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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: September ::
no spirit dares stir
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1904  Tuesday, 30 September 2003

From:           Bill Arnold <
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Date:           Monday, 29 Sep 2003 06:23:46 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 14.1882 no spirit dares stir
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1882 no spirit dares stir

As noted, Will S as the world's *greatest* dramatist, opened his drama
Hamlet with a *HOOK* as a chilling premise, an intellectual idea posited
with the audience, instilling  in his Elizabethan audience an
*other-worldly* spiritual event which was to be resolved by the
flesh-and-blood actions of characters in the play.

It was Will S who through his *words* invoked "the Saviour." The night
scene which opens Hamlet echoes the night scene in which dawn found
Jesus betrayed by one of his own before the cock crowed--that is, before
the *light* of day.  Will S's audience's appetite was whetted with the
idea that something wass *rotten* in Denmark in *front* of an English
audience steeped in the Bible!  Horatio sets this mood, when he says,
"This bodes some strange eruption to our state."

Horatio had noted that the spirit which dared stir looked "Most like"
the dead King, the father of Hamlet.  Horatio noted that the spirit was
dressed "with that fair and warlike form / In which the majesty of
buried Denmark / Did sometimes march."  And Horatio also noted that the
spirit "frown'd" in the same way, saying, "Such was the very armour he
had on / When he the ambitious Norway combated; / So frown/d he
once...."

Having noted that the spirit which dared stir is *none other than* the
resurrected spirit of the departed father of Hamlet, Horatio then
observes, "A mote it is to trouble the mind's eye."
This is a bold borrowing from the New Testament, and Will S is directing
our attention to the sin of brother-on-brother crime, in the KJV,
Matthew, C 7, V 5, "Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine
own eye; and then thou shalt see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy
brother's eye."

This *dramatic" structural event unfolding in the opening scene of
Hamlet before an Elizabethan audience could have been only presaging a
crime of brother against brother!  And who would be the "Saviour" but
none other than Hamlet, the son of the wrong brother.  For Horatio says,
of the spirit that dares stir, "Let us impart what we have seen to-night
/ Unto young Hamlet; for, upon my life, / This spirit, dumb to us, will
speak to him."

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

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