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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: May ::
The Murder of Gonzago
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.1118  Tuesday, 25 May 2004

[1]     From:   Edmund Taft <
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        Date:   Monday, 24 May 2004 08:39:30 -0400
        Subj:   The Murder of Gonzago

[2]     From:   Peter Bridgman <
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        Date:   Monday, 24 May 2004 14:07:19 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1108 The Murder of Gonzago

[3]     From:   Bill Arnold <
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        Date:   Monday, 24 May 2004 07:19:47 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1108 The Murder of Gonzago

[4]     From:   Bill Arnold <
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        Date:   Monday, 24 May 2004 07:26:14 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1108 The Murder of Gonzago

[5]     From:   Kenneth Chan <
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        Date:   Monday, 24 May 2004 23:59:57 +0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1108 The Murder of Gonzago


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edmund Taft <
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Date:           Monday, 24 May 2004 08:39:30 -0400
Subject:        The Murder of Gonzago

David Bishop writes: "Roughly speaking, Hamlet's problem, and
Shakespeare's, is to transform revenge into justice--a justice of which
God could approve. In this I think Shakespeare and Hamlet, in a
complicated and mysterious way, succeed." Roughly speaking, David's
conclusion seems about right to me; I have no quarrel with it. Moreover,
the notion that honorable action is at the center of the play is one I'd
agree with. Hamlet debates this very issue in his last soliloquy in 4.4.
Given the situation in which he finds himself, how can he find a way to
handle it honorably?  In my view, Hamlet's actions from 4.4 on
demonstrate what he thinks is honorable action and why he is taking it.

Best,
Ed Taft

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter Bridgman <
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Date:           Monday, 24 May 2004 14:07:19 +0100
Subject: 15.1108 The Murder of Gonzago
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1108 The Murder of Gonzago

Annalisa Castaldo writes...

 >Even if it
 >didn't work, Essex honestly seemed to believe that a performance of
 >Richard II's deposition would rouse people to depose Elizabeth.

I doubt that Essex (or anyone else) believed a play could do that.  By
insisting on the banned abdication scene, his supporters were making a
public political gesture.  They weren't handing out cudgels at the exits.

Peter Bridgman

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bill Arnold <
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Date:           Monday, 24 May 2004 07:19:47 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 15.1108 The Murder of Gonzago
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1108 The Murder of Gonzago

Edmund Taft writes, "Claudius is smart. Guilt is not the only reason why
Claudius might draw the inference that the nephew = Hamlet and Gonzago =
Claudius. But on a more basic level, it's important not to mix up what
the audience knows with what Hamlet knows. We know Claudius is guilty
(3.1.50-51), but Hamlet doesn't know."

OK: of course, none of us know whether or not Hamlet *knows* of the
guilt of Claudius.  But be assured, the spirit/ghost told him *facts*
which only could come from a truthful past.  You seem to ignored ACT ONE
is its focus, its length, and its tone.  Read it again!

Bill Arnold
http://www.cwru.edu/affil/edis/scholars/arnold.htm

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bill Arnold <
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Date:           Monday, 24 May 2004 07:26:14 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 15.1108 The Murder of Gonzago
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1108 The Murder of Gonzago

David Bishop writes, "I would say the difference between purgatory and
hell here is immaterial. The more important point, one of the most
important, is that the command to revenge cannot conceivably come from
God, because the Christian God is opposed to personal revenge."

OK: says *who*?  Certainly not Jesus who decidedly took out *revenge* on
a fruit tree which did not bear fruit?  Other examples from the New
Testament show that this statement is a gloss on the words of Jesus, and
might reflect a particular sect of Christianity.  Which sect?  Oh, and
of the notion of *Purgatory*, do you suggest that Jesus created the
concept?  Isn't Dante the culprit?

Bill Arnold
http://www.cwru.edu/affil/edis/scholars/arnold.htm

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Kenneth Chan <
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Date:           Monday, 24 May 2004 23:59:57 +0800
Subject: 15.1108 The Murder of Gonzago
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1108 The Murder of Gonzago

I have to agree with Annalisa Castaldo and Edmund Taft that it is
possible the King reacts in the Mousetrap because of paranoia. I
actually did suggest this possibility in my post.

However, the conditional requirement of paranoia rather weakens the case
for the Mousetrap to be considered a failure. If it is Shakespeare's
intent to portray the Mousetrap as having failed, why does he present
such a weak case for it? He could easily have made it explicit by simply
having Hamlet or Horatio express their doubts clearly.

I agree, though, with Ed Taft that Claudius probably "sees BOTH ways in
which the play can be applied to him" and that he is both angry and
afraid. Nonetheless, Hamlet would still consider this a success for his
Mousetrap. His concern is simply to check whether Claudius is guilty or not.

I think one reason why we have a disagreement over the Mousetrap is that
my interpretation is generally focused on trying to read Shakespeare's
intent from the way the play is presented. This tends to narrow the
possibilities considerably. On the other hand, if we interpret the play
just from the facts that can be gleaned from the text, many more
interpretations will, of course, become feasible.

Regards
Kenneth Chan

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