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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: November ::
Re: Gertrude
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.1928  Tuesday, 9 November 1999.

[1]     From:   Clifford Stetner <
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        Date:   Sunday, 7 Nov 1999 19:00:35 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.1888 Re: Gertrude

[2]     From:   Terence Hawkes <
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        Date:   Monday, 8 Nov 1999 06:20:33 -0500
        Subj:   SHK 10.1901 Re: Gertrude


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Clifford Stetner <
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Date:           Sunday, 7 Nov 1999 19:00:35 -0500
Subject: 10.1888 Re: Gertrude
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1888 Re: Gertrude

Where will this all end?  Perhaps, knowing of Gertrude's affliction,
Claudius actually planned for her to take the cup.  It was all a plot to
get Laertes to help him do away with the threat of Hamlet's succession.
Hamlet's popularity made Gertrude the liklier victim-something to do
with Danish traditions of primogeniture.

By the way, I did not mean the question I posed in an earlier post to
sound as ironic as it seems to have done.  I really would like to know
what an interest in Danish political history might say about the
playwright's character.

I'll also take this opportunity to inquire as to whether the English
born Danes were still a distinct ethnic group during the period.

Clifford Stetner
CUNY
C.W. Post College

<snip> I can see how playing Gertrude
>as an alcoholic would explain her inertia, her almost brainless
>acceptance of everything that goes on around her (including her
>incredibly placid reaction to the murder of her supposedly beloved
>husband), and why she would, dependent, cling to Claudius as she does.
>Obviously, Claudius has more reason for asking her not to drink than
>simple disapproval of her habit- but that explanation makes her a much
>more palatable-and pitiable- character, more helpless than clueless.
<snip>If Gertrude's insistence that she will drink is ascribed to some
>dependence on grog, one loses another theatrical possibility which many
>directors have found more fruitful-namely, the suggestion that Gertrude
>herself is beginning to suspect that something is wrong with that goblet
>of wine. Cf Olivier's film, etc.
>
>It would be a pity, too-wouldn't it?--if the idea of a boozy Gertrude
>blurred the dramatically interesting issue of whether and how her
>relations with Claudius have changed since the closet-scene-and, again,
>since the return of Laertes?
>
>Hamlet's own advice on how Gertrude should go about giving up sex with
>her husband sound rather like advice on how to give up grog, or, say,
>smoking-take it one day (or night) at a time, then it will gradually get
>easier. This too is interesting, since it doesn't suggest that Hamlet
>has any intention of killing Claudius in the near future-when Claudius
>is boozing, or in his allegedly incestuous bed, etc etc.
>Maybe the really mischievous "alcoholic" reading is to be found
>elsewhere, in all those images (cf, again, Olivier, or more recently
>Zeffirelli) of Claudius tottering across the stage with a goblet in his
>hand. The only authority for the idea of Claudius as a boozer is, of
>course, Hamlet himself, in his prim remarks about how foreigners despise
>the Danish court for its heavy drinking.
>Although so many productions take their cue from this strange speech,
>the obvious difficulty with it is that Claudius hasn't been on the
>throne for long enough to establish any such bad reputation for Denmark
>and its court. The obvious culprit would be King Hamlet, and this would
>also explain Hamlet's father's liking for afternoon naps??
>
>Maybe the real difficulty was that identified by Salvador de Madariaga
>many years ago, when he expressed surprise at the way people take a
>"Hamlet-centred" view of "Hamlet", trying (however perversely) to view
>the play through the prince's eyes.
>
>I'd think the most important difference between the prince and the play
>is that Hamlet is never interested in whatever other people think and
>feel (e.g. when Horatio says, "Half a share", or when mummy says, "As
>kill a king?", young Hamlet ought to be more interested than he
>is)--whereas the play "Hamlet" is almost promiscuously interested in the
>irreducibly different ways in which different characters think and feel,
>and see thir own situations. In other words, the play itself resists
>attempts to see the play through Hamlet's eyes?
>
>Cheers-or rather, "kanpai!"-from Tokyo, where "kanpai!" can mean
>"Bottoms up!", or " a complete defeat", or "a whitewash".
>
>Graham Bradshaw

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Terence Hawkes <
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Date:           Monday, 8 Nov 1999 06:20:33 -0500
Subject: Re: Gertrude
Comment:        SHK 10.1901 Re: Gertrude

Dear Dr. Greenberg,

We are shirking the central issue. Who is Hamlet's REAL father?

T. Hawkes
 

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