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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: July ::
Re: The Tragedy of Claudius
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1755  Friday, 13 July 2001

[1]     From:   Robin Hamilton <
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        Date:   Thursday, 12 Jul 2001 17:41:02 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1739 Re: The Tragedy of Claudius

[2]     From:   Tony Burton <
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        Date:   Thursday, 12 Jul 2001 13:50:21 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1739 Re: The Tragedy of Claudius

[3]     From:   Arthur Lindley <
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        Date:   Friday, 13 Jul 2001 09:06:53 +0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1739 Re: The Tragedy of Claudius

[4]     From:   Steve Urkowitz <
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        Date:   Friday, 13 Jul 2001 08:32:07 EDT
        Subj:   Tragedy of Claudius and Rosencrantz and Ophelia and . . .

[5]     From:   Sophie Masson <
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        Date:   Saturday, 14 Jul 2001 02:20:40 +1000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1739 Re: The Tragedy of Claudius


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Robin Hamilton <
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Date:           Thursday, 12 Jul 2001 17:41:02 +0100
Subject: 12.1739 Re: The Tragedy of Claudius
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1739 Re: The Tragedy of Claudius

> From:           Clifford Stetner <
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> Lear and Edgar

Lear and Gloucester, presumably?

Robin Hamilton

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Tony Burton <
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Date:           Thursday, 12 Jul 2001 13:50:21 -0400
Subject: 12.1739 Re: The Tragedy of Claudius
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1739 Re: The Tragedy of Claudius

I'm mystified by the recent enthusiasm for praising Claudius as a hero,
and treating "Hamlet" as HIS tragedy.  What happened to the distinction
between a protagonist and an antagonist?  A very good measure of great
tragic drama is the degree to which the protagonist's strength of
character, the cause that moves him, his ability to defend it, and his
dedication to it are all matched by the same features in the
antagonist.  Let him be a foeman worthy of the hero's steel in every
quality, and the play will give rise to issues that stick with you after
the last curtain.  Let the antagonist be a cardboard black hat
caricature of a villain, who kicks puppies, snarls at adorable little
children, and scoffs at honor, and there's not much to think about.

But if one cannot distinguish between hero and villain, if the
distinction between protagonist and antagonist are felt to be mere
academic and formalistic abstractions, no issues arise, there is nothing
much to be learned, and the ongoing dialogue between the author (yes,
scoffers and naysayers, I believe in authorship -- even though I've
given up on Santa Claus and the tooth fairy), the forming intelligence
behind the play and between its audience or readership will cease to
exist.  Who joins this listserv who does not hope to keep that dialogue
alive and participate in it?

Tony Burton

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Arthur Lindley <
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Date:           Friday, 13 Jul 2001 09:06:53 +0800
Subject: 12.1739 Re: The Tragedy of Claudius
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1739 Re: The Tragedy of Claudius

'The Tragedy of Claudius' is one of the things Updike is doing in
_Gertrude and Claudius_.  Clearly, we're in good company, though just
how good is a matter of debate.

Arthur Lindley

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Steve Urkowitz <
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Date:           Friday, 13 Jul 2001 08:32:07 EDT
Subject:        Tragedy of Claudius and Rosencrantz and Ophelia and . . .

Away from books and libraries, may I refer this strand to a brilliant
work by Michael Long, THE UNNATURAL SCENE (London:Methuen, 1975?).  He
shows with exquisite detail that the tragedy -- the experience of
tragedy felt by the audience -- rises from a social environment of vile
abuse of human relationships at every level of Elsinore.  Kindness,
trust, familial relations all succumb to the crass cowardice of guilt
and fear.  Hamlet's fears of taking arms against a sea of troubles, like
Prufrock's "Do I dare to eat a peach?" are symptomatic of the social
dis-ease.  Ros and Guild agree to turn their friendship for Hamlet into
espial.  Ophelia agrees (or is bulldozed into agreement) to  confront
Hamlet while poppa and the King eavesdrop.  Reynaldo will sully Laertes'
reputation in a little assay of destructive testing.  Laertes claims
that all young men are without honor in matters of sexuality, and slides
into the easy justification of a poisoned blade to recover his family's
honor.  The gravedigger understands that suicides rich or poor are
treated differently according to their status before the secular rather
than the Eternal accountancy systems.  Queen Gertrude in the Folio
version gets a brief soliloquy ("to my sick soul . . ." -- in Q2 an
aside with other distracting figures onstage) highlighting her own
participation in the guilty helplessness of Elsinore.  These Elsinorians
recognize what is right but choose the wrong.

The experience of tragedy comes from OUR seeing their awareness, their
erroneous choices, Hamlet's rich potential for cracking the codes of
pretense, and his poignant failure to do more than trigger the
apocalyptically destructive climax.

It ain't the universe but the quotidian moral cowardice and Hamlet's
unsuccessful but potentially triumphant alternative of courage,
imagination and intelligence that generates the exhilarating experience
of this play in the theatre.

I recommend Michael Long's extended chapter on Hamlet.  And I invite all
to my production at CCNY in December.

Steve Prufrockowitz

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sophie Masson <
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Date:           Saturday, 14 Jul 2001 02:20:40 +1000
Subject: 12.1739 Re: The Tragedy of Claudius
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1739 Re: The Tragedy of Claudius

Could be both love and lust, I think. No reason why they should be
separate, really. Hamlet of course thinks it can only be lust, but then
he would.

Sophie Masson
Author site: http://www.northnet.com.au/~smasson

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