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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: November ::
Re: Gertrude
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.1901  Friday, 5 November 1999.

[1]     From:   Judith Matthews Craig <
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        Date:   Thursday, 4 Nov 1999 12:36:48 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.1888 Re: Gertrude

[2]     From:   H. R. Greenberg <
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        Date:   Thursday, 4 Nov 1999 19:36:12 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.1888 Re: Gertrude


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Judith Matthews Craig <
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Date:           Thursday, 4 Nov 1999 12:36:48 -0600
Subject: 10.1888 Re: Gertrude
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1888 Re: Gertrude


Graham Bradshaw writes:

<In other words, the play itself resists
<attempts to see the play through Hamlet's eyes?

I find this an incredible reversal of the way the play is constructed:
the asides invite the audience to see inside Hamlet's interior
ruminations on what is going on onstage and his real feelings about
Gertrude and Hamlet 1's marriage that may contradict his actual actions
onstage. For example, his first aside, "A little more than kin, and less
than kind" (1.2.65, Arden) announces that his ambiguous relationship as
"cousin" (line 64) and/or "son" is less than natural in the obsolete
meaning of "kind," ("that is, or exists in accordance with nature or the
usual course of things OED").  The irony of "kind" also suggests that
his polite words to them both have an undercurrent of anger that never
leaves him until Act 5 when he returns from England more regenerate.

His anger at his mother seems entirely justified to me; the drinking
motif surely parallels her "drunken" sexual behavior in marrying so soon
after Hamlet 1's death and forgetting that her son lives, breathes, and
has a being-perhaps even a right to the throne himself which she has
flippantly bestowed on Claudius.

I don't find her behavior the result of mental stupidity:  I find it the
result of her choices in life-to disregard anyone but herself and her
own sensual desires.  She is impenetrable to Hamlet's moral criticism
because she has temporal power over him and  because she has
DELIBERATELY chosen to be blind and wants to remain that way.

Such tipsy "out-of-it" behavior is displayed in another  Shakespearean
royal personage, Cymbeline, who NEVER has a clue the entire time the
play is going on that anything is really amiss-that his wife hates him
to the extent that she poisons herself rather than continue with him,
that his children are missing and wandering all over Wales, that the
Romans are threatening war about which he has no real strategy, and that
his warlike advice from his queen actually masquerades a plot for her
son's advancement (unlike Gertrude, ironically).  Cymbeline  finally
wakes up at the end of the play to find everything resolved for him so
that he can offer up "crooked smokes" to the Druids-once again oblivious
that anything like a new religious figure is being born that might
provide a better way.

Tipsy sexual behavior is dangerous in king and queens, and Hamlet at
least has the strength of character to resist it.

Judy Craig

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           H. R. Greenberg <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Thursday, 4 Nov 1999 19:36:12 EST
Subject: 10.1888 Re: Gertrude
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1888 Re: Gertrude

Seems to me that we are dealing with a hard drinking pair in a
hard-drinking court (with the notable exception of the Melancholy D
himself, but not necessarily an alcoholic pair. I would chose to see
their drinking as yet another example of the appetitive nature existing
separately, then stirred to flame by each other, and sensual at the
center of the conflagration. A good case could be made, and probably has
been made, for Hamlet's father as a frigid, icy sort, highly dutiful but
not particularly entertaining type.  Hamlet, as noted, has a priggish
side to his nature; he cannot abide his mother's lubriciousness, but
more to the point, he makes generalizations about "the heydey of the
blood" being past, reflecting not only a generic puritanism one might
say, but also an all too common belief that older people are somehow
less sexy (and C and G are hardly dotards). Reminds of the old analytic
gag: Who never has sex? Your parents and your analyst...

Best  hr greenberg md endit
 

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