The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.0989 Tuesday, 9 May 2000.
Date: Monday, 08 May 2000 21:57:39 +0000
In discussing Hamlet's killing of Claudius, David Bishop writes, "What
this act isn't, it seems to me, is the original revenge commanded by the
ghost." Really? From line 305 on, Hamlet is a walking, talking dead
man-the very image of his father! Old Hamlet does not have to be
mentioned in 5.2, for young Hamlet now plays his part! And Gertrude's
end HAS been left to heaven: neither Claudius not Hamlet wills it,
though Claudius IS responsible for it.
Bishop goes on to argue that whether the king is under the law is a
debatable point in Renaissance legal scholarship. Well, yes, but the
whole point of Richard II (on which the second scene of Hamlet is
modeled) is that Richard IS under the law. His failure to appreciate
that fact leads to robbing Bolingbroke of his title, land, and money-all
of which, ineluctably, causes Richard's own downfall.