowledge of the situation, with a suspicion of who put her up to
>it and why.

I absolutely agree, and I confess with some chagrin that the idea that
the entire speech is false had not occurred to me, although it is almost
certainly correct.  Up until this point in the play, it has been
Ophelia, not Hamlet, who "prov[ed] unkind" in keeping herself from
Hamlet's resort.  His using her as an inadvertent participant in his
disinformation campaign by appearing in her closet in a state of
dishabille is not offensive in the same way that Ophelia's rejection of
him must be.

And, of course, Hamlet certainly knew that Ophelia was being obedient to
Polonius in avoiding him-hence the "fishmonger," "Jephthah," and similar
wisecracks-but up until this point Hamlet had no idea that Ophelia had
been recruited as an active agent in league against him.  He now knows
it, and it devastates him.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
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Date:           Monday, 17 May 1999 13:02:09 +0000
Subject: 10.0863 Re: Ophelia, Hamlet, Names
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0863 Re: Ophelia, Hamlet, Names

Lucia Anna Setari writes:

>(and it rings also a bit ironic because of its overturning the odd
>charity of Christian priests who, seeming to care more soul's than
>body's salvation, do approve of death penalty).

Actually, when the death penalty debate breaks out up here in Canada,
priests and ministers are almost always ranged against it; often,
they're the same people who oppose abortion.

>On the other hand, to judge who deserved to be sent to heaven and who to
>hell has been for a long time among the most favourite sports of pious
>people.

It's also heretical:  if we could decide who is damned and who is saved,
the need for Christ would be obviated, and grace would change from a
radical breach with human norms and values, becoming only a calculated
reinforcement of the political status quo.

>Hamlet's lack of Christian charity seems to me to fall fairly within the
>customs of Christian people.

That's besides the point.  Since Christianity recognizes the inherent
sinfulness of humankind, it's not normative, as Kierkegaard recognized
in making the distinction between Christendom and Christianity.
Christian beliefs should be measured against doctrine, not against
imperfect, fallen and often self-justifying practice.

Cheers,
Se

 

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