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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: June ::
Re: Time in Hamlet
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1385  Wednesday, 6 June 2001

[1]     From:   Bruce Young <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 05 Jun 2001 10:46:35 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1355 Re: Time in Hamlet

[2]     From:   David Bishop <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 5 Jun 2001 14:39:06 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1355 Re: Time in Hamlet

[3]     From:   Markus Marti <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 05 Jun 2001 19:49:54 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1355 Re: Time in Hamlet

[4]     From:   Paul E. Doniger <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 5 Jun 2001 22:54:42 -0400
        Subj:   Fw: SHK 12.1355 Re: Time in Hamlet

[5]     From:   Terence Hawkes <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 6 Jun 2001 07:07:28 -0400
        Subj:   SHK 12.1375 Re: Time in Hamlet


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bruce Young <
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Date:           Tuesday, 05 Jun 2001 10:46:35 -0600
Subject: 12.1355 Re: Time in Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1355 Re: Time in Hamlet

Of course Claudius actually calls Hamlet his son.  But he never refers
to him as his LITERAL son.  When he calls him son, he means "step-son"
(a term the Shakespearean text never uses-- here and elsewhere "son" is
used when we would say "step-son"; see Richard III 2.1.19 ["son Dorset"]
and cf. Richmond referring to his "father [i.e., step-father] Stanley"
[Richard III 5.2.5] and Imogen's step-mother calling her "daughter"
[Cymbeline 1.1.70, 154]).

If Claudius is calling Hamlet his literal, biological son, he is
announcing publicly that he committed adultery with Gertrude, something
I don't think likely.  Note also that Claudius says "OUR son" only in
public.  In private, talking with Gertrude, he calls Hamlet "YOUR son"
(2.2.55, 4.1.3, 4.5.80, 5.1.296).  Wouldn't it be odd to tell everyone
in the kingdom (including Hamlet) he's committed adultery but then in
private talk with the woman in question as if it never happened?

There are plenty of undecidable questions in the play, but it takes some
careful misreading to make this one of them.

Bruce Young

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Bishop <
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Date:           Tuesday, 5 Jun 2001 14:39:06 -0400
Subject: 12.1355 Re: Time in Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1355 Re: Time in Hamlet

When Claudius refers to Hamlet as "my son" and "our son" he is referring
to him as his stepson. He can do this because, as Claudius and others
make plain, Claudius married Hamlet's mother after Hamlet's literal
father, by which I mean his biological father, died. Hamlet resists this
new state of affairs, a resistance Claudius tries to overcome by, for
example, urging Hamlet to "think of us/As of a father." Now I seem to
have forgotten the point Terence Hawkes was trying to make.

Best wishes,
David Bishop

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Markus Marti <
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Date:           Tuesday, 05 Jun 2001 19:49:54 +0100
Subject: 12.1355 Re: Time in Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1355 Re: Time in Hamlet

And if  Hamlet had been one of Lady Macbeth's sons?

MM

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Paul E. Doniger <
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Date:           Tuesday, 5 Jun 2001 22:54:42 -0400
Subject: 12.1355 Re: Time in Hamlet
Comment:        Fw: SHK 12.1355 Re: Time in Hamlet

In danger of sounding pragmatic, I feel the incredible urge to mention
that it is not unusual for a step-father to refer to his step-son as,
"My son." Consequently, there is no "proof" that Hamlet is actually
Claudius's son.  It's certainly an interesting conjecture and can be
(has been?) played that way, but it remains un-proven (un-provable?).

Paul E. Doniger

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Terence Hawkes <
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Date:           Wednesday, 6 Jun 2001 07:07:28 -0400
Subject: Re: Time in Hamlet
Comment:        SHK 12.1375 Re: Time in Hamlet

Vick Bennison writes,

"and my son", of course means that he is his son by marriage, a stepson.
That should be anyone's first interpretation. . . '

How can it EVER be anyone's 'first' interpretation that 'my son' means
'my stepson'? It certainly isn't Hamlet's.

'As for "Our son shall win."  Well again, seems obvious that he is
talking about his son by marriage'.

The only thing that's 'obvious' is that he's talking about Hamlet as
'our son'.  Of course, in turn, you'd expect Hamlet to express some
concern at his uncle turning out to be his father.  After all, it's a
fundamental transgression. Pity he doesn't come up with something
withering, like 'uncle-father'. That'd clinch it.

Terence Hawkes

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