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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: December ::
Gertrude-Ophelia
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.2012  Tuesday, 6 December 2005

[1] 	From: 	Annalisa Castaldo <
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	Date: 	Monday, 5 Dec 2005 12:39:03 -0500 (EST)
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 16.2001 Gertrude-Ophelia

[2] 	From: 	Larry Weiss <
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	Date: 	Monday, 05 Dec 2005 15:36:20 -0500
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 16.2001 Gertrude-Ophelia

[3] 	From: 	Bill Arnold <
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	Date: 	Monday, 5 Dec 2005 13:51:06 -0800 (PST)
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 16.2001 Gertrude-Ophelia

[4] 	From: 	Donald Bloom <
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	Date: 	Monday, 5 Dec 2005 16:13:58 -0600
	Subj: 	RE: SHK 16.2001 Gertrude-Ophelia

[5] 	From: 	Sara Trevisan <
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	Date: 	Tuesday, 6 Dec 2005 00:46:15 +0100
	Subj: 	Re:SHK 16.2001 Gertrude-Ophelia

[6] 	From: 	M Yawney <
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	Date: 	Monday, 5 Dec 2005 18:38:59 -0800 (PST)
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 16.2001 Gertrude-Ophelia

[7] 	From: 	John Reed <
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	Date: 	Tuesday, 06 Dec 2005 07:29:17 +0000
	Subj: 	Re: Gertrude-Ophelia

[8] 	From: 	Martin Steward <
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	Date: 	Tuesday, 6 Dec 2005 09:47:18 -0000
	Subj: 	SHK 16.2001 Gertrude-Ophelia


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Annalisa Castaldo <
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Date: 		Monday, 5 Dec 2005 12:39:03 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 16.2001 Gertrude-Ophelia
Comment: 	Re: SHK 16.2001 Gertrude-Ophelia

I'd like to thank John Reed for clarifying why he considers this issue, 
which seems to me and many others rather pointless, worth considering. I 
do understand that actor and directors build huge backstories for their 
characters/plays to provide rich and diverse motivations. However, I 
remain puzzled by two things in Mr. Reed's points.

First, unless I am reading him wrong (and if I am, I apologize), he is 
interested in what might have been part of the original performance. "We 
might not know all the ideas being communicated to the original 
audience, since some of them could be coming from the action alone, or 
could be coming from the interaction between the action and the 
dialogue.  And some of those might even be important ideas."

I'm not disputing this point so much as wondering why we should care. If 
we suddenly found a long lost theater-goer's journal recording his 
amazement that Gertrude had obviously killed Ophelia, it would not 
change my view that the play is better off without that notion. Dover 
Wilson postulated a "lost stage direction" to explain why Hamlet is so 
abusive to Ophelia in the nunnery scene. I find both of these 
explanations problematic for the same reason: they assume that there is 
a single correct version of the play and we should all be aware of it.

My second problem is simply why? Why would Gertrude murder Ophelia? Why 
would Shakespeare concoct this elaborately shielded way of telling us? 
Why would he throw in an extra murder by the person who has recently 
sworn to keep Hamlet's secret and be on his side? Why would he do this, 
and then never bring it up again? I just don't see why anyone--director, 
actor, scholar, reader--would find this idea added to the understanding 
of the characters or the play.

Now if Claudius had had the speech...that would open up some interesting 
possibilities!

Annalisa Castaldo

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Larry Weiss <
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Date: 		Monday, 05 Dec 2005 15:36:20 -0500
Subject: 16.2001 Gertrude-Ophelia
Comment: 	Re: SHK 16.2001 Gertrude-Ophelia

John Reed explains the absence of any textual support for his theory by 
saying it was probably there once but somehow got lost.  What a 
wonderfully simple and unanswerable methodology!  All cockeyed notions 
are legitimatized if we just say "the text is missing."  Shylock 
probably had numerous asides and soliloquies in which he laid out how he 
was cleverly scheming for Jessica to inherit his wealth.  Angelo was 
costumed as a somewhat bedraggled gold coin.  'Tis pity we don't have 
those prompt books!

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Bill Arnold <
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Date: 		Monday, 5 Dec 2005 13:51:06 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 16.2001 Gertrude-Ophelia
Comment: 	Re: SHK 16.2001 Gertrude-Ophelia

John Reed quotes me, "The answer is, to scholars, a *huge* difference: 
textual!    The text of the play *Macbeth* supports the conclusion 
whereas the  play *Hamlet* does not.  Therefore, it is *absurd* to draw 
the  conclusion.  That is, unless you can *prove* the conclusion, 
textually."

Then John Reed writes, "I see this kind of reasoning trotted out all 
over the place, and I'm  baffled by it... But suppose you're not a 
scholar, but, for instance, an actor or an audience member...I 
appreciate nobody pointing out as a difference that Macbeth merely 
ordered Banquo's death and Gertrude, if she killed Ophelia, did it with 
her own hands."

Apparently, it escapes you: nothing solves the idle speculation in your 
rambling answer, most of which I left out.  I am sure Hardy is pleased, 
at that.  But the key points are quoted.  And you err in your final 
summation point with a conditional *If* thought which the *text* does 
not support.  So, it is irrelevant and immaterial whether one is a 
scholar, student, actor or audience member.  We note: Shakespearean 
scholars have found *NO* evidence textually that Gertrude killed Ophelia 
but have found *CONSIDERABLE* evidence textually that Macbeth did kill 
Banquo!  Perhaps, you, John Reed, are referring to a play called 
*Hamlet* which you wrote and none of us have read?  Certainly, your 
answer suggests that.  But you should understand, plays and poems are 
*NOT* Rorschach Inkblot Tests?  You are not lying on a couch with 
shrinks, here, at SHAKSPER.  This is a discussion forum about 
Shakespeare and *his* plays and not a discussion forum about *your* plays.

Thus, offer your *evidence* that Gertrude killed Ophelia.  We are all 
waiting.  Idle speculation is not enough.  And when you offer 
speculation, you ought to offer up the evidence which suggests it.  Do 
not be baffled that others do not find evidence to support your 
speculation.  If it is not in the text, then your speculation is going 
nowhere fast.  So, offer up the evidence.

Bill Arnold

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Donald Bloom <
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Date: 		Monday, 5 Dec 2005 16:13:58 -0600
Subject: 16.2001 Gertrude-Ophelia
Comment: 	RE: SHK 16.2001 Gertrude-Ophelia

I can see at least one good reason why the queen describes the death of 
Ophelia the way she does: she is being poetical, which is an appropriate 
way in Shakespeare's world to make such a description.

Cheers,
don

p.s. Are we sure that this Killer Gertrude isn't all an elaborate 
leg-pull? Haven't heard much from Hawkes in while.

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Sara Trevisan <
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Date: 		Tuesday, 6 Dec 2005 00:46:15 +0100
Subject: Gertrude-Ophelia
Comment: 	Re:SHK 16.2001 Gertrude-Ophelia

John Reed wrote,

 >So we might not know all the ideas being communicated to
 >the original audience, since some of them could be coming from the
 >action alone, or could be coming from the interaction between the action
 >and the dialogue. And some of those might even be important ideas.

This is my first post on the list.

It sounds as if we were dealing with a text which has come to us in tiny 
bits and needs to be totally reconstructed...

I have followed this discussion with much interest, since I am a 
graduate student and have that somewhat (I admit it) "presumptuous" 
drive which is typical of university young blood to subvert the pillars 
of criticism.

Yet, I have read no evidence at all in the posts supporting your 
opinion--you give no instances from the text. The problem is--that is 
what we have.

Like history, I guess, literary criticism cannot be based on 'ifs'. It 
may be right, it may be wrong. But it's the basic rule of the game. 
Otherwise anyone could say anything about any text, prescinding from any 
textual, philological, cultural references whatsoever.

If you think that no references in the text are no proof of the 
contrary, literary criticism as such cannot accept such explanation. 
It's like Popper's scientific rules--you cannot make such a generalized 
sweeping statement as 'all the swans are white', if you haven't seen all 
the swans everywhere, at every moment in history. Indeed, that statement 
cannot be falsified, which is against the principles of science, 
research and literary criticism.

You keep arguing that your idea is correct, because, having no actual 
evidence, you can correct other listers' opinions by using a statement 
that cannot be falsified because it's based on 'ifs', that is, on 
evidence that we don't have (how the Elizabethan audience understood the 
play, the original text, the original staging and performance, etc).

No rudeness intended in this post--this is just my humble opinion.

Kindest regards,
Sara Trevisan

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		M Yawney <
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Date: 		Monday, 5 Dec 2005 18:38:59 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 16.2001 Gertrude-Ophelia
Comment: 	Re: SHK 16.2001 Gertrude-Ophelia

John Reed would be more convincing in refuting my assertion that 
Shakespeare does not conceal major plot points if he could find a few 
examples of hidden plot points. Instead he just claims that I am being 
restrictive. But if this was part of Shakespeare's practice in Hamlet, 
why would he not do the same thing in other plays? I am only asking for 
logical support of an unusual reading.

I come to Shakespeare as a director rather than a scholar. In general I 
like more radical readings of Shakespeare and interpretations that run 
against the accepted and clich

 

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