The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0272 Friday, 11 February 2005
Date: Thursday, 10 Feb 2005 11:07:01 -0500
Subject: A Claudius Question
I've looked around for the answer to this probably-stupid question, and
can't find anything definitive. Perhaps someone here could help me out.
I'm teaching Hamlet and Lear this semester, and a student has asked me
why Hamlet's father had been king instead of Claudius in the first
place. If I'd ever thought about it, which I hadn't, I probably would
have assumed that Claudius was the younger brother, and that Hamlet was
king through primogeniture. I don't recall textual reference to this in
the play, nor can I find the question addressed in critical material.
Primogeniture will come up in the discussion of Edmund and Edgar, of
course, but I don't want to jump the gun and make a similar statement
about Hamlet and Claudius if I'm just speculating.
Am I right or wrong?
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