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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: July ::
Re: Hamlet's Clashing Ideals
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1834  Monday, 23 July 2001

[1]     From:   Terence Hawkes <
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        Date:   Friday, 20 Jul 2001 12:55:19 -0400
        Subj:   SHK 12.1815 Re: Hamlet's Clashing Ideals

[2]     From:   Graham Hall <
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        Date:   Friday, 20 Jul 2001 20:02:34 +0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1815 The matter you read, my Lord

[3]     From:   Paul E. Doniger <
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        Date:   Friday, 20 Jul 2001 23:30:52 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1807 Re: Hamlet's Clashing Ideals


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Terence Hawkes <
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Date:           Friday, 20 Jul 2001 12:55:19 -0400
Subject: Re: Hamlet's Clashing Ideals
Comment:        SHK 12.1815 Re: Hamlet's Clashing Ideals

Andrew White writes,

'Excuse me, all, but I am astonished:  both Dr.'s Hawkes and Bradshaw
insist that Claudius, at no time before the "Mousetrap," ever reveals
his guilt to the audience.'

I can't speak for young Bradshaw, but no I don't. My concern is with
'The Mousetrap'. It doesn't work.  In Elsinore, only violence does.
That's part of what 'Hamlet' says: plays make nothing happen.

T. Hawkes

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Graham Hall <
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Date:           Friday, 20 Jul 2001 20:02:34 +0000
Subject: 12.1815 The matter you read, my Lord
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1815 The matter you read, my Lord

Andy White writes:

>Interpret for me, please, this line, which occurs immediately prior to
>the "nunnery" scene, which in any edition I can think of _precedes_ that
>of the "Mousetrap:"
>
>"How smart a lash that speech doth give my conscience,
>The harlots cheeke beautied with plastring art,
>Is not more ougly to the thing that helps it,
>Then is my deede to my most painted word:

>O heavy burthen."

in the case of the king's conscience .

There may be a need to mention Q1 which has some differences in this
area. Textual intricacies in Hamlet are inevitably complex but grist to
the discussion mill should perhaps always contain all the mix available.
It seems to be the extant trend. Whether there is profit in it could be
considered academic.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Paul E. Doniger <
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Date:           Friday, 20 Jul 2001 23:30:52 -0400
Subject: 12.1807 Re: Hamlet's Clashing Ideals
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1807 Re: Hamlet's Clashing Ideals

David Bishop wrote:

> Paul Doniger thinks the ghost is cautioning Hamlet to take revenge
> without losing his mind. To taint his mind would be to lose it. I
> neither understand this nor see the point of it. Why make the ghost in
> any way opposed to revenge on Claudius? As I said, I do think Hamlet
> wants somehow to take revenge without tainting his mind, but I don't
> think the ghost sees anything mind-tainting about killing Claudius.
> Again, I think this comes from reading the lines as if--note, as
> if--there were a period instead of a comma after "mind".

Of course, I don't mean to suggest that the Ghost is opposed to revenge
on Claudius -- that would make no sense. I suggest, as I have indicated
numerous times, that the Ghost is putting conditions on HOW that revenge
should be enacted. He wants to protect his son (Taint not thy mind) his
wife (leave her to heaven), and his country (Let not the bed of Denmark
... ).  These conditions undermine his call for revenge, it is true, but
they do not contradict it. It's not the actual revenge-taking that the
Ghost is commenting on, but the "howsomever" the revenge is pursued.

There is, however, a suggestion here that Shakespeare understood that
his audience was familiar with the revenge tragedy genre. He was setting
up a situation that called for a new kind of revenge hero (unlike
Hieronimo, Titus, Barabas, and the soon to appear Vindice) who attempts
to keep himself pure (and his mind untainted) in his revenge taking.

I hope, at long last, that I have made my point clear to everyone who
might be interested. I feel that I am being quite repetitive.

Paul E. Doniger

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