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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: May ::
Re: Performances and Audiences in Hamlet
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0917  Tuesday, 13 May 2003

[1] From:               Claude Caspar <
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Date:           Monday, 12 May 2003 11:13:53 -0400
Subject: 14.0911 Performances and Audiences in Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0911 Performances and Audiences in Hamlet

[2] From:               Tony Burton <
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Date:           Monday, 12 May 2003 12:48:28 -0400
Subject: 14.0911 Performances and Audiences in Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0911 Performances and Audiences in Hamlet


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Claude Caspar <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Monday, 12 May 2003 11:13:53 -0400
Subject: 14.0911 Performances and Audiences in Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0911 Performances and Audiences in Hamlet

Bloom's new book, "Hamlet," makes much of this.  Keep in mind the
possibility, says Bloom, that regardless of the truth, Hamlet may feel
Claudius may be his actual father, Hamlet being the fruit of their
supposed adultery.  This would make his famous Freudian slip "nephew of
the King,' even more interesting.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Tony Burton <
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 >
Date:           Monday, 12 May 2003 12:48:28 -0400
Subject: 14.0911 Performances and Audiences in Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0911 Performances and Audiences in Hamlet

Paul Swanson draws attention to a fact worth noting, that

Hamlet and Claudius are each audience members to a performance, and that
after the player's speech, Hamlet admonishes himself for not being as
moved as the player.

It doesn't lead smoothly, however, to Swanson's further remark, that "In
each performance, however, both Hamlet and Claudius respectively are
'touched,' drawing a clear parallel between their characters."

The failure on Hamlet's part to be moved, or at least noting that the
players are more moved by their scripted  speeches than he is by his own
life, is to me most notable for undermining (for the audience) the
assumption by Hamlet that forms a principal basis for staging the
Mousetrap.  That is to say, that a dramatic enactment WILL move those
who see it (well, maybe only guilty souls, but I think his psychological
assumption is not so narrowly limited) to the very foundations of their
beings.

This feeds back into the widely debated question whether Claudius
reveals his guilt when he leaves The Murder of Gonzago, or whether
Hamlet is leaping unjustifiably to conclusions.  If he demonstrates that
his own assumption is wrong, the audience is likely to be more skeptical
of his response to the Mousetrap, and may see equivalent skepticism in
Horatio's remarks as well.  A great deal follows from the discrepancy
between Hamlet's and Claudius's behavior as audience to a performance,
which different prejudices and schools of thought will develop in
different ways, to which I will not add my own favorite ideas.  But I
encourage others to take up the correspondence noted by Swanson and see
where it leads them -- surely to surprising implications.

Tony Burton

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