Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: November ::
Re: Gertrude
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.1864  Tuesday, 2 November 1999.

[1]     From:   Ed Pixley <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Monday, 01 Nov 1999 12:51:45 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.1850 Re: Gertrude

[2]     From:   Judith Matthews Craig <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Monday, 1 Nov 1999 12:06:40 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.1850 Re: Gertrude

[3]     From:   Larry Weiss <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Monday, 01 Nov 1999 05:14:35 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.1850 Re: Gertrude

[4]     From:   Terence Hawkes <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 2 Nov 1999 07:35:08 -0500
        Subj:   SHK 10.1850 Re: Gertrude


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ed Pixley <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Monday, 01 Nov 1999 12:51:45 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 10.1850 Re: Gertrude
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1850 Re: Gertrude

>I would have thought that the single defining fact about Gertrude-one of
>the very few things that can be taken as a fact-is that she is unknown.
>Like virtually everyone else around Hamlet, she has become a mystery, to
>us as well as to him.  None of the crucial questions are ever answered:
>when did she fall?  why did she fall?  what does she know, if anything,
>about the murder? does she drink the poison knowingly?  When she
>'confesses', it is only at knife-point and thus clearly untrustworthy
>(not to mention vague).  Obviously, this is not an accidental effect:
>the discovery that he knows no one, least of all his nearest and
>dearest, is a crucial fact of Hamlet's situation.  Of course an actress
>and a director dealing with the part must decide which of many possible
>Gertrudes they want to present, but that is not the same thing as
>finding the right one.  We should perhaps content ourselves with
>mysteries.
>
>Arthur Lindley

But like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern and Polonius, as critics, our
self-interest and academic promotion frequently seem to depend on our
"plucking out the heart of [Hamlet's or Gertrude's-or some other fictive
character's] mystery."  We must, I think, continually remind ourselves
that great art has "mystery" and ambiguity at its core.

Thank you for reinjecting that reminder into the mix.

Ed Pixley
SUNY-Oneonta

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Judith Matthews Craig <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Monday, 1 Nov 1999 12:06:40 -0600
Subject: 10.1850 Re: Gertrude
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1850 Re: Gertrude

Maybe Gertrude is an example of Hamlet's "sometime paradox" (3.1.114,
Arden):  "the power of beauty will sooner transform honesty from what it
is to a bawd than the force of honesty can translate beauty into his
likeness" (3.1.111-114, Arden).  Or, maybe she is our example of "false
as water" . .  . whatever we determined that meant.

Judy Craig

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Larry Weiss <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Monday, 01 Nov 1999 05:14:35 -0500
Subject: 10.1850 Re: Gertrude
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1850 Re: Gertrude

Sean Lawrence wrote

>Better minds than mine have burned themselves out trying to define the
>constitution of the fictional Denmark, but I would like to note that
>even electoral monarchies (like Sweden's a couple of centuries later)
>had limited electorates, often just the nobles.  Moreover, the word
>"election" as used by Hamlet might not indicate any sort of popular vote
>at all.  In King Lear 1.1, Burgundy uses the term "election" to simply
>mean a choice.

We've been through this before.  The kings of Viking Denmark were
elected by an assembly of chieftains or ur-nobles called the Witan.  WS
evidently was aware of the practice as the play refer several times to
an election in the sense of the choice of a body.  E.g., "popp'd in
between the election and my hopes."  And, of course, at the end Hamlet
confers his "dying voice" (i.e., vote) on Fortinbras.

I have also speculated that the main reason Hamlet despises Polonius
with such special venom is that Polonius was instrumental in the
election of Claudius, which Hamlet might have regarded as faithless to
his father as well as himself.

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Terence Hawkes <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Tuesday, 2 Nov 1999 07:35:08 -0500
Subject: Re: Gertrude
Comment:        SHK 10.1850 Re: Gertrude

Must say I never trusted Gertrude myself. Drinks, you know. Especially
since Mrs. Polonius ran off.  Makes you wonder who Hamlet's REAL father
might be. I suspect the Macbeths could tell us a lot.

T. Hawkes
 

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.