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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: November ::
Hamlet: Revenge or Justice?
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1876  Monday, 14 November 2005

  [1]	 From: 	Donald Bloom <
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	Date: 	Saturday, 12 Nov 2005 13:26:30 -0600
	Subj: 	RE: SHK 16.1866 Hamlet: Revenge or Justice?

[2] 	From: 	Sally Drumm <
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	Date: 	Saturday, 12 Nov 2005 14:28:11 -0500
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 16.1866 Hamlet: Revenge or Justice?

[3] 	From: 	Bill Arnold <
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	Date: 	Saturday, 12 Nov 2005 19:48:45 -0800 (PST)
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 16.1866 Hamlet: Revenge or Justice?

[4] 	From: 	John-Paul Spiro <
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	Date: 	Monday, 14 Nov 2005 09:59:41 -0500
	Subj: 	RE: SHK 16.1866 Hamlet: Revenge or Justice?


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Donald Bloom <
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Date: 		Saturday, 12 Nov 2005 13:26:30 -0600
Subject: 16.1866 Hamlet: Revenge or Justice?
Comment: 	RE: SHK 16.1866 Hamlet: Revenge or Justice?

It's been a while since I had to quibble with Ed Taft, so I guess it's 
time again. He writes: "Revenge, even when it misfires, MUST be an act 
of pure, unthinking aggression, for no thinking person would carry it 
out, given the inevitable consequences, both for the agressee and the 
aggressor."

If he means what he seems to mean, it simply does not square with 
reality. People commit acts of revenge with malice aforethought all the 
time-planning and enacting them with great (and sometimes gleeful) care.

When Claudius says to Laertes, " . . . what would you vndertake / To 
showe your selfe indeede your fathers sonne / More then in words?," 
Laertes responds, "To cut his thraot i'th Church." To this the 
King.replies, "No place indeede should murther sanctuarise, / Reuendge 
should haue no bounds . . ."

Laertes is overflowing with murderous rancor toward Hamlet, but he is 
thinking about the best way to kill the prince (no small issue, as the 
latter is still the heir of Denmark), and agrees to the King's sneaky 
plot because he thinks it will  allow him to get away with it. He may a 
little stupid, but he is not insane, even temporarily.

Cheers,
don

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Sally Drumm <
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Date: 		Saturday, 12 Nov 2005 14:28:11 -0500
Subject: 16.1866 Hamlet: Revenge or Justice?
Comment: 	Re: SHK 16.1866 Hamlet: Revenge or Justice?

 >Revenge, even when it misfires, MUST be an act
 >of pure, unthinking aggression, for no thinking person would carry it
 >out, given the inevitable consequences, both for the agressee and the
 >aggressor.

I disagree that Shakespeare's point is to show acts of revenge as 
unplanned emotional outbursts.  Perhaps the point is "revenge has no 
reward" or something more closely correspondent to the message of 
Ecclesiastes - a chase after wind (spirits).  Consider Iago, et al. - 
why would Shakespeare deviate in Hamlet from his other carefully 
constructed (formed/formulated) revenge driven characters?  Revenge as a 
concept is attached to a character created to represent the concept 
(model of/model for, if you will).  No, Hamlet is not meant to represent 
solely the concept of revenge.  I think revenge is just one of the 
sub-concepts, logical supports, for what Hamlet really stands for.

Historically, one can find many examples of well-thought plans for 
revenge.  Consider the war in Iraq for one since the subject of 
Shakespeare's deep messages to Humanity has also been brought into this 
thread.

Sincerely,
Sally Drumm
NSLP

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Bill Arnold <
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Date: 		Saturday, 12 Nov 2005 19:48:45 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 16.1866 Hamlet: Revenge or Justice?
Comment: 	Re: SHK 16.1866 Hamlet: Revenge or Justice?

Kenneth Chan quotes me, "We start with: ACT ONE and a spirit telling 
Prince Hamlet of a deed which demands justice, divine justice as the 
dichotomy between the angels and the demons signifies.  Some call what 
happens throughout the play other than how I see it: Prince Hamlet seeks 
justice.  As a member of the Elizabethan audience, Christian, 1600, I am 
aware of an injustice crying out for justice. The Spirit declared it! 
Hamlet AND OTHERS saw and heard it."

Kenneth Chan then states his opinion about matters.

As does Edmund Taft.

What both do is focus on the protagonist Prince Hamlet and, with a broad 
and erred brush, ignore the antagonist King Claudius who CREATED the 
PREMISE that the play begins with and is only RESOLVED with the latter's 
death at the hands of the protagonist, and judge and jury and 
executioner of justice: Prince Hamlet.  Classic!  I love it.

Bill Arnold
http://www.cwru.edu/affil/edis/scholars/arnold.htm

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		John-Paul Spiro <
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Date: 		Monday, 14 Nov 2005 09:59:41 -0500
Subject: 16.1866 Hamlet: Revenge or Justice?
Comment: 	RE: SHK 16.1866 Hamlet: Revenge or Justice?

Kenneth Chan writes:  Already in the opening scene, Shakespeare stresses 
that the ghost is an "erring spirit" that has to hie to his confine upon 
the crowing of the cock. In Scene 2, Shakespeare repeats the same point 
in Horatio's narration of the event to Hamlet. And in Scene 5, 
Shakespeare reminds us of this nature of the ghost yet again. The 
ghost's very first words inform us that he is no angel, and hence that 
his counsel is suspect.

Does Shakespeare say that the ghost is an "erring spirit"?  I was under 
the impression that Horatio says that, not Shakespeare.  And I recall 
that Hamlet says something about Horatio not knowing everything...though 
that's just Hamlet talking--again, not Shakespeare.

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