2005

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0041  Monday, 10 January 2005

From:           Scot Zarela <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 7 Jan 2005 13:45:39 -0800
Subject: 16.0030 Hamlet Questions
Comment:        RE: SHK 16.0030 Hamlet Questions

In SHK 16.0030, John W. Kennedy This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. replies to my
guess that Hamlet is the "author" of Lucianus' "Thoughts blacke":

 >... one may argue just as easily that the Pyrrhus speech represents
Hamlet's
 >notion of a very good speech ...

No argument; Hamlet himself says so.  But having the notion doesn't mean
that Hamlet could write in that style if his life depended on it.

JWK again:  >... whereas the "Thoughts black" speech is rather
suggestive of Shakespeare's own style at his most lyrical.

I think it's more suggestive of W. S. Gilbert at his most harum-scarum:

Noisome hags of night -
Imps of deadly shade --  [etc.]

Or, if you mean it's somewhat like a Shakespeare song, I can see that;
but Hamlet (according to my premise) intends these lines to be spoken,
not sung; and unfortunately they're precariously close to nonsense for
speaking.

JWK:  >Neither one particularly resembles "Doubt thou".

Hamlet aborted his love lyric, or rather he dropped it painlessly like a
dilettante; but for the "Murder of Gonzago" he might try composing a
poisoner's soliloquy, different in kind but with similar outcome:
jagged verses, heartfelt, strained, reaching, unachieved, and ultimately
interrupted by Hamlet in his own voice with an explanation.

JWK:  >Moreover, the "Thoughts black" speech itself does not seem to be
to Hamlet's purpose.  It mentions poison, but not the means of
administration.

Just so:  it's hard to manage exposition in verse that's at the same
time actable.

Faith I must leaue thee Loue, and shortly too:
My operant Powers my Functions leaue to do:  [etc.]

The Players' dramaturg could turn out the stuff with despicable ease
(and the player could summon the appropriate emotion) - but Hamlet, who
has cause, can't.  I like this particularly about my reading, because it
gives Hamlet a hard time. More drama!  His trouble is our fun:
conflict, suspense, reversal, irony ....

-- Scot

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