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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: October ::
no spirit dares stir
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1945  Monday, 6 October 2003

[1]     From:   Thomas Larque <
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        Date:   Friday, 3 Oct 2003 13:34:35 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1939 no spirit dares stir

[2]     From:   Todd Lidh <
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        Date:   Friday, 3 Oct 2003 10:35:20 -0400
        Subj:   RE: SHK 14.1939 no spirit dares stir

[3]     From:   Donald Jellerson <
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        Date:   Friday, 3 Oct 2003 12:01:37 -0700
        Subj:   Hamlet: Closets and Bedchamber

[4]     From:   Edward Brown <
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        Date:   Saturday, 04 Oct 2003 09:05:11 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1923 no spirit dares stir


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Thomas Larque <
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Date:           Friday, 3 Oct 2003 13:34:35 +0100
Subject: 14.1939 no spirit dares stir
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1939 no spirit dares stir

>Dana Wilson writes, "I suggest that a 'sensible ghost' is more than a
>mote of trouble for a sensible eye, to say nothing of aethyreal ghost."
>
>Excuse me?  Who said anything about "ghost"?  Not Horatio!
>
>Not once,
>not *even* once by the characters of Will S's Hamlet, is this vision
>called a ghost!
>
>It is the directorial insertions by later editors, as I do understand
>Shakespearean scholars, which refer to the "spirit" as "GHOST."
>
>So, if we focus on the words of Will S, what have we?

Bill Arnold is unfortunately quite wrong.  If we focus on the words of
William Shakespeare (who, unless we have good reason to believe
otherwise in particular instances, should be assumed to be every bit as
responsible for the stage directions of his plays as for the dialogue)
then the ultimate authorial description of the creature that appears on
the battlements and in Gertrude's closet in "Hamlet" is "GHOST".  I have
checked the Folio, the Second ("good") Quarto, and even the less
reliable First ("bad") Quarto, and in all three instances the arrival of
the figure that resembles Hamlet's father is indicated by the words
"Enter Ghost" and the speech-headings when this figure is talking to
Hamlet are "Ghost:" (although I have not checked that this
speech-heading is always used, it is certainly predominantly so in all
three texts).

Even if this is not good enough for Bill Arnold (since, I suppose, all
three texts might be referring back to some corrupt original in which
character names and stage directions had been provided by somebody else)
then he seems to have missed the fact that Hamlet (five times) and
Horatio (once) clearly and unambiguously refer to the figure as a
ghost.  "Alas, poor ghost!" (1.5.4).  "Ay, thou poor ghost" (1.5.96).
"There needs no ghost" (1.5.125).  "It is an honest ghost" (1.5.138),
"It is a damned ghost" (3.2.87), "I'll take the ghost's word for a
thousand pound" (3.2.297).

After all this, then, if Bill Arnold wishes to reject the use of the
word "Ghost" to describe the spirit that comes in the form of Hamlet's
father, then he is certainly not doing so with the authority of William
Shakespeare himself, since Shakespeare labels the character "Ghost" in
its very name in his stage directions, and repeatedly has his characters
refer to it as such (though not in the scene between Horatio and the
Guards, which seems to be the only one that Bill Arnold has checked
before creating his false theory).  In fact Shakespeare's naming of the
character as "Ghost" in the stage directions, where neither the
character Hamlet nor theatre audiences would be aware of it, is a good
indication that the Ghost is, as the play suggests, really the ghost of
Hamlet's dead father, and not just a masquerading evil spirit (Hamlet
considers this possibility in the play, but the stage directions -
written with authorial omniscience - seem to disprove it).

Thomas Larque.
"Shakespeare and His Critics"       "British Shakespeare Association"
http://shakespearean.org.uk           http://britishshakespeare.ws

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Todd Lidh <
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Date:           Friday, 3 Oct 2003 10:35:20 -0400
Subject: 14.1939 no spirit dares stir
Comment:        RE: SHK 14.1939 no spirit dares stir

Bill Arnold says:

"Not once, not *even* once by the characters of Will S's Hamlet, is this
vision called a ghost! It is the directorial insertions by later
editors, as I do understand Shakespearean scholars, which refer to the
"spirit" as "GHOST." So, if we focus on the words of Will S, what have
we?"

Perhaps I'm making the obvious response here, but the Folio stage
directions use the term "Ghost" in 1.1 even if the characters do not. In
fact, all stage directions in the Folio which refer to this character
use "Ghost," and the speech prefix is "Gho" throughout. Surely use of
the term cannot be ascribed to "later editors" but, in fact,
Shakespeare's Folio editors.

I don't have copies of the quartos with me in my office (drat), but I'm
fairly certain they use "Ghost" as well. With that, I find it difficult
to make the argument that "later editors" are responsible for the word
usage and, in fact, find the more compelling argument that the actual
author/editors knew the nature of that character while the onstage
characters are still figuring it out.

TL

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Donald Jellerson <
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Date:           Friday, 3 Oct 2003 12:01:37 -0700
Subject:        Hamlet: Closets and Bedchamber

Dear List,

Bill Arnold (speaking of other Hamlet matters in 14.923) says: "closet
aka bedroom."  This is quoted again by Bob Linn (14.939).

I'm not entirely sure a closet is the same thing as a bedroom for
Shakespeare.  A closet, according to the OED references for around S's
time, suggests an inner chamber, perhaps a royal dressing room, or a
private room for prayers -- not necessarily a bedroom.

In Cymbelline II.iv, Iachimo describes his visit to Imogen's
"bedchamber" -- a visit obviously meant to be more suggestive than
Hamlet's visit to Gertrude's (or Ophelia's) "closet."

I would be happy to hear clarifications of these terms.

Regards,
Donald Jellerson

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edward Brown <
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Date:           Saturday, 04 Oct 2003 09:05:11 -0400
Subject: 14.1923 no spirit dares stir
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1923 no spirit dares stir

The Ghost tells Hamlet that he was murdered in the afternoon while
napping in his garden, not late at night in a dark bedroom:

"...Sleeping within my orchard,
My custom always of the afternoon,
Upon my secure hour thy uncle stole
..."

(I.V.65-67)

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