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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: March ::
The Three Sons in Hamlet
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.0730  Friday, 19 March 2004

[1]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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        Date:   Thursday, 18 Mar 2004 14:29:25 -0800
        Subj:   RE: SHK 15.0721 The Three Sons in Hamlet

[2]     From:   Jay Feldman <
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        Date:   Friday, 19 Mar 2004 10:31:57 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.0721 The Three Sons in Hamlet


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
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Date:           Thursday, 18 Mar 2004 14:29:25 -0800
Subject: 15.0721 The Three Sons in Hamlet
Comment:        RE: SHK 15.0721 The Three Sons in Hamlet

Ed Taft writes,

But there's one bit of evidence that suggests Fortinbras is also
motivated by revenge: the opening scene of the play, in which Elsinore
and all of Denmark fears an attack from Fortinbras. If all he wanted was
his father's land, then he could recapture it without threatening the
entire kingdom. He wants more than the land his father lost: he wants it
all!

I don't get this.  In order to get anything back from Denmark, he has to
attack the whole state of Denmark, since Claudius can be expected to
counter-attack with everything at his disposal.  The whole state is
therefore threatened.

Similarly, he takes a large army to contest control of a piece of ground
in Poland that cannot even provide space to bury the dead.

Cheers,
Sean.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jay Feldman <
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Date:           Friday, 19 Mar 2004 10:31:57 EST
Subject: 15.0721 The Three Sons in Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0721 The Three Sons in Hamlet

Ed Taft says: I agree with Jay that control is a central issue in
*Hamlet,* . . .

Dear Ed, actually I am only committed to your suggestion that the older
and younger generations are conflicted over control issues and will not
go so far as to accept control as a *central* issue in "Hamlet".
Perception of control, power, or dominance may help one find order in
real or make-believe relationships, but those are not the spectacles I
don when I view this play. What propels my interest are the conflicted
mental and emotional states that rack young Hamlet and direct his speech
and behavior. I am taken with the intensity of his awareness of what
must be done and the dogged impossibility of his doing it. His
description of his besieged his state of mind, his considerable
distaste, distress, and disgust for the foulness that has infected his
country, his family, and his soul, are what capture my interest, not
issues of control.

Ed further suggests that: If all he [young Fortinbras] wanted was his
father's land, then he could recapture it without threatening the entire
kingdom.

This might be so, however, we do not know what the boundaries of
Scandinavia were at the supposed time of "Hamlet" nor do we know the
actual extent of properties that were gaged in the duel, nor for that
matter are we aware of the accuracy of Shakespeare's mental map of the
region's geography.

Ed comments: The Ghost does not seem to be able to foresee the future,
but everybody in the audience knew that "revenge recoils on the
revenger." The Ghost must know that too. He sacrifices his own son to
get what he wants.

I'm not so sure this is the case. Unlike the co-conspiratorial roles
Laertes and Claudius don, the relationship between Hamlet and his
ghostly father merge into a single, albeit somewhat arbitrary and
ineffectual arm of wrath, where the prince assumes the revengeful rage
of his father. Hamlet's process of retribution is emotionally ragged and
logically flawed, perhaps due to "some vicious mole of nature" in him,
but in the end he manages to *level* the playing field. He does so in
grand style with wild and whirling words and deeds that include: setting
traps, murdering his flame's father and driving her nuts, being sent
into exile, taking a sea voyage, fighting off pirates, having graveyard
histrionics, dueling, eluding a poisoned drink, and ultimately killing
off half the cast. That's my "Hamlet," served up hot and scant of breath.

Jay Feldman

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