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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: February ::
Re: Hamlet (Once More)
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.0455  Monday, 18 February 2002

[1]     From:   Edmund Taft <
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        Date:   Friday, 15 Feb 2002 12:37:41 -0500
        Subj:   Hamlet (Once More)

[2]     From:   Bill Arnold <
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        Date:   Friday, 15 Feb 2002 10:23:18 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0436 Re: Shakespeare's The Tempest--and Hamlet (Once
More)

[3]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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        Date:   Friday, 15 Feb 2002 18:54:37 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0435 Re: Hamlet (Once More)


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edmund Taft <
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Date:           Friday, 15 Feb 2002 12:37:41 -0500
Subject:        Hamlet (Once More)

Dana Shilling writes,

>>"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."

Actually, Dana, I think that Andy may be right. Recall that 4.6 is
devoted to the sailors meeting Horatio and giving him a letter from
Hamlet, in which the prince writes of the pirates that "they knew what
they did: I am to do a good turn for them" (21-22).  Ransom is a
distinct possibility here, though it looks like Hamlet himself has to
pay it!

I'm interested in Andy's inference because it demonstrates that no
reader or viewer can just skate along the surface of the play, passively
receiving (but never thinking about) the dialogue and action on the
stage.  Andy's inference here is a good one, and I give it credit.  But
Andy needs to admit that (1) inferences are valid, and (2) begin to
recognize that inferences are also necessary and inevitable if we are
ever to get to the bottom of a war-horse play like _Hamlet_.

--Ed Taft

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bill Arnold <
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Date:           Friday, 15 Feb 2002 10:23:18 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 13.0436 Re: Shakespeare's The Tempest--and Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0436 Re: Shakespeare's The Tempest--and Hamlet
(Once More)

Martin Steward writes, quoting me, "Bill Arnold writes, 'I find in
Shakespeare the expression of a belief in the Ultimate Good, that is,
Shakespeare's concept of human ethics as exemplified by the Ultimate
Good Prince in contradistinction to Machiavelli's _The Prince_, and
thereby still read Hamlet in _Hamlet_ as the Good Prince, recognizing
his role as rightful heir to the throne, and still believe after all the
thoughtful analysis of scholars, et al., that his external actions and
his profound words reveal his inner motivations'.  Perhaps, after taking
a breath, Bill could explain what all this means? And how he reads King
Lear? And indeed, how he reads Machiavelli? What's particularly bad
about Machiavelli's ideal Prince (especially the one delineated in the
Discourses on Livy?"

Gladly.  Inasmuch as Machiavelli's _The Prince_ saw a vogue in the
Shakespearean Age [if I can combine the Elizabethan and Jacobean], it
was much debated by writers.  The "playmakers" aka "scholars," as they
were then known, and who we choose to today call simply _playwrights_,
were intellectuals in their own _rights_ and chose to respond to the
ideas expressed in _The Prince_ via their own vehicles, plays.  I
believe Shakespeare expressed his ideas anti-_The Prince_ most
eloquently in _Hamlet_.

Martin Steward then writes, quoting me again, "Bill continues, 'Here, in
America, without a monarchy, and without a _need_ to know and understand
the subtleties of _divine right_ to the throne for a first-born male
heir, modern politically-correct American readers of Shakespeare tend to
incorrectly judge his plays with a politically-correct paintbrush based
on American standards of the past three decades.  In that same light,
inasmuch as _The Tempest_ is recognized as Shakespeare's last play, or
one of his last plays, might it not hold the clue to _his_
politically-correct statement of human ethics?' Again, what on earth
does all this mean? How can one judge a play with a paintbrush? And who
really thinks that European readers of Shakespeare 'understand the
subtleties of divine right'?"

First of all, I wrote "modern politically-correct American readers of
Shakespeare," and we all know who these PC readers are, do we not?
Then, I wrote what I believe they do _incorrectly_, and that is "tend to
incorrectly judge his [Shakespeare] plays with a politically-correct
paintbrush based on American standards of the past three decades." Point
ended, and explicated fully, I hope.

Bill Arnold

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
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Date:           Friday, 15 Feb 2002 18:54:37 -0800
Subject: 13.0435 Re: Hamlet (Once More)
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0435 Re: Hamlet (Once More)

Ed Taft writes,

>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.

Surely there's a difference between caring about Providence, as a lot of
17th century Protestants did and a lot of people still do, and pursuing
a master plan to subject it to cross-examination.  I believe that
there's a theological term ("presumption"?) for the sin of trying to
test God.

Cheers,
Se

 

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