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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: November ::
Dramatis personae
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.2251  Thursday, 27 November 2003

[1]     From:   Bill Arnold <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 26 Nov 2003 06:48:28 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.2237 Dramatis personae

[2]     From:   Clifford Stetner <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 26 Nov 2003 13:28:53 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.2182 Dramatis persona

[3]     From:   Matthew Baynham <
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        Date:   Thursday, 27 Nov 2003 09:30:13 -0000
        Subj:   Dramatis personae


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bill Arnold <
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Date:           Wednesday, 26 Nov 2003 06:48:28 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 14.2237 Dramatis personae
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.2237 Dramatis personae

Edmund Taft writes, "The case for an evil ghost, though not definitive,
seems to me quite strong."

Nay, Sir, Good, as in good spirit/ghost!

Well, one wonders why?  When all the textual evidence in the play Hamlet
argues for the case of an *good* spirit/ghost of a most *Holy* ghost
nature, right out of the New Testament which Will S references
repeatedly in his writings, in particular:

Just as the spirit/ghost *vanishes* from the sight of the guards in the
opening ACT, it is noted, from the KJV, Luke, C 24, Vs 25-51: "And their
eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their
sight[31]...And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of
them, and saith unto them, 'Peace *be* unto you.' But they were
terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit.  And
he said unto them...'Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself:
handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me
have'[36-38]...And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted
from them, and carried up into heaven[51]."

Just as the spirit/ghost mysteriously *appears* and then mysteriously
*vanishes* from the sight of the guards three times in the opening ACT,
it is noted, from the KJV, John, C 21, V 14:
"This is now the third time that Jesus shewed himself to his disciples,
after that he was risen from the dead."

Just as the spirit/ghost/will/soul or breath of Hamlet's father
*appears* as a breath of air and cannot be smitten by the guard's swords
in the opening ACT, it is noted, from the KJV, John C 20, Vs 21-22:
"Then said Jesus to them again, 'Peace *be* unto you: as *my* Father
hath sent me, even so send I you.'  And when he had said this, he
breathed on *them,* and saith unto them, 'Receive ye the Holy Ghost."

The *Holy Ghost* is the *Soul* or *Will* or *Spirit* or *Breath* or
*Holy Ghost* of Will S's "Saviour' invoked in the opening ACT of Hamlet
the play, and Jesus by the mere *ACT* of putting his *Breath* on his
disciples has put the *Holy Ghost* upon them, and the rest of the
passage makes clear that this power has the power to *remit sins*.  No
doubt, Will S saw the *spirit* in the opening ACT as the same powerful
good *agent* of the *Father* of the "Saviour" so invoked!

It behooves Shakespearean scholars to pay attention to the Biblical
*spiritualism* of Will S, author of the play Hamlet and creator of the
good characters: the *spirit* of Hamlet the Elder and of Prince Hamlet
the Son, and what *binds* them throughout the play: the *Holy Ghost*!
As noted, from the KJV, Matthew, C 28, V 18-19: "And Jesus came and
spake unto them, saying, 'All power is given unto me in heaven and in
earth.  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the
name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy ghost.'"

Thus, Will S saw in these myriad referents in the New Testament the gist
for his *spirit/ghost/soul/will/breath* of Hamlet the Elder and Prince
Hamlet the Son and the *force* binding them, the Holy Ghost, equating
*no doubt* the goodness of *SPIRIT/GHOST* from the KJV, Luke, C 24, Vs
46: "And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, 'Father, into
thy hands I commend my spirit;' and having said thus, he gave up the
ghost."  None dare doubt that *spirit* and *ghost* are thus equated!!!

So, Will S invoked these powerful words into his opening ACT character
of the *spirit/ghost* which mysteriously *appears* here and then
*vanishes* there and nothing the guards can do can *touch him* as viewed
from the KJV, Mark, C 13, V 6-22: "For many shall come in my name,
saying, I am *Christ;* and shall deceive many...but whatsoever shall be
given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but
the Holy Ghost...And then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here *is*
Christ; or, lo, *he* is there."  Also from the KJV, Matthew, C 10, V
20-33: "For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which
speaketh in you.  And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death,
and the father the child...Whosoever therefore shall confess me before
men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.  But
whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my
Father which is in heaven."  It is noted that Hamlet the Elder did
question the *love* of the *Son* for the *Father* and Prince Hamlet
exclaimed, "O God!"

And finally, Will S who made *puns galore* upon his name in his *Will*
Sonnet Sequence Masterpiece, CXLIII-CXLVI, and literary allusions thus
to Biblical texts therein, it is noted from the KJV, Matthew, C 26, V
39: "O my Father...nevertheless not as I will, but as thou *wilt.*"
And, Luke, C 22, V 42: "Saying, 'Father, if thou be willing, remove this
cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.'"

Clearly, none should doubt Will S references the New Testament in his
*spirit/ghost/soul/breath/will* out-of-body character and its almost
*allegorical* embodiment of these five vital synonymous words in the
opening ACT of Hamlet the play, his *Will* Masterpiece!

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

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Clifford Stetner <
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Date:           Wednesday, 26 Nov 2003 13:28:53 -0500
Subject: 14.2182 Dramatis personae
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.2182 Dramatis personae

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

There is no ghost in Saxo or any other Hamlet tale. There is however in
Kyd's Spanish Tragedy to which this play alludes. In addition to the
name Horatio which has no other source, there are the play within the
play and several verbal echoes.

If Shakespeare was thinking of Kyd (who had recently died purportedly
from illness contracted when undergoing torture for the charge of
atheism), then the ghost of Hamlet is a modification of the ghost of Don
Andrea who together with Revenge directs the tragedy from the side of
the stage, apparently representing Hades. Andrea's ghost is not an
apparition; i.e. he does not appear to the other characters and his
identity is therefore never ambiguous. Kyd did not invent the vengeful
ghost either, but took it from Seneca for whom its identity was also
never ambiguous.

To complicate matters, if the ghost is not the father of Hamlet's ghost,
he was probably the the father of Hamnet's ghost. I.e. Shakespeare is
believed by some to have played this role. Kyd is, of course, also
credited with the hypothetical lost Ur-Hamlet. This fact together with
the allusions to ST indicate to me that the ghost is partly meant for
Kyd's dead spirit making Hamlet the playwright and director a stand-in
for Shakespeare who was perhaps his protege and/or collaborator in the
old Hamlet play which may have looked a lot like Q1.

Shakespeare's is the only (extant) version of the tale in which dead
father and living son share a common name. So, according to the above
interpretation, would Hamlet's allegorical identity and the ghost's
portrayer: William Shakespeare.

In addition to Andrea, the revenge plot of the ST also involves a
father, Hieronimo, avenging a dead son, Horatio. While his father was
also recently dead, the dead Hamlet who haunted Shakespeare in 1601-3
was his son, Hamnet Shakespeare. The myth being adapted does not,
however, allow for such a role reversal, except by implication and
allusion. In this case, the allegorical identity of the ghost, Hamnet,
and the literal Hamlet share a virtually common name.

I know that this kind of reading violates Occam's razor, but without it,
I am hard put to explain the dead king's name in Shakespeare's version
of the myth without recourse to some anachronistic Freudian psychodrama.
I don't think Occam applies to poetry, anyway.

Clifford Stetner
CUNY
http://phoenixandturtle.net

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Matthew Baynham <
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Date:           Thursday, 27 Nov 2003 09:30:13 -0000
Subject:        Dramatis personae

Martin steward writes

'Enter ENTITY...

Exit ENTITY.

Hmmm. You can kind of see why WS didn't plump for that one.'

But perhaps the ghost is really Hamlet's Id

Matthew Baynham

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