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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: October ::
Hamlet
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.2081  Tuesday, 28 October 2003

[1]     From:   D Bloom <
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        Date:   Monday, 27 Oct 2003 07:30:47 -0600
        Subj:   RE: SHK 14.2069 Hamlet

[2]     From:   Anthony Burton <
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        Date:   Monday, 27 Oct 2003 09:44:22 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.2069 Hamlet


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           D Bloom <
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Date:           Monday, 27 Oct 2003 07:30:47 -0600
Subject: 14.2069 Hamlet
Comment:        RE: SHK 14.2069 Hamlet

I do confess it.

I knew I was getting into tricky terminological water, but didn't have
the sense to back off.

When Andy suggests that what I really mean is "'real estate owned
personally by OF (or OH,' as distinct from real estate of which OF (or
OH) was overlord," he is entirely correct. To avoid awkwardness I ended
up with inaccuracy.

Oh well,
don

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Anthony Burton <
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Date:           Monday, 27 Oct 2003 09:44:22 -0500
Subject: 14.2069 Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.2069 Hamlet

I gave a rather full answer to D Bloom's inquiry

" 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?"

in the course of an article that was published in two parts in the
Shakespeare Newsletter (Fall 2000, Winter 2000-2001), the burden of
which was to show the great extent to which the motivation is described
and is intelligible in terms of coherent pattern of reference to issues
of lost and defeated inheritance.

As to the bet between the old kings Hamlet and Fortinbras, I analyzed
Horatio's report as showing the following: (a) the property staked by
Hamlet would be "return'd to the inheritance of Fortinbras" and
therefore must have been lost by him on a prior occasion; (b)
Fortinbras's motive, "a most emulate pride" indicates that he was trying
to do what Hamlet had already done -- win a duel -- and this confirms
the implications of "return'd"; (c) that in staking "all those his lands
which he stood seiz'd of" he was betting everything he owned in his
personal right, again reinforcing the notion that they were what young
Fortinbras reasonably expected to inherit;
(d) that since what Hamlet staked in (a) as a "return" was also a
"moiety competent" to (c), i.e., equal to everything of which Fortinbras
was still "seiz'd" (the legal term describing one's possession of real
property), and constituting everything he still had left, it followed
that Fortinbras had already wagered and lost at least half of his real
property holdings and was essentially asking the man who had already
outfought him once for the fool's prerogative of "double or nothing,"
and in losing his life, left the "nothing" to his son.

The article goes on to show how all this is relevant to Hamlet's
situation, and the Fortinbras discussion is only a preliminary to the
Hamlet theme.  In the Fall 2002 issue, SH. N. published a further
article in which I showed how the same theme is clearly extended to
Laertes and his motivation.  This extension of the theme revealed in the
original article brings Laertes and his own fears of defeated
inheritance into the familiar triangular pattern that connects all three
fatherless sons in a way that illuminates different aspects of the same
problem, the principal example of course being the supposed duty of
revenge and how to respond to it.

Perhaps Tom Pendleton, my friend and editor of The Shakespeare
Newsletter, and a list member, can let the members know how to obtain
these back issues, or to subscribe to the Newsletter now.

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