Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: June ::
Re: Hamlet and Grebanier
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1124  Monday, 9 June 2003

[1]     From:   Claude Caspar <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Friday, 6 Jun 2003 10:33:44 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1113 Re: Hamlet and Grebanier

[2]     From:   Bill Arnold <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Friday, 6 Jun 2003 08:12:44 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1113 Re: Hamlet and Grebanier [Sanity vs. Insanity]

[3]     From:   Bill Arnold <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Friday, 6 Jun 2003 08:39:29 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1113 Re: Hamlet and Grebanier [The Ghost and
Elizabethans]

[4]     From:   Bill Arnold <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Friday, 6 Jun 2003 09:03:34 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1113 Re: Hamlet and Grebanier [Sanity vs. Insanity]

[5]     From:   Rafael Acuna <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Monday, 9 Jun 2003 13:18:34 +0800
        Subj:   RE: Hamlet and Grebanier


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Claude Caspar <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Friday, 6 Jun 2003 10:33:44 -0400
Subject: 14.1113 Re: Hamlet and Grebanier
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1113 Re: Hamlet and Grebanier

In Baudrillard's "Simulacra & Simulation," (must reading for Matrix
aficionados), one finds this:

"If he is this good at acting crazy, it's because he is."  The Catch-22.
The mousetrap that catches Manichean simpletons.

Hamlet being either/or sane/mad is not supported by the text in context.
Nothing given exists.  Shakespeare creates a real Hamlet having the
extremes seek their limit within him in competition, never discreetly.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bill Arnold <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Friday, 6 Jun 2003 08:12:44 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 14.1113 Re: Hamlet and Grebanier [Sanity vs. Insanity]
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1113 Re: Hamlet and Grebanier [Sanity vs. Insanity]

Annalisa Castaldo quotes me, "If someone is insane, how can he also be
sane?  It is either one or the other, is it not?"

Then Annalisa Castaldo writes, "Even in real life it is perfectly
possible for one person to be both insane and sane, to shift between the
two, or to be insane but convince those around him that he is insane (or
vice versa). Even those who do not have someone close who is mentally
unbalanced should be able to see that in the difficulty the courts have
in deciding who is fit to stand trial. In fiction, it is usually much
clearer, and I think that Hamlet is such a powerful play because
Shakespeare (quite possibly by accident) tapped into that quality of
ambiguity in other people's actions and thoughts."

OK.  We have in your response I think the BIG PICTURE of Hamlet.  And as
I suggested, seriously, Shakespeare's Hamlet is a trial as far as the
audience goes in viewing a staged drama and to a reader of the play [How
many readers actually READ all of Hamlet carefully and contextually?].

Anyway, I may NOT agree with your premise above, that someone can be
both sane and insane, which I don't, but I do entertain the rest of your
point.  And is that NOT precisely Grebanier's point, and WHY he wrote
his book, to answer the CRITICS of the play and the character of
Hamlet?  Understand, you are invoking the notion that Hamlet or people
might also be PRETENDING to be INSANE while SANE; but how does a truly
INSANE person escape his/her DEFINED state?  If they can BE sane at
times, then they are not truly INSANE, are they?  They are truly SANE,
and at times ACTING insanely, and I guarantee you there is a BIG
difference: as in BIG PICTURE [by the way, I am an active member of the
Mystery Writers of America, and knowledge of the forensics of SANITY vs.
INSANITY is a MUST for all members].

Directors and actors DO the play and the character.  If they do NOT
resolve the sanity issue, they can put on a biased presentation,
agreed?  If some director or actor decides Hamlet is melancholy, and/or
insane, and a drip, and ACTS him that way then we certainly do NOT have
a SANE Hamlet, agreed?  If on the other hand, another director or actor
decides that Hamlet is DEFINITIVELY SANE, and a great Prince, and ACTS
him that way then we certainly do have the play the WAY Grebanier saw it
and I SEE it.  However, audience members might still SEE Hamlet INSANE
even though he is ACTING SANE because of the OTHERS in the play and what
they say, and indeed some of Hamlet's RASH ACTIONS.  Grebanier grants
the latter and so do I, in following his take on Shakespeare's play.
However, the latter view, the SANE view, and a SANE version of the play,
is a PRESENTATION OF SANITY and OTHERS in the audience, or readers, can
MISTAKE the RASH ACTIONS of Hamlet--and perhaps some RASH WORDS, which
are also ACTIONS, in my mind, as well--as insanity.

Read Grebanier.

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

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bill Arnold <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Friday, 6 Jun 2003 08:39:29 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 14.1113 Re: Hamlet and Grebanier [The Ghost and
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1113 Re: Hamlet and Grebanier [The Ghost and
Elizabethans]

Rafael Acuna writes, "My question is 'Why do Hamlet and his friends see
the ghost, but Gertrude does not?' Grebanier hints at an answer on pp.
234-5, where he writes, 'Nothing in the play is more touching than the
loving concern for this unworthy woman which the Ghost has carried even
beyond the grave.  Ironically, even with his superterrestial wisdom, the
spirit knows little about Gertrude. She is indeed in a fit of amazement,
but not (as the Ghost supposes) because of contrition over her past
guilt.'  Is Grebanier implying that only those who sympathize with elder
Hamlet (such as Hamlet and his friends) can see the ghost, but those who
don't (such as Getrude) cannot?"

Ah, but you ARE a thinker, Rafael!  I like that.  Have you READ all of
Grebanier on the ghost?  There's MORE, you know.  Also, go to SHAKSPER
archives and look at other analyses on the ghost, including mine.  I
have detailed some notable FACTS in Shakespeare's Hamlet.  Remember
OTHERS saw the ghost beside Hamlet.  Agreed?  This IS key to
understanding the Elizabethan attitude toward ghosts.  And remember, as
I wrote, and you will find it in the archives, that Hamlet offers up a
very CLEAR speech on the dichotomy of the KINDS of ghosts, or spirits,
those who came to Elizabethans and they were either good or bad spirits,
and one's SOUL was in jeopardy if one listened to a bad spirit and
behaved badly as a result.  We must remind ourselves that the concept of
an afterlife and how one GOT there was part of the psyche of the
Elizabethans and part of the mindset of the author of the play Hamlet.
That is why some have argued that Hamlet the character might reflect
Shakespeare the man.

Rafael Acuna also writes, "What is that context? What Elizabethans
believed about ghosts? The text of the play? Let's apply this argument
to Grebanier's view of insanity.  Grebanier claims that Hamlet is not
insane. How is that possible when, using the context of Elizabethans,
the idea of clinical insanity had not yet appeared? Given that, we can
say that Hamlet is certainly not insane."

I am not sure I follow your latter premise/conclusion in setting up your
question.  But I can respond, and did in part above about the ghost and
the Elizabethans, and will re: insanity and the Elizabethans.  Grebanier
makes the point that the question of the sanity of Hamlet the character
did not arise until the melancholy question arose, what, a century
later?  So, it was not really an Elizabethan question.  The question is
one you and I and others are trying to resolve.  As others have pointed
out, wisely, none of us know HOW the play Hamlet and the character
Hamlet were ACTED out in front of the Elizabethans [maybe some scholars
do, but I don't; and I await their wisdom].  The question for us is HOW
do we want to SEE it ACTED out these days?  There is much heated debate
of SHAKSPER about role playing of Shakespearean characters on stage and
in movies.  And there is equally much heated debate about our
interpretations of the written words of the plays, in particular
Hamlet.  And it is a reasonable quest to resolve this BIG PICTURE
question.

Read Grebanier.
http://www.cwru.edu/affil/edis/scholars/arnold.htm

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bill Arnold <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Friday, 6 Jun 2003 09:03:34 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 14.1113 Re: Hamlet and Grebanier [Sanity vs. Insanity]
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1113 Re: Hamlet and Grebanier [Sanity vs. Insanity]

Colin Cox writes, "There is not a character in history who during the
course of their insanity has not also shown great moments of lucidity,
and vice versa.  Caesar, Napoleon, Newton (no one was weirder than
Newton!) Indeed, genius and madness are often bedfellows."

Hi, Colin Cox, good point, and one which I share!  Years ago I
corresponded with the infamous Henry Miller, author of Tropic of Cancer,
and for those interested my collection of Millerania, it is housed at
Amherst College Library, and once asked to write about him ["Henry
Miller, Writer, in Henry Miller: A Book of Tributes 1931-1994, 1994] I
concluded my memoir of him: "Henry Miller, America's foremost writer of
Belles Lettres, put it best, poetically:

'A good artist must also have a streak of insanity in him, if by
insanity is meant an exaggerated inability to adapt. The individual who
can adapt to this mad world of today is either a nobody or a sage. In
the one case he is immune to art and in the other he is beyond it.'"

Perhaps, Hamlet, the true META-PHYSICIAN, was "beyond it"?  But then,
was he an ARTIST and PRETENDING?

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

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Rafael Acuna <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Monday, 9 Jun 2003 13:18:34 +0800
Subject:        RE: Hamlet and Grebanier

Professor Arnold writes, "My only complaint is that the BIG PICTURE of
Hamlet the character in the play Hamlet is overlooked, and each scholar
or student of Shakespeare is stuck in a narrow mindset without
disclosing his or her mindset.  Well, was Hamlet insane or not?  If
someone is insane, how can he also be sane?  It is either one or the
other, is it not?  So, which is it?"

My question is, What is Grebanier's "narrow mindset"?

Indeed, how can one be insane and sane at the same time? This reminds me
of the Olivier film version of *Hamlet*. In one moment, Laertes enters
Elsinore outraged, ready to kill Hamlet, and in another, meets with
Claudius and plans to hold a friendly (!) fencing match. When one
experiences rage and attempt to act rashly, is he acting logically or
momentarily insane? Can I say that he isn't insane because in similar
circumstances I'd act in the same way, too?

What will others think? Will they say, "Oh, there he goes again"? Or
will it be, "he's not himself today," to paraphrase Barzun's description
of humors in *From Dawn to Decadence*?

Rafael Acuna

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, 
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the
editor assumes no responsibility for them.
 

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.