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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: December ::
Shadowplay
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.2010  Tuesday, 6 December 2005

[1] 	From: 	Julia Griffin <
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	Date: 	Monday, 05 Dec 2005 13:22:59 -0500
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 16.2002 Shadowplay

[2] 	From: 	Edmund Taft <
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	Date: 	Monday, 05 Dec 2005 13:47:16 -0500
	Subj: 	Shadowplay

[3] 	From: 	Bill Lloyd <
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	Date: 	Monday, 5 Dec 2005 13:58:01 EST
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 16.2002 Shadowplay

[4] 	From: 	Peter Bridgman <
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	Date: 	Monday, 5 Dec 2005 20:09:23 -0000
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 16.2002 Shadowplay

[5] 	From: 	Larry Weiss <
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	Date: 	Monday, 05 Dec 2005 15:26:09 -0500
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 16.2002 Shadowplay

[6] 	From: 	Dennis Taylor <
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	Date: 	Monday, 05 Dec 2005 16:58:51 -0500
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 16.2002 Shadowplay

[7] 	From: 	Bill Arnold <
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	Date: 	Monday, 5 Dec 2005 14:31:50 -0800 (PST)
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 16.2002 Shadowplay


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Julia Griffin <
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Date: 		Monday, 05 Dec 2005 13:22:59 -0500
Subject: 16.2002 Shadowplay
Comment: 	Re: SHK 16.2002 Shadowplay

Given that Dante's purgatorial souls are seen (for example)crawling 
around with great stones on their backs (Canto X), weeping through 
eyelids stitched together with iron thread (Canto XIII), bound face-down 
to the ground weeping (Canto XIV), and burning (Canto XXV), I'm baffled 
to see people on the list describing the experience as some sort of 
pastoral holiday.  These souls have hope, which is what differentiates 
them from the damned (even in Limbo); but they are certainly working 
their passage.

Julia

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Edmund Taft <
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Date: 		Monday, 05 Dec 2005 13:47:16 -0500
Subject: 	Shadowplay

Frank Whigham asks Bill Arnold the following:

 >"What does your reading make of the way that Hamlet repeatedly moves his
 >men around the stage when he swears them to silence and the ghost
 >beneath the stage also says "swear!"? Most of the readers I know think
 >he's moving them away from the ghost, in fear or wariness. "Hic et
 >ubique? Then we'll change our ground."

I hope Frank doesn't mind if I take a stab at the answer. I don't think 
that fear is the issue here, Frank. Instead, I suspect that this is 
Hamlet's first test of the Ghost. He seems to be making the sign of the 
cross (4 points, three movements to a new point) and seeing if he can 
detect by the ghost's voice whether or not it is tracing his movements 
and hence also making the sign of the cross - which a bad ghost from 
hell or the Devil himself could not - and would not - do.

Like all Hamlet's tests, this one fails because Hamlet can't see the 
ghost and hence can't know for sure that it made the sign of the cross.

Ed Taft

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Bill Lloyd <
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Date: 		Monday, 5 Dec 2005 13:58:01 EST
Subject: 16.2002 Shadowplay
Comment: 	Re: SHK 16.2002 Shadowplay

The title of this thread is Shadowplay, but it seems as if the 
discussion has taken a turn and become a general discussion of Was 
Shakespeare and/or Hamlet and/or the Ghost a Catholic? "Not that there's 
anything wrong with it" and not that it's completely irrelevant to 
Shadowplay [though Hamlet the RC and his Purgatory have already occupied 
a number of threads in SHAKSPER's history]. But has anyone read the book 
Shadowplay? It's not just about WS being RC, it argues that there is a 
thick layer of pro-Catholic allegory in most of his plays. Does anyone 
find specific parts of this argument credible? incredible?

In order to qualify for this thread I went yesterday and re-procured me 
a copy of Shadowplay, though I haven't re-delved into it yet. But here's 
some things I've seen referred to in the article and interview on Godspy...

- That when George Abbott became Archbishop in 1610 it forced 
Shakespeare into early retirement. But did Shakespeare really retire 
early? The Tempest is usually dated 1611. The WS/Fletcher collaborations 
Henry VIII, Two Noble Kinsmen and Cardenio are dated around 1612-14. 
And does it require an extraordinary cause for a fellow to want to 
retire? Beaumont retired in 1613; Jonson retired from playwriting in 
1616; Anthony Mundy [RC or no RC?] stopped writing public theatre plays 
after 1602 but lived for many years and wrote other things. Shakespeare 
died in 1616 just two years after he 'retired' in 1614. Who knows but 
that he might have written more had he been spared.

- That maybe Shakespeare really was a University man and travelled on 
the Continent. However, he was a Secret University Man, because 
Catholics weren't allowed. This then explains the level of 
sophistication in his writing, his deep philosophy, etcetc, and his 
obvious intimate knowledge of how nobles and courtiers Really Talked.

But this is just a variation on some old anti-Stratfordian canards, 
minus the identity re-assignment.  Shakespeare's plays are skillfully 
written and intelligent and eloquent, but I think it's a fundamental 
misconception to think that they reveal a university education, or 
continental finishing. Instead they seem to be the work of an 
[admittedly brilliant] auto-didact [think Keats, Conrad, BEN JONSON] who 
stole most of his plots and some of his phrasing ["The barge she sat in" 
etc]. It's not necessary to resort to an anti-Strat maneuver ['he was 
really at university but it was a secret, so there are no records and 
Only We Know'].

And how do WE know how nobles and courtiers Really Talked, or that 
Shakespeare hit that nail on the head? It seems to me we get our ideas 
about how nobles and courtiers Really Talked from reading Elizabethan 
plays, so of course Shakespeare's nobles sound good to us-- but that's 
because he was a skillful writer and most of his characters of any class 
sound credible. Was he a highway robber as well?

Whan Adam delft and Eva spanne
Who than was a gentilmanne?

Bill Lloyd

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Peter Bridgman <
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Date: 		Monday, 5 Dec 2005 20:09:23 -0000
Subject: 16.2002 Shadowplay
Comment: 	Re: SHK 16.2002 Shadowplay

Larry Weiss writes ...

 >I don't think it is necessary to assume that WS was a closet Catholic
 >just because he gets Catholic theology right in a play set in a Catholic
 >period.  He also depicts Diana, Jupiter and Apollo as real deities in 
Per,
 >Cym & WT.  Are we to conclude that he was a recusant pagan?

Agreed.  The crucial difference of course is that there was little, if 
any, debate in Elizabethan England as to whether pagan gods were real 
deities, whereas there was intense debate about Catholic ideas like 
Purgatory and prayers for the dead - both banned in the 1552 prayer 
book.  And as a contribution towards this debate, 'Hamlet' seems to 
defend both the existence of Purgatory ('I'll take the ghost's word for 
a thousand pound") and prayers for the dead ("And flights of angels sing 
thee to their rest").

Peter Bridgman

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Larry Weiss <
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Date: 		Monday, 05 Dec 2005 15:26:09 -0500
Subject: 16.2002 Shadowplay
Comment: 	Re: SHK 16.2002 Shadowplay

I don't see how there can be much controversy over the place of King 
Hamlet's current abode in view of his statement that he is doomed "for a 
certain term" to spend his days "in fires" until his "foul crimes" are 
"burnt and purged away."  A classical description of the Catholic 
Purgatory if there ever was one.

As for Dante's Purgatory being a rather pleasant waiting room, the 
contributors who say so have forgotten that it starts off as being 
pretty horrid and improves only after many centuries of painful purgation.

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Dennis Taylor <
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Date: 		Monday, 05 Dec 2005 16:58:51 -0500
Subject: 16.2002 Shadowplay
Comment: 	Re: SHK 16.2002 Shadowplay

My own sense that the Catholic purgatorial ghost of King Hamlet is so 
ambiguous and distorted because it represents, not Catholicism, but an 
antique grotesque ossified Catholicism.  I think Julia Lupton or even 
Greenblatt in Hamlet in Purgatory might talk this way.  Thus the problem 
for Hamlet is whether to be faithful to an old Catholic mindset in a new 
post-Catholic world, and this accounts for his fundamental doubts.  This 
fits the recent image of Shakespeare torn between his old fashioned 
recusant father and the new era.  Does this make sense?

Best,
Dennis Taylor

[7]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Bill Arnold <
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Date: 		Monday, 5 Dec 2005 14:31:50 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 16.2002 Shadowplay
Comment: 	Re: SHK 16.2002 Shadowplay

Peter Bridgman writes, "The image of Purgatory as a mountain might have 
been Dante's, but the idea of Purgatory itself is ancient.  Eleven 
hundred years before Dante, Origen (182-251 AD) wrote...they were 
condemned to a 'purging fire'...Shakespeare's Purgatory is clearly a 
much tougher place,  and much closer to Origen's 'purging fire' ... 
Dante's Purgatory was a mountain; in the British Isles,  Purgatory was 
believed to be underground.  And the pilgrimage site known as St 
Patrick's Purgatory in Northern Ireland was believed to be the actual 
entrance to this underground Purgatory. Shakespeare clearly has the 
British idea of Purgatory in mind. Old Hamlet lives underground, and 
young Hamlet swears by St Patrick."

Thank you, Peter, for that thoughtful and *ver-r-r-r-y* English history 
lesson.  And that is my point: what mattered to Shakespeare and his 
audience was the gist of the play.  It makes more sense, and explains 
the "St. Patrick" quote I cited earlier.  My question would be: is this 
English version of "Purgatory" uniquely Catholic/hence, Anglican or 
Protestant or Celtic, or somewhere in betwix?

On ancient history, I do admit that ancient Hades of the Greeks inspired 
the Dantean version of Hell.  But wasn't it also Dante's Catholicism 
which inspired this English version of Purgatory?  After all, the 
entrance to the Dantean Purgatory was *underground* and after the 
journey through Hell and out the other side. And my reading of Dante 
has, as Don Bloom, pointed out: Limbo is *not* in Hell, although "on the 
edge."  Limbo was a concept of Peter Abelard in challenge to St. 
Augustine's views on unbaptized souls.  Dante took it to the max: with 
details unimagined with the confines of the Church.  My take on the 
Spirit of the father of Prince Hamlet  is that he wanders as if in Limbo 
between his death and the other world, as a true wandering Spirit aka 
Ghost.  This is supported by Prince Hamlet's concerns that his father's 
soul was unredeemed, and the wresting of Prince Hamlet with the same 
concerns of *when* to kill Claudius has always prompted my reading of 
the text.  And yes, Limbo was for more than just unbaptised souls, as 
Don pointed out: after all, it was the Latin poet Vergil who guided 
Dante through the Afterworld.  Thus, Limbo, a Church concept embellished 
by Dante, embraced the Old Testament prophets as well as other famous 
personages born before the birth of Jesus.  And although underground: 
they were *not* in Hell Proper!

I leave this discussion with the concept of wandering Spirits/Ghosts 
which is the premise of Shakespeare's Hamlet, and a question for Peter 
Bridgman, et al.: was the *limbo* Prince Hamlet's father's Spirit 
wandered in part and parcel of the English concept of Purgatory, and was 
the latter common knowledge to all regardless of whether or not one was 
Catholic, Protestant, Celtic, or some other Belief which projected a 
concept of the Afterworld?

Bill Arnold

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