2001

Re: Hamlet Spy Caught Spying

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0356  Wednesday, 14 February 2001

[1]     From:   Don Bloom <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 13 Feb 2001 08:51:57 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0326 Hamlet Spy Caught Spying

[2]     From:   Andy Drewry <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 13 Feb 2001 12:00:08 -0500
        Subj:   Re: Hamlet Spy Caught Spying

[3]     From:   Lora Kahn <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 13 Feb 2001 12:53:19 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0335 Re: Hamlet Spy Caught Spying

[4]     From:   Andrew W. White <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 13 Feb 2001 14:09:06 -0500
        Subj:   Hamlet Spy Caught Spying


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Don Bloom <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 13 Feb 2001 08:51:57 -0600
Subject: 12.0326 Hamlet Spy Caught Spying
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0326 Hamlet Spy Caught Spying

Ron Dwelle writes:

>I don't see much textual evidence for it (the spy caught spying), but it
>did work nicely (though obviously it changes the scene significantly).
>I'm wondering if there's any history of the scene being played in such a
>way, or if anyone has seen a similar interpretation staged.

There is a long-standing theatrical tradition behind that interpretation
for the simple reason that it makes good sense dramatically. Of course,
we have to remember that Hamlet is acting all the time that he's in
public: he can never afford to be spotted, by king or scullion, not
having his "antic disposition" on. So, his entire interaction with
Ophelia has to be regarded as a performance, whether he realizes that he
is being spied on or not. It is, however, handy to have him notice the
"lawful espials" as a cause of his increased fury at Ophelia's
treachery.

Dover Wilson has suggested that Hamlet is supposed to sneak on-stage
just before his official entrance in II, ii, and hears Polonius say, "At
such time I'll loose my daughter to him. / Be you and I behind the arras
then." Wilson points out that "loose" is what you do when you have cow
that needs breeding with the village bull: you loose her to it. This
explains why Hamlet, when he re-enters, immediately calls Polonius a
pimp ("fishmonger") and babbles on about daughters, conceiving, and
corrupted flesh. It also suggests that Hamlet expects to find Claudius
and Polonius spying on him when he comes on Ophelia alone, but
strategically close to a curtain.

A very plausible theory to my mind, though it doesn't have much hard
evidence.

Regards,
don

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Andy Drewry <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 13 Feb 2001 12:00:08 -0500
Subject:        Re: Hamlet Spy Caught Spying

I think that the action of the first quarto reveals the possibility of
this interpretation.  Polonius comes across Hamlet reading.  Polonius is
there to tell him about the arrival of the Players.  Hamlet, in his
wordplay with Polonius, surrenders his book, which Polonius takes.  It
is this book, then, that Polonius gives to Ophelia when he instructs her
to pretend to be reading: "Read on this book,".  Therefore, Hamlet would
know about the possibility of a set up based on the recognition of the
book.

Otherwise, Polonius has no real motivation to be carrying a book around
with him.  Or if Hamlet recognizes the title of the book and then
realizes that her "color," which Polonius instructs should resemble
"loneliness" does not match with Hamlet's reading of that text, then he
may fit the puzzle together.  I think that this is a traditional
argument for keeping with the sequence of action in the quarto but still
using the words from the folio.

Andy Drewry

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Lora Kahn <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 13 Feb 2001 12:53:19 EST
Subject: 12.0335 Re: Hamlet Spy Caught Spying
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0335 Re: Hamlet Spy Caught Spying

To add to M. Swilley's observation, I have been showing Olivier's Hamlet
to my Advanced Composition classes.  In the film Hamlet is seen
eavesdropping on Polonius and Claudius when they prepare Ophelia for her
decoy role.  He does ruffle the curtains because he knows that they are
behind them.  I find the castle of Elsinore especially powerful in this
version.  The high steps to the battlements, the views of the ocean
raging below, and the open perspectives are used very effectively.  It
makes sense that Hamlet, often walking in the "open air," would hear
this conversation.

Lora Kahn

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Andrew W. White <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 13 Feb 2001 14:09:06 -0500
Subject:        Hamlet Spy Caught Spying

Philip Tomposki asks:

>I have the opposite of this question.  Has anyone ever seen this played
>any other way?  In every production I've seen Hamlet discovers, or at
>least senses, the presence of Claudius & Polonius just before his line
>"Where's your father?"

An excellent question, and one that prompts me to share my own crackpot
scenario of the "Nunnery" scene, which frankly to my mind has yet to be
staged with real consistency and attention to the original script.

In the text, Polonius assures Claudius that Hamlet has been 'sent for',
which means Hamlet, idling elsewhere in the castle with his book, has
been specifically summoned to the Lobby.  So, here we have Hamlet,
minding his own business, told to go to the room of state, and who does
he see?  Nobody.  My conclusion, based on that bit of evidence:  if
Hamlet didn't smell a rat from his entry into the lobby, he'd be a
damned fool.

Knowing he has an 'audience,' Hamlet proceeds to recite and think aloud,
"To be or not to be," which reads either as a riddle or as a gloss --
first the statement of a question, and then the poetical exegesis,
Hamlet's take on what the simple question means.  The Chambers or
Rhetoric in the Netherlands had been doing stuff like this for years,
and Hamlet puts on the show of being thoughtful, but at the same time
contemplating _action_ (not suicide), the taking up of arms against his
own personal sea of troubles -- i.e., Claudius.  (Granville-Barker made
that point years ago, why hasn't anyone bothered to read him?)

Hamlet then spots Ophelia, alone; the one person in the castle he has
been unable to see for upwards of 2 months (there's been a chronology
thread running parallel to this one on SHAKSPER, hence my estimate).
Ophelia then approaches him, hands back his letters, etc., and with
"rich gifts wax poor," accuses him of dumping her, when both of them
know perfectly well _she_ is the one who has turned him away.

Hamlet's response to this is laughter -- perhaps the short of shocked
laughter you have when something completely absurd is presented to you
as fact -- and then we have the first advice to "get thee to a nunnery,"
which in this initial context can be taken to mean "convent."

That nunnery also meant "whorehouse," and was used in this second sense
in the scene, is evidenced by Hamlet's abusive language after Ophelia
lies to him about her father's whereabouts.  Before she lies, she's an
innocent who belongs somewhere safe, where politics won't taint her.
After she lies, she'd do anything to get ahead, and deserves (in
Hamlet's mind) all the taunts and insults he can muster.  His
transformation from sympathetic confidante to raving madman astounds
her, and because she is clueless as to why Hamlet has gone mad on her,
believes he's lost it:  hence "what a noble mind is here o'erthrown.'

Them's my views -- any takers?

Re: Welsh etc.

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0355  Wednesday, 14 February 2001

[1]     From:   Edmund Taft <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 13 Feb 2001 10:22:16 -0500
        Subj:   Re: Welsh, etc.

[2]     From:   Don Bloom <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 13 Feb 2001 12:37:00 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0340 Re: Welsh etc.

[3]     From:   Sean Lawrence <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 13 Feb 2001 10:22:30 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0340 Re: Welsh etc.

[4]     From:   Edmund Taft <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 14 Feb 2001 11:56:33 -0500
        Subj:   Re: Welsh etc.


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edmund Taft <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 13 Feb 2001 10:22:16 -0500
Subject:        RE: Welsh, etc.

Don Bloom's false distinction between the present and the past is
nothing more than an instance of cultural vanity.  Let me remind Don of
what he seems to have forgotten.  Only 60 years ago one of the most
"advanced" societies in the Western world hatched a plan to exterminate
millions of Jews and Gypsies and other "unworthy" types. Stalin's purges
were hugely "successful" and led to as many as 30,000,000 killed. In
Africa, RIGHT NOW, AIDS has become an epidemic that the West seems
content to let play out. (Why?  Because the suffering people there are
"not in our national interest"? Or because they are black?)

Don seems to think that Hal/Henry V is concerned about commoners.  But
is he, really?  The unpleasant "flyting" with Poins in 2H4 clearly
reveals Hal's contempt for his "friend," and, after battle in H5, the
king's wholly unnecessary "joke" on Fluellen and Williams is nothing
more than the Hal/Francis episode writ large.

In fact, Don, Richard II and Hal/Henry V hold exactly the same view of
people like you and me: we are "slaves." (Cf. R2.1.4.25ff and
H5.4.1.279ff.)  The difference between them is that Henry knows how to
manipulate others (and make them like it), but Richard does not.

--Ed Taft

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Don Bloom <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 13 Feb 2001 12:37:00 -0600
Subject: 12.0340 Re: Welsh etc.
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0340 Re: Welsh etc.

I would prefer not to get into a street fight with Bill over this matter
but I fail to see the relevance of many of his points. On the one hand,
boxing and hockey have no point of comparison with bear-baiting (that I
can see); cock-fighting is illegal; wrestling is fake. On the other
hand, the fact that we (Americans) still practice capital punishment
while most of the rest of the post-industrial world has stopped doing
so, indicates that we are closer to the level of brutality of the
Elizabethan English than others of our time. That can also be applied to
problems of poverty and crime. But it puzzles me that he thinks that
argues against my point. He seems to have conflated or confused what
happens with what is socially sanctioned.

As to Prince Hal, while I know it has been popular for some decades to
trash him, I think that view seriously limits what the author does with
the play and the character. For one thing, he's the only one who
expresses the slightest concern about the loss of life the battle of
Shrewsbury will
entail, and he's also the only one who pays any attention to common
people (like tavern waiters) as people. Yet, he is criticized for not
being a twentieth century populist.

There is a recurrent desire to twist everything that Shakespeare wrote,
to make it dark, ironic and bitter. To me, Prince Hal in his "I know you
all" soliloquy means only that he is in full control of himself and
will, when the time is right, reveal that he can be the prince everybody
wants him to be. He is enjoying not only his carefree lifestyle, but the
fact that he has fooled everybody into thinking he can't do anything
else.

Maybe I need lessons in bitterness,
don

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 13 Feb 2001 10:22:30 -0800
Subject: 12.0340 Re: Welsh etc.
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0340 Re: Welsh etc.

Bill writes:

>I'm afraid I don't see Hal's concern.  I remember that he allows
>Falstaff to lead men into battle -- where they are peppered.  Could Hal
>have expected anything else after his experience at Gadshill?

He might be giving Falstaff a chance to show himself the true soldier
which 19th century critics thought him, whip himself into shape with
marching, and generally become reformed.  I'm afraid that this incident
reflects a lot worse on Hal than on Falstaff, who has strangely avoided
Hal's bad press.  Why is this?  Do atrocities actually seem worse if
committed by the powerful?

Cheers,
Se


Re: I would unstate myself

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0353  Tuesday, 13 February 2001

From:           Werner Broennimann <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 13 Feb 2001 11:01:50 +0000
Subject:        I would unstate myself

In my last response I had overlooked Simon Morris's message.  Sorry.  My
cyber order begins to resemble my desk, which increasingly looks like an
archaeological site lacking chronological structure.  OED evidence
suggests that the meaning "not state" for "unstate" only occurs as a
past participle ("unstated") and only much later (first entry 1864).
The parallel in Ant. 3.13.29f. "high-battled Caesar will / Unstate his
happiness" confirms this, as do the passages in Mary Herbert's Psalm 89:
"thou him unstatest: Ascend his throne?" and in Matthew Stevenson's "The
Woman's Warre": "Unstate the States out of the stately sadle".  The
jingle "state"--"unstate" thus occurs elsewhere in the 17th century.

Werner

Pronouncing Faustus

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0354  Wednesday, 14 February 2001

[1]     From:   Lisa Hopkins <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 13 Feb 2001 16:23:05 +0000
        Subj:   Faustus

[2]     From:   Deborah Selden <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 13 Feb 2001 10:35:36 -0600
        Subj:   RE: SHK 12.0349 Pronouncing Names

[3]     From:   Kevin J. Donovan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 13 Feb 2001 11:23:03 -0600 (CST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0349 Pronouncing Names

[4]     From:   Clifford Stetner <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 13 Feb 2001 15:15:03 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0349 Pronouncing Names

[5]     From:   Arthur D L Lindley <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 14 Feb 2001 13:58:36 +0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0349 Pronouncing Names


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Lisa Hopkins <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 13 Feb 2001 16:23:05 +0000
Subject:        Faustus

I used to pronounce Faustus with an 'ow' sound until it dawned on me
that the phrase 'the form of Faustus' fortunes' might suggest
assonance.   I think I picked up the 'ow' sound as an undergraduate at
Cambridge, but my colleague, who was taught by William Empson, has
always pronounced it as in 'autumn'.

Lisa Hopkins
Sheffield Hallam University
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Deborah Selden <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 13 Feb 2001 10:35:36 -0600
Subject: 12.0349 Pronouncing Names
Comment:        RE: SHK 12.0349 Pronouncing Names

We say Fowstus in Texas universities.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Kevin J. Donovan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 13 Feb 2001 11:23:03 -0600 (CST)
Subject: 12.0349 Pronouncing Names
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0349 Pronouncing Names

I've found that pronouncing Faustus's name other than Germanically will
get the same reaction as eating peas with a knife, though Henslowe's
spelling "fostes" indicates a different pronunciation in the Elizabethan
theater.

Kevin Donovan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
English Department, Middle Tennessee State University

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Clifford Stetner <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 13 Feb 2001 15:15:03 -0500
Subject: 12.0349 Pronouncing Names
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0349 Pronouncing Names

Faustus like Claudius

Clifford Stetner
CUNY

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Arthur D L Lindley <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 14 Feb 2001 13:58:36 +0800
Subject: 12.0349 Pronouncing Names
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0349 Pronouncing Names

Didn't Henslowe spell it 'Fostes'?  I've long assumed that the Engish
pronunciation applied.

Arthur Lindley

Biography

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0352  Tuesday, 13 February 2001

From:           Takashi Kozuka <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 13 Feb 2001 11:00:40
Subject:        Biography

Dear SHAKSPEReans

If you know any scholar currently writing a biography of Shakespeare,
Marlowe or Jonson (including a forthcoming biography and a project on
the go), please let me know his or her name, institution and contact
information (if possible). I do have a list of biographers, but there is
a possibility that my list may be incomplete. SHAKSPER is a good place
to gather information.

Please reply directly to < This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. > Thank you very much
(in advance).

Takashi Kozuka
Centre for the Study of the Renaissance
University of Warwick (UK)

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