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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: December ::
Greenblatt's Hamlet
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.2049  Friday, 3 December 2004

[1]     From:   D Bloom <
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        Date:   Thursday, 2 Dec 2004 07:49:40 -0600
        Subj:   RE: SHK 15.2040 Greenblatt's Hamlet

[2]     From:   David Bishop <
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        Date:   Thursday, 2 Dec 2004 13:26:58 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.2040 Greenblatt's Hamlet


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           D Bloom <
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Date:           Thursday, 2 Dec 2004 07:49:40 -0600
Subject: 15.2040 Greenblatt's Hamlet
Comment:        RE: SHK 15.2040 Greenblatt's Hamlet

Michael B. Luskin writes:

 >"I don't think that Hamlet has
 >"exposed" Claudius as the murderer of King Hamlet, or the author of the
 >plot to kill him in England.  That is why he complains, that if he had
 >time, he could tell a tale.  And it is why he asks Horatio to do it for
 >him."

I suppose one might have a different definition of "expose." But the
dumb show sketches out what the "Murder of Gonzago" will depict (a close
replication of the Murder of Old Hamlet). Still, it is only a dumb show.
  Ophelia seems to sense something ominous about it, but says nothing
conclusive either way. The beginning of the play proper, however, is a
direct insult to the queen, and in case she missed it, Hamlet points it
out to her in front of everyone. The second part then depicts the
murder, duplicating what the Ghost has told Hamlet about his own killing.

It seems unlikely that anyone in the "stage audience" (the Danish court)
would be so stupid as to miss the first point: Gonzago equals Old Hamlet
and Baptista Gertrude. Therefore, they are not likely to miss the
second: Lucianus equals Claudius, who "poisons him in the garden for his
estate" and wins the widow's love and hand.

To me, this is enough to constitute exposure.

(Suppose the troupe were to stage a play in which a reigning, but
illegitimate, queen framed her beautiful and legitimate cousin-rival
with false documents in order to have her tried, condemned and executed.
  Even if you set it Amalfi or India or some other exotic locale do you
think anyone would miss the point? Do you suppose they could 'scape
whipping? Hanging?)

(This sounds, in fact, rather like one of those dreadful heroic
tragedies out of the Restoration. Did no one think of it? Or did Charles
wisely prohibit any digging up of the bones of his great-grandmother?)

Cheers,
don

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Bishop <
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Date:           Thursday, 2 Dec 2004 13:26:58 -0500
Subject: 15.2040 Greenblatt's Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.2040 Greenblatt's Hamlet

Michael Luskin says, "I don't think that Hamlet has 'exposed' Claudius
as the murderer of King Hamlet, or the author of the plot to kill him in
England." Hamlet has certainly not "exposed" Claudius, to the public, as
the murderer of King Hamlet. This never happens. However, the
commission, which Hamlet preserves and hands over to Horatio, will act
as evidence for the public, as it has for the audience, of Claudius's
tyranny in plotting to murder his heir. It will reinforce the most
important, incontrovertible evidence of that plot: Laertes' testimony
and Hamlet's death.

Best wishes,
David Bishop

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