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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: October ::
Hamlet
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1972  Thursday, 9 October 2003

[1]     From:   Edmund Taft <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 08 Oct 2003 09:50:19 -0400
        Subj:   Hamlet

[2]     From:   Dana Wilson <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 8 Oct 2003 08:07:52 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1938 Hamlet

[3]     From:   D Bloom <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 8 Oct 2003 12:26:43 -0500
        Subj:   RE: SHK 14.1956 Hamlet


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edmund Taft <
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Date:           Wednesday, 08 Oct 2003 09:50:19 -0400
Subject:        Hamlet

Jay Feldman tends to agree that Fortinbras's "rites of memory" allude to
revenge, and in particular, Jay sees "those 'rights of memory' as that
of the former landlord and collector of revenues from those properties."

OK. And there's a necessary corollary to all this.  In the end, we see
(and Hamlet sees too) that Hamlet has been nothing more Than
Fortinbras's "factor," a means to achieve the ends of Fortinbras!

If so (and it certainly seems so), what does that say about the ghost?
About Hamlet?

Questions to be asked, as Falstaff might say!

--Ed Taft

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Dana Wilson <
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Date:           Wednesday, 8 Oct 2003 08:07:52 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 14.1938 Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1938 Hamlet

Don, et al,

I would suggest that the reason that the play contains internal
inconsistencies is that to each director to impose meaning on the play
thru an act of pathos, namely deciding what goes in and what goes out.
The critics ripped Mel Gibson's Hamlet because of what was left out.
But to me the inconsistencies suggest the author always intended that
each director should make the play his own, by imposing a reading on the
play, and therefore, drawing order out of chaos.   I suppose that at 400
yrs distance we have come to think of shak as a historical monument in
need of preservation and not as a living monument to drama.

D-

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           D Bloom <
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Date:           Wednesday, 8 Oct 2003 12:26:43 -0500
Subject: 14.1956 Hamlet
Comment:        RE: SHK 14.1956 Hamlet

Edmund Taft responds to the question --"What were Fortinbras's 'rights
of memory' of 5.2?" -- with this:

"He's rather indirect isn't he?  There is no mention of kinship ties, so
that seems unlikely. Most likely, Fortinbras means that he sees the
opportunity for bloodless revenge. He remembers what old Hamlet did to
his father, and now he can avenge his father and gain all the land his
father lost ? and more.

"In effect, Fortinbras succeeds where Hamlet fails. And the fact that
Hamlet names him as his successor suggests that Hamlet, in the end,
realizes exactly this fact."

With all due respect, this doesn't seem to me to cover the idea
expressed in either that phrase, or in Hamlet's "dying voice" towards
the election of Fortinbras. It seems evident on the face of it that the
nobility of Denmark will make the decision and that they will make it,
in accordance with Germanic tradition, by electing some male from the
royal family.

I realize, of course, that Fortinbras is on the scene with an army to
back up his claim, but that does not explain "rights of memory." He
wouldn't bother saying that unless the two royal houses were intertwined
-- which would certainly not be unexpected.

Old Hamlet didn't do anything in particular to Old Fortinbras except
fight him in a fair trial by combat. They had rival claims to suzerainty
over Norway (again an indication of a close connection of the two
families), and they set up a wager to settle the matter -- all of Norway
against a chunk of Denmark -- with the winner to take all, including the
life of the loser.

Finally, Fortinbras could not have hoped to hold the much larger and
richer kingdom unless he had more backing than this expeditionary
force.  If he was a usurper he would face much greater difficulties
holding Denmark than Hamlet / Claudius did in holding Norway. If, by
contrast, he was a close cousin, then he could expect to make his claim
("rights of memory") stick.

Cheers,
don

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