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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: April ::
The Murder of Gonzago
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.0818  Monday, 5 April 2004

[1]     From:   D Bloom <
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        Date:   Friday, 2 Apr 2004 12:06:02 -0600
        Subj:   RE: SHK 15.0808 The Murder of Gonzago

[2]     From:   Jay Feldman <
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        Date:   Friday, 2 Apr 2004 18:05:15 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.0808 The Murder of Gonzago

[3]     From:   Elliott H. Stone <
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        Date:   Sunday, 4 Apr 2004 11:37:52 -0400
        Subj:   RE: SHK 15.0808 The Murder of Gonzago


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           D Bloom <
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Date:           Friday, 2 Apr 2004 12:06:02 -0600
Subject: 15.0808 The Murder of Gonzago
Comment:        RE: SHK 15.0808 The Murder of Gonzago

W.L. Godshalk suggests:.

 >(1) We do not know that the parallel [between the murder of Old Hamlet
 >and the Murder of Gonzago] is exact.  The ghost may be an
 >evil, lying ghost, and Hamlet may be deceived. He's not very good at
 >"seems," as he admits to his ma.

The ghost or may not be evil and untruthful but the parallel between his
story and the play as staged at Hamlet's behest seems pretty exact to me.

Old Hamlet:

sleeping within my Orchard,
763: My custome alwayes of the afternoone,
764: Vpon my secure houre, thy Vncle stole
765: With iuyce of cursed Hebona in a viall,
766: And in the porches of my eares did poure
767: The leaprous distilment,

Luc.

1965: Thoughts black, hands apt, drugges fit, and time agreeing,
1966: Considerat season els no creature seeing,
1967: Thou mixture ranck, of midnight weedes collected,
1968: With Hecats ban thrice blasted, thrice inuected,
1969: Thy naturall magicke, and dire property,
1970: On wholsome life vsurps immediatly.

Ham.

1971: A poysons him i'th Garden for his estate, his names Gonza-go,
1972: the story is extant, and written in very choice Italian, you shall
see
1973: anon how the murtherer gets the loue of Gonzagoes wife.

It is traditional to add a stage direction at the end of Lucianus's
speech in which he pours the poison in Gonzago's ear, but that is not
only to make the parallel exact but to make it rational: how else is he
going to get the poison into the victim?

The issue of the trustworthiness of the ghost is one thing. I am
inclined to believe the ghost, since Claudius confirms that he murdered
his brother, but that's another dogfight. The staging of the Murder of
Gonzago, however-in the garden with poison poured in the ear while the
victim is sleeping-is surely meant to parallel the facts of Claudius's
crime as alleged by the Ghost, and thus to confront the king with
Hamlet's knowledge of what Claudius assumed no living person but he knew.

That's all I meant,
don

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jay Feldman <
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Date:           Friday, 2 Apr 2004 18:05:15 EST
Subject: 15.0808 The Murder of Gonzago
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0808 The Murder of Gonzago

David Bishop asks: Why doesn't Hamlet sit quietly and give his test a
fair chance to succeed?

David, thanks for your excellent and insightful exegesis. In response to
your query above, I wonder what you thought of Rick Jones' suggestion on
30 Mar, that Hamlet's commentary may have been private, directed only to
Ophelia's ear? There is no indication that I can find that he
necessarily was speaking to Claudius and the court after Lucianus' entry.

Thanks again,
Jay Feldman

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Elliott H. Stone <
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Date:           Sunday, 4 Apr 2004 11:37:52 -0400
Subject: 15.0808 The Murder of Gonzago
Comment:        RE: SHK 15.0808 The Murder of Gonzago

In the new 2002 Yale HAMLET there is an essay by Harold Bloom. Bloom
agrees with A.C. Bradley, "when he suggested that Hamlet was the only
Shakespearian character whom we could think had written Shakespeare's
plays".  I am not sure to my mind that Hamlet was exactly the character
that Michael Wood portrayed as the Bard in his latest television epic.
However, in the Mouse Trap we do have Hamlet producing, directing and
rewriting an old play. The Mouse Trap seems to be telling us something
about its author Hamlet, since in the play Hamlet tells us "This is one
Lucianus, nephew to the King". Hamlet, of course, is also a nephew to
the king.  Perhaps, the Bradley fans might explain what
Hamlet/Shakespeare was driving at here?

Best, Elliott H. Stone

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