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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: October ::
Hamlet
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.2022  Friday, 17 October 2003

[1]     From:   D Bloom <
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        Date:   Thursday, 16 Oct 2003 09:23:40 -0500
        Subj:   RE: SHK 14.2013 Hamlet

[2]     From:   Jay Feldman <
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        Date:   Thursday, 16 Oct 2003 10:23:39 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.2013 Hamlet

[3]     From:   Clifford Stetner <
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        Date:   Thursday, 16 Oct 2003 10:57:59 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.2013 Hamlet

[4]     From:   John Ramsay <
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        Date:   Thursday, 16 Oct 2003 16:45:37 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.2013 Hamlet


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           D Bloom <
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Date:           Thursday, 16 Oct 2003 09:23:40 -0500
Subject: 14.2013 Hamlet
Comment:        RE: SHK 14.2013 Hamlet

Just to let everyone know that RH's post "Noir Hamlet #3" has received a
nomination for the Hernshaw Award.

Cheers,
don

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jay Feldman <
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Date:           Thursday, 16 Oct 2003 10:23:39 EDT
Subject: 14.2013 Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.2013 Hamlet

Don Bloom says:

>Jay Feldman responds to my suggesting that Old Norway is a mere
>satrap by noting "Norway's relative autonomy, wealth, and authority."
>I would agree, if Horatio (who seems to be in a position to know)
>hadn't  told me something else. He says that Old Fortinbras lost the
>whole ball of wax (plus his life) in losing to Old Hamlet.

I disagree. He certainly lost his life, but we simply do not know
whether "...all those lands which he stood seiz'd of..." included the
entire nation, or just what Old Fortinbras owned. Brother Norway and
other land owners may have retained title and control of their
properties. That interpretation would neatly support my theory and
explain what the text clearly provides: a Norway retaining significant
amounts of autonomy, wealth, and authority.

Jay Feldman

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Clifford Stetner <
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Date:           Thursday, 16 Oct 2003 10:57:59 -0400
Subject: 14.2013 Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.2013 Hamlet

Regardless of his supernatural motivations, Hamlet is an attempted
usurper of the lawful throne. He falls within a pattern of usurpation
which involves internal rebellion accompanied by simultaneous external
invasion that runs through Shakespeare's study of history and, in fact,
history itself:

Lucius leads the Goths into Rome while Titus is serving up dinner to
Saturninus and Tamora; the peers of King John join the French invasion
while someone is poisoning John at home; York sets up Cade's rebellion
as he invades from Ireland; Octavius rides into Rome after Antony
foments rebellion against the Senate; Malcolm only revolts against
Macbeth when he has the English army on the border; the plot to kill
Henry IV at Oxford is supposed to be followed by invasion from Wales;
Prospero is usurped by his brother's rebellion together with invasion
from Naples.

Even though Fortinbras claims some undefined rights to the Danish throne
(to be discussed later by Horatio: "Of that I shall have also cause to
speak"), it is his "vantage" i.e. his army in de facto occupation that
enables him to take the throne.

It stretches credibility that, in contrast with all the examples of
coordinated rebellion and invasion in Shakespearean history, Fortinbras
just happens to be in the neighborhood with his army when the throne
becomes vacant. It seems more likely that Hamlet has plotted with
Fortinbras, whose army he met on his way to England (like Timon with
Alcibiades or Coriolanus with Aufidius). In that case, the story of
pirates he tells to Horatio is false. He and Fortinbras have merely sent
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern captive to England while Hamlet has
sojourned with the Norwegian forces coordinating the overthrow of
Claudius.

Hamlet can therefore very easily prophecy that election will fall on
Fortinbras, as he knows he is approaching with an occupying force. If
Hamlet emerges apparently innocent of treachery with Norway in the
overthrow of Claudius, it is perhaps because Shakespeare is staging
Horatio's version.

O good Horatio, what a wounded name,
Things standing thus unknown, shall live behind me!
If thou didst ever hold me in thy heart
Absent thee from felicity awhile,
And in this harsh world draw thy breath in pain,
To tell my story.

Larry Weiss advises me to "trust the text," but this is tragedy and not
history, and Horatio is too concerned with repairing Hamlet's wounded
name to be trusted.

Clifford Stetner
CUNY

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Ramsay <
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Date:           Thursday, 16 Oct 2003 16:45:37 -0400
Subject: 14.2013 Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.2013 Hamlet

D Bloom <
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 > writes,

>Edmund Taft writes
>
>"I don't think that Occam's razor supports Don's theory very well,
>especially since there IS a memory of Fortinbras's shared with the
>audience early on by means of Hortatio's report."
>
>And that's why I cited it, quoting the whole passage.
>
>Jay Feldman responds to my suggesting that Old Norway is a mere satrap
>by noting "Norway's relative autonomy, wealth, and authority."
>
>I would agree, if Horatio (who seems to be in a position to know) hadn't
>told me something else. He says that Old Fortinbras lost the whole ball
>of wax (plus his life) in losing to Old Hamlet.

Horatio tells us no such thing. He speaks of Norway's 'seized lands'
being wagered against a 'moiety' put up by Denmark.

Seized lands is plural. If he meant all of Denmark it would be singular.

A moiety is a portion of something. Not the whole ball of wax.

John Ramsay

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