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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: July ::
Re: Hamlet's Clashing Ideals
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1708  Friday, 6 July 2001

From:           David Bishop <
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Date:           Thursday, 5 Jul 2001 21:12:35 -0400
Subject: 12.1693 Re: Hamlet's Clashing Ideals
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1693 Re: Hamlet's Clashing Ideals

I still disagree with Brian Haylett, because I don't see why "Remember
me" should be treated as a punning metaphor. As I read the play, the
ghost is not asking Hamlet to take a warlike stance of opposition to
Norway but to take revenge by killing Claudius. This, on the surface, is
the fairly simple dramatic thrust. Moving away from it by teasing apart
the members of "Remember me" seems to me a distraction, along the lines
of other distracted criticism now the subject of another thread on this
list concerning deconstruction.

Paul Doniger takes "taint not thy mind" and "don't hurt your mother" as
separate imperatives. I think they're the same. Rhetorically, at least,
the ghost's anger seems directed as much at "luxury and damned incest"
as at murder. But both Claudius and Gertrude could be accused of incest,
in the ghost's view. Therefore why shouldn't Hamlet kill them both? A
partial answer is that killing his own mother would taint his mind, in a
way that killing his uncle would not. The same heroic ideal that demands
revenge for a father's murder prohibits "unnatural" acts like killing
one's father, mother, brother or child. To kill anyone else may be foul,
but not unnatural. In fact, to kill the killer of your father is itself
natural: "If thou hast nature in thee, bear it not". Though the ghost's
remaining love for Gertrude may help to motivate his command, he frames
it as a caution to Hamlet not to violate this rule of naturalness.

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