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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: January ::
Re: Claudius' Incestuous Marriage
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0166  Thursday, 30 January 2003

[1]     From:   John W. Kennedy <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 29 Jan 2003 17:41:15 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0150 Re: Claudius' Incestuous Marriage

[2]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 29 Jan 2003 19:03:51 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0150 Re: Claudius' Incestuous Marriage

[3]     From:   Bill Arnold <
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 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 29 Jan 2003 20:21:31 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0150 Re: Claudius' Incestuous Marriage


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John W. Kennedy <
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 >
Date:           Wednesday, 29 Jan 2003 17:41:15 -0500
Subject: 14.0150 Re: Claudius' Incestuous Marriage
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0150 Re: Claudius' Incestuous Marriage

David Friedberg <
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 > writes,

>>Christianity has never accepted the Levirate Law (as it is known).  For
>>that matter, it has customarily been discouraged within Judaism for a
>>very long time.

> Not so

To quote from the on-line version of the Jewish Encyclopedia:
(Diacritics deleted, as they require full Unicode support.)

     By Talmudic times the practise of levirate marriage was
     deemed objectionable (Bek. 13a), and was followed as a
     matter of duty only.  To  marry a brother's widow for her
     beauty was regarded by Abba Saul as equivalent to incest
     (Yeb. 39b). Bar Kappara recommends halizah (Yeb. 109a). A
     difference of opinion appears among the later authorities,
     Alfasi, Maimonides, and the Spanish school generally
     upholding the custom, while R. Tam and the Northern school
     prefer halizah (Shulhan 'Aruk, Eben ha-'Ezer, 165).

Halizah being the shoe-throwing ritual.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
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 >
Date:           Wednesday, 29 Jan 2003 19:03:51 -0400
Subject: 14.0150 Re: Claudius' Incestuous Marriage
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0150 Re: Claudius' Incestuous Marriage

David Friedberg asks whether,

>Did the laws of England, Denmark, Lutheranism or Catholicism apply or
>was Hamlet C of E?

Surely this is the sort of question which is ipso facto unanswerable and
which we should therefore be trying to avoid.  The play is set in
Denmark, in a past which isn't very well defined, but watched by
Englishmen of many different religious persuasions.

As for,

>In the absence of any clearer direction in the text I will believe that
>Hamlet is set in England Wouldn't you agree?

The term "Denmark" occurs nineteen times and "Dane" occurs nine times.
I wonder why, if the play is set in England, all the characters pretend
to be somewhere else, which shares a land border with Norway?

Yours,
Sean.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bill Arnold <
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 >
Date:           Wednesday, 29 Jan 2003 20:21:31 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 14.0150 Re: Claudius' Incestuous Marriage
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0150 Re: Claudius' Incestuous Marriage

David Friedberg writes, "Dear Colleagues [sic] My rather light hearted
comment drew a virtual avalanche of replies, all of which I have read
with delight [sic] Claudius certainly did dishonor his brother...You and
I as men of the world may be quite sure that Gertrude bedded both
brothers during Hamlet's lifetime, but the text maddenly does not fully
confirm this. We only have the word of the Ghost, and his nature is
always in doubt [sic]"

Excuse me, Sir.  But Claudius did MORE than "dishonor his brother." In
the realm of the ten commandments, he leaned more heavily on that one
that ONE "shalt NOT kill [i.e., the husband of your future wife, Exodus,
C 20, V 13]."  And that one that ONE "shalt NOT steal [i.e., the throne
of a rightful King, Exodus, C 20, V 15]."  Nor that one that ONE "shalt
NOT bear false witness against thy neighbour [i.e., the rightful heir to
the throne, Prince Hamlet, Exodus, C 20, V 16]." I will leave it to
others to explicate the relevance of Exodus, C 20, Vs. 14 and 17]."

And is it not equally as glib, or "light hearted" as you put it, to
suggest that in the play Hamlet by Will Shakespeare, "We only have the
word of the Ghost, and his nature is always in doubt [sic]"

Surely, you jest, Sir?  Consult my remarks in the SHAKSPER archives on
the "nature" of the ghost of the MURDERED brother, the USURPED throne,
and the FALSE WITNESS against the rightful and Good Prince!

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

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