The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0354 Tuesday, 22 February 2005
From: Julia Griffin <
Date: Monday, 21 Feb 2005 11:06:50 -0500
Subject: 16.0346 A Claudius Question
Comment: Re: SHK 16.0346 A Claudius Question
I wondered how many lines of the play one would have to excise in order
to make the question of Claudius's guilt uncertain. Removing his aside
in III i 49 ff. ("O 'tis too true") and his abortive prayer in III iii,
would it be possible to play an ambiguous Claudius, who might or might
not have murdered his brother? Of course there's still the little
matter of his trying to murder his nephew; but by that stage it's clear
to him that Hamlet, now back in Denmark, wants his death, so the plot
with Laertes could perhaps be taken as a (cowardly, manipulative) form
of proleptic self-defense.
A second question: has anyone ever seen the play performed with these
cuts? It seems like the sort of gag some director would be tempted to
try, in the age of Gertrude and Claudius. If so, what was the effect?
Was it like Ford's Perkin Warbeck, where the character's culpability is
never finally assured? Or is Hamlet too familiar for that to be possible?
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