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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: November ::
Re: Gertrude
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.2017  Tuesday, 16 November 1999.

[1]     From:   Abdulla Al-Dabbagh <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 16 Nov 1999 23:51:06 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.1982 Re: Gertrude

[2]     From:   Lucia Anna Setari <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 17 Nov 1999 04:27:43 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.1992 Re: Gertrude


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Abdulla Al-Dabbagh <
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Date:           Tuesday, 16 Nov 1999 23:51:06 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 10.1982 Re: Gertrude
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1982 Re: Gertrude

Teaching KING LEAR while listening to the humourous mail on who Hamlet's
REAL father was, I gradually became intrigued by another, more serious
dimension, all this may have. From Hamlet to Edmund, can we re-phrase
the question from REAL father to LEGITIMATE father? There is a very
unique emphasis on this issue of bastardy in KING LEAR. I wonder if, and
how much, it appears elsewhere. And, ah, yes, as for Hamlet's REAL
father, it was, of course, none other than Shakespeare himself. He did
call his REAL son Hamnet, after all. Whether he was legitimate or
illegitimate, however, is not for us to speculate.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Lucia Anna Setari <
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Date:           Wednesday, 17 Nov 1999 04:27:43 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 10.1992 Re: Gertrude
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1992 Re: Gertrude

I think that the readers who reads the play "by Hamlet's eyes", sharing
his feeling, are fated to perceive the ring of a "lie" in Gertrude's
speech.  Seeing Gertrude as the manipulating Woman, who for years has
"painted" the "face" of the unpleasant reality, making Hamlet believe
that his parents loved and trusted each other, that beauty had discourse
to honesty, that the Court, Denmark  and the whole "sterile promontory"
were most excellent places, such readers smell something false in her
describing Ophelia's muddy death as a pretty and innocent pastoral
scene, and feel inclined to believe that she is concealing (by
"beautifying") the truth - because she fears Laertes'fury and its
consequences, of course, but also because she, perhaps, is trying to
"paint" the bare fact, which she has been told, as a less disturbing
story to her own "sick soul".  Through Ophelias' imagined innocence, she
hopes to be relieved of some burden: as well as she would have liked not
to see the mad girl, Gertrude tries not to see her ominous suicide,
which to her seems to be a consequence of her guilt and a presage of
evil, and dresses it with "sweets".

As to Claudius' words: "Let's follow, Gertrude. How much I had to do to
calm his rage. Now fear I this will give it start again. Therefore let's
follow" seem to be addressed to a reliable accomplice; and there is no
indication in the play that Gertrude does no longer share her husband's
fears (though on stage, at this point, some actors and directors show
that there is a split between the two). Whether Hamlet's eyes provide
the best reading of the play is yet another question.

I agree with Roy Flannagan :

"Could it be that this is just one of those Shakespearean arias, during
which the audience is supposed to suspend disbelief, forget action,
while an actor describes something beautifully" .

I just wonder whether our awareness of such function of the speech in
the play should (or should not) prevent us from thinking that, in this
case, also the character, in whose mouth the speech has been put,
(Gertrude) is "beautifying" something in order to make its (her) on
stage audience (Laertes)  "suspend  'his' disbelief, forget action" and
so on.

Lucia Anna S.
 

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