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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: November ::
Dramatis personae
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.2211  Thursday, 20 November 2003

[1]     From:   Bill Arnold <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 19 Nov 2003 06:33:34 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.2203 Dramatis personae

[2]     From:   Jay Feldman <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 19 Nov 2003 11:08:17 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.2203 Dramatis personae

[3]     From:   Matthew Baynham <
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        Date:   Thursday, 20 Nov 2003 08:25:15 -0000
        Subj:   Re: Dramatis personae


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bill Arnold <
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Date:           Wednesday, 19 Nov 2003 06:33:34 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 14.2203 Dramatis personae
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.2203 Dramatis personae

David Friedberg writes, "Arnold assumes that within a living body is a
soul, which leaves after death and may under certain circumstances be
visible as a Ghost; and that all ghosts are such.  There is as much
proof of the existence of souls and ghosts as there is of demons."

Excuse me?  Again, this *Arnold* you cite is a figment of *your*
imagination.  Why don't you just leave this figment out of the
discussion?  What we are discussing here is the play Hamlet by Will S.
I have stayed contextual, and it is Will S who has cited his *Saviour*
from the New Testament in his opening ACT ONE and the "spirit" dichotomy
of whether  it come from heaven or from hell.  Do you *know* how many
times *God* and *heaven* are invoked in the play Hamlet?  You ought to
count them!

In SCENE III the Satanic Claudius says,

"O, my offence is rank, it smells to heaven;
It hath the primal eldest curse upon 't,
A brother's murder.  Pray can I not,
Though inclination be as sharp as will."

Now, one wonders, scholars have posited, if Will S is injecting himself
*metaphorically* within that last word, as Will S did in his *Will*
sonnets, and knowing as he did that the words "Ghost" and "Spirit" and
"Breath" and "Soul" and "Will" are, indeed, as they were in the
Shakespearean Age, synonyms in the broadest sense by "Learned men of the
Land" as King James I termed them when he created the Hampton Court
Conference in 1603.  And was *not* Claudius admitting to his having
committed the sin of Cain upon Adam, the *violation* of the commandment
that "Thou shalt not kill"?  So, indeed, his sin smells to high heaven,
as we now *know* the pun upon the Will S line!

Claudius then says,

"My stronger guilt...What if this cursed hand
Were thicker than itself with brother's blood,
Is there not rain enough in the sweet heavens
To wash it white as snow?"

Doubt you that Claudius admits his guilt of murder, and doubt you that
he fears his own ghost, spirit, soul, breath or will is doomed away from
heaven and bound for a Dantean Inferno for Eternity? That is *twice* he
invoked *heavenly* places where all ghosts, spirits, souls, breaths and
wills came from--which *animated* the body at birth, according to the
lore of Shakespearean England!

Claudius then says,

"My fault is past.  But, O, what form of prayer
Can serve my turn?  'Forgive me my foul murder'?
That cannot be; since I am still possess'd
Of those effects for which I did the murder."

Hey, is this man *guilty* of confessed murder, or what?  Yes or no?  Is
he obsessed with the fate of his ghost, spirit, breath, soul and will
after death?  Yes, Will S's play Hamlet shows evil Claudius to be
obsessed with the fate of his doomed soul!

Claudius then says,

"O limed soul, that, struggling to be free,
Art more engaged!  Help, angels!  Make assay!
Bow, stubborn knees; and, heart with strings of steel,
Be soft as sinews of the new-born babe!"

Well, is it not *ironic* that our evil brother who has admitted murder,
cannot, for the *life* of him, nor for the ghost, spirit, breath,
spirit, will nor *soul*, find it within himself to give up his
ill-gotten gains for which he *usurped* his elder brother: "crown, mine
own ambition and my queen."  No,
this evil brother who slew his own eldest brother, the rightful heir in
order of ascendancy, even citing the Old Testament law and within bounds
of English law of the Age of Shakespeare--this
same evil brother wants to pray to the *angels* of heaven to make him as
*white as snow* and as
pure as the *new-born babe!*

No, Claudius
*cannot*
undo his evil deeds, as Will S's Saviour said in the New Testament,
paraphrasing, you know a tree by its fruit, and this evil brother
Claudius has committed evil acts, and deemed himself an evil tree, for
which there is *no* redemption, even as Jesus cursed the fig tree which
withered and died; thus, evil Claudius *cannot* be saved by even prayer,
as Will S makes this dramatically clear in the following scene
sequentially [again: the following scene *PROVES* that Prince Hamlet is
*not* a procrastinator but intentionally waiting for the moment which
gains the revenge and the damnation of the soul of the evil Cladius!]

ENTER HAMLET

[Prince Hamlet sees evil Claudius alone, and in the act of prayer, on
his knees]

Hamlet says,

"Now, might I do it pat, now he is praying;
And now I'll do i't.  And so he goes to heaven;
...
A villain kills my father; and for that,
I, his sole son, do this same villain send to heaven.
...
And how his audit stands who knows save heaven?
...
'Tis heavy with him: and am I then revenged,
To take him in the purging of his soul...?  No!
Up, sword...When he is...about some act
That has no relish of salvation in 't;
Then trip him, that his heels may kick at heaven,
And that his soul may be as damn'd and black
As hell, whereto it goes."

Then Claudius says,

"Words without thoughts never to heaven go."

OK: what you all have just *read* is Will S, the Bard, Shakespeare at
his best: and his best was, and still is, most *S-P-I-R-I-T-U-A-L* and
there is absolutely and unequivocably no doubt about it.  Heaven is
invoked!  Soul is invoked!  Salvation is invoked, and all three by the
contextual words of Will S, the English Bard.

Murderous acts are deemed to drive the Soul to eternal damnation in
Hell!  The evil Claudius admits his Guilt, and that his *words* are
hollow and have no true meaning!

The Good Prince Hamlet assuredly puts
*up his sword*
and waits for another moment to satisfy the appetite of the Globe
Groundlings, so that this evil Claudius will not under the dramaturgy of
the play find *salvation* for his ghost, spirit, soul, breath [which
animates the *new-born babe*].

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

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jay Feldman <
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Date:           Wednesday, 19 Nov 2003 11:08:17 EST
Subject: 14.2203 Dramatis personae
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.2203 Dramatis personae

T. Hawkes says:

>However there are, I gather, editions of the play in which
>Claudius actually refers to Hamlet as his 'son'. But they'll
>never catch on.

Actually, Claudius in 4.3 (Q1, 2 &F) refreshes Hamlet's gender confused
memory and reminds him he is speaking with "Thy loving father...".

Jay Feldman

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Matthew Baynham <
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Date:           Thursday, 20 Nov 2003 08:25:15 -0000
Subject:        Re: Dramatis personae

David Friedberg cites Banquo's statement about the 'instruments of
darkness' in support of the contention that the ghost in Hamlet might be
an evil spirit masquerading as Hamlet's father's ghost.

I think it is very problematic to use Macbeth to support this view of
Hamlet, exactly because the deceptiveness of the instruments of darkness
is made clear in the former. The idea that the ghost might be an evil
spirit deceiving Hamlet is essentially an argument from silence, so it
seems to me. If the evidence of Macbeth weighs at all in this scale,
it's on the other side: we have at least one play by the same author
which suggests that such an issue would not be left open.

Matthew Baynham

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