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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: October ::
no spirit dares stir
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1957  Tuesday, 7 October 2003

From:           Bill Arnold <
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Date:           Monday, 6 Oct 2003 06:39:56 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 14.1939 no spirit dares stir [spirit vs. ghost]
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1939 no spirit dares stir [spirit vs. ghost]

From Hamlet, SCENE II.  A room of state in the castle. We read the words
of the character Hamlet:

"O that this too too solid flesh would melt,
Thaw and resolve itself into a dew!"

We have noted contextually that in SCENE I no character calls the
"spirit" of Hamlet's father a *GHOST* and we also noted the Will S
literary allusions to the KJV, Matthew, C 26, V 34, "Jesus said unto
him, 'Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow,
thou shalt deny me thrice.'"  And: V's 40-41, "And he cometh unto the
disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, 'What, could
ye not watch with me one hour?  Watch and pray, that ye enter not into
temptation: the spirit indeed *is* willing, but the flesh *is* weak.'"

Indeed, now in SCENE II, even prior to Horatio's story about the
"spirit" of Hamlet's father upon the castle wall and his confirmation of
Hamlet's vision, we have this compelling dialogue:

Hamlet speaks, "My father!--methinks I see my father."

Horatio, obviously taken back, because he had *JUST* seen the spirit of
Hamlet's father, says, "Where, my lord?"

Hamlet, then echoes the New Testament brother-on-brother literary
allusion of SCENE I about the mote in one's eye, by saying, "In my
mind's eye, Horatio."

And the message of Will S's "Saviour" is that one must *GET* that mote
out of the mind's eye, that is: one's *thoughts*!

Now, indeed, Will S, prefigures Hamlet's ability to see the *real*
spirit--not a Doubting Thomas who *demanded* flesh-and-blood wounds!
And Will S is clearly comparing and contrasting *spirit* and *flesh* as
the dichotomy put forth by Will S's evoked "Saviour"!

The *WATCH* word is repeated repeatedly in SCENES I and II!  Please
note, in both scenes: in the opening of Hamlet, and the closing of the
death and resurrection scenes of the New Testament Passion story, which
Will S knew *VERY* well as attested to by his myriad literary allusions
thoroughly his plays documented by Shakespearean scholars.

The *spirit* is referred to as "him," and "the king your father," "A
figure like your father, / Armed at point exactly, cap-a-pe," as well as
"The apparition comes: I knew your father; / These hands are not more
like," "he wore his beaver up," "A countenance more in sorrow than in
anger...very pale," "His beard was grizzled...  A sable silver'd," and
finally "My father's spirit in arms."

OK: where is the *GHOST* in all this descriptive detail?  No where to be
heard, not by any member of the Elizabethan audience!  The members of
the Elizabethan audience did *NOT* read nor did they have the benefit of
stage directions!!  Period!!!

Thus: for the opening two scenes of Hamlet, the play by Will S, we have
with no doubt whatsoever the *SPIRIT* of the father of Hamlet the Prince
on the stage; talked about; and the *VISIONARY* but very
*FLESH*-and-body Hamlet, mentally-troubled and concerned about the
mortality of how own *flesh* and, yes, his own *spirit*!

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

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