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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: September ::
Re: What's It All About, Hamlet
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1841  Friday, 29 September 2000.

[1]     From:   David Nicol <
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        Date:   Thursday, 28 Sep 2000 15:41:33 GMT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1825 Re: What's It All About, Hamlet

[2]     From:   Larry Weiss <
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        Date:   Thursday, 28 Sep 2000 12:41:59 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1835 Re: What's It All About, Hamlet

[3]     From:   Paul E. Doniger <
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        Date:   Thursday, 28 Sep 2000 18:44:41 -0700
        Subj:   Fw: SHK 11.1835 Re: Deconstructing the Ghost in Hamlet

[4]     From:   Florence Amit <
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        Date:   Thursday, 28 Sep 2000 13:30:53 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1835 Re: What's It All About, Hamlet

[5]     From:   HR Greenberg <
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        Date:   Thursday, 28 Sep 2000 23:51:35 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1835 Re: What's It All About, Hamlet


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Nicol <
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Date:           Thursday, 28 Sep 2000 15:41:33 GMT
Subject: 11.1825 Re: What's It All About, Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1825 Re: What's It All About, Hamlet


Those interested in boiling down plays into single sentences might enjoy
an amusing website called 'book-a-minute' which showcases condensed
versions of literary classics. Their condensation of 'Hamlet' is

"Whine whine whine ... To be or not to be ... I'm dead."

Not one of their best offerings, perhaps, but the site contains some
gems. 'Bewoulf' and 'The Tempest' are particularly funny.

http://rinkworks.com/bookaminute/classics.shtml

David Nicol

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Larry Weiss <
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Date:           Thursday, 28 Sep 2000 12:41:59 -0400
Subject: 11.1835 Re: What's It All About, Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1835 Re: What's It All About, Hamlet

"I could a tale unfold" clearly does not relate to the tale of the elder
Hamlet's murder.  The ghost makes clear that the tale he is not telling
is the details of his post-mortem punishment:

   .... But that I am forbid to
   To tell the secrets of my prison house
   I could a tale unfold whose lightest word
   Would harrow up thy soul; ...
    But this eternal blazon must not be
    To ears of flesh and blood.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Paul E. Doniger <
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Date:           Thursday, 28 Sep 2000 18:44:41 -0700
Subject: 11.1835 Re: Deconstructing the Ghost in Hamlet
Comment:        Fw: SHK 11.1835 Re: Deconstructing the Ghost in Hamlet

Kevin Rahimzadeh writes interestingly about old Hamlet's ghost:

"the ghost has thrown one loaded word after another at Hamlet, all
designed to press just the right buttons of a young man trying to make
sense of his father's sudden death and his mother's o'erhasty marriage
... Hamlet's mind has just been through the process of being
tainted--tainted by a ghost who assures him all the while that tainting
is the last thing he intends to do."

One could certainly interpret the Ghost's intentions as this sort of
self-serving double-dealing with his own son. I think that the text
would even support it (I have read commentary that deconstructs the
ghost in this way). Certainly there are strong indications that the
Ghost is conceited (his "natural gifts" being so much richer than
Claudius's, etc.). I wonder, though, if it isn't possible that the Ghost
has more open and sincere intentions and is not so manipulative as this
interpretation suggests. When he tells Hamlet to protect his mother, his
own mind, and the state of Denmark, it just may be sincere and kingly
concern, completely unaware that he has undermined the call for revenge.
Is he cold and calculated or sincere, hot-under-the-collar, and naive?

I'd like to see both of these ideas tried in rehearsal by a single actor
... just to see where it leads.

Paul E. Doniger

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Florence Amit <
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Date:           Thursday, 28 Sep 2000 13:30:53 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 11.1835 Re: What's It All About, Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1835 Re: What's It All About, Hamlet

A very interesting commentary by Kevin Rahimzadeh. One must see that
passivity is not absolute for any one who can employ words to move
others to act for him.  But there is a trick word in all of this that
may preserve the Ghost's integrity and move him into a different
category. It is once again the word 'revenge'. What if revenge here has
a different meaning than we usually attribute it? What if revenge means
justify or vindicate or resolve? Consider the need to preserve the
kingdom from a treacherous criminal. Consider that it is a Christian
prince; indeed consider the words of restraint that accompany "revenge".
Laertes could revenge impulsively like a pagan, but Prince Hamlet? Even
the execution of Rosencranz and Guildenstern is justified because "their
defeat/ Does by their own insinuation grow./ Tis dangerous when the
baser nature comes/ Between the pass and fell incensed points/ Of mighty
opposites" In other words not on account of revenge but like fools who
stand in the way of a flood, they fell. I do not think that Shakespeare
looked kindly on revengers and though the word is there and it does make
the play more personal, under the circumstances, it is not the concept
that motivates Hamlet or was it intended to.

Florence Amit

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           HR Greenberg <
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Date:           Thursday, 28 Sep 2000 23:51:35 EDT
Subject: 11.1835 Re: What's It All About, Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1835 Re: What's It All About, Hamlet

Without disputing this very interesting reading, I would also note that
not unfolding a tale which would "harrow up" Hamlet's mind, is, as I
recall, a reference to the place where the Ghost dwells -- presumably
purgatory. If my memory is faulty on this score, so be it, although I do
remember that the speech -- which I do not have in front of me -- makes
a reference to what horrors the ghost could describe, except these would
not be for mortal ears, or somesuch.

In this regard, there are references throughout the plays about Death's
defying description, or not having time to describe the intimations or
actualities of what lies beyond, horrible or not. Even Hamlet, dying,
makes some reference, does he not, about that "fell sergeant" which
prevents him from disclosing anything about the intuitions of the abode
to which he is speeding.  Such utterances are made as I recall by dying
characters or those returned...and I wonder if this is part of the lore
that surrounded ghosts for the Elizabethans, that they were restrained,
or refused to speak about the hereafter for multiple reasons, lest the
living be frighted, lest they violate their mandate, so forth.

If I am making this all up out of whole cloth, I apologize, the hour
being late, and just returned from a poker game to pick up my mail.
However, if there is some truth in my free nocturnal associations, I
would be greatly interested in the sense others more versed in
Elizabethan supernatural lore might have of the above. Thanks in
advance. HR Greenberg MD ENDIT
 

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