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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: February ::
A Claudius Question
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0314  Wednesday, 16 February 2005

[1]     From:   Steve Sohmer <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 15 Feb 2005 11:13:19 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0301 A Claudius Question

[2]     From:   D Bloom <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 16 Feb 2005 07:25:28 -0600
        Subj:   RE: SHK 16.0301 A Claudius Question


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Steve Sohmer <
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Date:           Tuesday, 15 Feb 2005 11:13:19 EST
Subject: 16.0301 A Claudius Question
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0301 A Claudius Question

Dear Friends,

Todd Pettigrew is quite correct in noting that the Danish monarchy was
hardly elective in the sense that the word carries in democracies today.
While there were instances where a king's son did not succeed, these
were rare, and in the Tudor era religiously motivated, and inevitably
capped by violence.

An Elizabethan audience, whether lettered or not, would have regarded
the crowning of Claudius as extraordinary. And they would have found
Hamlet's passive acceptance of the fact equally strange. Those
interested in a reasonable explanation of these dramatic facts might
consult my essays on Hamlet's illegitimacy on EMLS, one of which has a
lengthy footnote on the contemporary history of election in Denmark.

It's also worth noting that "election" had a second and pregnant meaning
which was then top-of-mind.

Hope this helps.

Steve

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           D Bloom <
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Date:           Wednesday, 16 Feb 2005 07:25:28 -0600
Subject: 16.0301 A Claudius Question
Comment:        RE: SHK 16.0301 A Claudius Question

Bill Arnold asks, "Are we not forgetting that Claudius murdered his
brother for the crown?"

Well, I wasn't forgetting, although that may not have been clear from
the posting.

What I was getting at was my feeling that from the very outset, long
before we know that Claudius is guilty, or even accused, of regicide and
fratricide, we are supposed to be suspicious of him. He is a politician
-- smooth, dishonest, manipulative, and corrupt. When Hamlet says, "Oh,
my prophetic soul. My uncle," I think we (including Shakespeare's
original audience) are scarcely more surprised than the prince.

This is one the reasons, incidentally, why the good-Claudius-bad-Hamlet
theories drive me nuts.

Cheers,
don

p.s. When I first typed the foregoing I wrote "farticide," which
suggested all manner of vulgar possibilities that, I confess, delighted
me for some time. Pace Freud.

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