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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: October ::
no spirit dares stir
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.2028  Monday, 20 October 2003

[4]     From:   Dana Wilson <
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        Date:   Friday, 17 Oct 2003 07:05:01 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.2016 no spirit dares stir

[5]     From:   Thomas Larque <
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        Date:   Friday, 17 Oct 2003 15:53:49 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.2020 no spirit dares stir

[6]     From:   Larry Weiss <
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        Date:   Friday, 17 Oct 2003 11:35:48 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.2020 no spirit dares stir

[7]     From:   Brian Willis <
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        Date:   Sunday, 19 Oct 2003 03:23:29 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.2020 no spirit dares stir


[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Dana Wilson <
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Date:           Friday, 17 Oct 2003 07:05:01 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 14.2016 no spirit dares stir
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.2016 no spirit dares stir

Bill, et al,

Bill wrote: "...

>We can consult all the dictionaries on the planet,
>nay, in the universe,
>and it still is not as helpful as contextual
>meaning, agreed?
>
>Why, pray tell, do SHAKSPEReans *refuse* to deal
>with the four cards
>Will S dealt us: SCENE ONE, SCENE TWO, SCENE THREE,
>and SCENE FOUR?
>
>As a Globe Groundlings, we inquiring minds want to
>know?  We've just
>stood through them, our boots all muddied, our
>breath stenched with
>smoke, and we are *convinced* it is the *spirit* of
>the father of Prince
>Hamlet!  Forsooks! what play you all been watching?
..."

I think the point of Robin's reference to the Virgin Reader is that the
play you have been watching is a function of the critical apparatus that
you bring to the performance.

For example, in Hamlet's first scene with R&G, H points up at the
ceiling and says "This roof built by the hand of God".   One reader,
under the suspension of disbelief, simply proceeds on the idea that the
scene is set out of doors.   However, I hear the Bard's irony.   For me,
he is playing with the boundary of reality between the actors and the
characters they are playing.  Furthermore, the epilogue tells us that of
the deaths the audience has witnessed some have died in art and others
in life, but presumably none of the actor actually died.

...or maybe this isn't such a good assumption.  Having studied The
Method for many years I can say that Method actors will carry their
loves and conflicts back-stage to heighten the authenticity of their
performance.   And we have all heard that JWBooth formed the idea to
kill Lincoln while playing Brutus.

It is a pet theory of mine that the movie Shadow of the Vampire was
really an attempt to take the camera back-stage of Hamlet, and view The
Method at work, and obviously no one in that movie died.   My personal
belief is that no one even died in that movie, but this is because of
the lens, or critical apparatus, that I as a reader bring with me to the
performance.

In the work,
D-

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Thomas Larque <
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Date:           Friday, 17 Oct 2003 15:53:49 +0100
Subject: 14.2020 no spirit dares stir
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.2020 no spirit dares stir

>OK: let's get as *serious* as the opening of the play Hamlet by Will S
>as viewed by a Globe Groundling!
>
>So--you have recently lost a parent--or God forbid, a child!  And you
>come to the play in the Globe with a heavy heart after you have been to
>the funeral of your loved one.  Did the Rabbi or the Priest or the
>Preacher speak of the *ghost* of your departed relative, rather than the
>*spirit*?
>
>Of course not.  God forbid.
>
>OK: tell me it is as serious to call your *dead* relative a *ghost*!?

A very little research proves that Renaissance audiences were quite used
to people referring to the ghosts of their relatives, or hearing their
relatives described as ghosts, in literature of the period.  Just a
brief websearch for "father's ghost" and "thee" without "Hamlet" (to
remove modern texts and references to Shakespeare's plays) turn up
Thomas Woodstock 5.1:

Thomas of Woodstock, wake, my son, and fly!
thy wrongs have roused thy royal father's ghost
and from his quiet grave King Edward is come
to guard thy innocent life, my princely son,

http://www.hampshireshakespeare.org/notes/TOWact5.html

and Locrine 5.4

My father's ghost still haunts me for revenge,
Crying, Revenge my overhastened death.
My brother's exile and mine own divorce
Banish remorse clean from my brazen heart,
All mercy from mine adamantine breasts.
My father's ghost still haunts me for revenge,
Crying, Revenge my overhastened death.
My brother's exile and mine own divorce
Banish remorse clean from my brazen heart,
All mercy from mine adamantine breasts.

http://www.bookrags.com/books/1ws48/PART30.htm

... in the first instance it is the father's ghost which is speaking, in
the second the ghost is a character in the play (described as "ghost" in
the stage directions and speech cues, once again), and the person
speaking is the ghost's daughter, who is apparently not offended by the
term, since she uses it herself.

These are only the Renaissance texts that can be found easily using
Google, no doubt a LION search would turn up many more.

Once again, this seems to show that Bill Arnold's idea of what was
acceptable in the Renaissance is only really a description of what Bill
Arnold thinks is acceptable now.  What is acceptable in Renaissance
drama is rather more reliably checked against other Renaissance drama
than against the prejudices of a particular modern individual.

Arnold's response to the Ur-Hamlet (in which, again, Nashe is very clear
that the thing that tells Hamlet to revenge is Hamlet's father's
"ghost") was to tell us that such a thing was not Shakespeare, as if
Renaissance audiences thought about things in a completely different way
when watching a play by the Bard!  Rather obviously, to those who
watched his plays, Shakespeare was just one among many equivalent
playwrights, who - even if he was the favourite playwright of a
particular individual - wrote in exactly the same world and was watched
or read in exactly the same way as his contemporaries.  If "my / your
father's ghost" was acceptable in "Locrine", "Thomas Woodstock" and the
Ur-Hamlet, then it was fairly obviously acceptable in Shakespeare's
"Hamlet" as well.

If Bill Arnold didn't have his head in the ground, ostrich-like, then no
such proof would be necessary, since Hamlet himself repeatedly talks of
his father's "ghost", but this simply proves that Arnold has still less
reason to pretend that Hamlet does not mean what he says.

Thomas Larque.
"Shakespeare and His Critics"       "British Shakespeare Association"
http://shakespearean.org.uk           http://britishshakespeare.ws

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Larry Weiss <
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 >
Date:           Friday, 17 Oct 2003 11:35:48 -0400
Subject: 14.2020 no spirit dares stir
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.2020 no spirit dares stir

>How *B-L-U-N-T* must Will S be?  What part of "spirit" do you all
>*N-O-T* understand?
>
>Whatever part differs from "ghost" in the context of this play.

>OK: go ahead and tell me they are synonyms.  Sure, they are; but they
>have *D-I-F-F-E-R-E-N-T* meanings.

Huh?  Run that one by me again.  A synonym that has a different meaning,
hmmmm.   BTW, please stop shouting, we are not deaf.

I beseech you -- in the name of the Father, the Son and the other guy --
how do you define the spirit of a dead man as different from his ghost?

[7]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Brian Willis <
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Date:           Sunday, 19 Oct 2003 03:23:29 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 14.2020 no spirit dares stir
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.2020 no spirit dares stir

I seem to misunderstand the argument here. And seemingly, Bill Arnold
misunderstands mine and proceeds to talk down to his responders as if we
are children. I think that Bill would get less opposition and more kudos
if he were clearer in his arguments and scaled down the authoritarian
tone of his posts. I would like nothing better than to agree that the
ghost or spirit should not be presented as a technical triumph. But if
Bill presented his argument with more matter and less art, perhaps I
could have realized that a week ago.

By the way, I think the term groundlings should be used with a little
more restraint. As eager as I am myself to frequently use the term to
refer to those theatre-goers spectating in the yard as such for
convenience, Shakespeare is the only contemporary to use the term and it
occurs only once. Hamlet uses it as quite a derogatory term. Perhaps we
should be more judicious in the term we use? And the term groundlings
does exclude every other auditor in the amphitheatre. Certainly the
original plays were not just directed towards those standing in the
yard. Actually I think the reference to the groundlings was actually
intended to elicit responses from those sheltered in the stalls. But
this seems to want to become another thread.

Brian Willis

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