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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: October ::
Hamlet
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1989  Monday, 13 October 2003

[1]     From:   Stan Kozikowski <
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        Date:   Friday, 10 Oct 2003 09:24:55 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1972 Hamlet

[2]     From:   D Bloom <
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        Date:   Friday, 10 Oct 2003 13:18:53 -0500
        Subj:   RE: SHK 14.1982 Hamlet


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Stan Kozikowski <
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Date:           Friday, 10 Oct 2003 09:24:55 -0400
Subject: 14.1972 Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1972 Hamlet

I've read somewhere (might anyone know the source?) that 'Fortinbras'
('One who is of strong arm') may be an allusion to a(nick)name (pun
intended) given to  King James VI when he personally thwarted the young
earl of Gowrie from stabbing him to death during a visit to the Gowrie
estate in 1600.  The  matter was printed up in a special pamphlet that
WS  may well have read and/since published by V. Simmes, the fellow who
gave us Q!1 Hamlet.

Stan Kozikowski

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           D Bloom <
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Date:           Friday, 10 Oct 2003 13:18:53 -0500
Subject: 14.1982 Hamlet
Comment:        RE: SHK 14.1982 Hamlet

Oh, lord. Here we go again. I'll take John's point first.

Thus saith Horatio:

. Our last king,
Whose image even but now appear'd to us,
Was, as you know, by Fortinbras of Norway,
Thereto prick'd on by a most emulate pride,
Dared to the combat; in which our valiant Hamlet--
For so this side of our known world esteem'd him--
Did slay this Fortinbras; who by a seal'd compact,
Well ratified by law and heraldry,
Did forfeit, with his life, all those his lands
Which he stood seized of, to the conqueror:
Against the which, a moiety competent
Was gaged by our king; which had return'd
To the inheritance of Fortinbras,
Had he been vanquisher; as, by the same covenant,
And carriage of the article design'd,
His fell to Hamlet.

Horatio might be wrong. Or I might be misreading him. But until
otherwise persuaded I stand by my previous summary (except I would add a
"seem to have" between "They" and "had"):

>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.

From the brusque way Claudius deals with him, Old Norway appears to be
some sort of tributary, no monarch but a kind of satrap who'd better
follow orders when they're given.

As to Ed Taft's point, the matter is not susceptible of proof, but to
me, Fortinbras's "rights of memory" suggest a kinship claim, irrelevant
until the immediate family of Hamlet is wiped out, but definitive when
it is. "Rights" would thus be a legal claim to something, here an entire
kingdom. "Of memory" may have reference to the legal concept usually
found in "time of memory."

Hamlet's dying prophecy that the election will go to Fortinbras makes
better sense if he has such rights at the outset. If Fortinbras planned
to seize the throne of Denmark by conquest, we might expect Hamlet to
say something about that rather than about the peaceful ratification of
rights of memory. Nor does his "dying voice" in favor of that resolution
make much sense to me unless he believes that to be a good, as well as a
logical and legal, outcome.

I don't particularly enjoy having to defend projective assumptions, but
the remarks of Horatio, Hamlet, and Fortinbras suggest little
alternative. I appeal to Master William of Ockham for judgment

Cheers,
 don

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