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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: February ::
Re: Hamlet (Once More)
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.0435  Friday, 15 February 2002

[1]     From:   Dana Shilling <
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        Date:   Thursday, 14 Feb 2002 10:19:02 -0500
        Subj:   The Hamlet of Red Chief

[2]     From:   Edmund Taft <
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        Date:   Thursday, 14 Feb 2002 14:51:28 -0500
        Subj:   Hamlet (Once More)


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Dana Shilling <
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Date:           Thursday, 14 Feb 2002 10:19:0   2 -0
Subject:        The Hamlet of Red Chief

Andy White said,

>(BTW, the pirates would be just as likely to take Hamlet for
> ransom-money, he being worth more alive than dead given their
> circumstances).

I'd love to see their reactions after they tried to sell him back to
Claudius.

Dana Shilling

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edmund Taft <
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Date:           Thursday, 14 Feb 2002 14:51:28 -0500
Subject:        Hamlet (Once More)

Andy White writes,

"It's not a good idea, IMHO, to reject Hamlet's own account of events
and cook up something with our own ingredients."

Hamlet does tell us his strategy -- indirectly -- in Act 5 by making it
clear that Providence and its workings are on his mind. He tells that to
Horatio at least twice, as I recall.

Andy's main examples of Hamlet acting rashly come from earlier than 4.4.
This is the pivot of the play, during which Hamlet sees that Fortinbras
and his men are willing to die for a worthless plot of land.  When
Hamlet, seconds later, walks off with R&G to certain death, Shakespeare
expects us to put two and two together. This is the first example (of
many to come) of the prince deliberately putting himself in harm's way.

As Andy knows, there are no more soliloquys after 4.4 -- we have to
figure out what Hamlet's doing on our own, and each action that follows
raises the same question, "Why is he doing that?" -- especially his
taunting of Laertes, which is all uncalled for, and his later refusal to
peruse the foils.

Andy, if you were Hamlet and you had just mortally insulted Laertes and
knew that the king had it in for you, wouldn't YOU peruse the foils?  I
damn well would, and so would anybody.  But Hamlet has a plan, and I've
tried, I guess unsuccessfully, to explain what that plan is.

What I've suggested unites and gives common purpose to Hamlet's
seemingly haphazard actions from 4.4 on. Unity of action is not a rarity
in Shakespeare: it's the norm, as Dr. Johnson noted over 200 years ago.

--Ed Taft

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