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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: March ::
A Claudius Question
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0609  Thursday, 31 March 2005

[1]     From:   Robin Hamilton <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 30 Mar 2005 17:30:28 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0595 A Claudius Question

[2]     From:   Edmund Taft <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 30 Mar 2005 11:30:33 -0500
        Subj:   A Claudius Question


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Robin Hamilton <
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Date:           Wednesday, 30 Mar 2005 17:30:28 +0100
Subject: 16.0595 A Claudius Question
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0595 A Claudius Question

Abigail Quart <
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 >

 >"popped between the election and
 >[Hamlet's] hopes."
 >
 >"Hopes." Not "crown." Hamlet doesn't have a very present vision of
 >himself as king.

The crucial moment is when Hamlet, after his return from his voyage to
England, says:  "This is I, Hamlet the Dane" (5.1), asserting his-in
whatever terms -- status as the *legitimate* ruler of Denmark.

Before this, he is, in his own view, Hamlet the private person (bipolar
or otherwise); after this he is (whether acknowledged or not) the
authentic ruler of Denmark.

Cut it how you like-electoral monarchy vs. primogeniture and all the
rest-Shakespeare throws a switch-kick in the play, downplaying
[dramatically] Hamlet's right to the throne at the beginning, and
fronting it at the end.

More drama than legality, seems to me.

Robin Hamilton

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edmund Taft <
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Date:           Wednesday, 30 Mar 2005 11:30:33 -0500
Subject:        A Claudius Question

Abigail Quart writes: "I don't actually believe Hamlet was bipolar. I
think Shakespeare deals with that condition in another play. But
Ophelia's speech isn't a bad description of the onset of mental illness
in a young man."

And, of course, her own mental state is rapidly deteriorating as well.
It's strange that more emphasis has not been put on why these two young
people suffer so, mentally. Ophelia goes crazy, and Hamlet, by Act 5,
may be crazy too.

It's their fathers who are to blame, right? What if Hamlet is not so
much about great metaphysical questions after all? What if it is an
example of the older generation (especially a generation of fathers)
abusing and misusing the younger generation: old Hamlet/young Hamlet;
Polonius/Ophelia; Claudius/Laertes and Hamlet? Fortinbras is a special
case. Interstingly, his father apparently does NOT come back from the
dead, so he is free of Hamlet's burden. Claudius tries to influence him
through Old Norway, but what is actually achieved is a bit unclear, as
it's hard to know what Fortinbras is really up to in the latter part of
the play. But he is the "winner," and he is different from most of  the
other members of the younger generation in that he seems uninfluenced by
a malign father or father figure. Horatio also survives, and he too
lacks a father or father figure trying to manipulate him.

Some (idle?) thoughts.

Ed Taft

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