The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0853 Tuesday, 3 May 2005
Date: Sunday, 01 May 2005 18:58:14 +0000
Comment: Re: SHK 16.0829
Bill Arnold writes on Hamlet's Ghost: "it becomes clear...that he is the
good spirit of the murdered King Hamlet...The theme of good triumphant
over evil reigns..."
I refer Bill Arnold to SHK 16.0702 which encapsulates my reading of the
play. To reiterate, the primal crime in this drama is the slaughter of
Old Fortinbras by Old Hamlet. Young Hamlet is born on the very same day;
the Gravemaker begins his grisly work on this day, not after Claudius
murders his brother. In Shakespeare (as Freud would be the first to
admit) a cigar is never just a cigar. The older generation, embodied by
the Ghost and his clones, assail the ears of their vulnerable young with
their "contagious blastments" and corrupting distillments. Young Hamlet
risks contagion when he first confronts the Ghost ("I'll cross it though
it blast me"), uncertain whether the Ghost bring "airs from heaven or
blasts from hell." Ophelia comes to realize the Prince has been "blasted
with ecstasy." The vicious Old Mole has mined young Hamlet's soul from
below. At every turn he obstructs the Prince's determination to save his
mother from damnation.
Has good indeed triumphed? Or has the King's "Evil" dragged down the
wicked along with the innocent in defiance of the Divine Law against
vengeful murder? The Fortinbras family, an echo of the arrogant
heathen/Saracen giant Fierabras before his conversion, emerges
victorious, their pagan martial values intact and not "sicklied over" by
conscience. In this narrow sense, the feudal order, disjointed by Old
Fortinbras' slaughter, has been set right by young Hamlet. But in the
wider cosmic sense, the revolt against Divine Law continues.
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