2004

Shakesbeer

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.0810  Friday, 2 April 2004

[1]     From:   Stephen Dobbin <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 2 Apr 2004 07:55:21 +0100 (BST)
        Subj:   Re: Shakesbeer

[2]     From:   Peter Bridgman <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 1 Apr 2004 03:20:15 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.0797 Shakesbeer


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Stephen Dobbin <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 2 Apr 2004 07:55:21 +0100 (BST)
Subject:        Re: Shakesbeer

I think, after performing such exhaustive web research on our behalf,
SHAKSPER members ought to club together to fund a trip to the States for
Wan-yu Lin, to try the properties of:

 >'Three Wyches, ABV 4.4%, Triple Hopped for a magical
 >fragrance, A magic spell of hoppy flavours with a
 >soothing balm of toffee malt and a dry finish'.
 >
 >At 4.4% ABV I have great hopes of soon being able to
 >rename our intrepid researcher Wan-yu (Smi)Lin (The
 >Whole World Smiles With You!)

If the funds aren't forthcoming, however, I suggest a trip the town of
Clare, in Suffolk, and the Nethergate Brewery - who, by asserting a
direct line of descent from the brewery in the local Augustan Priory,
can claim a brewing history stretching back for 750 years!

Here Wan-yu can try Old Growler which, at 5.5% ABV is the nearest thing
to true Falstaffian porter he's likely to find. Then he can change his
PhD topic from 'Aspects of Teaching Shakespeare' (or whatever) to
'Shakespeare and Beer' which, let's face it, is going to be much more
fun to research and will also make him A LOT more popular on the
international Shakespeare lecture circuit. ("A lecture by Wan-yu Lin,
with free samples and practical hints in tasting, sponsored by Flowers
Brewery: a must for the serious scholar.")

Hmm..! Come to think of it, that's far too good an idea to throw out on
the web for free. Watch this space...!

Stephen Dobbin.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter Bridgman <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 1 Apr 2004 03:20:15 +0100
Subject: 15.0797 Shakesbeer
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0797 Shakesbeer

 >Isn't there a major brand called Falstaff?

Not in the UK, but we do have a beer called Brakspear that rhymes with
Shakespeare.  Nicholas Brakspear was the only English pope (Adrian IV)
and the brewery's logo includes a papal symbol - a bee.

Peter Bridgman

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the
editor assumes no responsibility for them.

Stylometrics

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.0809  Friday, 2 April 2004

[1]     From:   Ward Elliott <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 31 Mar 2004 23:45:08 -0800
        Subj:   RE: SHK 15.0785 Stylometrics

[2]     From:   Michael Egan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 1 Apr 2004 09:10:49 -1000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.0803 Stylometrics

[3]     From:   R. A. Cantrell <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 01 Apr 2004 13:21:35 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.0803 Stylometrics


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ward Elliott <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 31 Mar 2004 23:45:08 -0800
Subject: 15.0785 Stylometrics
Comment:        RE: SHK 15.0785 Stylometrics

To Gerry Downs:  2H6 is one of the plays we purged from our baseline
this spring to make it as free as possible from suspicion of being
co-authored, and we haven't yet worked out a revised scoring system to
deal with it.  The H6 series as a whole is loaded with indicators of
other- or co-authorship.  1H6 has 11 rejections by new count; 3H6 has 8.
  The highest core-Shakespeare rejection count is two; 2H6 has three.
That's only one rejection worse than the farthest core Shakespeare
outlier.  It falls within the Shakespeare envelope by Valenza's
Continuous Composite Probability test, and only one order of magnitude
outside of it on Discrete Composite.  We're not talking about gazillions
here.  My guess is that it's almost all by Shakespeare and that we shall
come up with some kind of safety factor rules which will say more
formally that it belongs in the ballpark, even if it's not in our
testing baseline.

To Mac Jackson:  Closer examination of the hyphenated compound word
counts in our Arden of Feversham text could well eliminate that
rejection.  We used Lou Ule's text, discovered from spot checks on other
plays that his HCW counts, mostly taken from Tucker Brooke, can be lower
than those found in our baseline Riverside Shakespeare, and warned our
readers of the problem in our Chum 1996 "Final Report" of the
Shakespeare Clinic.  I haven't tried to re-edit the Arden text, but I
would guess from the alternative counts supplied that our HCW rejection
for it is highly doubtful. On the other hand, it seems to me also highly
doubtful that eliminating that one rejection would be enough to make
Arden a likely Shakespeare play, since it would still have 9 rejections
in 48 tests, which would put it maybe six or seven orders of magnitude
outside the ballpark by my odds, 12 or 13 by Valenza's.  2H6 is as close
as a play could get to our Shakespeare infield and still justify a grain
of suspicion of co-authorship; Arden would be on a distant planet even
without the HCW rejection.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Michael Egan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 1 Apr 2004 09:10:49 -1000
Subject: 15.0803 Stylometrics
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0803 Stylometrics

A number of interesting points have so far emerged. However I note that
many of the key theoretical axioms of stylometrics have still not been
addressed. One of them is that writers write  in habitual ways and these
can be statistically measured (ignoring 'counting wobble' of course),
then predicted.  Another is that  none of them evolve and change
sufficiently to alter this assumption (try telling that students of
Henry James!) A third is that all genres, expository prose, poetry and
the drama, etc., are equally susceptible to such analysis. A fourth is
the fact that  Shakespeare may be handled on the basis of the same
assumptions as all other writers despite overwhelming evidence that he
is in almost all respects not like the rest.

What are the experimentally verified and testable data behind these
assumptions? Or are we simply dealing with articles of faith?

--Michael Egan

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           R. A. Cantrell <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 01 Apr 2004 13:21:35 -0600
Subject: 15.0803 Stylometrics
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0803 Stylometrics

 >"they have overriding and unassignable imperatives and styles of their
own"
 >
 >"Where'd they get them?"
 >
 >Aristotle.

Yaar Matey

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the
editor assumes no responsibility for them.

Lincoln / Macbeth

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.0807  Friday, 2 April 2004

From:           Abigail Quart <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 1 Apr 2004 01:21:11 -0500
Subject: 15.0794 Lincoln / Macbeth
Comment:        RE: SHK 15.0794 Lincoln / Macbeth

"And all this from a basically self-educated man."

Prairie families didn't have a lot of room for books, even if they were
as casually easy to obtain as they are now, which they weren't. But they
had the King James Bible, and enough of them had a Complete Works of
Shakespeare.

Oddly enough, the King James made it easier for the kids back then to
read Shakespeare. They were written in the same period. Children
familiar with the King James didn't have the language struggle our
children do. They just dove straight into the stories.

Outlaw Frank James, brother of Jesse, was so fond of quoting from the
Bard, his nickname was Shakespeare.

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the
editor assumes no responsibility for them.

The Murder of Gonzago

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.0808  Friday, 2 April 2004

[1]     From:   David Bishop <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 1 Apr 2004 15:34:29 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.0800 The Murder of Gonzago

[2]     From:   W.L. Godshalk <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 01 Apr 2004 17:26:18 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.0800 The Murder of Gonzago

[3]     From:   Jay Feldman <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 1 Apr 2004 19:57:51 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.0800 The Murder of Gonzago

[4]     From:   Paul Swanson <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 1 Apr 2004 21:43:08 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.0800 The Murder of Gonzago


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Bishop <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 1 Apr 2004 15:34:29 -0500
Subject: 15.0800 The Murder of Gonzago
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0800 The Murder of Gonzago

I agree with Don Bloom that Claudius walks out of the Mousetrap play
because he is guilty, as Shakespeare and Hamlet have prepared the
audience to understand. That much really ought to be obvious. But what's
obvious in this scene does not exhaust its content.

The player king and player queen depart symmetrically from their models.
The real king was hardly sick, or inclined to this kind of gentle
tolerance, even encouragement, of a second marriage for his widow, while
the real queen can't be imagined to have equated second marriage with
murder anywhere outside the fevered idealizing imagination of Hamlet.
Why would Shakespeare make the king so much gentler than Hamlet's
father, and the queen so much more puritanical, or fanatical, than Gertrude?

Hamlet's plan to insert a speech in the play combines with Shakespeare's
failure to reveal which one it is to give the perhaps barely conscious
impression to the audience that somehow the whole play might have been
written by him, that it expresses something happening inside Hamlet,
though not necessarily, or entirely, in Hamlet's consciousness. Hamlet
is a character with an unconscious as well as a conscious mind. It's
hard for him or the audience to disentangle them. Conflicts roil his
inner life, some articulated, some hinted at, some buried deeper than
did ever plummet sound.

How must Hamlet feel, in that part of himself that believed the ghost,
and swore revenge, when instead of taking revenge he arranges a "test"
of the ghost's veracity? Does Hamlet really doubt him enough to make him
easy with the thought of putting the ghost to this insulting and
faithless test?

He's under a considerable amount, one might say an awesome amount, of
stress. He's torn: he's "to double business bound". He's also been
establishing his antic disposition, which I take to be, in some part of
his mind, a prospective alibi for killing the king, which then gets
used, and used up, as his alibi for killing Polonius-an alibi, given his
raging state at the moment, which seems at least plausible, if not
entirely true. To plan, in part unconsciously, to pretend madness, kill
the king, and then say you were mad then but are now sane, and then in
the process of carrying out this plan to find yourself veering toward
real madness, losing your "sovereign reason" in reality as well as in
pretence, would involve a very complicated complex of motivations, and
an almost ungraspable dialectic of belief and doubt. We may see an image
of this incompatible, though wedded, pair in the tolerant, nearly
cynical, player king and his queen, the fanatic of faithfulness who
proves the king's wisdom by accepting the murderer's love.

Hamlet may, in some part of his mind, hope that the Mousetrap will
induce Claudius to proclaim his malefactions, thereby not only
confirming the ghost's story for Hamlet's private satisfaction, though
witnessed  by Horatio (whose testimony, informed by the ghost's story,
would still not hold up in the court of public opinion), but providing
the public proof of his crime which Hamlet would need to justify an open
revolt against the king. Hamlet nevertheless seems to work against this
outcome with his rude and intrusive remarks, both reinforcing his
reputed madness and plausibly offending the king to the point where that
offense could explain why he would walk out of the play. Why doesn't
Hamlet sit quietly and give his test a fair chance to succeed? For one
thing, he can't help believing that Claudius is guilty, and even to wait
quietly would show him too starkly, to himself and the audience, failing
to be faithful to the ghost. Hamlet's evident anger proclaims his
certainty of Claudius's guilt, though Hamlet, with the help of his antic
disposition, carefully maintains deniability. He accuse the king?  No,
he appears to say, yet with a denial phrased to allow it a sense that
might make it true: "Your majesty, and we that have free souls, it
touches us not."

Hamlet here tauntingly challenges Claudius to endure the play without
wincing. He made it through the dumb show, which happened so fast no one
quite knew what it meant, but he senses an "offense" approaching as the
action is fleshed out with words. When the moment comes, he winces, and
walks out, but thanks to Hamlet the court can plausibly blame the
walkout on Hamlet's rudeness.

To say that by introducing a prospective king-killer as the king's
nephew Hamlet has directly threatened to kill the king gives the court
too little credit for detaching fiction from fact. No one knows
anything, and even Gertrude evidently believes Hamlet's rudeness drove
Claudius out. This is not to say that Hamlet's making the killer a
nephew is merely coincidental.  Hamlet may intend a threat. Claudius may
feel a threat. But the threat to Claudius lies mainly in the suggestion
that Hamlet knows about the murder.  Making the killer a nephew adds
nothing that would make Claudius try any harder to have Hamlet killed.
If Hamlet knows Claudius killed his father, Hamlet becomes a danger
removeable only by his death. The play shows Claudius his own image in
Lucianus, even if he's billed as the king's nephew. Besides, making the
killer his nephew also works against the force of the story. Would
calling him brother to the king be so close to the truth that it would
arouse the suspicions of the court, as those who see this as a "direct
threat" already believe it has? That would be more likely, though not
necessary. In this case Hamlet continues in his vein of antic
deniabilty, secretly taunting the guilty king with his ironic, if not
sarcastic, insistence that the character is called Gonzago and the story
"written in very choice Italian." His "frighted with false fire?" again
drives home the point that something here is true and Hamlet knows it,
and knows that Claudius knows it, though thanks in part to Hamlet the
public does not.

I think Hamlet's making the murderer the nephew points to something
else, a feeling held nearly incommunicado in another part of Hamlet's
mind. If he kills Claudius he will be putting himself in Claudius's
regicidal shoes, by killing the king of Denmark. His desire to get his
mother back from Claudius, though not literally to marry her, may be
another closely held motive, yet then her move to him, by analogy with
the Mousetrap play, would be faithless. I wouldn't get too Freudian
about this. What stands out is that for Hamlet to be figured in Lucianus
would make him not a revenging hero but a regicidal villain. Hamlet's
revenging side wants to kill Claudius, while the parts of him that
hesitate to kill the king, because of the potential consequences for
himself, the state and his mother, identify regicide with the villainy
of Lucianus, and, through him, Claudius. Hamlet does not want to become
Claudius, though the ghost tells him he must.

Shakespeare threads the needle in the Mousetrap play. He gives the
doubting Hamlet a ploy that may produce public proof of the crime, while
the faithful Hamlet (faithful to the ghost) has to screw it up so that
the proof remains private, leaving him in almost the same position he
was in before. Except that now Claudius knows he knows-or knows
something close enough to that to take action. As Hamlet also now
supposedly knows enough to take action, and therefore.drifts off
obediently to his mother's closet.

On the main track of the play, Claudius shows his guilt to the real
audience, who already knew he was guilty, but not to the court, who see
the king offended by the insolently antic Hamlet. Hamlet won't get
public proof of the king's guilt before he leaves for England. The
revenging Hamlet does break through his inhibitions and try to kill the
king when he is aggravated to near-madness and thinks he's found the
king hiding and spying behind the arras-an act that has no relish of
salvation in't. Afterwards, he expends his alibi on Polonius. In the
end, of course, he does get proof of Claudius' s crimes, first in the
commission (strictly speaking, proof only of criminal intent), and then
in the poison whose action is testified to by Laertes and proved by his
own death.

Claudius walks out of the Mousetrap play because he can't stand to see
his crime acted out, and the pain it gives him makes plausible, with a
duality worthy of Hamlet, both his attempt to repent and his plot to
have Hamlet killed. Guilt is the obvious reason he walks out. I don't
think we should get over subtle about that.

Best wishes,
David Bishop

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W.L. Godshalk <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 01 Apr 2004 17:26:18 -0500
Subject: 15.0800 The Murder of Gonzago
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0800 The Murder of Gonzago

 >As many have noted, the parallel of the crimes is exact. Against all
 >possibility, Hamlet knows exactly how the murder of his father took
 >place, and with the production of "Murder" the King knows that he knows
 >-- and that everyone else will at least have a suspicion.

writes Don Bloom of the Mousetrap.

(1) We do not know that the parallel 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.

(2) And, yes, Hamlet does seem to give himself away, especially when he
identifies the murderer as the "nephew" of the king. But Hamlet has been
drawing attention to himself from the first scene-wearing black to the
wedding, acting mad, and now putting on an offensive play.  The play
would be offensive to the king even if he were not guilty.

Bill Godshalk

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jay Feldman <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 1 Apr 2004 19:57:51 EST
Subject: 15.0800 The Murder of Gonzago
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0800 The Murder of Gonzago

It seems to me that following the "Mousetrap" Claudius knows that Hamlet
knows of his regicide and is planning retribution. What the court knows
is not clear, yet given the conversation between R&G and the king, there
is some fear for the king's life. Only Claudius knows exactly what
threat Hamlet now presents to him and he is prepared to deal with it at
once. The commission he promises R&G may have been written during
Hamlet's visit to his mother's chamber, even before he knows of
Polonius' murder. Following the death of Polonius, Claudius knows that
Hamlet is very dangerous and now has an excellent rationale for sending
him away, one that will work with Gertrude. Claudius wants Hamlet dead,
but in England not Denmark.

On another point, some have noted the halfhearted agreement offered by
Horatio to the king's "Away!". It seems to me an actor can say "VERY
well, my lord." and "I did VERY well note him." in a manner that is most
convincing.

Jay Feldman

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Paul Swanson <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 1 Apr 2004 21:43:08 EST
Subject: 15.0800 The Murder of Gonzago
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0800 The Murder of Gonzago

Greetings, All!

Jack Heller writes "I kick myself for missing that Player Lucianus is
the Player King's nephew; thanks to those who pointed out this detail. I
think it only strengthens the reading I was developing. So "The Murder
of Gonzago" may be a death threat. Claudius may leave pissed off at
Hamlet, not guilt-stricken."

Shakespeare's (or Hamlet's, as he is the quasi-author of "The
Mousetrap"), choice to make Lucianus the Player King's nephew has always
fascinated me, and it very much brings into question Freudian readings
of the play. If we see "The Mousetrap" as a threat against Claudius,
then we must very much ponder Hamlet's line immediately after Lucianus
pours poison in the ear of the Player King, when Hamlet tells the entire
audience, "A poisons him i'th' garden for his estate. . . You shall see
anon how the murderer gets the love of Gonzago's wife" (3.2.258).

Wow... A deeply complex duality emerges here: On one hand, Hamlet has
just staged a recreation of his father's murder, meaning that Lucianus
is actually Claudius. But that is NOT what Hamlet tells us; he
explicitly says that Lucianus is the nephew to the King, which makes us
see Lucianus as Hamlet, as Jack Heller and others point out. But what of
the provocative line about Lucianus, the nephew, getting the love of the
dead King's wife? Does Hamlet reveal, as some have suggested, an Oedipal
attraction to his mother?

I am not sold on Oedipal readings of this play, but the "nephew" who
gets "the love of Gonzago's wife" is central to this scene and cannot be
left unexamined. I would love to hear what other list members have to
say on this.

Paul Swanson

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the
editor assumes no responsibility for them.

The Three Sons in Hamlet

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.0806  Friday, 2 April 2004

[1]     From:   Jack Heller <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 31 Mar 2004 21:52:32 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.0795 The Three Sons in Hamlet

[2]     From:   Jack Heller <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 1 Apr 2004 16:35:36 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.0795 The Three Sons in Hamlet

[3]     From:   Sean Lawrence <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 1 Apr 2004 14:10:50 -0800
        Subj:   RE: SHK 15.0802 The Three Sons in Hamlet

[4]     From:   Jay Feldman <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 1 Apr 2004 19:46:51 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.0802 The Three Sons in Hamlet


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jack Heller <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 31 Mar 2004 21:52:32 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 15.0795 The Three Sons in Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0795 The Three Sons in Hamlet

 >Dear Jack, you are correct, nothing I said concerning the physical state
 >of Fortinbras' army (battleworn and in need of resupply) is textually
 >supported, however that was not the thrust of my question. What I want
 >to know is where is the logic of Fortinbras marching his army through
 >Denmark, fighting a war in Poland, and only then returning to attack his
 >real target of Denmark? "Hamlet" is a fiction and so anything goes, but
 >surely this does not make sense in real or imagined life.

There is more in Jay Feldman's latest response than I have opportunity
address. However, I'll note that Hamlet observes a disproportion between
Fortinbras's large forces and the miniscule bit of Poland he reportedly
wants to capture, a bit that curiously requires a route through Denmark,
the previously stated objective, to reach.

Jack Heller
Huntington College

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jack Heller <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 1 Apr 2004 16:35:36 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 15.0795 The Three Sons in Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0795 The Three Sons in Hamlet

 From Jay Feldman:

 >Dear Jack, you are correct, nothing I said concerning the physical state
 >of Fortinbras' army (battleworn and in need of resupply) is textually
 >supported, however that was not the thrust of my question. What I want
 >to know is where is the logic of Fortinbras marching his army through
 >Denmark, fighting a war in Poland, and only then returning to attack his
 >real target of Denmark? "Hamlet" is a fiction and so anything goes, but
 >surely this does not make sense in real or imagined life.

One may wonder as well about the logic of fighting a war for the little
patch of Polish ground barely worth five ducats. Hamlet goads himself by
comparing his supposedly just cause to Fortinbras's finding quarrel in a
straw when honor's at stake. A question may be asked as to whether
Fortinbras has 2000 or 20,000 men, but wouldn't either amount be more
than too much for the purpose? But how many would be needed to take over
a medieval or Renaissance castle?

Perhaps we should look to the numbers in Henry V for an answer. The
logic of Fortinbras's strategy is to catch the Danes with insufficient
defenses. If they conclude that he has some other purpose than to attack
themselves, then Fortinbras's conquest will be that much easier.
Ultimately, much, much easier than expected.

Jack Heller
Huntington College

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 1 Apr 2004 14:10:50 -0800
Subject: 15.0802 The Three Sons in Hamlet
Comment:        RE: SHK 15.0802 The Three Sons in Hamlet

Ed Taft writes,

 >The key word is "serious." Though poorly supplied near the end and
 >suffering from lack of numbers, Lee's men were superbly trained and
 >fanatically dedicated to the mission at hand. With such an army, Lee
 >twice employed the strategy you suggest. But contrast Lee's army with
 >what Fortinbras is still in the process of procuring:
 >
 >                         "Now, sir, young Fortinbras,
 >                   Of unimproved mettle hot and full,
 >                   Hath in the skirts of Norway here and there
 >                   Sharked up a list of lawless resolutes. . . .
 >                                           (1.1.99-102)
 >
 >Is this a serious threat?  If designed for anything, such an army would
 >be appropriate for taking back by force the lands Fortinbras feels are
 >his. In fact, he later uses this army in a similar venture: not against
 >all of Poland, but "to gain a little patch of ground." It's good for
 >little else.

To which I would reply:  Hamlet later calls it an army "of mass and
charge".  The folio calls the resolutes only "landless" and cuts out the
later description of the goal of the Poland campaign.  Your argument
relies heavily, therefore, on Q2.

In any case, John R. Hale showed long ago that mercenary armies were
often made up of the lawless and landless who were, in fact, often the
better soldiers.  Such armies caused serious threats to Italian
city-states during the period which inspired Machiavelli, for instance,
and Machiavelli's own preference for conscript militias was not
justified by practical experience.  For that matter, the Republic of
Venice always fought with armies made of "lawless resolutes".  I recall,
in fact, that one or two of the generals were captured trying to attack
Venice, and pulled out of prison to command Venice's army.

Here's Thomas More's description of the Zapolets, a lightly-hidden
reference to the Swiss:

They are a rude, wild, and fierce nation, who delight in the woods and
rocks, among which they were born and bred up. They are hardened both
against heat, cold, and labor, and know nothing of the delicacies of
life. They do not apply themselves to agriculture, nor do they care
either for their houses or their clothes. Cattle is all that they look
after; and for the greatest part they live either by hunting, or upon
rapine; and are made, as it were, only for war. They watch all
opportunities of engaging in it, and very readily embrace such as are
offered them.

Sounds like a list of lawless resolutes to me, but Claudius nevertheless
calls for "my swissers" and the papacy is guarded by Swiss mercenaries
to this day.

More importantly, unless Fortinbras can threaten Elsinore he can't
threaten Denmark, and therefore can't recover the lands which he
desires.  It is not always possible, and I can't repeat this often
enough, to make a war-effort correspond to war aims.  Austria-Hungary's
effort in the first world war was considerably greater, in the end, than
what was necessary to avenge the assassination of the Archduke
Ferdinand, or even to conquer Serbia.  Hitler found himself dedicating
far more troops to the siege of Stalingrad than a small industrial city
could be worth, and the United States tore itself apart to fight a war
in Vietnam, a place with no industry and few strategic resources.

I understand that the region of New Brunswick and Maine is one of the
few places along the Canada-US border where Canada enjoys a military
superiority, since Canadian Forces Base Gagetown is in New Brunswick,
and Maine has no bases of similar importance.  I'm not sure if this is
entirely true, but even if it were true, and even were our countries not
allied, we wouldn't attack, because we could be assured that by
attacking any part of the United States, we'd be attacking all of it,
and would have to face a lot more than the Maine State National Guard.

Similarly, I can't see how Fortinbras can attack any part of Denmark
without fighting Denmark itself.  The Poles, after all, have already
garrisoned their piece of ground, "that hath no profit but the name".
Similarly, the Danes are engaged in "daily cast of brazen cannon / And
foreign mart for implements of war".

Furthermore, Fortinbras's alleged plan to make a feint at Denmark, win
passage to Poland, then attack Denmark again on his return just seems
too clever by half.

Finally, Claudius has no difficulty dismissing Fortinbras's note, which
therefore does not seem particularly threatening:  "So much for him".
The notion that Fortinbras might hold "a weak supposal of our worth" is
only hypothetical, weighed (briefly and dismissively) against the
possibility that Fortinbras suspects "Our state to be disjoint and out
of frame", or that he's simply ambitious.

This last quotation would further reinforce the claim that an attack
against any part of Denmark requires at least an estimate of the
strength of the state as a whole, as does your claim, for that matter.
Fortinbras can only attack "those lands" if he can overcome Denmark and
Claudius as "the Dane".  An attack against any one part can only
threaten Claudius's rule if it reflects upon his strength in general
(i.e., that of the Danish state).

Yours truly,
SKL.

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jay Feldman <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 1 Apr 2004 19:46:51 EST
Subject: 15.0802 The Three Sons in Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0802 The Three Sons in Hamlet

Ed Taft asks: Isn't the real threat in Fortinbras's note, in which he
says or implies that he doesn't think much of Claudius? ... Fortinbras's
note puts Claudius under psychological pressure.

Ed, I don't agree with your take on this. First of all, my impression is
that Fortinbras instructs his captain to delivery a verbal request
("Tell him by his license..."); secondly Fortinbras' is asking for an
escort for his Norwegian troops when he says that he "Craves the
conveyance of a promised march Over his [Claudius'] kingdom"; and
finally, I do not think Fortinbras is suggesting that he will poke
Claudius in the eye if he wants a personal interview, rather, if that is
the case, Fortinbras will dutifully come in person and request the
conveyance. If my interpretation is anything near accurate, I'm curious
what you find demeaning or psychologically demanding in the request?

Jay Feldman

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the
editor assumes no responsibility for them.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Search

Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.