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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: February ::
Ghost Appearance
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.0493  Friday, 20 February 2004

[1]     From:   Steve Sohmer <
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        Date:   Thursday, 19 Feb 2004 08:34:44 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.0483 Ghost Appearance

[2]     From:   Bruce W. Richman <
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        Date:   Thursday, 19 Feb 2004 11:43:02 -0600
        Subj:   RE: SHK 15.0483 Ghost Appearance


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Steve Sohmer <
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Date:           Thursday, 19 Feb 2004 08:34:44 EST
Subject: 15.0483 Ghost Appearance
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0483 Ghost Appearance

 >>I'm convinced that Shakespeare played the Ghost and doubled as Polonius.
 >
 >I agree wholeheartedly with Dr. Sohmer that Shakespeare played the
 >Ghost, however, I believe that he doubled as the Player King.

Dear Friends,

Colin Cox suggests that William Shakespeare played Old Hamlet's Ghost
and doubled as The Player King. When I read that, I thought it was a
great idea and, on the instant, I was prepared to alter my former
opinion that WS played the Ghost and Polonius. But here's the rub.

There are a couple of jokes in "Julius Caesar" -- the lines about "when
Caesar says do this it is performed" and Cassius' crack about how Caesar
"bade the Romans learn his speeches and write them in their books" --
which convince me that Shakespeare played Caesar and was killed by
Burbage as Brutus. Those roles, I think, underly the jokey exchanges in
HAM when Polonius tells Hamlet-Burbage-Brutus that he played in the
university the part of Caesar and was slain in the capitol, etc. -- and
is accused of "killing the calf"-- all of which must have been
screamingly funny to the cogs -- and does seem conclusive evidence that
Shakespeare played Caesar-Polonius.

I'd be glad to know if Colin or anyone else has a different opinion or
insight on the above.

Thanks.

Steve

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bruce W. Richman <
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Date:           Thursday, 19 Feb 2004 11:43:02 -0600
Subject: 15.0483 Ghost Appearance
Comment:        RE: SHK 15.0483 Ghost Appearance

If the parts of the Ghost and Polonius were doubled, how would a
director manage Act IV, Sc. 1., with "the guts" of Polonius lying
visibly before us on the floor (stage direction: "[Hamlet] lifts up the
arras, and sees Polonius") while the Ghost enters to say, "Do not forget
this visitation ....", remaining on stage for 37 lines?

The Ghost and Player King never appear on stage together, and the parts
are indeed easily doubled. Shakespeare himself was reportedly the
doubling actor, and left himself plenty of time for a costume change
between the Players' hurried exit at III.ii. 288 and the Ghost's
appearance in III.iv. 104, 279 lines later.

Bruce Richman
Dept. of Psychiatry
University of Missouri

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