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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: March ::
The Three Sons in Hamlet
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.0784  Tuesday, 30 March 2004

[1]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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        Date:   Monday, 29 Mar 2004 07:13:29 -0800
        Subj:   RE: SHK 15.0773 The Three Sons in Hamlet

[2]     From:   Philip Tomposki <
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        Date:   Monday, 29 Mar 2004 20:37:51 -0500
        Subj:   The Three Sons of Hamlet

[3]     From:   Jack Heller <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 30 Mar 2004 08:10:54 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.0773 The Three Sons in Hamlet


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
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Date:           Monday, 29 Mar 2004 07:13:29 -0800
Subject: 15.0773 The Three Sons in Hamlet
Comment:        RE: SHK 15.0773 The Three Sons in Hamlet

Ed Taft writes,

 >No general would agree with Sean, even the most inept. Having sharked up
 >a band of ruffians, Fortinbras would be idiotic to attack all of
 >Denmark, including Elsinore. Yet that is exactly what Claudius seems to
 >fear, given the opening scene and its implications. Sean will recall
 >that in the final scene, Fortinbras takes over all of Denmark the first
 >opportunity he gets.  Moreover, it's clear he doesn't think much of
 >Claudius.

Your rather ad hominem remark hardly helps your case, which is becoming
increasingly illogical.  First, you say that Fortinbras must have been
planning to attack all of Denmark for reasons of revenge, then you say
that he must be idiotic to try with his army.  So which is it?  Are his
goals limited to what he can achieve with a list of landless resolutes,
or are his goals total, because he's planning revenge?

In any case, none of this changes the fact that limiting a war-effort to
a war-goal usually isn't always possible, as any competent strategist
can tell you.  Tsar Nicholas discovered something similar when he asked
his generals to support Serbia, but not provoke Germany.  To capture any
part of Denmark, Fortinbras must be prepared to defeat Denmark itself.
Hence, Denmark's war-effort.

Finally, the fact that Fortinbras claims Denmark eventually hardly means
that he was plotting to take it all along.

Yrs,
SKL.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Philip Tomposki <
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Date:           Monday, 29 Mar 2004 20:37:51 -0500
Subject:        The Three Sons of Hamlet

To Sean Lawrence comment "There is, therefore, no reason to think that
Fortinbras's objective is greater than the capture of the territories
lost by his father, or that this limited goal does not necessitate an
attack on Denmark in general."

Ed Taft replies: "No general would agree with Sean, even the most inept."

Robert E. Lee, considered by few military historians to be inept, did
exactly what Sean suggests - twice.  In both his invasions of Union
territory, his objective was to threaten Washington and force Lincoln to
sue for peace.  He came close to succeeding both times.  Threatening a
valuable target, even when it's not the ultimate objective, is a
time-honored military strategy.  Clausewitz advised that the purpose of
war was to destroy the opponents will to resist.  A serious threat to
Elsinore could have accomplished exactly that.

Philip Tomposki

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jack Heller <
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Date:           Tuesday, 30 Mar 2004 08:10:54 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 15.0773 The Three Sons in Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0773 The Three Sons in Hamlet

 >Jack Heller suggests that: "...Fortinbras's strongest case is against
 >the Danish court itself, something Uncle Norway (reportedly) thinks he
 >has persuaded Fortinbras to forget about. I'm not convinced that we must
 >agree with that report, and the permission given to Fortinbras to
 >traverse Denmark on the route to Poland strikes me as politically
 >stupid. Among his other faults, Claudius is a bad politician."
 >
 >To suggest that Fortinbras and/or his uncle have planned a covert
 >invasion of Denmark wanders far from the mark. At least that is my
 >opinion and will remain so until someone can explain the logic of
 >Fortinbras marching his army through Denmark to fight a war in Poland,
 >and then returning battleworn and surely in need of resupply to attack
 >his actual target. Or are we also not to agree with the report: "Young
 >Fortinbras, [return] with conquest come from Poland"? After a while, by
 >not believing the text we could find sufficient conspiracy undercurrents
 >to have another play, perhaps we could call it "Fortinbras' Secret
 >Revenge".

I made a few assertions on Hamlet that have provoked some skeptical
responses. I'll answer this first, which fits the substance of some of
the other replies.

Jay Feldman argues that by not believing the text, I can essentially
reshape it to another point. Well . . . yes. Or it could be said that I
don't believe the supposed reports of the changes in Fortinbras's
purposes, and I do believe the sounds of war Hamlet, Osric, and Horatio
hear as Hamlet is dying. Those sounds are noted in Act 5, scene 2, lines
329-350. Now, I'll return the opportunity to reply: Show us the text
indicating troops "returning battleworn and surely in need of resupply."
Line 332 quoted above ends "To the ambassadors of England gives/ This
warlike volley" (lines 333-334). Whatever one may say about Branagh's
filming of Fortinbras's arrival, it has some textual support.

Jack Heller
Huntington College

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