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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: February ::
Re: Hamlet (Once More)
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.0369  Thursday, 7 February 2002

[1]     From:   Brian Willis <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 6 Feb 2002 13:07:25 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0348 Re: Hamlet (Once More)

[2]     From:   Andy White <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 6 Feb 2002 15:38:37 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0348 Re: Hamlet (Once More)


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Brian Willis <
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Date:           Wednesday, 6 Feb 2002 13:07:25 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 13.0348 Re: Hamlet (Once More)
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0348 Re: Hamlet (Once More)

> He will seem to threaten Gertrude and see if the
> Ghost will appear and
> come to her aid. The ghost falls for it! -- and the
> test is a brilliant
> one, but it, too, ultimately fails to reveal what
> Hamlet wants to know,
> as I have argued earlier.
>
> --Ed Taft

Intriguing. So, I take it that by your reading of it, Hamlet doesn't
truly know the ghost's veracity/Claudius's guilt until he opens the
letter that is his death warrant and when Laertes (the only person other
than the ghost to tell Hamlet that Claudius has committed a murder)
reveals "the king's to blame"? It would make a startling parallel to the
"change" Hamlet seems to undergo on the way to England and the easier
approach to his task and to death that he reveals in the "execution" of
R+G and his conversation with the gravedigger and Yorick's skull.

Brian Willis

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Andy White <
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Date:           Wednesday, 6 Feb 2002 15:38:37 -0500
Subject: 13.0348 Re: Hamlet (Once More)
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0348 Re: Hamlet (Once More)

I'm not sure how to take Ed Taft's latest interpretation of this play;
it is so willfully taken out of context that I could swear he is doing
this tongue-in-cheek.  But here goes:

To begin with, Polonius is a fat old man, and the cloud-shapes,
especially the last one, can be seen as a means of both pulling his leg
(as Hamlet's inferior, Polonius has no choice but to agree with every
assessment of the "clouds" he makes) and insulting him ("whale" can just
as easily refer to Polonius himself).  And if there is any doubt about
Hamlet's intentions here, the context for this line comes soon after:

"They fool me to the top of my bent!"

Hamlet's _antic disposition_, not his reason, speaks throughout this
sequence after the play -- in fact, indications are that his antic
disposition has shifted into very high gear, careening from Horatio to
R&G to Polonius and back -- so many personalities to split, so little
time.  He lets the audience in on the fact that it's an act, and a
pretty hard one to follow (I can almost see Burbage winking at the
audience as if to indicate that this is as hard as he's ever worked).

Must we continue to riff on lines and dialogue out of context?  It's
interesting, but from the purpose of playing.

Andy White
http://greetings.yahoo.com

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