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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: July ::
Re: To be or not to be
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1667  Monday, 2 July 2001

[1]     From:   Jane Drake Brody <
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        Date:   Friday, 29 Jun 2001 09:55:41 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHAKSPER Digest - 27 Jun 2001 to 28 Jun 2001

[2]     From:   Kit Gordon <
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        Date:   Friday, 29 Jun 2001 11:40:55 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1652 Re: Special Hamlet Issue

[3]     From:   Clifford Stetner <
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        Date:   Sunday, 1 Jul 2001 21:18:31 -0400
        Subj:   to be or not to be


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jane Drake Brody <
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Date:           Friday, 29 Jun 2001 09:55:41 EDT
Subject:        Re: SHAKSPER Digest - 27 Jun 2001 to 28 Jun 2001 (#2001-107)

>HAMLET  To be, or not to be; that is the question:
>Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
>The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
>Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
>And, by opposing, end them.

It seems to me that "taking arms" against "a sea of troubles" is
useless.  No one can fight a "sea" with armament.  Of course, the line
means acting rather than remaining passive, but the implication in the
image is of futility, of humanity struggling impotently against vast
powers.  One can fight slings and arrows, but not waves.  The question
seems to have an ironic side to it.

Jane Drake Brody

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Kit Gordon <
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Date:           Friday, 29 Jun 2001 11:40:55 -0500
Subject: 12.1652 Re: Special Hamlet Issue
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1652 Re: Special Hamlet Issue

> >W J Lawrence thought that this speech must once have occupied the
> >position now filled by "O that this too too solid flesh would melt",
> >which replaced it.
>
> Peter Brook must have read Lawrence. That's how he played it.
>
> Steve

Steve must have seen a different version than I saw in Chicago; in that
production "To be or not to be" replaced "How all occasions do inform
against me," which I thought made perfect sense.

Chris

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Clifford Stetner <
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Date:           Sunday, 1 Jul 2001 21:18:31 -0400
Subject:        to be or not to be

Hamlet is contemplating suicide.  At the very least, he is doing so on a
philosophical level.  He is a classic case of Melancholia as it was
understood in the English Renaissance, and suicidal thoughts have always
been a symptom of depression.  Ophelia's suicide and the question of her
guilt raised at her funeral confirm that suicide is one of the minor
themes of the narrative.  To take arms against the pangs of disprized
love with a bare bodkin does not imply murder but incontinently stabbing
oneself.  He is not contemplating enterprises of great pith and moment,
only commenting that the same fear of death that turns the native hue of
resolution aside in such enterprises makes us choose known dangers over
the unknown consequences of self slaughter.

Clifford

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