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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: January ::
Re: Hamlet's Family
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0161  Wednesday, 24 January 2001

[1]     From:   Karen Peterson-Kranz <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 23 Jan 2001 11:06:26 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0143 Re: Hamlet's Family

[2]     From:   Don Bloom <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 24 Jan 2001 09:33:51 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0125 Re: Hamlet's Family


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Karen Peterson-Kranz <
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Date:           Tuesday, 23 Jan 2001 11:06:26 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 12.0143 Re: Hamlet's Family
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0143 Re: Hamlet's Family

L. Swilley writes:

>But Claudius, in his soliloquy, says he is "still
>possessed of those
>effects for which I did the murder -... my queen."
>I suppose that
>"queen" here might indeed be construed as merely
>another aspect of his
>political ambitions, as Ms. Peterson-Kranz suggests,
>but it would
>dangerously lighten Claudius' character if his
>problem is not extended
>by a passionate love for this lady.

A very good point -- thanks for bringing it to my attention.  Far be it
from me to underestimate the complications wrought by passion!

Cheers,
Karen Peterson-Kranz

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Don Bloom <
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Date:           Wednesday, 24 Jan 2001 09:33:51 -0600
Subject: 12.0125 Re: Hamlet's Family
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0125 Re: Hamlet's Family

I'm not certain it makes any difference how Hamlet's family relates to
Elizabethan England, since he is supposed to be living in early medieval
Denmark. Shakespeare would view Hamlet's family through the lens of his
own time, of course, but he was making a different time with different
customs, including the elective kingship.

Claudius seems from the text to have had no dynastic ambitions
whatsoever.  He was impelled to the murder of his brother by two
apparently equal desires -- one for his brother's throne, the other for
his brother's wife -- which could be obtained by the same crime. Very
handy for him, I must say.

His decision to have Hamlet summarily executed in England is thus an act
of desperation. It will look very bad (and he prefers to look good). It
will end the dynasty, such as it is. And it will almost certainly cause
an irreconcilable breach between him and Gertrude. He would never go to
such an extreme except out of fear for his own survival. Hamlet may or
may not be crazy, but he knows what Claudius did and is clearly out to
get revenge, as the dead body of Polonius testifies. Recognizing that,
Claudius strikes back in what is doubtless the best way possible.

Regards,
don
 

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