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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: November ::
no spirit dares stir
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.2119  Tuesday, 4 November 2003

[1]     From:   Bill Arnold <
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        Date:   Friday, 31 Oct 2003 06:21:53 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.2109 no spirit dares stir

[2]     From:   Edmund Taft <
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        Date:   Friday, 31 Oct 2003 12:08:07 -0500
        Subj:   no spirit dares stir

[3]     From:   Takashi Kozuka <
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        Date:   Friday, 31 Oct 2003 20:02:40 0000
        Subj:   Re: no spirit dares stir

[4]     From:   Keith Hopkins <
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        Date:   Friday, 31 Oct 2003 21:14:40 -0000
        Subj:   No spirit dares stir


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bill Arnold <
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Date:           Friday, 31 Oct 2003 06:21:53 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 14.2109 no spirit dares stir
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.2109 no spirit dares stir

D Bloom writes, "If the Ghost is doing 'the will of heaven' then it is
irrelevant what a loving father might wish to do or not do.  You may
question what a loving Father is up to with such a command, but the
answer would tend to be based not on scholarly reasoning but on whether
you go to church o' Sundays, and if so, where."

Excuse me?  Not at all; shall we remember that Will S opens Hamlet the
play by invoking his "Saviour" and references the New Testament and its
power of *spiritual* reckoning!  Thus, we must recall that part of the
NT *law* is that Will S's "Saviour" rebuked his disciples who wanted to
take up swords against the Roman occupiers of Palestine.  He said, and I
am paraphrasing from memory, that the fact he would die as a sacrificial
lamb and shed his blood for mankind, and save those who believed "in
Him" as the "Saviour" was the *Will* of God The Father In Heaven!  In
other words, it was *fated* as the *MANDATE* of Heaven, or to quote you
all, it was "the will of heaven."  In the same way he made it clear to
his disciples that his life could not be spared in what he was *sent* to
earth to do, it is clear that the *spirit* who was sent to Prince Hamlet
cannot spare the life of Prince Hamlet in invoking "Revenge"--which went
against the tenets of New Testament doctrine--but that as a consequence
of the "will of heaven" that Prince Hamlet was in fact carrying the
burden of his own *cross* as he did the "will of heaven"!

The "Saviour" of Will S made it *very* clear that no man was to be
blamed for his untimely death, not the Romans, not the Hebrews, but it
was His "Loving Father In Heaven" Who Created This New Testament [in the
fullest meaning of those latter two words: "New Testament"] Scenario!

Do I also believe, from my reading of the text of Hamlet by Will S that
its author also had read his New Testament well enough to know all
this?  Well, the answer is: yes!

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

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edmund Taft <
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Date:           Friday, 31 Oct 2003 12:08:07 -0500
Subject:        no spirit dares stir

Jay Feldman writes:

"On the other hand, if you wish to use this instance as evidence that
the visiting spirit was indeed a devil assuming a pleasing shape to damn
Hamlet, you'll get no argument from me."

Actually, I lean that way, Jay, but of course my major point is that
neither you nor I nor Bill nor Don can *know* in any final sense what
the ghost is and whether Hamlet should follow its "dread command."

Don thinks a traditional reading of the ghost is correct, and Bill
thinks a Christ-centered reading is correct. No one knows or can know,
given the way Shakespeare has set things up -- or so I'd argue.

I'd just add that one of the major points of the play is that common
sense doesn't work when we most need it to. How many times have you and
I been told as kids that before we act, we need to know what the truth
is, and what the consequences of our actions will be?

A central emphasis of the play is that in non-trivial cases, we can
hardly ever do so. We can't know the whole truth, and we can't foresee
all of the consequences of our actions. In effect, _Hamlet_ demonstrates
the risky and uncertain nature of all serious "acts."

Finally, you make my point by indicating that even the Ghost cannot tell
exactly what is going to happen if (when?) Hamlet acts. But the audience
does enter the play knowing that revenge is "a wild kind of justice,"
and that "revenge recoils against the revenger," and that "vengeance is
mine, saith the Lord."

As you know, these are all Renaissance commonplaces. So, even though
both the audience and the Ghost cannot know in detail what will happen,
they can still know in a general sense that this is not a task any
loving father would put on the shoulders of his son. It's too risky.
Whoever would do so is thinking only about himself.

Best wishes,
--Ed

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Takashi Kozuka <
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Date:           Friday, 31 Oct 2003 20:02:40 0000
Subject:        Re: no spirit dares stir

 at the issue through the 20th/21st-century glasses) -- and (b) from
what sources besides the Bible and Shakespeare's works (e.g., MS,
pamphlets, rare books) he obtained the information. I hope that
SHAKSPERians will find such information useful. Many thanks in advance.

Best wishes,
Takashi

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Keith Hopkins <
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Date:           Friday, 31 Oct 2003 21:14:40 -0000
Subject:        No spirit dares stir

Ed  and Don, raised some fascinating perspectives on the ghost in
Hamlet. Is it God the Father speaking, God the son through the deceased
natural father, or the Holy Ghost.

Clever allusions to the Holy Trinity in literature in Elizabethan times
was of course quite popular as well as being rather dangerous as far as
censorship was concerned.

This never really troubled Shakespeare of course because he is so
soaringly great that he can simply outwit any form of legal restraint
through sheer intellectual brilliance and legerdemain. In RIII he
parodied Tudor mythologysing by showing Richard so ridiculously,
laughably and engagingly demonic that he both kept the Tudors on side
whilst mocking them at the same time. Very clever. Hamlet shows us a
world where formal religious belief has died but where a kind of
background radiation of past beliefs lingers on. This is where the Ghost
comes in because in some mysterious almost unknowable way he or it or
whatever we call it dominates in one way or another this the greatest
product of the late Renaissance culture and on that basis alone its kind
of important that we try to see what is going on here and who or what we
are dealing with. I personally see it as a variation on this theme of
Father Son and Holy Ghost that links in with earthly and now deceased
father and living for the present Hamlet son and spiritual matrix of
living in a kind of Nietzschean post death of God world of Elsinore. I
largely don't buy into the Freudian stuff about it being a projection
of   Hamlets dark inner conscience for one thing the guards see it
before Hamlet does and unless H has already seen it before them that
would be a remarkable instance of influence at a distance like gravity.
I don't know what a loving father would say who is dead and then comes
back from the grave to tell his son how he died and how he should
revenge him. Revenge is mine saith the Lord which Shaks. was all too
well aware of from the Bishops Bible and I like the idea that it or he
knows the past and present but can't predict the future which suggests
fallibility and indeed a human afterlife and again we are dealing with
almost an inversion of Christian doctrine and the powerful sense that in
Elsinore people in Hamlet esp. H himself of course have great difficulty
in letting go and are almost engaging in what Schopenhauer called
communication with the souls of the dead and being possessed by them. I
am pretty sure it's not the wonderful Christian idea of heaven that we
are dealing with here but something far far  more sinister and
dangerous which may have disturbed Sh. himself and squirts its poison
into der hexenkessel of the play itself. The ghost means no good to
Hamlet or us and may be an attempt by persons unknown to conjure up this
unquiet spirit like the witch of Endor who only prophesies doom. What a
thought for all Souls eve!

Kind Regards,
Keith Hopkins
London

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