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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: September ::
Pirates
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1635  Tuesday, 27 September 2005

[1] 	From: 	D Bloom <
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	Date: 	Monday, 26 Sep 2005 12:00:07 -0500
	Subj: 	RE: SHK 16.1612 Pirates

[2] 	From: 	Jim Blackie <
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	Date: 	Monday, 26 Sep 2005 16:21:18 -0400 (EDT)
	Subj: 	Hamlet and the pirates


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		D Bloom <
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Date: 		Monday, 26 Sep 2005 12:00:07 -0500
Subject: 16.1612 Pirates
Comment: 	RE: SHK 16.1612 Pirates

There seems to me to be a fact overlooked in these theories of plot and 
counterplot: Hamlet's plotting against Claudius is vague and ineffectual 
throughout the entire play; Claudius's plotting against Hamlet does not 
exist until the "Murder of Gonzago" makes it clear that Hamlet (against 
all odds) knows exactly how Claudius murdered King Hamlet.

Claudius thus has two "plots"-that is, murderous schemes-against Hamlet: 
his summary execution in England; and his murder by either Laertes' 
poisoned sword or the poisoned drink (or both) during the phony fencing 
match.

In both cases, Hamlet takes advantage of circumstances. To be sure, 
suspecting the king, he steals and opens the sealed letter, and 
substitutes another with different orders. This could be called a 
counterplot, but it is directed against Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, 
not the king. He does not, however manufacture a pirate attack, or at 
least, not according to the play. That is simply a serendipity, or fate, 
or Providence, as you prefer

The fencing match, of course, he accepts fatalistically, then goes on to 
out-fence Laertes and refuse the poisoned drink, forcing them into 
outright murder.

You could call Claudius's use of Polonius, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, 
and Ophelia to discover Hamlet's ailment "plotting" but that would 
redefine the word into something nearly useless. Claudius needs to know 
what's wrong with the heir apparent. Furthermore, there is no indication 
that the initial plan to send Hamlet to England involves his murder. 
Hamlet's madness is making Claudius edgy; if he is only faking it to 
pester his uncle, a year of so of boring exile may bring him around.

Hamlet, of course, looks upon Claudius's actions as plots, or appears 
to, but we don't have to make the same mistake he does. Throughout most 
of the play Hamlet doesn't really know what he's doing: that's what 
gives it that weird nightmare / delirium quality. Claudius, who does 
know what he's doing, doesn't know what Hamlet is doing. Logically enough.

They are groping in the dark: the dark, one might say, of Hamlet's 
confusion, uncertainty, and reluctance to commit murder. Hamlet's one 
real plot, "Gonzago," he fumbles away. Claudius's two plots are undone 
by accident and Hamlet's unexpected skill as a fighting man. The rest of 
the time they're both pretty much lost.

Cheers,
don

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Jim Blackie <
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Date: 		Monday, 26 Sep 2005 16:21:18 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 	Hamlet and the pirates

WARREN V. SHEPARD IS QUOTED "Hamlet proceeds according to a fixed 
pattern. That pattern is as follows: He lets his adversary attack first. 
Then, using the weapon of his adversary [words, players, sailing craft, 
documents, fencing foils, poison], he strikes swiftly home. This happens 
not once, not twice, but time and time again."

JB: "Strikes swiftly home?" This is in which play, again please?

And then DAVID FARLEY-HILLS is quoted-"In any case, Hamlet constantly 
likes to keep friend, foe, AND EVEN AUDIENCE guessing at his precise 
intentions...."

JB: So Hamlet had an audience? The audience is listed in addition to 
"friend and foe," so I assume it (the audience) refers to us in the 
bleachers. Does this imply WS was TRYING to fool us? I don't think so. 
Agatha Christie might, but Will wouldn't.

Just because these theories have seen printers' ink doesn't make it so, 
or even reasonable, to my mind.

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