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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: December ::
Dramatis personae
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.2281  Wednesday, 3 December 2003

[1]     From:   Jay Feldman <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 2 Dec 2003 11:31:20 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.2268 Dramatis personae

[2]     From:   D Bloom <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 2 Dec 2003 11:33:04 -0600
        Subj:   RE: SHK 14.2237 Dramatis personae


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jay Feldman <
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Date:           Tuesday, 2 Dec 2003 11:31:20 EST
Subject: 14.2268 Dramatis personae
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.2268 Dramatis personae

>Jay Feldman writes, "Bill, though this goes a bit astray, I want to ask
>you the following: if one were to disregard any thought or argument that
>assumed knowledge of Shakespeare's intention (accepting that as
>fact for the sake of this question), could one present 'Hamlet' with an
>evil ghost and do so without altering a single line of text?  Awaiting
>your gentle response - Jay Feldman"
>
>This isn't one of those *gentle* lawyer-like "Have you stopped
>beating your wife" questions, is it?
>
>Bill Arnold

Actually, it isn't. As I have mentioned in an earlier post, I do not
believe this interpretation agrees with Shakespeare's intent but that it
is one that has some merit and could be presented as such to an
audience. I am confident that you can set aside your views, at least for
the moment, and give this idea some consideration and provide me your
thoughts.

A portrayal of the play with this perspective would certainly explain
why so many relatively innocent individuals die violent and unnatural
deaths, e.g., Polonius, Ophelia, Gertrude, Laertes, R&G, and of course,
the prince himself. On the other hand, it does nothing to mitigate
Claudius' villainy.

BTW, a *gentle* reply might be one that is affable but not benign,
compassionate but not docile, elegant but not flighty. I, of course, do
not wish to know if you beat your wife or she you. That is part of the
sport of life better left unexamined on this forum.

Jay Feldman

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           D Bloom <
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Date:           Tuesday, 2 Dec 2003 11:33:04 -0600
Subject: 14.2237 Dramatis personae
Comment:        RE: SHK 14.2237 Dramatis personae

Poisonally, I think that if Claudius had been the illegitimate father of
Hamlet (D. Dane) he wouldn't have bragged about it. A much more likely
candidate would be Polonius, who thirty years previously would not have
been a dithering old coot but a smart, competent courtier (in his early
40's say) making his way through the zoo of Elsinore. He seduced the
pretty teen-ager Gertrude (or was seduced by her), who then caught the
eye of the king. She or her family jumped at the chance of her jumping
into the royal arms and bed, but that wouldn't stop her from seeing her
first lover from time to time and producing a prince at his behest.

This suggestion would explain why Polonius is so oddly frantic to
prevent the furtherance of the Hamlet-Ophelia connection -- his daughter
marrying her half-brother might produce almost anything as the next
heir. Likewise, Laertes might have caught a whiff of this thought, or
been told it outright over a few cups of Rhenish (with snickers and
guffaws). It would also explain why Polonius felt so comfy lurking
behind the curtains in the queen's bedchamber -- much as if it were
familiar territory. And why Hamlet felt so little remorse at killing
him, instead of the intended victim.

All this will appear in my forthcoming monograph, *Bedfellows and
Playfellows: Sexual Excess in the Subtextual Substructure of
**Hamlet***, Paris: The Henry Miller Press, 2004.

It's really good. I use a lot of words like foregrounding and
reification. And you should see my chapter on the homoeroticism of
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern! Hot? You won't believe.

Cheers,
don

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