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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: January ::
Re: The Abused R&G
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.0036  Saturday, 12 January 2002

[1]     From:   Mike Jensen <
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        Date:   Saturday, 05 Jan 2002 12:56:23 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0019 Re: The Abused R&G

[2]     From:   Andy White <
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        Date:   Saturday, 5 Jan 2002 21:58:32 -0500
        Subj:   The Abused R&G

[3]     From:   Brian Willis <
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        Date:   Sunday, 6 Jan 2002 21:55:39 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0019 Re: The Abused R&G

[4]     From:   Edmund Taft <
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        Date:   Monday, 07 Jan 2002 10:54:34 -0500
        Subj:   The Abused R&G

[5]     From:   Philip Tomposki <
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        Date:   Friday, 11 Jan 2002 08:16:27 -0500
        Subj:   RE: R&G


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mike Jensen <
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Date:           Saturday, 05 Jan 2002 12:56:23 -0800
Subject: 13.0019 Re: The Abused R&G
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0019 Re: The Abused R&G

Andy White reminds me of something I've been trying to justify for over
a decade.

>Shakespeare has to construct Ophelia as too young, too
>trusting, to be able to say this.

When I interviewed Mel Gibson for *SFNL,* he told me that Ophelia was 14
years old.  I was too intimidated at the time to ask him to justify the
age, and have since come to suspect that it was the age agreed upon by
the actors and director, and that it is NOT justified in the text.

I have been over both Qs and F, and though I never looked specifically
for this, I also never noticed a clear indication of Ophelia's age.

Have I missed something?

Mike Jensen

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Andy White <
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Date:           Saturday, 5 Jan 2002 21:58:32 -0500
Subject:        The Abused R&G

Edmund Taft writes of Hamlet and Ophelia:

> Both are serving doubtful masters: the Ghost's
> provenance is uncertain at best; Polonius is a manipulative fool. Both
> are full of doubt and uncertainty, and both are fighting the onset of
> madness and the consequent wish for death.

The chief problem I have with this interpretation is that the Ghost's
"provenance" and the veracity of his testimony are already proven (for
the audience) by the time Hamlet meets Ophelia in the lobby.  I see one
main reason why Shakespeare confirms the Ghost's witness before Hamlet
enters; to excuse (at least in part) the abusive language Hamlet is
about to use with Ophelia.  Dr. Taft may prefer to wallow in doubt, but
the audience is not given that luxury, and it is to the audience's mind
that Shakespeare is appealing here, not just Hamlet's or Ophelia's.

As for there being "no justification" for abusing Ophelia, let's, for
once, review the facts from Hamlet's perspective.  The girl of his
dreams suddenly, and without any explanation, cuts off all contact with
him.  Then, some 2 months into this unspeakably cruel "cold shoulder"
treatment, she suddenly appears in the most public place in the castle
-- the Lobby -- and accuses _him_ of breaking up with _her_.  Could all
this be mere coincidence?  Hardly.  The fact that Hamlet  is "sent for"
(i.e., he has been _told_ to go to the Lobby), only heightens his
awareness that Ophelia is a trap of the most venal variety.  She has
consented to abusing him, and even if Hamlet knows Polonius is behind
this plot it doesn't excuse Ophelia's refusal to try, through discreet
signals, to tell Hamlet what the hell is going on.  She has had 2 months
to explain herself, and from Hamlet's perspective her silence speaks
volumes.

The tragedy of the scene lies in the audience's awareness of both
Ophelia's real situation (Polonius made her do it) and Hamlet's sad but
inescapable _ignorance_ of her real situation, hence the awareness that
there could be no other possible outcome from this disastrous encounter
for either of them.

Andy White

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Brian Willis <
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Date:           Sunday, 6 Jan 2002 21:55:39 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 13.0019 Re: The Abused R&G
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0019 Re: The Abused R&G

Edmund Taft writes,

> Hamlet has reasons for acting as he does in 3.1, but
> they do NOT justify
> the way he treats Ophelia. He manhandles her
> verbally and probably
> physically as well.  He cannot be excused for that,
> even if we think
> that he is 

 

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