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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: May ::
Re: Hamlet, the secret doctrine
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.0890  Monday, 24 May 1999.

[1]     From:   Dana Wilson <
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        Date:   Friday, 21 May 1999 08:34:28 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: Hamlet, the secret doctrine

[2]     From:   Michael Best <
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        Date:   Friday, 21 May 1999 08:28:32 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0884 Re: Hamlet, the secret doctrine

[3]     From:   Dana Wilson <
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        Date:   Friday, 21 May 1999 12:13:19 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: Hamlet, the secret doctrine

[4]     From:   Meg Powers Livingston <
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        Date:   Saturday, 22 May 1999 02:21:55 -0700
        Subj:   Hamlet and the Ghost in his PJs

[5]     From:   Terence Hawkes <
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        Date:   Saturday, 22 May 1999 06:57:38 -0400
        Subj:   SHK 10.0879 Hamlet, the secret doctrine

[6]     From:   Takashi Kozuka <
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        Date:   Sunday, 23 May 1999 11:14:23 PDT
        Subj:   Re: Hamlet, the secret doctrine

[7]     From:   Dana Wilson <
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        Date:   Sunday, 23 May 1999 13:03:47 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: Hamlet, the secret doctrine


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Dana Wilson <
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Date:           Friday, 21 May 1999 08:34:28 -0700 (PDT)
Subject:        Re: Hamlet, the secret doctrine

Andy wrote:

1. When Polonius calls Hamlet mad, the irony is that Hamlet seems more
in possession of his wits than Polonius. ...  I think the Dane is
stone-cold sober, myself.


For myself, I find no irony.  As I tried to suggest, Andy, Polonius in
II,ii,85 is making a double entendre between mad, insane and mad, angry,
when he says it is mad to define madness.

I would rather think that Hamlet honored his mother(in the sense, that
King Asa 'honored' his) in a fit of righteous rage, than that he could
in cold soberty do (much less plot) that which is proscribed by law of
god and man.

If Hamlet was a cold calculating intriguer, then why not say he was a
sociopath and call that madness?

If on the other hand his actions happened of a righteous anger,
following of ambitions unjustly frustrated, they can't say they weren't
warned by the Hecuba speech.

Yours in the work,
Dana

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Michael Best <
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Date:           Friday, 21 May 1999 08:28:32 -0700
Subject: 10.0884 Re: Hamlet, the secret doctrine
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0884 Re: Hamlet, the secret doctrine

>I have been thinking about act 3, scene 4 of Hamlet, the scene in which
>Hamlet kills Polonius and berates Gertrude.  When Hamlet gets all worked
>up, the Ghost appears again to Hamlet.  The stage direction for this in
>the Riverside edition reads, "Enter Ghost [in his night-gown]".  Does
>anyone know the history of this stage direction?

The stage direction comes from Q1. You can consult a transcription of
the original at this address:

<http://web.uvic.ca/shakespeare/Annex/DraftTxt/Ham/Ham_Q1/Ham_Q13.4.html>

The equivalent in Q2 simply reads "Enter ghost." See

<http://web.uvic.ca/shakespeare/
Annex/DraftTxt/Ham/Ham_Q2/Ham_Q23.4.html>.

Michael Best
Department of English, University of Victoria
Coordinating Editor, Internet Shakespeare Editions
<http://web.uvic.ca/shakespeare>

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Dana Wilson <
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Date:           Friday, 21 May 1999 12:13:19 -0700 (PDT)
Subject:        Re: Hamlet, the secret doctrine

A correspondent of mine has suggested that I esp address the comments of
Andy White re the melancholic humour.  This correspondent has pointed
out to me the special relationship between the choler and the
melancholer.  I believe this dichotomy has special important for what
Claudius calls Hamlet's distemper.

Unlike sang and phlegm, the choler and melancholer are not so easily
attributed to physical bodily fluids.

Andy White has specifically warned me away from too materialistic a view
of the four humours, suggesting instead that I look for a poetic
humour.  My wisdom however is that I true wit would rather have a wit in
his hand then in his head.

As I can boast some knowledge of the impregnation of copper, it is
usually best to interpret my words as base as possible.

For a poetic turn, however, I am reminded of the poem Love's Alchemy by
John Donne, where he asks "be it true that if my valet can bear the
performance of a bridegroom's pride that he can be as happy as I".  This
line in my opinion has special relevance for sacramental nature of
theatre.  I believe this theme of the reality of the play is also
introduced in Hamlet II,ii.  In line 315, Hamlet points to the sky
saying this very canopy seems to me as vapor.  In reality however, we
know that the Globe had a wooden canopy.

In this same vein, Hamlet's inquiries to the players of how the company
had changed since he left the town for Elsinore could be interpreted to
refer to the distance of the Globe from London.

Another of John Donne's poems which I would like to mention in
connection with my last post is "Witchcraft by a Picture".  I believe
this poem is relevant to the point which I tried to make regarding the
image of Claudius mentioned in Hamlet II, ii, 385.

Finally, to return briefly, to the black melancholer and the red
choler.  Red is the color of celebration.  Black of mourning.  In II,ii,
Hamlet says to the players, "Everyone is so gaily dressed that my black
must seem to be the costume."  This perhaps may be some indication of
why the player performed a tragedy though they were ostensibly brought
in to raise Hamlet's spirits.

Yours in the work,
Dana
[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Meg Powers Livingston <
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Date:           Saturday, 22 May 1999 02:21:55 -0700
Subject:        Hamlet and the Ghost in his PJs

The 1603 quarto of Hamlet has "Enter the Ghost, in his night gown" but
F1 has simply "Enter Ghost."  Every edition to which I have easy access
has gone with the F1 entrance, but Collier's edition of the play
includes a footnote to the SD, explaining that the 1603 edition has "in
his night gown" in order to explain Hamlet's lines to Gertrude in the
quarto, "my father, in the habit / as he lived..."  Meaning, I suppose,
that dad was in his pj's more often than his armor, or at least
indicating that the Ghost is now attired differently than he was in his
first appearance.  The problem, however, is that F1 also includes a
slight variation on the line, "my father, in his habit as he lived."  In
any case, that's where the Riverside SD comes from.  [Checking the
Chadwyck-Healey database is a fun way to procrastinate on writing the
dissertation!]

Cheers,
Meg Powers Livingston

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UCLA Dept. of English

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Terence Hawkes <
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Date:           Saturday, 22 May 1999 06:57:38 -0400
Subject: Hamlet, the secret doctrine
Comment:        SHK 10.0879 Hamlet, the secret doctrine

Dear Dana Wilson,

Please continue your superb analysis of Hamlet. You are clearly edging
close to the truth. A Golden Quill cannot be long delayed. Meanwhile,
what do you make of the fact that Fortinbras's name offers a proleptic
link to the greatest jazz trumpeter of our century? Does this mean that
Hamlet's 'I am too much in the sun' masks an impulse to refer to
Claudius as 'Pops'?  I have often thought that he should enter to the
strains of 'Blueberry Hill'.

Yours in the play,
T. Hawkes

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Takashi Kozuka <
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Date:           Sunday, 23 May 1999 11:14:23 PDT
Subject:        Re: Hamlet, the secret doctrine

Clinton Atchley <
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>The stage direction for this in the Riverside edition reads, "Enter >Ghost
>[in his night-gown]".  Does anyone know the history of this >stage
>direction?  Has it always been there?  Is it Shakespeare's?  >Before this,
>the Ghost has always appeared fully armed.

The textual note of the Riverside Shakespeare (on pp. 1234-5) says that
the costume of the Ghost is specified only in Q1 ('night-gown'). The
Norton Shakespeare argues that 'Q2 and F leave open the possibility that
the Ghost is appearing again in his armor'. It is generally argued that
Q1 was constructed by the memory of the actor who doubled in the roles
of Marcellus and Lucianus (and perhaps Voltemand). In the production in
which he played these roles, therefore, the Ghost may/must have worn a
nightgown in this particular scene. Ghosts on the Elizabethan/Jacobean
stage also 'conventionally' appeared in nightgowns (if I remember
correctly).

I would not go farther here because the textual study of Hamlet is
complicated and needs much more space than I could have here. John Dover
Willson's study in 1934 is considered the pioneer work in the field, but
it has been challenged by the recent scholarship (just like any
scholarly study of Shakespeare). If you are interested in the 'current'
textual study of Hamlet, the following books (as well as the textual
notes in the Riverside Shakespeare) should be useful: William
Shakespeare: A Textual Companion ed.  by Stanley Wells and Gary Taylor
(Oxford UP, 1987; W.W. Norton, 1997); The First Quarto of Hamlet ed. by
Katherine O. Irace (Cambridge UP, 1998).

Happy reading!

Takashi Kozuka
PhD Student
Centre for the Study of the Renaissance
University of Warwick (UK)

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[7]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Dana Wilson <
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Date:           Sunday, 23 May 1999 13:03:47 -0700 (PDT)
Subject:        Re: Hamlet, the secret doctrine

After consideration, I have decided to take another bite at this apple.

In Hamlet II,ii,103, Polonius assures us that Hamlet's madness comes of
cause.  In my opinion, it is essential to determine whether this cause
be grief or grievance.

This dichotomy was suggested to me from III,ii,210.

In III,i,127, Hamlet tells Ophelia he has more offenses at his beck than
thoughts to put them in and I am inclined to agree.

Perhaps, one offense is the reception that Hamlet's friends Rosencrantz
and Guildenstern receives of Claudius and Gertrude.  In II,ii,28, R
tells them that they "put their dread pleasure more in command than in
entreaty".  This use of the word, entreaty, in my opinion connects with
the use of the same word by Voltigern in II,ii,76.  Old Norway seeks to
make a treaty with Claudius and Gertrude but in IV,iv,1, Fortinbras
seems to acknowledge Hamlet as king of Denmark and put his troops at
Hamlet's disposal.  This may add evidence to my thesis that Gertrude's
title of "jointress" was contested by Hamlet.  However, in III,ii,210,
the player king assures the audience that all are friendly until called
upon and this in my opinion connects with Rosencrantz statement in
II,ii,214, that the world had grown honest, defining for Hamlet the
degree to which R would extend himself on H's behalf.

Another interesting quotation from the play is the Queen's speech in
line 229, there she seems to say that after her first husband she is
doomed to a nunnery.  This suggests to me that Hamlet exclamation for
Ophelia to get to a nunnery ought to be read literal honest and not for
the sexual undertone usually played to.  I feel that I can make this
case very compellingly and yet not from intertextual evidence which is a
problem.

It is precisely because she is honest that Ophelia must be barren.  The
word conceive contains the double entrance of to think or to give
birth.  The two meanings are closely related, however, only one man has
ever "conceived", that being Zeus to "conceived" Minerva of his mind.
For this reason, barren Minerva represents higher mind.  The Minerva
archetype of woman is the opposite of the Venus archetype.  The fact
that Venus had two husbands Vulcan and mars seems to underlie the two
husbands of Gertrude as well as the player queen's exhortation that she
will have no second husband.  The reason that Hamlet accuses Ophelia of
being a slut is that he doesn't know if she as an ingenue is being
scripted by her father Polonius for the Minerva or Venus archetype.

Shakespeare would certainly have been familiar with the archetype of
Minerva as higher mind from the influence of the Florentine
Neo-Platonists, Pico and Ficino.  Owen Barfield considers Frances yets
the authority on this influence in Elizabethean literature and I defer.

For some practical insight into the dynamics of the Minerva archetype, I
have considered the speech of the player queen in III,ii,171, where she
promises that for ever moon that the player king has advanced she will
recall: this recalling seems to me related to the walking backwards
crab-like which Hamlet asks of Polonius, an undoing.  In III,ii,230, the
player queen describes this undoing in even more detail saying that each
opposite blanks her face.  In contemporary parlayance we would be
inclined to frame this as a yin-yang dichotomy; however, in the
Elizabethan period it is most likely that Shakespeare absorbed these
ideas from the Polar-logic of Giordano Bruno, who is in a line from Pico
and Ficino.

Yours in the work,
Dana
 

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