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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: June ::
Hamlet's Ghost
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.1237  Thursday, 10 June 2004

[1]     From:   Claude Caspar <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 9 Jun 2004 11:15:58 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1227 Hamlet's Ghost

[2]     From:   Jack Hettinger <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 9 Jun 2004 11:32:39 -0400
        Subj:   RE: SHK 15.1227 Hamlet's Ghost

[3]     From:   Bill Arnold <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 9 Jun 2004 09:01:12 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1227 Hamlet's Ghost


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Claude Caspar <
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Date:           Wednesday, 9 Jun 2004 11:15:58 -0400
Subject: 15.1227 Hamlet's Ghost
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1227 Hamlet's Ghost

 >>It was the great Dover Wilson who observed, in his wonderful, "What
 >>Happens in Hamlet," that "in fact he [the Ghost of Hamlet's father] is
 >>the only Catholic in the play."
 >
 >With all due respect to the great Dover Wilson, how would he know?
 >Surely Shakespeareans like Peter Milward who have also studied Catholic
 >theology are in a better position to judge what is or isn't Catholic in
 >the plays.
 >
 >Peter Bridgman

In a scholarly discussion, some like to know the origin of an insight,
especially one that has found its adherents, however critical they are
in the interests of better understanding.  I never said Dover Wilson's
work has ended the need for Shakespeare studies- in fact, it has opened
a door to a deeper understanding... Dover Wilson's work remains in
print, though corrected by scholarship he inspired. But, I am not sure
why you assume Dover Wilson has not studied the relevant theologies,
with specific focus on what was thought in Elizabethan times- it is
obvious you are not a student of the history of Shakespeare scholarship,
which requires reading lots of books that now are more or less dated,
but played a crucial role in our current understanding.  I guess only
Jesuits can explain Shakespeare.

You (& Milward) remind me of Tertullian's famous declaration:

"What then hath Athens in common with Jerusalem ? What hath the Academy
in common with the Church? What have heretics in common with Christians?
Our principles are from the "Porch" of Solomon, who himself handed down
that the Lord must be sought in simplicity of heart. Away with those who
bring forward a Stoic or Platonic or dialectic Christianity.  We have no
need of speculative inquiry after we have known Christ Jesus; nor of
search for the Truth after we have received the Gospel. When we become
believers, we have no desire to believe anything besides; for the first
article of our belief is that there is nothing besides which we ought to
believe."

Peter Milward's recent demise holds promise that he will keep you
informed of his research from Purgatory, where he can interview
Shakespeare personally, and even the Ghost...  Now, I have no problem
seeing Shakespeare's Catholic influences, and the recent research has
fascinating insights that inform & enrich the works & even help us
understand the life.  But, Fr. Milard's confidence that Shakespeare was
recusant is more consistent with his own life based on faith, not fact.
  Whilst you imply that you are more qualified to make final judgments
in this regard because you are Catholic, I note that most objective
scholars have not leapt on this creaky bandwagon. Certainly, you are not
saying Greenblatt's work is part of a Jewish, or Satanic, conspiracy....
Certainly, you are not saying that, but from a deconstructionist reading
what is unsaid is most important, I observe.

"In The Catholicism of Shakespeare's Plays, Fr. Peter Milward examines
the traces of Shakespeare's Catholic influences within the plays
themselves, and argues convincingly that they are best understood as the
works of a playwright whose outlook was formed by the Catholic faith to
which he remained attached, and who was seriously concerned by the
contemporary persecution of the Catholic Church in England. He draws
attention to many Catholic allusions in the plays not the subject of
previous comment.

The book concludes with a presentation of the historical evidence for
Shakespeare's own Catholicism and recusancy, including an account of the
1999 "Lancastrian Shakespeare" Conference, at which new material was
presented linking the poet with Catholic households in Lancashire, and
possibly even with the Jesuit martyr St. Edmund Campion."

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jack Hettinger <
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Date:           Wednesday, 9 Jun 2004 11:32:39 -0400
Subject: 15.1227 Hamlet's Ghost
Comment:        RE: SHK 15.1227 Hamlet's Ghost

Here is a paragraph from Arnold Hunt's May 21, 2004 TLS review of Peter
Marshall, Beliefs and the Dead in Reformation England (OUP). It sounds
as if Marshall's book is another valuable source for this discussion. If
desired, I can include the whole review when it is available online
later this month.

"The central theme of the book is the Protestant denial of purgatory,
which severed the intercessory link between the living and the dead. It
would be easy to explain early modern ghost stories as an expression of
the trauma created by the disappearance of Purgatory -- that is, a deep
anxiety about the fate of the dead, welling up from the Protestant
collective unconscious. Marshall, though, is sceptical of such
explanations, which he sees as reflecting 'a rather functional view of
religious belief-systems, in which purgatory served primarily to channel
and resolve social and psychological needs which were capable of finding
other outlets, indeed forced to do so.' Instead, he stresses the
confusions and contradictions in Protestant theology. How far was it
possible to pray for the repose or resurrection of the dead? Would we
meet our friends again in heaven? Did ghosts really exist, and, if so,
how should they be interpreted? These were questions to which English
Protestant writers had no clear or unanimous answers."

Jack

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bill Arnold <
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Date:           Wednesday, 9 Jun 2004 09:01:12 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 15.1227 Hamlet's Ghost
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1227 Hamlet's Ghost

Peter Bridgman writes, "As all the Orthodox churches deny the existence
of Purgatory, there is unlikely to be a 'non-Romish' doctrine.  As for
the 'Romish' doctrine, this was first officially declared at the Council
of Florence in 1031, although church fathers had argued the existence of
"a place or condition of temporal punishment for those who, departing
this life in God's grace, are not entirely free from venial faults, or
have not fully paid the satisfaction due to their transgressions'
(online Catholic Encyclopedia)."

OK: Surely we all know, or should know, that Dante wrote his *La
Commedia* with its *Purgatorio* as part before his death in 1321.  Thus,
Will S. who knew his Plutarch surely knew his Dante, and these
references in *Hamlet* might be literary allusions as much as they are
religious allusions.

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

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