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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: October ::
no spirit dares stir
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1995  Monday, 13 October 2003

[1]     From:   Dana Wilson <
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        Date:   Friday, 10 Oct 2003 13:30:42 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1983 no spirit dares stir

[2]     From:   Bill Arnold <
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        Date:   Friday, 10 Oct 2003 14:00:36 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1966 no spirit dares stir [spirit vs. ghost]

[3]     From:   Jay Feldman <
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        Date:   Saturday, 11 Oct 2003 15:24:29 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1973 no spirit dares stir


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Dana Wilson <
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Date:           Friday, 10 Oct 2003 13:30:42 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 14.1983 no spirit dares stir
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1983 no spirit dares stir

Robin, et al,

Robin wrote: "...
> OED2[3]  -- SPIRIT n Def. 3.d:
>
> d. In generalized sense: A being essentially
> incorporeal or immaterial.
...
> "Spirit" is chosen because it makes no assumptions
> -- not "flesh",
> certainly, but more importantly implying the
> possibility of a range of
> immaterial beings.  Just *which* the Figure is is
> what Hamlet has to
> figure out.
..."

I think that we run into a lot of trouble if we assume the Elizabethan
idea of pneumatology is isomorphic to our own.  A 'spirited' discussion
is one that is roiling and volatile.   And a 'spirited' drink is one
that doesn't freeze, because the Elizabethans stupidly believed that it
contained an internal heat.   So to be truly fair to the Elizabethan
idea of pneumatology, we would have to say that the walker of the
ramparts was a being who could not be at rest because some internal heat
source, had gotten up his dander.  Now to what cause this affect is
effect, who can say.

D-

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bill Arnold <
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Date:           Friday, 10 Oct 2003 14:00:36 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 14.1966 no spirit dares stir [spirit vs. ghost]
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1966 no spirit dares stir [spirit vs. ghost]

'Tis a pity none dare deal with the cards Will S dealt.

OK: let's start with that, above, like a *spirit* hovering over the
battlements.

So far in this thread I have held to the strict rule that I am a member
of the Globe groundlings, with no script or text of the play Hamlet
during its first stage production, without the benefit of the 1623 Folio
which was a couple decades later, give or take a few years.

So far: as an audience member I had stood through three scenes: spirit;
pomposity and talk of the spirit; and more pomposity ad nauseum by
Pompous Polonius!  Heavy stuff, then fluff; heavy stuff, then fluff.

OK: so far: only a spirit vs. the flesh, and *no* hint of the word ghost
has emerged from anyone on stage.  So *what* was Will S thinking, in
this early omission of the Senecan Ghost?  Surely, he knew he was in the
historical shoes of Kyd and Marlowe?  Ah, yes: maybe that *IS* the
point: he *knew* and was making his play Hamlet *quite* different?

As a Globe Groundling I am not aware of all this artifice, and this
highfalutin scholarship nonsense: I am only aware that all those who
have seen the "spirit" have used all kinds of words to describe it,
mostly *very* descriptive and no doubt making me believe it is Hamlet's
dead father's "spirit." So, like my fellow Globe Groundlings I am
wondering *WHY* he is *back* and dressed in armor, and frowning and
angry and pacing the castle walls?  Inquiring minds want to know why?

So, we took a bathroom break, and a smoke outside the dark theatre, by
the Thames, got our boots all muddy and trounced back inside the
darkened Globe, and now the intermission is over: and, trust me on this,
the Globe Groundlings are all *abuzz* in wonderment, wondering *why* oh
my Oh *WHY*?

SCENE IV.  THE PLATFORM.

[Enter HAMLET, HORATIO, and MARCELLUS.]

It's cold and near midnight and Horatio says,

'then it draws near the season
Wherein the spirit held his wont to walk."

Noise of trumpets and cannons!

Hamlet explains the Pompous Claudius and his retinue are partying.  He
waxes into a sinister description of the evils of booze "breaking down
the pales and forts of reason."

Suddenly "it comes!" exclaims Horatio!

Hamlet roars, "Angels and ministers of grace defend us!"

Well, as a Globe Groundling, in the welter of the mob milling round the
stage my "spirit" jumped out of my "flesh" and I nearly fainted for awe!

Of course, the following dichotomy of Hamlet I have waxed on before in
the SHAKSPER record book, but as a Globe Groundling I am amazed to hear
Hamlet talk of spirits good and bad, and wondering *why* this spirit of
his dead dad is dressed to the 9's in armor and which *IS* this spirit,
a goodie or a badie?  Hey, as a Globe Groundling, I want to know, too?

OK: Hamlet interrupted my thoughts, and obviously recognizing something
in the details of the "spirit" in front of him, a mere ten feet in front
of me on the stage, dramatically, the young Prince Hamlet cries out at
the top of his lungs: "I will speak to thee: I'll call thee Hamlet,
King, father, royal Dane: O, answer me!"

Yikes!  we Globe Groundlings cringed in fear, at the dramatic turn of
events!  What was going on?  And *why* was this "spirit" of Prince
Hamlet's dad bugging him like this, and shucks, it was only the opening
fourth scene, and mixed in with all the pompous pomposity of the kingly
figures and the aristocratic ole pompous Polonius!  Whew!  This was too
too much and I felt my *flesh* would melt!

Gosh: Prince Hamlet reminded me of the New Testament story of the
"Saviour" risen from the grave, and walking about his disciples!

Prince Hamlet asked *WHY* so many times I lost count!

"but tell
Why thy canonized bones, hearsed in death,
Have burst their cerements; why the sepulchre,
Wherein we saw thee quietly interr'd,
Hath oped his ponderous and marble jaws,
To cast thee up again.  What may this mean,
That thou, dead corse, again in complete steel
Revisit'st thus the glimpses of the moon,
Making night hideous; and we fools of nature
So horridly to shake our disposition
With thoughts beyond the reaches of our souls?"

Gadzooks: "Spirit" out of "sepulche"?
Gadzooks: "Thoughts" past "our souls"?

So *WHY* did the "Saviour" of Will S do the *very* same deed to his
disciples that this very "Spirit" is doing to his son and subjects?

Prince Hamlet *R-E-A-L-L-Y* wants to know the answer *W-H-Y*???

Prince Hamlet asks, "Say, why is this? wherefore? what should we do?"
...
"Why, what should be the fear?"
...
"And for my soul, what can it do to that,
Being a thing immortal as itself?"

And echoing the speech of Hamlet just before the "spirit" came upon the
scene, literally, Will S has Horatio remind us of the role of reason in
all this, saying, "Which might deprive your soverignty of reason And
draw you into madness?"

Wow!  As a Globe Groundling I am struck by the scene, and Horatio
telling *me* that the good Prince Hamlet is acting with "reason" and is
*not* at all under liquored influence like the pompous King Claudius and
is *not* at all drawn "into madness"!

Anyway: things are happening too fast to think so scholarly, as Prince
Hamlet says to the "spirit" of his dead father, "Go on; I'll follow
you."

Well, darn it, as a Globe Groundling, I am *with* this Prince Hamlet and
my inquiring mind wants to know *why* this "spirit" of his dead dad is
here, and beckoning him to walk away with him, and Marcellus says, don't
do it, then Horatio says, don't do it, and Prince Hamlet [gosh! I like
his *spirit*] says, really outloud, "Hold off your hands."

I was taken aback by that; a couple subjects daring to *touch* a Prince
of the Realm!  Wow!!

Anyway: this Prince Hamlet cries out, "My fate cries out...Unhand me,
gentleman.  By heaven, I'll make a ghost of him that lets [prevents]
me!"

Sheesh!  We Globe Groundlings were shaking in our muddy boots, thinking
this Prince Hamlet would take out his sword and stab these two dudes.
But he didn't.

Instead: he invoked "By heaven."  We was amazed; truly amazed.  *WHY*
was it "heaven" and not "hell"?

And we laughed heartily at his joke that he would "make a ghost of him"
that tried to stop him from getting to the *WHY* of this "spirit" of his
dad in armor walking the battlements.  Gosh, we wanted to know why too?

And we understood Prince Hamlet's *pun* on the word "ghost" and his
calling his dead dad a "spirit" and wanting to get to the bottom of the
"good" vs. the "bad" spirit stuff.

Hey: we knew a "ghost" when we saw one!

And this was a "spirit" of Prince Hamlet's dead dad!

OK: we Globe Groundlings needed another bathroom break and a smoke and
wanted to shake the dust off our boots when Marcellus echoed all the
feelings of the murmuring crowd,

"Something is rotten in the state of Denmark,"

and we agreed with Prince Hamlet's friend Horatio, who exclaimed with
wit and wisdom,

"Heaven will direct it."

Well: I mean to tell you all, we Globe Groundlings were stunned!  Just
plain ole stunned, because this was *S-O-O-O* serious, and the first
mention of the word "ghost" and it was in a classic Shakespearean pun,
and we was still smirking about that, well, when SCENE V began.  But
enough, already; back to our thoughts, as Englishmen, cause we'd seen
our share of ghost stories and this was a "spirit" story, par
excellence!

'Tis a pity none dare deal with the cards Will S dealt!

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

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jay Feldman <
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Date:           Saturday, 11 Oct 2003 15:24:29 EDT
Subject: 14.1973 no spirit dares stir
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1973 no spirit dares stir

Bill Arnold says:

"... the mystery is *WHY* is the spirit of Hamlet's father walking on
the battlements of his old castle armed to the teeth?"

Bill, what is the possibility that this is not the spirit of Hamlet's
father, and Hamlet in 2.2 has a more accurate appraisal of the ghost's
agenda:

"The spirit that I have seen
May be the devil: and the devil hath power
To assume a pleasing shape; yea, and perhaps
Out of my weakness and my melancholy,
As he is very potent with such spirits,
Abuses me to damn me."

How likely, to your mind, is it that the visitation on the ramparts is
in
fact a "temptation" scene enacted by the devil to seduce Hamlet? A devil
that speaks the truth knowing something of the "vicious mole in nature"
that may conflict the young prince into damnation. It certainly seems
credible given the tragic events of the play and its ending ("This
quarry
cries on havoc."). If the apparition's intent is evil, by play's end it
seems to have succeeded.

Thanks for your thoughts - Jay Feldman

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