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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: May ::
Re: Fortinbras
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1030  Friday, 12 May 2000.

From:           David Bishop <
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Date:           Thursday, 11 May 2000 15:42:27 -0400
Subject: 11.1021 Re: Fortinbras
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1021 Re: Fortinbras

Ed Taft's view of Hamlet seems to me to involve a number of what I would
call unjustified extrapolations. Among the questions I would consider
irrelevant are 1) how long Hamlet's father has been in purgatory, and
what stage he's in, in his passage through purgatory, by the end of the
play. 2) Exactly what part of Denmark Fortinbras is originally planning
to attack. 3) the personal relationship between Claudius and Fortinbras.
4) what realization Hamlet "suddenly" makes about Fortinbras's secret
motives during his "How all occasions" soliloquy-a "realization" that
seems to me complete fantasy, as, I'm afraid, do most of Ed's detailed
extrapolations about Fortinbras's psychology.

I believe Hamlet hesitates to take revenge because of his patriotic and
Christian scruples-wrong to kill a king on the word of a ghost, wrong to
kill anyone in revenge-as well as because of his more consciously
recognized fear of death. Saying he doesn't take revenge because it
would be "excessive" doesn't seem to me to explain anything. Excessive
compared to what?

I would ask Florence Amit how she thinks Hamlet comes to feel "fully
justified" in "executing" Claudius at the end when he didn't feel that
way at the beginning.


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