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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: October ::
Hamlet
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.2031  Monday, 20 October 2003

[1]     From:   Abigail Quart <
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        Date:   Friday, 17 Oct 2003 09:04:29 -0400
        Subj:   RE: SHK 14.2022 Hamlet

[2]     From:   Bill Arnold <
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        Date:   Friday, 17 Oct 2003 07:50:10 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.2022 Hamlet

[3]     From:   D Bloom <
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        Date:   Friday, 17 Oct 2003 09:56:35 -0500
        Subj:   RE: SHK 14.2022 Hamlet


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Abigail Quart <
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Date:           Friday, 17 Oct 2003 09:04:29 -0400
Subject: 14.2022 Hamlet
Comment:        RE: SHK 14.2022 Hamlet

Clifford is mistaking Hamlet for Laertes who does stop to gather an
army, allies, and a handy bit of poison on his way home for vengeance.

Hamlet, who is Orestes, and Horus, is not a usurper, he is the
Setter-to-Rights. Or, at any rate, mythologically, he's supposed to be.

The funny thing is, in his efforts to restore right, he destroys all.
More like Oedipus, another one in that line of tradition.

Oedipus was also trying to solve a murder, his father's murder also,
even though he didn't know it. Because murder (usurpation) causes a
plague on the land. Oedipus has a sick Thebes. Hamlet smells the rotting
of Denmark.

Surely, all is doomed if the murder is not righted.

Except, in his zeal to make all as it was before, Hamlet (and good old
Hamlet Sr, give the devil his due) destroys his lineage, and brings
foreign rule to Denmark.

Interesting play to write at the end of Elizabeth's reign, with factions
pushing for a counter-Reformation and the restoration of Catholic rule.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bill Arnold <
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Date:           Friday, 17 Oct 2003 07:50:10 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 14.2022 Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.2022 Hamlet

Clifford Stetner writes, "Regardless of his supernatural...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...Hamlet can therefore very
easily prophecy...If Hamlet emerges apparently innocent of treachery
with Norway in the overthrow of Claudius, it is perhaps because
Shakespeare is staging Horatio's version...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."

Excuse me?  This whole over-throw of Hamlet the play by Will S is
predicated upon a wild and reckless "Regardless of" and equally wild and
reckless "It seems more likely that Hamlet has plotted" and a big "If"
and another wild and reckless "it is perhaps because" and is nothing but
a *fiction* unsupported by the *text* of the play.  This is all in the
eye of the beholder, and unrelated to the play written by Will S.

Larry Weiss is *more* than correct, tragedy and comedy and history, you
*must* in fact "trust the text."

Give us Hamlet by Will S, not Hamlet by Cliff S.

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

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           D Bloom <
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Date:           Friday, 17 Oct 2003 09:56:35 -0500
Subject: 14.2022 Hamlet
Comment:        RE: SHK 14.2022 Hamlet

Afraid I'm a little puzzled by the drift here. If Old Fortinbras was
king of Norway, then the "lands which he stood seiz'd of" would be,
essentially, Norway, plus such other fragments as he could claim and
enforce suzerainty over. If he was not king of Norway, why would Old
Hamlet bother engaging in a combat with him? I suppose he might have
been merely the Thegn of Hammerfest or something, but that creates this
bigger puzzle of why Hamlet would bother fighting him. Or do we assume
that he actually was the king, after all, but bet only crown lands
against an equivalent stake of Danish crown lands?

I suppose the latter might be the case, but it strikes me, first, as
excessively complex, and second as indicative of a very close connection
between the two countries which I thought it was the point of these
responses to deny. That is, are we to think that OF bet all his personal
real property (farms, castles, etc.) against an equivalent amount of
OH's personal real property? And that one or the other is then going to
be a tributary under the other king in holding that land (as the King of
England was a liegemen of the King of France insofar as he was Duke of
Normandy)? Even when the English royalty was French-speaking this was a
very tricky matter, and it seems highly unlikely that WS would be
depicting such a thing.

To review the bidding:

Who was Old Fortinbras? I say he was the king of Norway (and
incidentally a kinsman of Old Hamlet).

What did he bet? Norway, that is, his claim to the crown and suzerainty.

Who was Old Hamlet? King of Denmark.

What did he bet? An equivalent chunk of Denmark over which he exercised
suzerainty (if he had lost, those lands would have passed under the
suzerainty of the king of Norway).

What happened? OH killed OF and the overlordship of Norway passed to OH,
who then appointed OF's brother to be tributary king in Norway.

What is young Fortinbras up to? He is trying to organize an uprising of
the discontented by which he can end the Danish king's overlordship and
gain the kingship for himself. He would, of course, supplant his uncle
as king, but would rule in his own right.

What does Claudius do? He sends an embassy to Old Norway to force the
Norwegian king to suppress YF's rebellion, and ON does so.

What does Fortinbras do in response? He apologizes and asks permission
to take an army to beat up on the Poles. Under terms that guarantee the
safety of Denmark, he is allowed to do so. As Hamlet is leaving for
England, he encounters YF's army on the move.

(Moving ahead) What does Hamlet do just before he dies? Offers his
"dying voice" to the election of YF as the next king of Denmark, an odd
thing to do if YF had no right to it.

Finally, as we've already noted, YF mentions his "rights of memory" in
Denmark in his closing words

I wouldn't insist that this explanation was the only one, nor that it
was perfect, but it is an explanation. I'm not sure what it is the
others are proposing as an alternative.

Cheers,
don

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