The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.2040 Friday, 9 December 2005
From: Bill Arnold <
Date: Thursday, 8 Dec 2005 13:14:38 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 16.2026 Celtic or English Folklore Purgatory
Comment: Re: SHK 16.2026 Celtic or English Folklore Purgatory
Peter Bridgman quotes me, "Thanks to Peter Bridgman, perhaps the premise
of Shakespeare's Hamlet might be brought into a more proper focus...."
Then Peter writes, "Bill flatters me unnecessarily. The Hamlet-St.
Patrick's Purgatory connection has been written about by lots of people,
notably Stephen Greenblatt who devotes much of his book 'Hamlet in
Purgatory' to the subject."
Hello, Peter! Hey, I pledge my ignorance. And we are making a useful
point here. I went back and searched some of Hardy's archives:
From: Roger Schmeeckle <
Date: Tuesday, 15 Dec 1998 10:56:40 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 9.1285 Re: Ghost from Purgatory
As Roy Flannagan admits in his entry, he has missed the long history of
the scholarly discussion on the Ghost in _Hamlet_. The Ghost is not so
'clearly Roman Catholic' as Flannagan expects it to be. Dover Wilson, in
his _What Happens in Hamlet?_ (1962), argues that it is a Catholic ghost
from purgatory. On the other hand, Eleanor Prosser, in her _Hamlet and
Revenge_ (1967), claims that it is a devil from hell. Roy W.
Battenhouse, in his 'The Ghost in _Hamlet_: A Catholic "Linchpin"?'
(1951), argues that Shakespeare created a pagan ghost 'with some
superstitious touches of nominal Christianity' (p. 192). Roland Mushat
Frye, in his _The Renaissance Hamlet: Issues and Responses in 1600_
(1984), says that the Ghost's identity is ambiguous. Walter N. King, in
his _Hamlet's Search for Meaning_ (1982), proclaims that its identity
does not matter; what matters, according to him, is its effects upon Hamlet.
So, Peter, you are deserved of praise, as it pertains to SHAKSPER and
the archives, and to us folks who were not here in 1998. I intend to
get Stephen Greenblatt's book and read it.
Now, as to my point: it seems to me that the Spirit/Ghost is as one
might suspect Shakespeare intended it, to be part and parcel of his
audience, English, 1600. Therefore, I consider this worthy of further
investigation and discussion. The correct INTERPRETATION of
Shakespeare's Hamlet depends upon it. It is the GIST of the PREMISE aka
Clearly, the earlier 1998 entries do not do justice to the folklore
aspect of Spirits/Ghosts which coming from their so-called Pagan History
back to ancient Egypt and the AE and Greek and Roman *Mysteries*
predating the Masonic Order [ quite a Big Thing in Great Britain, you
must agree? ] offer a whole spin on the play I had not been aware of,
and apparently neither have some recent commentators here on SHAKSPER.
We look forward to recantations galore.
In summation: I am no longer as assured that the Spirit/Ghost was
Catholic or Protestant, but might have been wholly of the Pagan Cloth.
All Hallow's Eve to you! Have a Wikken Good Night, and remember the
Witches of Shakespeare's Macbeth!
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