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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: October ::
Re: Haunted by the Ghost in Hamlet
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.2101  Friday, 18 October 2002

[1]     From:   Bill Arnold <
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        Date:   Thursday, 17 Oct 2002 08:55:44 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.2092 Re: Haunted by the Ghost in Hamle

[2]     From:   Edmund Taft <
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        Date:   Thursday, 17 Oct 2002 12:22:21 -0400
        Subj:   Haunted By The Ghost In Hamlet

[3]     From:   Annalisa Castaldo <
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        Date:   Thursday, 17 Oct 2002 12:25:57 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.2092 Re: Haunted by the Ghost in Hamlet

[4]     From:   Claude Caspar <
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        Date:   Thursday, 17 Oct 2002 12:34:48 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.2092 Re: Haunted by the Ghost in Hamlet

[5]     From:   Martin Steward <
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        Date:   Thursday, 17 Oct 2002 18:30:52 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.2092 Re: Haunted by the Ghost in Hamlet

[6]     From:   Maria Concolato Palermo <
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        Date:   Friday, 18 Oct 2002 16:32:44 +0200
        Subj:   R: SHK 13.2092 Re: Haunted by the Ghost in Hamlet



[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bill Arnold <
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Date:           Thursday, 17 Oct 2002 08:55:44 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 13.2092 Re: Haunted by the Ghost in Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.2092 Re: Haunted by the Ghost in Hamlet

Claude Caspar quotes me, "Can someone answer the significant question:
why would an evil ghost try to spur Good?"  Then, he asks, "Is this a
hinge upon which Christianity closes in upon itself?  What Good?
Revenge?  What would Jesus say to that?"

First of all, let's make a distinction between Christianity and Jesus.

And: who said it was "Revenge" that Hamlet was seeking?  I have
maintained all along that he was attempting to ascertain whether or not
the throne had been usurped by an Evil man?

As to Jesus: do not forget that He was visited by the Devil and offered
the whole world in exchange for His Soul [my capitalizations,
throughout, again, intentionally] and told the Devil where to park his
arse.  I believe they spell it H*ll.

Secondly, Jesus appeared as a Spirit [I dare not say ghost or
apparition] walking on the waters to His disciples in a boat tossed at
sea, and we know what He said on the matter of their expressed Fear.
For those in doubt, I will refresh memories.  More anon, if queried.

Thirdly, let us stop calling it a "ghost" and call it a Spirit.

Fourthly, the Bible de jour was Elizabethan and later Jacobean (the KJV)
and all these Spiritual visitation in the OT and the NT in the English
Bible were "read aloud" [to quote the intention of King James I in
authorizing a new translation, among other reasons] in all the churches
of England.

And lastly, it is a foregone conclusion, from the above, that it was
perfectly Christian doctrine to have visitations from Spirits: some bad
aka the Devil and some good aka Jesus, and therefore I cannot follow
some of the rationalizations away from textual criticism of the Bible
itself by some invoking the text via the isolated word: "Christianity."

Let us not forget that Shakespearean scholars have isolated no less than
1300 Biblical referents in the plays of Shakespeare alone, not including
his other accepted works, for instance, the sonnets.  Will S was
well-read in the Biblical text.

Bill Arnold
http://www.cwru.edu/affil/edis/scholars/arnold.htm

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edmund Taft <
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Date:           Thursday, 17 Oct 2002 12:22:21 -0400
Subject:        Haunted By The Ghost In Hamlet

David Bishop writes:

"The play follows Hamlet's long and winding road from the revenge
command to the eventual just, yet still partly vengeful, killing of
Claudius."

Yes. There's still room for doubt about Hamlet's damnation/salvation,
but yes, this is about as right as anyone can be about this play.

--Ed Taft

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Annalisa Castaldo <
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Date:           Thursday, 17 Oct 2002 12:25:57 -0400
Subject: 13.2092 Re: Haunted by the Ghost in Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.2092 Re: Haunted by the Ghost in Hamlet

>"A question I have been pondering along this thread is if in
>fact it was actually Banquo's ghost, or simply a figment of a maddening
>imagination--two very different things."

Since we (the audience) see Banquo's ghost (it has exits), but not the
dagger, I think we are meant to assume that the ghost is actually there.
A more interesting question, in terms of this discussion of Hamlet's
ghost, is whether or not this is meant to be an evil ghost. Macbeth is
certainly headed for Hell in Christian terms, so I suppose the ghost of
Banquo could be an evil spirit come to point that out to him. But what
has Banquo done to deserve resurrection as a force of evil?

I would also like to through another ghost, or ghosts, into the mix. In
act 5 of Richard III, both Richard and Richmond are visited by the
ghosts of everyone Richard has ever killed. Since each one of these
ghosts blesses Richmond - the future grandfather of the current monarch
- it is hard for me to believe that the audience sees them as
necessarily evil. Are they supposed to be angels instead, or does this
use of ghosts suggest that theatergoers/Christians in the 16th century
were more flexible in their perception of ghosts than we are giving them
credit for?

Annalisa Castaldo

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Claude Caspar <
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Date:           Thursday, 17 Oct 2002 12:34:48 -0400
Subject: 13.2092 Re: Haunted by the Ghost in Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.2092 Re: Haunted by the Ghost in Hamlet

>>>The issue that I previously referred to is that Old Hamlet seems to be
the only Catholic in the play because he implies the reality of
Purgatory.<<<

>He doesn't say it because he's Roman Catholic, he says it because he's
been there and he knows.<

Well, he wouldn't be there if he wasn't, in life, a practicing
Catholic-non-believers could not gain access.  A sinner who went to Hell
would still "know" Heaven though he never went there, if he was a
believer in the faith.  What makes this word-play worthwhile, and it is
admittedly amusing & paradoxical to those of us who have no dog in the
hunt, is that the audience was composed partly of Catholics who could no
longer practice openly or had given up their belief one way or another.
More interestingly for the underlying meanings, the recent scholarship
on Shakespeare's Catholic associations makes every reference as
political as theological-just for starters, that his dad was a "secret"
Catholic.  As Bloom iterates Shakespeare knew personally colleagues
branded, flogged, tortured, disemboweled before being drawn & quartered
(Burgess has a riveting description of such a public punishment) ,
disgraced, let alone murdered [Marlowe?], for openly contradicting the
Church of England, i.e., King, the powers that be.  That WS could get
away with what he did, after all his thought is still shocking to us
moderns, is what makes Old Hamlet's reality important not just to
Hamlet, but to everyone in the theatre.  Imagine the emotions that went
through those seeing heresy on the stage...

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Martin Steward <
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Date:           Thursday, 17 Oct 2002 18:30:52 +0100
Subject: 13.2092 Re: Haunted by the Ghost in Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.2092 Re: Haunted by the Ghost in Hamlet

"Protestants were pretty unanimous in rejecting all visitations as being
from heaven. Even among Catholics, visitations by angels were considered
to be extremely rare."

I've been watching this strand for the last week or so, and the
contributors seem to have forgotten, missed, overlooked or dismissed as
irrelevant my earlier reference to Richard Field's entertaining account
(after Pico, interested readers may recall) of a perfectly orthodox
ghost. He's so orthodox, in fact, that he comes back from the dead to
tell a Pope who had "denyed the immortality of the soule" that, by his
own visible example, he was dangerously in error. The extract above was
what finally spurred me to this reiteration.

Of course I make no claims for Field's orthodoxy over Shakespeare's
(although I assume his education in Divinity was a little more
thorough), and by the same token it is perfectly possible to argue that
Field-Pico's ghost is just as much a literary or rhetorical device as
the playwright's.  But the ghost is there, whatever his function, he is
a real ghost, and his message is an orthodox one.

I won't type it out again as it's in the archive somewhere, but the full
reference is:

Richard Field,
*The Fifth Booke of the Church, Together with an Appendix, containing a
defense of such partes and passages of the former Bookes, as have bene
either excepted against, or wrested, to the maintenance of Romish
errours* (London 1610)

Chapter 51, "Of the assurance of finding out the Truth, which the
Bishops assembled in General Council have", p.404

Thanks for your patience,
m

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Maria Concolato Palermo <
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Date:           Friday, 18 Oct 2002 16:32:44 +0200
Subject: 13.2092 Re: Haunted by the Ghost in Hamlet
Comment:        R: SHK 13.2092 Re: Haunted by the Ghost in Hamlet

Sorry, but I couldn't follow the whole discussion. May be I' m only
repeating something that has already been said. David Bishop's remarks
remind me of Miriam Joseph's position on the argument where she points
out the difference between 'revenge' and 'justice'. Her observations are
forty years old, but, in my opinion, still very suggestive. Maria
Concolato

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