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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: November ::
Hamlet: Revenge or Justice?
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1818  Thursday, 3 November 2005

[1] 	From: 	Elliott Stone <
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	Date: 	Tuesday, 1 Nov 2005 16:20:53 -0500
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 16.1811 Hamlet: Revenge or Justice?

[2] 	From: 	Kenneth Chan <
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	Date: 	Wednesday, 02 Nov 2005 07:36:23 +0800
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 16.1811 Hamlet: Revenge or Justice?


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Elliott Stone <
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Date: 		Tuesday, 1 Nov 2005 16:20:53 -0500
Subject: 16.1811 Hamlet: Revenge or Justice?
Comment: 	Re: SHK 16.1811 Hamlet: Revenge or Justice?

Hamlet, unlike Laertes and Fortinbras, was not a character well equipped 
to seek revenge. I also do not remember him ever crying out "Justice". 
Hamlet seemed to have a major interest in putting on plays. Hamlet 
produces, writes, directs, rehearses and plays the major role in his 
play "The Mouse Trap".He tells us at II ii 523 the exact purpose of - 
players "Do you hear, let them be well us'd for they are the abstract 
and brief chronicles of the time". The "Mouse Trap" is not about revenge 
or justice but it does tell a story.

The Prince's almost last words are directed to Horatio V.ii 347 "Absent 
thee from felicity a while, And in this harsh world draw thy breath in 
pain TO TELL MY STORY."
The answer to Barnardo's question at I i 1 "Who's there?", if we believe 
Prince Hamlet, and the play is the "abstract and brief chronicle of the 
time" is that this is a play about the Court of Queen Elizabeth and not 
a play about revenge or justice!

Best,
Elliott H. Stone

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Kenneth Chan <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 02 Nov 2005 07:36:23 +0800
Subject: 16.1811 Hamlet: Revenge or Justice?
Comment: 	Re: SHK 16.1811 Hamlet: Revenge or Justice?

Bill Arnold writes:

 >"When I started this thread, I invoked the western literature masterpiece
 >on justice: Plato's Republic.  So, I ask again: ... are the *acts* and
 >*thoughts* of Hamlet taken in toto the acts and thoughts of revenge or
 >justice?"

In answering this question concerning "revenge or justice" properly, we 
need to discern Shakespeare's purpose in creating the play. We must 
consider what Shakespeare is trying to say in the entire play of Hamlet, 
and not just selected portions of it.

There are actually two central themes which resonate through the entire 
play of Hamlet. One involves the issue of revenge, and the other deals 
with how we tend not to be true to ourselves, and instead continually 
beautify reality in order to hide from the truth - particularly the 
truth of our own mortality. These two themes echo so incessantly through 
every scene of the play, that there can be no doubt that Shakespeare 
crafted the entire play of Hamlet to make these two points.

Those interested can look at the evidence for the above in the articles 
on my website at http://homepage.mac.com/sapphirestudios/qod

The question we need to ask then is "Why did Shakespeare place both 
these themes together in the same play?" There is actually a crucial 
link between these two themes, and it is this link that provides the 
answer to how Shakespeare feels about this issue of "revenge or justice."

With best wishes,
Kenneth Chan

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