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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: July ::
Re: Swear!
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1407  Wednesday, 9 July 2003

[1]     From:   Ted Dykstra <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 8 Jul 2003 11:22:07 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1395 Swear!

[2]     From:   Steve Sohmer <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 8 Jul 2003 13:22:17 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1395 Swear!

[3]     From:   L. Swilley <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 8 Jul 2003 13:35:30 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1395 Swear!

[4]     From:   Carol Barton <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 8 Jul 2003 20:10:33 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1395 Swear!

[5]     From:   Emma Cooper <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 9 Jul 2003 13:35:47 +0100
        Subj:   RE: SHK 14.1395 Swear!


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ted Dykstra <
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Date:           Tuesday, 8 Jul 2003 11:22:07 EDT
Subject: 14.1395 Swear!
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1395 Swear!

Jay Feldman:

>Is there any evidence in 1.5 that neither Horatio nor Marcellus hear the
>ghost's commands to: "Swear" and "Swear by his sword"? Hamlet seems to
>believe they hear the ghost given his comments: "Come on, you hear this
>fellow in the cellarage" and then: "Never to speak of this that you have
>heard". Is there any reason for us not to think so as well?

True, there is no textual evidence either way. But I would think Horatio
would be a different man through the rest of the play if he too had
heard the ghost. His dilemma is far more interesting if he even he at
times is forced to question Hamlet's sanity. And Marcellus, it seems to
me, would have a much bigger part!

Ted Dykstra

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Steve Sohmer <
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Date:           Tuesday, 8 Jul 2003 13:22:17 EDT
Subject: 14.1395 Swear!
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1395 Swear!

Dear Jay,

I'm quite sure they don't hear the Ghost. If they did, consider how
different their response would be. Horatio has said it wouldn't speak to
them. And Gertrude doesn't hear the Ghost in her closet.

Nice catch, Jay.

Steve

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           L. Swilley <
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Date:           Tuesday, 8 Jul 2003 13:35:30 -0500
Subject: 14.1395 Swear!
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1395 Swear!

Jay Feldman writes,

>Is there any evidence in 1.5 that neither Horatio nor Marcellus hear the
> ghost's commands to: "Swear" and "Swear by his sword"? Hamlet seems to
> believe they hear the ghost given his comments: "Come on, you hear this
> fellow in the cellarage" and then: "Never to speak of this that you have
> heard". Is there any reason for us not to think so as well?

Nothing convincing either way. Evidence before and during the scene in
question suggests that they *have* heard, since they have certainly
*seen*, and the ghost's apparent insistence on secrecy would make his
"Swear!" a confirming order to them. But if the director decides they
have not heard, he must be building evidence of Hamlet's unsettled mind.

L. Swilley

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Carol Barton <
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Date:           Tuesday, 8 Jul 2003 20:10:33 -0400
Subject: 14.1395 Swear!
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1395 Swear!

> Is there any evidence in 1.5 that neither Horatio nor Marcellus hear the
> ghost's commands to: "Swear" and "Swear by his sword"? Hamlet seems to
> believe they hear the ghost given his comments: "Come on, you hear this
> fellow in the cellarage" and then: "Never to speak of this that you have
> heard". Is there any reason for us not to think so as well?

They have seen the Ghost. They have heard Hamlet's responses, even if
they haven't heard the Ghost's speech---and thus would know the gist of
the Ghost's communications, too ("My prophetic soul," etc.). But it
would seem to me that we are meant to believe that they hear it, as
well: Gertrude can neither see nor hear her former husband in the
bedroom scene, yet Hamlet can do both. Banquo stalking his murderer (and
thus appearing only to Macbeth) is quite a different thing: this Ghost
reveals himself to the friends of his tardy son knowing that they will
tell Hamlet what they've witnessed . . .  and what would be the point of
Hamlet Pere hissing "SWEAR!" if he thought only Hamlet could hear him?

Best,
Carol Barton

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Emma Cooper <
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Date:           Wednesday, 9 Jul 2003 13:35:47 +0100
Subject: 14.1395 Swear!
Comment:        RE: SHK 14.1395 Swear!

> Jay Feldman wrote on  Monday, 7 Jul:

>Is there any evidence in 1.5 that neither Horatio nor Marcellus hear the
>ghost's commands to: "Swear" and "Swear by his sword"?

Although none of the group other than Hamlet explicitly comments on the
ghost's words, Horatio's "this is wondrous strange!" seems an allusion
to them. Hamlet certainly takes Horatio's exclamation to mean the ghost,
rather than to mean his own strange behaviour and thus his veiled
Biblical allusion ('and therefore as a stranger give it welcome) is
presumably meant to reassure Horatio as to the ghost's intentions.

The 'O day and night' seems, coming from Horatio, too much of a genuine
expression of surprise to be simply about Hamlet's whirling words (on
which he has already commented, with a respectful "my lord" appended).

We have already been reassured beyond any doubt that Hamlet is not the
only person to see the ghost - the guards were the first to see it,
forestalling any future critics' accusations of mass hysteria or the
power of suggestion on Hamlet's behalf. So I can see little reason that
Shakespeare would further confuse the already ambiguous character of the
ghost by hinting that the guards can see him, but not hear him. I have
not come across the idea that a purgatorial ghost can only speak to the
person praying for him, or anything like that, which *might* be a reason
for Shakespeare to do that.

Emma Cooper

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