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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: November ::
Dramatis personae
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.2195  Tuesday, 18 November 2003

[1]     From:   Dan Smith <
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        Date:   Friday, 14 Nov 2003 13:41:16 -0000
        Subj:   RE: SHK 14.2182 Dramatis personae

[2]     From:   Martin Steward <
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        Date:   Friday, 14 Nov 2003 13:49:10 -0000
        Subj:   SHK 14.2182 Dramatis personae

[3]     From:   Dana Wilson <
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        Date:   Friday, 14 Nov 2003 06:39:37 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.2182 Dramatis personae

[4]     From:   Bill Arnold <
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        Date:   Friday, 14 Nov 2003 07:05:33 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.2173 Dramatis personae

[5]     From:   Larry Weiss <
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        Date:   Friday, 14 Nov 2003 12:15:24 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.2182 Dramatis personae

[6]     From:   Jay Feldman <
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        Date:   Friday, 14 Nov 2003 13:42:32 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.2182 Dramatis personae

[7]     From:   Susanne Collier-Lakeman <
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        Date:   Friday, 14 Nov 2003 11:52:31 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.2182 Dramatis personae

[8]     From:   Mary Beth Geppert <
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        Date:   Monday, 17 Nov 2003 09:02:46 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.2173 Dramatis personae


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Dan Smith <
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Date:           Friday, 14 Nov 2003 13:41:16 -0000
Subject: 14.2182 Dramatis personae
Comment:        RE: SHK 14.2182 Dramatis personae

At the risk of inflaming the "is it a spirit or a ghost" argument again,
I quite like the idea that Hamlets real father is Claudius ;-)

I have no textual support for this of course but I someday I would quite
like to see a production that hinted at it in casting.

Dan Smith

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Martin Steward <
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Date:           Friday, 14 Nov 2003 13:49:10 -0000
Subject: Dramatis personae
Comment:        SHK 14.2182 Dramatis personae

Writes Thomas Larque:

'If you have doubts about whether the Ghost is a Ghost, as Hamlet does
himself - wondering if it is instead an evil spirit or "goblin damned"
pretending to be the ghost of his father...

If you have doubts about the actual identity of the Ghost, such that you
are suggesting that it is a ghost, but not of Hamlet's father, then we
have the Ghost's own word to the contrary "I am thy father's spirit",
and no apparent reason to suspect that it is lying.'

Doesn't the first one cast quite a bit of doubt on the second?

m

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Dana Wilson <
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Date:           Friday, 14 Nov 2003 06:39:37 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 14.2182 Dramatis personae
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.2182 Dramatis personae

Tom, et al,

Tom wrote:

>If you have doubts
>about whether the Ghost is a Ghost, as Hamlet does
>himself - wondering
>if it is instead an evil spirit or "goblin damned"
>pretending to be the
>ghost of his father - then the character name given
>to the Ghost in
>Folio, "Good" Quarto, and "Bad" Quarto alike
>strongly suggests that the
>Ghost is, as it claims, a ghost.

Tom I'm afraid that if you have been following this thread about the
semantical 'ghost' of Will S, you will realise you bring us to the edge
of a precipice, tottering on which we look down and dizzily wonder what
is a 'goblin'.

To risk the genetic heresy, I seem to recall it has something to do with
the element of cobalt, and therefore is an earthy substance, native
beneath the mountain.  In this case, I would identify the goblin with
the gravedigger.

Clearly, the earthy 'absolutism' of the gravedigger makes him the foil
of the 'airy' prince, who would call the compass of a nutshell a broad
expanse, to be spared evil dreams.

I am,
D-

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bill Arnold <
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Date:           Friday, 14 Nov 2003 07:05:33 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 14.2173 Dramatis personae
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.2173 Dramatis personae

David Friedberg writes, "The Folio of 1623 does not give a list of
Dramatis Personae for Hamlet, but my copy of the Oxford Shakespeare
does.  It lists the Ghost as of Hamlet's father. I am not at all certain
that this ghost is that of Hamlet's father.  Can anyone tell me when did
a list of characters appearing in the play become the norm?  Has the
Ghost always been definitively described as Hamlet's father?"

Well, well, well: I guess not all the *Spirit/Ghost* posts of late were
read by all, which does not surprise me.  Anyway, it is crystal clear
that Will S, who wrote the play Hamlet, has characters in ACT ONE
*definitively describe* the *Spirit/Ghost* as the father of Hamlet;
indeed, down to minute details, so that there is *no doubt* whatsoever:
including the way Hamlet's father was last in his clothes, in armor,
with his armored "Beaver up" and his face exposed, and his face
frowning, and his demeanor one of an angry former king who *then*
relates details of his death by poison by his brother so that, again,
there is no doubt to Globe Groundlings who watched the play that it was
the *Spirit/Ghost* of Hamlet's father [consult Hardy's SHAKSPER archives
with the *SEARCH* function]!  In addition, the other characters,
including Prince Hamlet, confirm this fact of the dramaturgy.

The Holy *Spirit/Ghost* actually says to his *Son* Prince Hamlet, "I am
thy father's spirit...If thou didst ever thy dear father love--"

To which Prince Hamlet--horrified that his departed father's *Spirit*
would even entertain such a despicable thought, and doubt his *own* son,
echoing Will S's New Testament referents, that the Saviour said the
Greatest Commandment was to love thy Father in Heaven, who is thy God,
with all thy heart, and all thy mind, and all thy soul, from his
depths--blurts out, "O God!  ...and thy commandment all alone shall live
Within the book and volume of my brain...by heaven!"

Again: this Father, Son and Holy Spirit/Ghost *Trinity* dialogue is
right out of Will S's laundry list of nearly two thousand *spiritual*
allusions, quotations and paraphrases to the Bible, particularly the New
Testament; thus, do not doubt that the *Spirit/Ghost* is unequivocally
the *Spirit/Ghost* of the father of Prince Hamlet.

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

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Larry Weiss <
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Date:           Friday, 14 Nov 2003 12:15:24 -0500
Subject: 14.2182 Dramatis personae
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.2182 Dramatis personae

David Friedberg tells us,

>'I am not at all certain that this ghost is that of Hamlet's father.'

T. Hawkes responds,

>Neither am I. It's certainly the ghost of Gertrude's first husband, but
>that's not necessarily the same thing.

But since the ghost seems to enjoy at least a modicum of omniscience --
e.g., he knows who killed him even though he was asleep at the time --
is it not reasonable to assume that he would know if he is actually
Hamlet's father?  He says "I am thy father's spirit.

If we are to accept the bona fides of the ghost as that of Gertrude's
late husband, but question the perfectness of his knowledge (or his
veracity), we will have to travel even more convoluted byways.  The
effort required for such metal contortions is not worth whatever
harmonic satisfaction is derived from giving a literal interpretation to
"Our son will win."

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jay Feldman <
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Date:           Friday, 14 Nov 2003 13:42:32 EST
Subject: 14.2182 Dramatis personae
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.2182 Dramatis personae

Thomas Larque writes: . . . The most likely alternative to the Ghost
being the ghost of Hamlet's father is - as Hamlet suspects - that the
Ghost is not a ghost at all but an evil spirit in disguise (an
interpretation supported by a sizable minority of critics) . . .

I do not believe that this was Shakespeare's intention but it could be a
legitimate interpretation of the play requiring no alteration in the
text.  To assure understanding of this devilish deceiver's active
ill-will in the minds of the audience, it could appear on stage, unseen
by the actors, pleased with Hamlet's vile behavior to Ophelia in the
nunnery scene and during his murder of Polonius. Additionally or
alternatively, it could assume the role of one or more minor characters
such as Reynaldo, Fortinbras' captain, the priest, the second
gravedigger, and/or Osric.

I wonder if anyone has produced a Hamlet using a demonic ghost who so
steadfastly steers Hamlet to corruption?

Inquiringly,
Jay Feldman

[7]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Susanne Collier-Lakeman <
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Date:           Friday, 14 Nov 2003 11:52:31 -0800
Subject: 14.2182 Dramatis personae
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.2182 Dramatis personae

Thank you Terence. Always good for a laugh.

Can we not reference the revenge or blood tragedy tradition, which harks
back to the Greek tradition, that one cannot introduce the supernatural
unless the ghost/god has info not available to mere mortals.  Think of
the opening scene of the Spanish Tragedy.  One has to have a spirit to
get the old revenge thing going. Thus one takes on trust that the ghost
is "real".

Btw. Does anyone else agree with me that Brian Blessed is the best Ghost
on record? Now I'm probably getting into hot water.

Cheers,
Susanne

[8]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mary Beth Geppert <
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Date:           Monday, 17 Nov 2003 09:02:46 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 14.2173 Dramatis personae
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.2173 Dramatis personae

Gary Taylor's "Remaking Shakespeare" 1985? details the beginning of
annotation and Dramatis Personae.  If my memory serves correctly
Alexander Pope in the early 18th century began listing the characters.
However it was during the Victorian period where they were organized as
we know them.  ie Touchstone for Clown, Duke Senior for Measure, etc.
Check out Taylor's book for a great cultural reference of Shakespeare.

Cheers,
Mary Beth

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