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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: March ::
A Claudius Question
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0585  Tuesday, 29 March 2005

[1]     From:   Bill Arnold <
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        Date:   Friday, 25 Mar 2005 16:36:46 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0566 A Claudius Question

[2]     From:   D Bloom <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 29 Mar 2005 09:25:17 -0600
        Subj:   RE: SHK 16.0566 A Claudius Question


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bill Arnold <
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Date:           Friday, 25 Mar 2005 16:36:46 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 16.0566 A Claudius Question
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0566 A Claudius Question

Larry Weiss writes, "I never said that Claudius was innocent; only that
he had been duly elected and Hamlet was not.  Had I been an elector and
charged with entrusting the safety and well-being of my country to
either a bipolar indecisive immature twit or a mature stable intelligent
and probably proven leader, I would not have hesitated to make the same
choice."

Surely you jest?  I accept for the nonce your first sentence.

However, upon what textual words-and that is ALL we have when it comes
to commentary-do you base this allegation of your *supposed*
electorship?  Are you suggesting that the text supports that immediately
following the death of King Hamlet that Prince Hamlet [you do accept he
was a Prince?] was KNOWN to the electors to be "a bipolar indecisive
immature twit"?  Are you also suggesting that the text supports that
immediately following the murder of King Hamlet that his murderer [not
known to ALL the electors, but perhaps some, although I am not sure the
text supports that any, or some, knew Claudius to be the murderer of the
lawful King of Denmark?] was KNOWN to the electors to be "a mature
stable intelligent and probably proven leader"?

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

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           D Bloom <
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Date:           Tuesday, 29 Mar 2005 09:25:17 -0600
Subject: 16.0566 A Claudius Question
Comment:        RE: SHK 16.0566 A Claudius Question

Larry Weiss offers this comparison:

"Had I been an elector and charged with entrusting the safety and
well-being of my country to either a bipolar indecisive immature twit or
a mature stable intelligent and probably proven leader, I would not have
hesitated to make the same choice.  In the event, Claudius showed
himself to be a wise and effective ruler."

Now just a dad-blamed minnit here. LW's description of Hamlet, aside
from being rather over-stated and insulting, misses a very large point:
it is not the way he was perceived before the crisis created by his
father's death. Ophelia, admittedly not an unbiased witness, describes
him this way:

1692: O what a noble mind is heere orethrowne!
1693: The Courtiers, souldiers, schollers, eye, tongue, sword,
1694: Th'expectation, and Rose of the faire state,
1695: The glasse of fashion, and the mould of forme,
1696: Th'obseru'd of all obseruers, quite quite downe,
1697: And I of Ladies most deiect and wretched,
1698: That suckt the honny of his musickt vowes,
1699: Now see what noble and most soueraigne reason
1700: Like sweet bells iangled out of time, and harsh,
1701: That vnmatcht forme, and stature of blowne youth
1702: Blasted with extacie, o woe is mee
1703: T'haue seene what I haue seene, see what I see.

The other characters, though, never suggest anything else. They remark,
instead, on how much changed he is from what he was before his father's
death. Considering his learning, his wit, his aesthetic sensitivity, and
his philosophical insight, coupled with his martial skill, we can easily
see him as a version of the ideal Renaissance prince.

Election, primogeniture, and other hazy historical issues aside, this is
the Hamlet we are supposed to see go to pieces over four and a half
acts. And from this I think we are expected to guess that Claudius had
his political ducks in a row when he "popped between the election and
[Hamlet's] hopes."

Cheers,
don

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