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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: October ::
Re: Haunted by the Ghost in Hamlet
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.2113  Tuesday, 22 October 2002

[1]     From:   Matthew Baynham <
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        Date:   Monday, 21 Oct 2002 14:11:19 +0100
        Subj:   Haunted by the Ghost in Hamlet

[2]     From:   Claude Caspar <
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        Date:   Monday, 21 Oct 2002 10:36:36 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.2107 Re: Haunted by the Ghost in Hamlet

[3]     From:   Takashi Kozuka <
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        Date:   Monday, 21 Oct 2002 20:32:10 +0100 (BST)
        Subj:   Re: Haunted by the Ghost in Hamlet


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Matthew Baynham <
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Date:           Monday, 21 Oct 2002 14:11:19 +0100
Subject:        Haunted by the Ghost in Hamlet

In the main, I agree with Annalisa Castado, but would want to add that
there are two sorts of post-mortem appearances of Banquo. First, there
is his appearance in the Banquet scene, unsummoned and unwanted by
Macbeth and appearing to accuse him: 'Never shake thy gory locks at
me..thou canst not say I did it' etc. In the scene with the Murderers I
think that Macbeth has been trying to establish the deniability of his
responsibility for Banquo's murder legally, politically and, most
fundamentally, psychologically. The appearance of Banquo's ghost makes
clear that he cannot achieve this last.

Secondly, however, Banquo appears in the apparition summoned by the
Witches at Macbeth's request. Here, he predicts Macbeth's downfall and
the succession of his own line. No doubt we are back with the Stuart
love-fest here, but Jane H Jack pointed out that one aspect of this
probably nodded to James' interest in King Saul, the first King of
Israel, who, like Macbeth, consulted witches about his tenure of the
throne and was chagrined to hear that the succession would go to a
virtuous rival. In Saul's case, the rival was King David, but the
prophecy was made by the 'shade' of the prophet/judge Samuel, summoned
from Sheol by the Witch of Endor. As with Banquo, the narrative does
seem to suggest that this was in some sense really Samuel and that the
otherwise uniformly approved Samuel is not wrong or evil at this point.
The fault or evil rests with Saul who, like Macbeth, sins in consulting
the Witch. In this scene, the evil spirits are the Witches' 'masters'.

It is worth noting, further, that when Saul was tormented by an evil
spirit the young David played his harp and the spirit left him. There
may be an echo of this in one strange lexical choice in the same scene:
Macbeth tells the apparition that it has 'harped my fear aright'. And,
of course, on a Christian understanding, David's line does, like
Banquo's in the apparition, 'stretch out to the crack of doom'.

Matthew Baynham

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Claude Caspar <
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Date:           Monday, 21 Oct 2002 10:36:36 -0400
Subject: 13.2107 Re: Haunted by the Ghost in Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.2107 Re: Haunted by the Ghost in Hamlet

>Augustine's CITY OF GOD (a foundational text of Catholic theology)
>suggests that a distinguishing feature of a demon is his ability to be
>perturbed by earthly things - an angel's demeanor is more...  angelic,
>given the constant communion with the Creator.

This reminds one that the "play within the play," derives from
Augustine, this world being God's [artistic] creation (as in God the
creative Author in search of characters...), and the transcendental
relationship implied.

I refer you, for grins, to the "The Three-Text Hamlet," which lays out
parallel texts of First & Second Q & First F, for easy comparison. In
Q1, the ghost's [who enters "...in his night gowne."] appearance
immediately evokes in Hamlet guilt for not taking "revenge. [reuenge]"
Hamlet twice
says so explicitly, to which the ghost responds: "Do not neglect, nor
long time put it off." I sense the inner contradiction in Hamlet, the
play, in WS, the Age, the Judeo-Christian world which derives from
Yahweh, a God who is vengeful.*

I am not claiming anything here other than that "revenge" is a possible
message from Old Hamlet in Purgatory, as a Catholic.  Q2 & F1 do not use
"revenge" here explicitly, but it is implied.

Gertrude may very well be hearing every word, since she refers to his
"discourse with nothing."

For sure, not only was this in the tradition of Revenge Tragedy, but
likely a variation of the Ur-Hamlet much speculated about.  For me, WS
turns the tradition upon itself showing its inner contradictions, before
unselfconscious, just as he treats English History deconstructively.
His
play on presence & absence- Hamlet, the play, is a kinda revenge on the
tradition of Revenge.

*http://www.eliyah.com/nature.html

*http://www.christian-thinktank.com/madgod.html

(These are just www random hits that may be less than authoritative.)

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Takashi Kozuka <
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Date:           Monday, 21 Oct 2002 20:32:10 +0100 (BST)
Subject:        Re: Haunted by the Ghost in Hamlet

Dear contributors to this thread:

I have a couple of questions.

>Not all ghosts were evil. By Catholic belief,
>in particular, a visitation could be from
>heaven, though it probably wasn't. It needed
>to be tested very carefully; the ghost in
>Hamlet fails all the tests.

I should be grateful if the contributor(s) can (1) itemise/list those
'tests' one needs to carry out to find out whether a ghost is good or
evil, and (2) clarify the sources.

Similarly...

>... those angels were believed to act in
>particular ways--ways that
>the ghost in Hamlet does not act.

Could the contributor(s) please (3) present specific/concrete external
evidence/proof to show in what 'particular ways' angels and devils would
act when someone is murdered in an unreasonable manner in the early
modern English context? (David Frydrychowski's suggestion may be one.)

Many thanks in advance.

Best wishes,
Takashi Kozuka

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