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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: March ::
The Three Sons in Hamlet
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.0711  Tuesday, 16 March 2004

[1]     From:   Stephen C. Rose <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 16 Mar 2004 04:55:28 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.0695 The Three Sons in Hamlet

[2]     From:   D Bloom <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 16 Mar 2004 09:47:51 -0600
        Subj:   RE: SHK 15.0695 The Three Sons in Hamlet

[3]     From:   Jay Feldman <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 17 Mar 2004 01:29:26 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.0695 The Three Sons in Hamlet


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Stephen C. Rose <
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Date:           Tuesday, 16 Mar 2004 04:55:28 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 15.0695 The Three Sons in Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0695 The Three Sons in Hamlet

Original sin by definition is not something you commit. It is a gloss on
the human condition. And it has both individual and social expressions.
  Shakespeare is not reticent about observing the prevalence of tit for
tat politics resulting in a mini arms race and later in Hamlet's
suggestion of the futility of Fortinbras' conquest in terms of moral
calculus. Hamlet pere is no bargain but if one were looking for an
antagonist who acts with consummate aplomb -- look Claudius-ward.

I am sure there are socio-political readings of Hamlet and WS that make
this point better than I am making it.

Best, S

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           D Bloom <
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Date:           Tuesday, 16 Mar 2004 09:47:51 -0600
Subject: 15.0695 The Three Sons in Hamlet
Comment:        RE: SHK 15.0695 The Three Sons in Hamlet

Well, here we go again (or maybe not)

Ed Taft writes:

 >For me, the proof that Old Hamlet is evil resides in his willingness to
 >seek revenge by using his son. What good, loving father would sacrifice
 >his son's life and happiness to even an old score from beyond the grave?
 >Fathers and father figures are the source of tragedy in *Hamlet.*

I don't see Old Hamlet having much say in the matter. How exactly he is
allowed a liberty pass from Purgatory, there can be little doubt Who
grants it. The Who, moreover, would seem to have commanded it because
Claudius's "offense is rank to heaven," that is, his "murder most foul"
and "damned incest." I am unsure about my own position on the latter, so
I won't defend it to the Anti-Hamletites. But murder I do consider a
good deal more than an old grudge.

Cheers,
don

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jay Feldman <
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Date:           Wednesday, 17 Mar 2004 01:29:26 EST
Subject: 15.0695 The Three Sons in Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0695 The Three Sons in Hamlet

Ed Taft says: "This is a revenge play, and the overpowering emotion of
revenge does not proceed by logical rules. That Old Hamlet defeated Old
Fortinbras "fair and square" . . . means nothing to a young hothead like
Fortinbras Jr. Revenge proceeds from the overwhelming feeling of having
been humiliated, violated, disrespected, etc."

Ed, I believe your definition of revenge applies to Hamlet and Laertes
whose fathers were murdered, but surely not to their cohort Fortinbras
who must have been in diapers when his father was defeated, and defeated
surely with shriving time allowed. Both Hamlet and Laertes have a strong
case for revenge but Fortinbras' cause in no way mimics the motive,
immediacy, or the punch of their causes.

I agree with your suggestion that the older and younger generations are
conflicted over control issues, clear examples emerge between Polonius
and Ophelia, the question of Wittenberg, Hamlet's attempt to return his
mother to the steep and thorny path, as well as his acting instructions
to the players, but not, surely not in King Hamlet's call for revenge.
Like the death of Polonius, and very *un*like that of King Fortinbras,
it is murder most foul for which one cannot and should not remain
immobilized. The plot is centered on Hamlet's response. Laertes provides
a different revenge yardstick, similar to that wielded by Pyrrhus, but a
thirty year old revenge motive for Fortinbras is simply not compelling.

Another point concerning the control of the older generation over the
younger. My sense is that Laertes returns at his sister's call prepared
to kill Claudius believing him to be the murderer of his father.
Claudius, with the help of others redirects his rage toward Hamlet and
together they become co-conspirators, each working with the other to
gain or maintain their particular desire: Laertes, his revenge;
Claudius, his throne. Though Old Norway, in conjunction with Claudius,
may have blocked Fortinbras' immediate demands, the prince eventually
seems to get what he truly wanted in the first place: troops, treasure,
and the authority to expend them.

Jay Feldman

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