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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: November ::
Gertrude-Ophelia
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1853  Thursday, 10 November 2005

[1] 	From: 	William Babula <
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	Date: 	Wednesday, 09 Nov 2005 10:50:14 -0800
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 16.1840 Gertrude-Ophelia

[2] 	From: 	David Evett <
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	Date: 	Wednesday, 9 Nov 2005 23:18:46 -0500
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 16.1840 Gertrude-Ophelia


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		William Babula <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 09 Nov 2005 10:50:14 -0800
Subject: 16.1840 Gertrude-Ophelia
Comment: 	Re: SHK 16.1840 Gertrude-Ophelia

I read about a production in which Gertrude pushes Ophelia into the 
water because she suspects she knows too much. I can't recall who staged it.

WB

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		David Evett <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 9 Nov 2005 23:18:46 -0500
Subject: 16.1840 Gertrude-Ophelia
Comment: 	Re: SHK 16.1840 Gertrude-Ophelia

I do not know whether it has been suggested elsewhere that Gertrude's 
speech describing Ophelia's drowning makes part of a kind of de facto 
on-stage representation of the coroner's inquest to which the Second 
Clown refers at the beginning of 5.1. A detailed account of the *locus* 
of a crime was a standard part of  Roman juridical practice and the 
medieval and early modern customs modeled on it, which explains the 
significant place accorded *descriptio loci* in the rhetorical curriculum.

Here, of course, Gertrude's description of the river bank with its 
overhanging willow gives way to the *narratio* of the death itself. She 
might usefully be regarded as a kind of advocate, able to argue for 
enough ambiguity in the circumstances to draw a "Not proven" from 
Claudius, serving as super-coroner, and perhaps from the audience, 
serving as the coroner's jury, as regards the charge of suicide. The 
priest, of course, and the gravediggers (none of whom gets to hear her 
speech) are skeptical, and Ophelia's rites are maimed not only in that 
she gets far less pomp and ceremony than her rank would normally have 
entailed but also in that they are disfigured by the intrusion of Hamlet 
and his ensuing scuffle with Laertes.

David Evett

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