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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: May ::
Re: Fortinbras/Hamlet/Revenge/Swording Fighting
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1038  Monday, 15 May 2000.

[1]     From:   Mike Jensen <
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        Date:   Friday, 12 May 2000 09:53:35 -0700
        Subj:   SHK 11.1030 Re: Fortinbras

[2]     From:   Edmund M. Taft <
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        Date:   Friday, 12 May 2000 23:42:20 +0000
        Subj:   Fortinbras

[3]     From:   Judith Matthews Craig <
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        Date:   Saturday, 13 May 2000 14:51:51 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1021 Re: Fortinbras

[4]     From:   Florence Amit <
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        Date:   Sunday, 14 May 2000 14:29:53 +0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1030 Re: Fortinbras


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mike Jensen <
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Date:           Friday, 12 May 2000 09:53:35 -0700
Subject: Re: Fortinbras
Comment:        SHK 11.1030 Re: Fortinbras

David Bishop,

I'm very surprised by your statement:

> 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-

Then how do you read Hamlet's reason for not killing Claudius while
Caludius is praying?

Best,
Mike Jensen

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edmund M. Taft <
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Date:           Friday, 12 May 2000 23:42:20 +0000
Subject:        Fortinbras

Don't hold back, now, David.  Tell us what you REALLY think about Ed's
interpretation of Hamlet!

--Ed ("sheer fantasy") Taft

PS    When do we got YOUR interpretation?  Let me know a date so that I
can begin to sharpen my sword.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Judith Matthews Craig <
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 >
Date:           Saturday, 13 May 2000 14:51:51 -0500
Subject: 11.1021 Re: Fortinbras
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1021 Re: Fortinbras

Ed Taft writes:

<By the time Hamlet kills Claudius, his act seems <lawful to me.  He
acts
<as an avenger, a justicer, if you will.  But he is still <the image of
<his father, and for this reason: by now, the fires of <purgatory have
<done their work, and what Hamlet does in the <final scene is exactly
what
<Old Hamlet now wants done.  Just as purgatory <has "purified" Old
Hamlet
<by 5.2, Providence has led and "purified" <Hamlet's final act of
<"revenge."

I find this a helpful and interesting comment on a difficult problem in
the play.  Thanks, Ed!

Judy Craig

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Florence Amit <
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Date:           Sunday, 14 May 2000 14:29:53 +0000
Subject: 11.1030 Re: Fortinbras
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1030 Re: Fortinbras

David Bishop's question to me excites an answer on the theory of
Shakespearean tragedy: an answer about the way that the suffering hero
reaches an understanding beyond his initial scope. Why else is he
presented to us if there will not be change?

In "Hamlet that change reaches a climax - a religious epiphany in
Gertrude's closet, after he accidentally kills a man and answers for it
before the forbidding presence of the now immaculate ghost. Before that
he had become dreadful, although he had not yet acted, not revenged by
deed.  But what was happening in his mind, beset by  'pyrrhonistic'
doubts? We see it by way of his exceedingly destructive words to
Ophelia, his tension about not behaving like "Nero" to his mother and
his failure to observe his "sweet" religious vows of obedience to God's
will and to do His commandments. (specifically, Ex. 21,14)  Instead
Hamlet would presume to decide about the soul of Claudius in place of
God. ( infringement of Ist commandment) (I think it may be a footnote
for the Calvinistic view of predetermination.)  But after the
non-revengeful act that has ushered in his new condition, the change is
demonstrated, although there is not much time left.  Immediately we a
change in his attitude toward his mother. Then at the graveside are his
words of love for Ophelia. Indeed his appearance is very different - for
no doubt he returns in robes of splendor that the pirates provided to a
ransomed Prince (to correspond to Luther's disguise as "Lord John". It
is when both are to appear before their sovereign in "nakedness").
Contrast that to the black Puritan garb and tone of self-righteousness
of his initial appearance or his disarray after the first encounter with
the ghost. But most particularly are his words to Horatio that describes
the process he has undergone. "When our deep plots do pall.  And that
should learn us/ There's a divinity that shapes our ends." It is the
experience that has made him into a confident man.

Regarding the question of critical action: Hamlet's ability to act is
demonstrated by the sending to execution of Rosencranz and Guildenstern.
If he had been still as reticent about his "conscience" as he had been
before, he would not have committed them to death. His own endangerment
might even have been the very excuse he once had wanted to get out of
his obligations and life. But by this time he could see his own position
and theirs in the right light and so he could decide about, not one, but
two deaths with an easy conscience. In fact we see a man who has moved
from introversion to extraversion, who can jump into a grave after
Laertes and just as easily ask to be excused.

I think that the final execution - actually the first chance that the
returned Hamlet has had, also demonstrates that Hamlet was set upon
Claudius' punishment.  For Hamlet was dying and so was his mother and
Laertes. There was enough to preoccupy him. But he zooms in like
Superman and with his last strength he opens the portal of death to the
"damned Dane". If Claudius would have lived and Hamlet be blamed for the
deaths in that room, what then would have been the outcome for Denmark,
Fortinbras?  Hamlet has taken over the responsibility of kingship from
his father.
 

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