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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: April ::
A Claudius Question
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0680  Monday, 11 April 2005

[1]     From:   Stuart Manger <
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        Date:   Friday, 8 Apr 2005 18:30:02 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0668 A Claudius Question

[2]     From:   Larry Weiss <
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        Date:   Friday, 08 Apr 2005 15:51:27 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0668 A Claudius Question

[3]     From:   Larry Weiss <
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        Date:   Friday, 08 Apr 2005 15:53:13 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0668 A Claudius Question

[4]     From:   Bill Arnold <
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        Date:   Friday, 8 Apr 2005 20:29:41 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0668 A Claudius Question


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Stuart Manger <
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Date:           Friday, 8 Apr 2005 18:30:02 +0100
Subject: 16.0668 A Claudius Question
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0668 A Claudius Question

I am totally with Don Bloom on this.

The very tricky question the play also poses over Claudius is whether
that murder of OKH committed before the emergency with Norway occurred
invalidates him as de iure king, or from defending the nation? Real Politik?

Shakespeare makes it clear that Denmark is an elective monarchy, BUT
presumably no-one knew Claudius was responsible for OKH's death. Would
they have voted otherwise had they known? In a time of national
emergency, does moral outrage allow you the luxury of throwing out a
venal but manifestly effective leader? (Are we getting near well-known
circumstances on either / both sides of the Atlantic over the last 4
years?? ) Did Gertrude know, and if so, did she tell anybody her
suspicions etc? Hamlet tells her, and she collapses, but again, we have
no evidence that she tells Claudius the truth of what Hamlet's
suspicions are at all. Do we sense Shakespeare's clear-eyed, if grubby,
exegesis of Machiavellian governmental theory behind all this?

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Larry Weiss <
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Date:           Friday, 08 Apr 2005 15:51:27 -0400
Subject: 16.0668 A Claudius Question
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0668 A Claudius Question

 >If Claudius is not condemned, then we must conclude
 >that either he didn't murder his brother (a very difficult
 >point to sustain), or that murder is not immoral.

Can someone point Mr. Bloom to an easy to understand book on fundamental
syllogistic logic?  Are there no other possibilities? Are we to conclude
that O.J. Simpson was innocent or that it is moral to kill your ex-wife
and an inconvenient witness?

In Claudius's case, his regicide/fratricide went unpunished until the
end of the play principally because it was unknown.  What would have
happened if it had been general knowledge is a matter for speculation.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Larry Weiss <
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 >
Date:           Friday, 08 Apr 2005 15:53:13 -0400
Subject: 16.0668 A Claudius Question
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0668 A Claudius Question

 >The deaths of R&G are problematic in another way

If the logic book comes with a dictionary, that would also be helpful.

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bill Arnold <
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Date:           Friday, 8 Apr 2005 20:29:41 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 16.0668 A Claudius Question
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0668 A Claudius Question

D Bloom writes, "I'm not sure whether to be amazed or amused.  Are there
people on this list who really think that the cold-blooded murder of
King Hamlet by his younger brother, Claudius, has no importance to the
story? If murder is immoral (as I think), then Claudius must be
condemned out of hand...None of these homicides is as purely evil as the
murder of King Hamlet, however. Or so I feel.  Is this judgment in dispute?"

Not at all.  In fact, everything is set up like a syllogism: Claudius
murders King Hamlet; the spirit informs the Truth; Prince Hamlet reacts:
and these latter points are often overlooked.  There would be no spirit
of the father of Prince Hamlet nor no Prince Hamlet acting out except
for the murderous act of Claudius, the worst sin of the New Testament:
evil brother acting against the good brother.

You do not get the rest of the syllogism except you get the premise:
CLAUDIUS IS A MURDERER.  In the eyes of the God of the members of the
audience: English, 1600!

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

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