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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: March ::
Re: Weed Noted
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0677  Wednesday, 21 March 2001

[1]     From:   Robert D. Swets <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 20 Mar 2001 12:25:18 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0650 Re: Weed Noted

[2]     From:   Steve Roth <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 20 Mar 2001 10:28:37 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0650 Re: Weed Noted

[3]     From:   Clifford Stetner <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 20 Mar 2001 22:34:24 -0500
        Subj:   Hamlet's conspiracy theory

[4]     From:   Karen Peterson-Kranz <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 20 Mar 2001 09:58:48 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0650 Re: Weed Noted


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Robert D. Swets <
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Date:           Tuesday, 20 Mar 2001 12:25:18 EST
Subject: 12.0650 Re: Weed Noted
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0650 Re: Weed Noted

>The question is, how did Shakespeare come to know so much about this
>disease, unless he himself was a victim of it?

He might have been married to one who had it. :)

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Steve Roth <
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Date:           Tuesday, 20 Mar 2001 10:28:37 -0800
Subject: 12.0650 Re: Weed Noted
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0650 Re: Weed Noted

Stephanie Hughes wrote:

>He's clearly in the depressed phase when he
>states, "I have of late, but wherefore I know not, lost all my mirth,
>forgone all custom of exercises . .  .

My take is rather that Hamlet is here quite sane, and quite canny,
feeding disinformation to R&G to take back to Claudius, turning their
own, and Claudius', style of phony innocence back upon them.

Contrast R&G's lines just before, wondering why in heaven's name Hamlet
should feel restricted in his ambitions.

And Claudius' explanation in his first interview with R&G, shaking his
head in innocent bewilderment at Hamlet's condition:

"What it should be,
More than his father's death, that thus hath put him
So much from th' understanding of himself,
I cannot dream of."

They're all acting as if family and political life was all sweetness and
light. Neither, of course, was either.

Steve

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Clifford Stetner <
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Date:           Tuesday, 20 Mar 2001 22:34:24 -0500
Subject:        Hamlet's conspiracy theory

> There's a further question:  just because he's paranoid, does that mean
> that they aren't all out to get him?  As in the film Conspiracy Theory,
> we're not sure how much of the paranoia is actually right or, further,
> whether the fact that some of the paranoid notions turn out to be right
> justifies the logic of paranoid thought.  Could Hamlet be right (that
> the king is out to get him) and wrong (that there's a vast conspiracy in
> operation) at the same time?

This inability to distinguish reality from delusion is what permits us
to share the experience of paranoia rather than simply observing it from
the outside.

> In other words, can be arrogate to ourselves the ability to know
> Hamlet's psychology (to play upon him, he might say) more than we know
> the ghost's ontology?  Is 'knowing' the right sort of stance to should
> assume towards characters?

No more than a psychoanalyst should presume to know his patient's
psychology.  What led me to this reading was comparison of Shakespeare's
Hamlet with earlier forms of the myth.  Madness is a common theme of
these stories, and I find it striking that, although the texts make the
hero's actual sanity beneath a feigned madness explicit, the hero's
behavior is consistent with a pre-enlightenment observation of actual
madness: i.e. he behaves exactly as though he were the subject of a
prosecutorial conspiracy, and he speaks in cryptic riddles to mask his
hostility towards a conspiracy that everyone but he is in on.

Shakespeare's improvement on his sources lies in: first, extending
Hamlet's symptoms to the bi-polar tendencies that Stephanie suggests,
thoughts of suicide, narcissism (he can only think of I Hamlet the Dane
standing in Ophelia's grave), and, of course, hallucinations; and
second, declining to remove our doubts about the soundness of the hero's
mind.

To Stephanie's suggestion that only personal experience can account for
such accurate depictions of mental illness, I would agree if Shakespeare
only depicted one disorder, but his accurate depiction of OCD in Lady
Macbeth and other disorders in others leads me to suppose an interested
study in abnormal psych that straddles positivist empiricism and
medieval myth.

Yours in fact and theory:

Clifford

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Karen Peterson-Kranz <
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Date:           Tuesday, 20 Mar 2001 09:58:48 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 12.0650 Re: Weed Noted
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0650 Re: Weed Noted

> The question is, how did Shakespeare come to know so
> much about this
> disease, unless he himself was a victim of it?

Uh...observing other people?  Talking to other people? Reading his
source materials?

Cheers,
Karen Peterson
 

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