Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: May ::
Re: Time in Hamlet
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1270  Wednesday, 30 May 2001

[1]     From:   Charles Weinstein <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Monday, 28 May 2001 16:21:02 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1240 Re: Time in Hamlet

[2]     From:   Terence Hawkes <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 29 May 2001 08:56:40 -0400
        Subj:   SHK 12.1240 Re: Time in Hamlet

[3]     From:   Peter Groves <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 30 May 2001 18:13:20 +1000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1240 Re: Time in Hamlet


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Charles Weinstein <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Monday, 28 May 2001 16:21:02 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 12.1240 Re: Time in Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1240 Re: Time in Hamlet

Claudius murders Hamlet's father (and his own brother) for gain, seduces
Hamlet's mother into a hasty and disreputable marriage, engineers his
election as King despite Hamlet's ostensibly superior claims, and then
crowns his villainy by successfully plotting Hamlet's own murder.
Despite the occasional twinge of conscience, he is undeniably
fratricidal, homicidal, opportunistic and unprincipled:  in a word,
evil.  Since the tragedy is not his, he is given little interior life,
and when he does hold the stage solus he offers no justification for his
crimes (of course, there is none).  Certainly, he has his good
points--he appears to be an efficient King and he faces down an armed
rebellion through sheer force of personality.  Yet even his virtues have
a way of turning rancid:  he promptly corrupts the leader of the
rebellion by enticing him into a covert and squalid assassination
scheme.  Claudius never inspires sustained sympathy in the audience, nor
sustained admiration.  He is the villain of the piece.

Is it credible that Shakespeare intended to conclude The Tragedy of
Hamlet, Prince of Denmark by affording rites of honor to this man?

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Terence Hawkes <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Tuesday, 29 May 2001 08:56:40 -0400
Subject: Re: Time in Hamlet
Comment:        SHK 12.1240 Re: Time in Hamlet

The 'Laws of Reference'? The 'basic rules of English grammar'?
Codswallop! These plays were not written by or for grammarians, or
rhetoricians for that matter. In any case, the Bard was never
over-meticulous where pronouns are concerned. The colliding 'hims' in
Lear

Vex not his ghost. O, let him pass, he hates him
That would upon the rack of this tough world
Stretch him out longer.
(5. 3. 314-16)

don't hinder the meaning, but, in context, promote and sophisticate it,
if the actor knows his stuff. The same is true of Hamlet. The words work
at full throttle only when uttered in the context given by the play, out
loud, on stage --in this case, a stage which contains, inter alia, the
bodies of the 'mighty opposites', Hamlet and Claudius. Since that
context includes, like it or not, the structural possibility that
Claudius is Hamlet's father, its worrying undertow is bound to tug at
Fortinbras's final speech.  Of course, the Laws of Reference inhibit me
from suggesting that Claudius actually calls Hamlet his son, or anything
outlandish like that.

Terence Hawkes

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter Groves <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 30 May 2001 18:13:20 +1000
Subject: 12.1240 Re: Time in Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1240 Re: Time in Hamlet

> Maybe I'm as obdurate as Bill Godshalk (with or without either antiques
> or charms) but I would like to know how, save by ouija board, T. Hawkes
> can be so positive that in
>
> >               Let four captains
> >Bear Hamlet like a soldier to the stage,
> >For he was likely, had he been put on,
> >To have prov'd most royal; and for his passage,
> >The soldier's music and the rite of war
> >Speak loudly for him.
> >Take up the bodies . . .
> >(V, 2, 400-406, Arden edition)
> >
> -- 'he' in line 402 refers to Hamlet, 'his' in line 403 refers to
> >Claudius?
>
> When I have a sequence of similar pronouns I assume that they all have
> the same referent, especially when the same concept -- soldierliness --
> is indicated in both sentences.

In written English this is certainly the rule, but this is speech: if
Fortinbras says "To have prov'd most royal; and for HIS passage," with
contrastive accent on <his>, then he's using the pronoun not
anaphorically but as a deictic, meaning 'someone else'.  As TH pointed
out, there's a good metrical argument for this reading: if <his> remains
unaccented, the line is pointlessly clumsy, being headless with an
initial unstressed syllable (normally such lines begin strongly, like
"Stay! the king hath thrown his warder down!" R2) and an epic caesura:
if <his> is accented, however, the fourth beat can fall on that word,
producing a familiar kind of Shakespearean line with a catalexis afer
the accented pronoun:

"To have prov'd most royal; and for HIS ^  passage,"
     w     S     W    S w   s    w   S  [w] S  x

c.p.:

"Is Antony, or we in fault for this?
-- Antony only, that would make his will
Lord of his Reason.  What though YOU ^ fled
 S   w   w   S  w      S    w     S [w]  S

>From that great face of war, whose several ranges
Frighted each other?  Why should HE ^  follow?       (Ant & Cleo.
3.13.2ff.)
  S   w   W   S  w      S   w     S [w] S x

Peter Groves

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, 
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 
The S H A K S P E R Webpage <http://ws.bowiestate.edu>
 

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.