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 14.1157  Wednesday, 11 June 2003

[1]     From:   Bill Arnold <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 10 Jun 2003 08:31:09 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1147 Re: Hamlet and Grebanier [Sanity vs. Insanity]

[2]     From:   Bill Arnold <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 10 Jun 2003 09:01:05 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1147 Re: Hamlet and Grebanier [Sanity vs. Insanity]

[3]     From:   Colin Cox <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 10 Jun 2003 09:04:36 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1147 Re: Hamlet and Grebanier

[4]     From:   Kenneth Chan <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 11 Jun 2003 00:16:10 +0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1147 Re: Hamlet and Grebanier

[5]     From:   Bill Arnold <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 10 Jun 2003 09:20:47 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1147 Re: Hamlet and Grebanier ["To Be" speech]

[6]     From:   Martin Steward <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 10 Jun 2003 20:34:41 +0100
        Subj:   SHK 14.1147 Re: Hamlet and Grebanier


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bill Arnold <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Tuesday, 10 Jun 2003 08:31:09 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 14.1147 Re: Hamlet and Grebanier [Sanity vs. Insanity]
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1147 Re: Hamlet and Grebanier [Sanity vs. Insanity]

Sean Lawrence writes, "So yes, someone could be defined as sane but
acting insane, but they could also be ACTING insane while actually BEING
insane."

Excuse me?  Well, time for the old standard dictionary.

SANITY: "The condition of having sound mental health; saneness.
Soundness of judgment or reason. [Middle English SANITE, from Old
French, from Latin SANITAS, health, sanity, from SANUS, healthy..]"

Sounds like Hamlet the character, to me.

INSANITY: "Persistent mental disorder or derangement. Civil Law:
Unsoundness of mind sufficient, in the judgment of a court, to render a
person unfit to maintain a contractual or other legal relationship or to
warrant commitment to a mental hospital.  Criminal Law: In most
jurisdictions, a degree of mental malfunctioning sufficient to prevent
the accused from knowing right from wrong, as to the act he is charged
with, or to render him unaware of the nature of the act when committing
it."

Does NOT sound like Hamlet the character, to me.

All of the above definitions from THE AMERICAN HERITAGE DICTIONARY OF
THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE, 1970.

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

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bill Arnold <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Tuesday, 10 Jun 2003 09:01:05 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 14.1147 Re: Hamlet and Grebanier [Sanity vs. Insanity]
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1147 Re: Hamlet and Grebanier [Sanity vs. Insanity]

Martin Steward quotes me, "'A good artist must also have a streak of
insanity in him,' writes Bill Arnold (with reference to Henry Miller),
'if by insanity is meant an exaggerated inability to adapt.'"

Then Martin Steward writes, "I don't know about a 'good artist', but
such an artist might well be 'poverty-stricken' or 'ineffectual'.
Shakespeare, of course, was neither."

Hi, Martin.  Thanks for the opportunity to clarify.  Henry Miller was
hardly "ineffectual" and some of his best works were not written when he
was "poverty-stricken" as he had been in his earlier days in his native
Brooklyn or as an ex-patriot in Paris.

But, recall that Henry Miller's fuller poetic quote was:

"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."

I forgot to mention, and you deleted, his poignant referent to "this mad
world of today" from which the "good artist" takes his GOODness!  In
fact, in Shakespeare's play Hamlet, Hamlet the GOOD Prince is up against
a world "gone mad" as he SAW it: others saw the ghost, as did he, so he
had NO reason to doubt his SANITY; his father, so the ghost said, was
murdered; his uncle, the newly crowned King, was the murderer--and his
mother was MARRIED to him.  God forbid!  what to DO?  The world, to
Hamlet, and to the Elizabethan audience, had "gone MAD." Not Hamlet, the
character, but the "mad world" had become deranged: "Something was
ROTTEN in Denmark!"  If by MAD--not mad as in angry, but mad as in
deranged--one concluded INSANE!

There is CLARITY at the end of the tunnel :)

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

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Colin Cox <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Tuesday, 10 Jun 2003 09:04:36 -0700
Subject: 14.1147 Re: Hamlet and Grebanier
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1147 Re: Hamlet and Grebanier

Don Bloom writes:

>I think a large part of the problem with this discussion is a lack of
>definition of "insane."

I think Don is absolutely right and to compound this problem that
'definition' is still being hashed out by the medical profession. What
Shakespeare's groundlings would have considered insane and what we think
of the matter are world's apart. I think we need to consider these
aspects in our common definition. Also, the groundling view of ghosts
would have been very different than ours. Not only do we have to be
careful of our semantics we must consider the semasiology as well.

Martin Steward points out:

"Robert Burton's Anatomy appeared in 1621."

However, Timothy Bright's "Treatise of Melancholy" appeared in 1586.
Burton used this book as a source, as I'm pretty sure Shakespeare did
for both Hamlet and Jaques.

Colin Cox
Artistic Director
Will & Company

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Kenneth Chan <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 11 Jun 2003 00:16:10 +0800
Subject: 14.1147 Re: Hamlet and Grebanier
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1147 Re: Hamlet and Grebanier

Present-day psychiatrists generally do not like the word "insanity" and
avoid it like the plague. This is because they do not know where to draw
the line between sanity and insanity. They may be forced to make a
decision regarding "insanity" in a court case, but then the number of
opinions will often equal the number of psychiatrists consulted.

I am reminded of a well-known joke among medical personnel:

"Physicians know everything and do nothing,
Surgeons know nothing and do everything,
Psychiatrists know nothing and do nothing,
Pathologists know everything, and do everything too late!"

As a comparison between the levels of knowledge and action in the
different fields, I believe this joke is actually not too far off-track.
I wonder how Shakespeare would have phrased it.

Kenneth Chan

Don Bloom <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 > writes,

>I think a large part of the problem with this discussion is a lack of
>definition of "insane." It seems to be used alternatively with
>emotionally overwrought because in both states one may act erratically,
>illogically, excessively, yet to me they are very different..
>
>I may appear to be a dreadful precisionist, but I find discussions
>frustrating when they go around and around because people are using the
>same term to refer to different things.
>
>As a guideline:
>
>Ophelia goes insane. By the end of her life she is mostly out of touch
>with reality, acts in a bizarre and inappropriate fashion, and
>(evidently) cannot be restored to calmness or rationality.
>
>Her brother returns to Denmark overwrought by grief, anger and shame. He
>is fully in touch with reality, his actions are not bizarre but merely
>(though dangerously) excessive, he is calmed down (twice) by the king.
>
>Hamlet at the beginning of the play is in much the same state as Laertes
>at the end. Over the course of the action he flies off the handle
>several times including the nunnery scene, his interview with his
>mother, and his rencounter with Laertes in Ophelia's grave. He does some
>bizarre and inappropriate things when in public but those are easily
>explainable as his effort to "put an antic disposition on." In between
>times, he talks very rationally to Horatio, the players, and the
>captain.
>
>To me, he is clearly not in the same category as Ophelia. That is not
>necessarily the only category of madness, of course, but in order to
>identify him as mad, you need to define that other category (separating
>it from the behavior of Laertes) and then demonstrate that the people of
>Shakespeare's time would have recognized it as such (rather than merely
>as emotional excess).
>
>I don't believe this to be impossible. But I would like to see it done.
>
>Cheers,
>don
>
>PS. Of course, it may be argued that the concept of insanity is
>undefinable. If so, then I suggest we not use it.

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bill Arnold <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Tuesday, 10 Jun 2003 09:20:47 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 14.1147 Re: Hamlet and Grebanier ["To Be" speech]
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1147 Re: Hamlet and Grebanier ["To Be" speech]

Annalisa Castaldo writes, "In that way, I agree that he is always sane.
I guess it depends on what we call someone who acts the way Hamlet does
in certain scenes (is someone who depressed and contemplating suicide
insane? What if they go through with it?)"

Guess what?  In his book Grebanier offers up a totally different
interpretation of the "To Be" speech, and does NOT view it as
"contemplating suicide."

I agree with him.

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

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Martin Steward <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Tuesday, 10 Jun 2003 20:34:41 +0100
Subject: Re: Hamlet and Grebanier
Comment:        SHK 14.1147 Re: Hamlet and Grebanier

"Bethlehem Royal Hospital ("Bedlam") had existed since 1247 for the care
of those with mental disorders. Indeed, it was the first such
institution in the world."

"Bedlam" was just a priory before it became a lunatic asylum. There are
records concerning six men cared for there because they were "deprived
of reason" in 1403; but it was not officially converted to an asylum
until 1547.

Spain, under the influence of Islam, saw the first specialized hospitals
for the insane (as opposed to "madmen's towers" or segregation cells),
in Granada (1365), Valencia (1407), Zaragoza (1425) and elsewhere.

Roy Porter, The Greatest Benefit to Mankind, p.127

m

_______________________________________________________________
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.