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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: October ::
The Meaning of Hamlet
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.1826  Tuesday, 5 October 2004

[1]     From:   John W. Kennedy <
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        Date:   Friday, 01 Oct 2004 08:31:14 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1804 The Meaning of Hamlet

[2]     From:   Ros King <
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 >
        Date:   Friday, 01 Oct 2004 15:03:54 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1804 The Meaning of Hamlet

[3]     From:   Larry Weiss <
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 >
        Date:   Friday, 01 Oct 2004 10:58:05 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1804 The Meaning of Hamlet

[4]     From:   Kenneth Chan <
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 >
        Date:   Sunday, 03 Oct 2004 22:59:10 +0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1804 The Meaning of Hamlet


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John W. Kennedy <
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 >
Date:           Friday, 01 Oct 2004 08:31:14 -0400
Subject: 15.1804 The Meaning of Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1804 The Meaning of Hamlet

Kenneth Chan <
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 >

 >Hamlet does not even mention the need for proof in the other soliloquy
 >on the delay. There, he again appears not to know why he delayed. In his
 >own words: "I do not know why yet I live to say this thing's to do, Sith
 >I have cause, and will, and strength, and means to do't." If Hamlet had
 >been delaying because of the lack of proof, why would he say this?

Because he is human?

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ros King <
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 >
Date:           Friday, 01 Oct 2004 15:03:54 +0100
Subject: 15.1804 The Meaning of Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1804 The Meaning of Hamlet

 >There, he again appears not to know why he delayed. In his
 >own words: "I do not know why yet I live to say this thing's to do, Sith
 >I have cause, and will, and strength, and means to do't." If Hamlet had
 >been delaying because of the lack of proof, why would he say this?

He only says it in the Q2 version. There's no delay in F - or none that
gets in the way of his jubilation at the 'proof' of the Mousetrap
performance since that's immediately followed by the mess occasioned by
Polonius's murder in the place where only the King should have been.
Hamlet's then whisked off to England, murdering R&G en route - precisely
because he doesn't give himself time to think (and the advent of the
pirates prevents him doing so later, even had he wished to change his
mind which is unknowable). In that version he never meets Fortinbras's
army and has no occasion to inform against himself.

Best
Ros

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Larry Weiss <
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 >
Date:           Friday, 01 Oct 2004 10:58:05 -0400
Subject: 15.1804 The Meaning of Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1804 The Meaning of Hamlet

 >he again appears not to know why he delayed. In his
 >own words: "I do not know why yet I live to say this thing's to do, Sith
 >I have cause, and will, and strength, and means to do't." If Hamlet had
 >been delaying because of the lack of proof, why would he say this?

We had a lengthy thread a about this passage a few years ago.  I
encourage anyone with an interest to retrieve it from the archives.

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Kenneth Chan <
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 >
Date:           Sunday, 03 Oct 2004 22:59:10 +0800
Subject: 15.1804 The Meaning of Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1804 The Meaning of Hamlet

Ted Dykstra writes:

 >"... wonder if anyone thinks Hamlet would have
 >killed Claudius if he wasn't at prayer, or trying to pray at any rate.
 >... His argument for not killing his uncle is at that
 >moment is very sound given what we are to understand his beliefs are."

Given that Hamlet did rashly kill Polonius in the next scene (while
mistaking him for the King), we can probably conclude that he would have
killed Claudius here had he not been at prayer. This means that we
accept Hamlet's reason for sparing the praying Claudius as his genuine
reason; not some excuse for delaying his revenge. This would be
consistent with Shakespeare's portrayal of Hamlet's transformation into
the dreaded avenger.

Shakespeare, I believe, conveys his meaning through our emotional
involvement in the action. So he is very dramatic in portraying what he
intends to convey, with little need for us to read between the lines or
to speculate on hidden actions. Thus, we should generally accept what
Shakespeare openly portrays as his intended meaning.

Regards
Kenneth Chan
http://www.hamlet.vze.com

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