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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: March ::
Did Shakespearean Audiences Talk Back to the
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.0648  Thursday, 11 March 2004

[1]     From:   Cheryl Newton <
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 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 09 Mar 2004 10:30:28 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.0642 Did Shakespearean Audiences Talk Back to the
Performers?

[2]     From:   John Ramsay <
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 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 10 Mar 2004 11:00:19 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.0642 Did Shakespearean Audiences Talk Back to the
Performers?


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Cheryl Newton <
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 >
Date:           Tuesday, 09 Mar 2004 10:30:28 -0500
Subject: 15.0642 Did Shakespearean Audiences Talk Back to the
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0642 Did Shakespearean Audiences Talk Back to the
Performers?

The Springeresque victim representation is a good one - if the wind is
southerly, & our Prince always knows a hawk from a handsaw.  But I'm one
who believes the wind also blows North North West at times, & following
these manic or depressive moments Hamlet can legitimately request
forgiveness for impulsive behaviour beyond his control.

Consider the scene at Ophelia's grave.  Many years ago I saw a TV
production.  Hamlet, restrained by Horatio following the fight with
Laertes, addressed his complaint (approx) "Who are you, sir, that you
should use me thus?  I have ever loved you!" *not* to Laertes but to
Horatio, who fell back in hurt confusion.  The attack on a beloved
friend highlighted Hamlet's irrationality.

Cheryl Newton

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Ramsay <
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 >
Date:           Wednesday, 10 Mar 2004 11:00:19 -0500
Subject: 15.0642 Did Shakespearean Audiences Talk Back to the
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0642 Did Shakespearean Audiences Talk Back to the
Performers?

 >If we think of Hamlet as a new play (not one in which we all know
 >Claudius is guilty) then having Claudius flee in guilt-ridden horror
 >weakens the suspense and deprives the speech "O my offence is rank" of
 >its impact. This speech is remarkable because as soon as we know he is
 >guilty we get an insight into some high order self-analysis and moral
 >reasoning. Claudius clearly accepts his guilt and has the moral
 >integrity not to hope for absolution without true confession and a
 >penance (loss of throne, queen, life) he is not willing to undertake.
 >Claudius knows despite his struggle to repent that he remains damned
 >("My words fly up, my thoughts remain below") but Hamlet assumes that
 >because he is praying he will go to heaven and resolves in his hubris to
 >murder him when he has no chance of salvation.  Hamlet does not
 >understand proper contrition, repentance and penance. He never publicly
 >shows any remorse for the deaths of Polonius or R&G. Rather the reverse,
 >"I'll lug the guts into the neighbour room" (III,4), " They are not near
 >my conscience; their defeat Does by their own insinuation grow"
 >(V,2,3733). At the duel his speech which opens "Give me your pardon,
 >sir" seems to presage genuine contrition but continues with "What I have
 >done That might your nature, honour, and exception Roughly awake, I here
 >proclaim was madness" (I killed your father and drove your sister to
 >suicide but it was the madness did it not me), "Hamlet is of the faction
 >that is wrong'd; His madness is poor Hamlet's enemy " (I am a victim too
 >- sounds like Jerry Springer), "I have shot my arrow o'er the house And
 >hurt my brother" (I didn't mean it) (V,2,3885 & seq).  This doesn't
 >sound like a responsible adult, rather a child blaming everything and
 >everybody else for his actions. In this respect Shakespeare gives
 >Claudius a greater stature than Hamlet.
 >
 >Dan Smith

Does it also give Claudius greater stature that he arranges for Hamlet,
his 'cousin and son' a duel with a poisoned sword for Laertes and a
poisoned cup of wine as backup?

Does it give him greater stature that he let's his wife drink the poison
rather than expose himself as a poisoner?

The above do not seem to me to be examples of 'high order self-analysis
and moral reasoning.'

Get thee to A.C. Bradley and read what he said about the death of
Gertrude for true moral reasoning.

John Ramsay

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