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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: May ::
Re: Hamlet and Belleforest [Grebanier]
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0959  Friday, 16 May 2003

[1]     From:   Annalisa Castaldo <
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        Date:   Thursday, 15 May 2003 10:13:25 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0946 Re: Hamlet and Belleforest

[2]     From:   Bill Arnold <
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        Date:   Thursday, 15 May 2003 08:21:59 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0946 Re: Hamlet and Belleforest [Grebanier]


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Annalisa Castaldo <
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Date:           Thursday, 15 May 2003 10:13:25 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 14.0946 Re: Hamlet and Belleforest
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0946 Re: Hamlet and Belleforest

I would like to thank Ed Pixley for suggesting an answer to one of my
own niggling concerns about Hamlet, which is the logic of "to be or not
to be." The Q1 version of this speech, as messy as it is, actually makes
more sense, given both the logic of the times and Christianity: one
doesn't want to commit suicide because it is forbidden by God. But for
Hamlet to say that he doesn't want to commit suicide because death is
"the undiscovered country" contradicts both Christianity and the
"sensible and true avouch of [his] own eyes" since he has talked to a
Ghost.

However, when Ed proposes that it is not death in general, but his own
specific death that Hamlet is facing (but, like a scholar, generalizing
always), this speech suddenly pops into focus. True, Christianity
promises a just reward, but what is the just reward for a revenger? Ed
is exactly right that it was an absolute requirement that the revenger
die and therefore close the circuit, but what then?

Kyd, for example, ends The Spanish Tragedy with the Ghost of Andrea
promising to lead Horatio and the others to Elysium, but carefully does
not promise a Christian paradise. And Hamlet gets no reassurance from
his father, who can only describe the afterlife as so terrible he can't
describe it! Hamlet, knowing he will go to death with at least one
murder on his soul, has good reason to be worried.

So in addition to all the other concerns, practical and philosophical,
that cause Hamlet's delay (for those of us who feel there is a delay),
add fear of his afterlife, a concern Horatio attempts to gloss over with
"flights of angels sing thee to thy rest."

Annalisa Castaldo

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bill Arnold <
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Date:           Thursday, 15 May 2003 08:21:59 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 14.0946 Re: Hamlet and Belleforest [Grebanier]
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0946 Re: Hamlet and Belleforest [Grebanier]

Edmund Taft writes, "Apparently Grebanier provides an answer of which
Bill approves: '[Hamlet] is neither mad nor feigns insanity at any
time.' Maybe Bill could explain briefly, for those of us who have not
read Grebanier, how he arrives at these conclusions."

Excuse me.  Are we not SHAKSPEReans?  And you would deny Grebanier his
day in court?  My God, Sir, he wrote a whole book on the subject: answer
to the critics, brilliant and definitive interpretation, footnotes,
index--the Whole Enchilada!  If you have even the remotest interest in
the subject of Hamlet, why do you not just read it?

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

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