2001

Re: The Tragedy of Claudius

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1817  Friday, 20 July 2001

From:           Brian Haylett <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 19 Jul 2001 16:27:34 +0100
Subject: 12.1789 The Tragedy of Claudius
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1789 The Tragedy of Claudius

My thanks to John Drakakis for his explanation. Being in a bit of a
hurry, I must set aside for the moment the regicide argument and simply
answer the questions below:

>So what then might the source of Haylett's sympathy for Claudius be?  In
>what ways can he be described as an 'efficient' king?  He lacks the
>directness of approach that had characterised Old Hamlet's rule, hence
>his use of intermediaries: Cornelius and Voltemand, Rosencrantz and
>Guildenstern,  Gertrude,Ophelia and Laertes, and his crime finally
>emerges into the cold light of day.  So much for the claim of
>efficiency!

The directness of approach used by Hamlet Sen consisted of going into
the battlefield and clobbering Fortinbras. Claudius negotiates the
removal of the threat to Denmark by having Young Fortinbras put in his
place without bloodshed. That seems to me - a weak-minded liberal -
admirable in a king.  The fact that he uses intermediaries to accomplish
it seems fully in accord with diplomatic practice: that is what
ministers of state are for.

This seems to me to justify sympathy for Claudius, for all that he has
negotiated is thwarted by the gadfly approach of Hamlet. Let us not
forget that it is not Claudius's fault that Fortinbras is able to walk
into the country in the final scene.

I must remind John that I was dealing with the question: can we feel
pity for Claudius? I did not say that pity was all we might feel. The
point was that Claudius was a more complex character than any pure
villain - which was relevant to the correspondence up till then. I have
no quarrel with John's argument about the greater insight into Macbeth's
mind.

Would I like to meet Claudius? Perhaps not, but I would rather have him
ruling the neighbouring country than Macbeth.

Brian Haylett

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Re: Squeaking Cleopatras

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1816  Friday, 20 July 2001

[1]     From:   Dana Shilling <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 19 Jul 2001 09:31:16 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1809 Re: Squeaking Cleopatras

[2]     From:   Karen Peterson-Kranz <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 19 Jul 2001 11:13:54 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1809 Re: Squeaking Cleopatras

[3]     From:   Fran Barasch <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 19 Jul 2001 18:05:58 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1809 Re: Squeaking Cleopatras

[4]     From:   Charles Edelman <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 20 Jul 2001 07:59:57 +8/00
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1809 Re: Squeaking Cleopatras


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Dana Shilling <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 19 Jul 2001 09:31:16 -0400
Subject: 12.1809 Re: Squeaking Cleopatras
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1809 Re: Squeaking Cleopatras

Terence Hawkes said:

> Isn't it evident that 'Cinderella' is the down-market version of 'King
> Lear'?

OH NOT IT'S NOT!!!!

Dana Shilling

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Karen Peterson-Kranz <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 19 Jul 2001 11:13:54 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 12.1809 Re: Squeaking Cleopatras
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1809 Re: Squeaking Cleopatras

> Isn't it evident that 'Cinderella' is the down-
> market version of 'King Lear'?
>
> Terence Hawkes

The fairy tale that's REALLY like Lear is "Cap O' Rushes" (also with
strong Cinderella elements).  If anyone's interested, there's a rather
nice telling of the tale at:

http://www.belinus.co.uk/fairytales/JJFCapoRushes.htm

Cheers,
Karen

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Fran Barasch <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 19 Jul 2001 18:05:58 EDT
Subject: 12.1809 Re: Squeaking Cleopatras
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1809 Re: Squeaking Cleopatras

Re "squeaking Cleopatras":  what if quite a different theatrical rival,
rather than (or as well as) the boy-actor, was the metatheatrical
reference on Shakespeare's mind?

The following is quoted from Marvin Rosenberg: "The verb 'to boy' then
carried a specific meaning of mockery and disrespect.  The OED cites,
along with Cleopatra's voicing, similar uses of the very by Grabriel
Harvey (1573) and then later by John Fletcher (1606) and Henry Moore
(1635).  All these, I found, were indeed mocking."

Cleopatra has just warned Iras: "Thou, an Egyptian puppet, shall be
shown in Rome AS WELL AS I" (emphasis mine).  The puppet's voice, then
as now, was made with a "pivetta" or "swazzle," a mouth instrument which
raises the pitch and makes the puppet voice squeak or screech.  The
rival puppet theater of the time presented improvised shows
("extemporally" staged) and regularly mocked historical and literary
heroines "I' th' posture of a whore." ("Painted puppet" was a common
metaphor for "whore." )   Try reading lines 207-21 as a single speech
(disregarding Iras's brief interjections), from "puppet" (208) to
"whore" (221) and see where that leaves us.

Best to all, Fran Barasch

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Charles Edelman <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 20 Jul 2001 07:59:57 +8/00
Subject: 12.1809 Re: Squeaking Cleopatras
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1809 Re: Squeaking Cleopatras

> Isn't it evident that 'Cinderella' is the down-market version of 'King
> Lear'?
>
> Terence Hawkes

Up-market.

Charles Edelman,

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Re: Finding History Plays

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1814  Friday, 20 July 2001

From:           Kevin De Ornellas <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 19 Jul 2001 12:55:53 +0000
Subject: 12.1775 Finding History Plays
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1775 Finding History Plays

>From: Jack Heller >Is there a good list somewhere of non-Shakespearean
>chronicle history plays of the Tudor >and early Stuart eras,

The 'Annals of English Drama, 975-1700' by Alfred Harbage et al (London:
Routledge, 1989) is ideal for this sort of preliminary surveying.  The
entries for all of the chronologically-listed plays are supplemented
with a (sometimes moot) generic description.

Kevin De Ornellas
Queen's University, Belfast
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Re: Hamlet's Clashing Ideals

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1815  Friday, 20 July 2001

[1]     From:   Robin Hamilton <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 19 Jul 2001 13:58:58 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1807 Re: Hamlet's Clashing Ideals

[2]     From:   Andrew W. White <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 19 Jul 2001 09:39:35 -0400
        Subj:   Re: Hamlet's Clashing Ideals


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Robin Hamilton <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 19 Jul 2001 13:58:58 +0100
Subject: 12.1807 Re: Hamlet's Clashing Ideals
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1807 Re: Hamlet's Clashing Ideals

Mike Jensen quotes:

>   ...as Naomi Liebler observes, "the 'Mousetrap' seems to
>   operate effectively only for Claudius and Hamlet; the
>   rest of the courtly audience, arguably ignorant of
>   Claudius's crime, see a performance they take to be
>   entirely fictional."

Dramatically, this is the absolutely +necessary+ effect of the scene --
if Claudius had revealed his crime to the whole court, then the
necessity for a wild private justice would collapse, as public justice
would come into play.  If Claudius had failed to reveal his guilt to
Hamlet, then Hamlet would be left in the same state of doubt as to the
validity of the Ghost as he was before.

The Mousetrap in 3.2 is followed by Claudius' admission of guilt in 3.3
-- forensically, this says nothing about The Mousetrap:  dramatically,
it provides, in the juxtaposition, a confirmation of Hamlet's test of
the king's guilt.

The court is not a Court, the play's the thing ...

Robin Hamilton

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Andrew W. White <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 19 Jul 2001 09:39:35 -0400
Subject:        Re: Hamlet's Clashing Ideals

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.

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."

I hope I don't need to remind anyone the context for this speech.  Now,
although modern directors deliberately remove this speech, time and
again, on the grounds that it is 'too explicit', the fact is that
Shakespeare puts it in the play for a specific reason:  Claudius _is_
guilty, and the audience needs to know it in order for the following
scenes to have any real dramatic effect.  Knowing he is guilty actually
_enhances_ the audience's experience of what follows.  The irony that
comes from knowing Claudius' guilt, before anyone else, is not to be
overlooked:  Aristotle prizes this quality in a play, on the level of
the characters as well as the audience.

I will grant that without this pivotal speech all of Claudius' rising
and calling for "lights," all of Hamlet's triumphalism, Horatio's
understatement, let alone Gertrude's "thou hast thy father (i.e.,
step-father, Claudius) much offended" serves to show what a useless,
stupid git the Prince is.  But include that speech in your memories,
sirs, and guess what?  All the cheap theatrics suddenly have meaning,
and actually steer the audience's sympathies _towards_ Hamlet, not away
from him.

Anything that happens during the "Mousetrap" ought to be read in the
light of Claudius' prior confession of his "heavy burthen" -- which I
would arrogantly propose involves something more than cheating on his
taxes.

Andy White
Arlington, VA

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Re: "What's in a name?"

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1813  Thursday, 19 July 2001

From:           Peterson-Kranz Karen <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 19 Jul 2001 03:34:31 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 12.1783 Re: "What's in a name?"
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1783 Re: "What's in a name?"

Stuart Taylor wrote yesterday,

> I apologise if I have here offended Karen Peterson-
> Kranz, but her apparent olive branch read more like
> a sermon

Need olive branches and sermons be mutually exclusive?

Since I have great respect, and occasionally affection, for the genre of
the sermon, I shall take this as a compliment!  Thank you!

Pax et bonum,
Karen

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email 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>

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