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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: April ::
Re: Oxymora
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.0769  Wednesday, 12 April 2000.

[1]     From:   Edmund M. Taft <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 11 Apr 2000 21:36:41 +0000
        Subj:   Oxymora

[2]     From:   J. Birjepatil <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 11 Apr 2000 14:06:01 +0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.0678 Re: Oxymorons

[3]     From:   Marilyn Bonomi <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 11 Apr 2000 13:30:35 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.0755 Re: Oxymora


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edmund M. Taft <
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Date:           Tuesday, 11 Apr 2000 21:36:41 +0000
Subject:        Oxymora

Sean asks how {Hamlet} would be different if Hamlet does not realize at
the end of 4.4 what Fortinbras is up to.  Well, we'd still have to
explain why he walks off with R&G to certain death after apparently just
reaffirming his vow to revenge his father's death.  One possible answer
is that Hamlet gives up at the end of 4.4.  If so, then he arrives at
his Providential thesis later on, if at all.  That's another possible
inference, and it may be right, but I don't think so.

As to Fortinbras's "plan," it may be just like Hamlet's, if they are
foils/doubles/alter-egos, which, manifestly, they are!  There is a neat
symmetry here: Hamlet copies Fortinbras, and then Fortinbras replaces
Hamlet. If that is the will of Providence, then there's no problem.
Besides, Hamlet's going to get killed no matter what he does, it seems,
but there's no warrant for thinking that Fortinbras would have done so,
had Hamlet lived. Both men exemplify Milton's great summation of
Renaissance humanism: "They also serve who only stand and wait."

David Bishop ask three questions which I will answer in order:

1. The Ghost speaks for God IF God's will is being worked out through
Hamlet's actions.  Whether or not God wants Hamlet to obey the Ghost can
only be known through the actions of Providence.

2. David Bishop and I agree that Hamlet still wants to take revenge in
the nunnery scene. My point is that the soliloquy just before the scene
seems to indicate that he will NOT. Thus, the disjunction between speach
and action in the play, and the need to pay attention to the PLOT to see
what Hamlet is thinking and what he is really up to.

3. See my answer to Sean, above.

Sean, David, and I view Hamlet differently-that's to be expected. Every
Shakespearean, I think, has his or her own private Hamlet, which is a
testimony to the greatness of the play, not its incoherence, as Eliot
thought.

But I would GENTLY chide my two friends not to use the rhetorical gambit
of implying that I base my judgments solely on the "fad" of a recent
production of the play.  In fact, I may be dead wrong about everything,
but
I have only seen Branagh's Hamlet once, when it first came out, and
thought
at the time that it was too much like Gone With the Wind.

Cheers,

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           J. Birjepatil <
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Date:           Tuesday, 11 Apr 2000 14:06:01 +0000
Subject: 11.0678 Re: Oxymorons
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.0678 Re: Oxymorons

I may be flogging a dead horse here but Derrida's spin on Hamlet in
'Spectres of Marx' may help understand the nature of impasse over
whether or not Hamlet is too cowardly to kill. I am inclined to agree
with Judy Craig when she says Hamlet may be revolted with the thought of
killing someone in cold blood. He hesitates to dispose of his Uncle even
when an opportunity presents itself . Hamlet seems to me like the figure
Derrida has in mind of a man who is suspended between two
epistemologies, one dying or dead and the other not yet born. Located in
that epistemological fracture Hamlet is struggling to make sense of the
task assigned to him by the ghost  and the image of time being 'out of
joint' serves to problematise the issue of choice. Thus Hamlet's
aversion to spilling blood has an intellectual underpinning.

J. Birjepatil

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Marilyn Bonomi <
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Date:           Tuesday, 11 Apr 2000 13:30:35 -0400
Subject: 11.0755 Re: Oxymora
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.0755 Re: Oxymora

Florence Amit writes of Hamlet,

>The problem for him had been that he wanted to be of the
>"elect" - Calvin's elect. And so to stain himself for partisan and pagan
>'revenge' seemed to him a sure way to fall into temptation and lose the
>election

There's only one problem with this statement: One can neither gain nor
lose election through one's deeds.  Only through the predestined gift of
Grace given before birth by the Calvinistic divinity is one part of the
"elect." All humans sin, some to a greater degree than others.  But even
the most heinous sin cannot remove election.

I speak of this topic NOT as a Calvinist (nor even as a Christian) but
rather as a seeker of knowledge who pursued this very question at length
with a Presbyterian minister because it is a key issue in Arthur
Miller's _The Crucible) where MILLER misunderstands it.

I believe that Shakespeare, regardless of his personal religious faith
(or lack thereof), would know this crucial fact, since the conflict
between Calvinist and Catholic had been an ongoing one for decades by
the time he wrote.

Marilyn Bonomi
 

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