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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: November ::
Re: Gertrude
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.2065  Tuesday, 23 November 1999.

[1]     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Monday, 22 Nov 1999 17:59:56 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.2052 Re: Gertrude

[2]     From:   Clifford Stetner" <
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        Date:   Monday, 22 Nov 1999 18:52:34 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.2052 Re: Gertrude


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <
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Date:           Monday, 22 Nov 1999 17:59:56 -0500
Subject: 10.2052 Re: Gertrude
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.2052 Re: Gertrude

Martin Mueller writes:

>Shakespeare's source play for King John was The Troublesome Reign . . . .

Most scholars apparently believe this, but Honigmann wasn't convinced,
and argued that The Troublesome Reign was influenced by KJ.  In any
case, if Shakespeare were using TR as a source, why didn't he take more
than he did?  The two plays have verbal reminiscences, but only one line
in common.

Yours, Bill Godshalk

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Clifford Stetner" <
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Date:           Monday, 22 Nov 1999 18:52:34 -0500
Subject: 10.2052 Re: Gertrude
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.2052 Re: Gertrude

<snip>...The Troublesome Reign, where
>he found a scene in which the Bastard puts enormous pressure on his
>mother to tell him the truth. He threatens to do to her what Nero did to
>his mother.  When she tells him that she was unfaithful, he is
>delighted.  Shakespeare's version of this scene is not as cruel, and
>there is no reference to Nero (although the Bastard refers to Nero later
>in the play). But this is a "closet scene" of sorts and almost certainly the source
>for the closet scene in Hamlet, where Nero is both on Hamlet's and
>Gertrude's mind.

While the scene alluded to may be a source for the closet scene, it
cannot be the source as the Saxo version below predates it by five
centuries.  (Some of this material is at my website, although so far
poorly organized).

...cutting his body into morsels, he seethed it in boiling water, and
flung it through the mouth of an open sewer for the swine to eat,
bestrewing the stinking mire with his hapless limbs. Having in this wise
eluded the snare, he went back to the room. Then his mother set up a
great wailing, and began to lament her son's folly to his face; but he
said: "Most infamous of women ! dost thou seek with such Iying
lamentations to hide thy most heavy guilt ? Wantoning like a harlot,
thou hast entered a wicked and abominable state of wedlock, embracing
with incestuous bosom thy husband's slayer, and wheedling with filthy
lures of blandishment him who had slain the father of thy son. This,
forsooth, is the way that the mares couple with the vanquishers of their
mates; for brute beasts are naturally incited to pair indiscriminately;
and it would seem [92] that thou, like them, hast clean forgot thy first
husband As for me, not idly do I wear the mask of folly; for I d.oul~t
not that he who destroyed his brother will riot as ruthlessly in the
blood of his kindred. Therefore it is better to choose the garb of
dulness tin chat of sense, and to borrow some protection from a. show of
utter frenzy. Yet the passion to avenge my father still burns in my
heart; but I am watching the chances, I await the fitting hour. There is
a place for all things; against so merciless and dark a spirit must be
used the deeper devices of the mind. And thou, who hadst been better
employed in lamenting shine own disgrace, know it is superfluity to
bewail my witlessness; thou shouldst weep for the blemish in shine own
mind, not for that in another's. On the rest see thou keep silence."
With such reproaches he rent the heart of his mother and redeemed her to
walk in the ways of virtue; teaching her to set the fires of the past
above the seductions of the present.

Clifford Stetner
 

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