The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1661 Thursday, 29 September 2005
Date: Tuesday, 27 Sep 2005 14:17:44 -0600
Subject: 16.1635 Pirates
Comment: RE: SHK 16.1635 Pirates
I agree with Don Bloom about the nature of the action in Hamlet. If
this play is supposed to resemble a chess game between skilled players,
each making every move deliberately and Hamlet especially foreseeing and
even contriving every circumstance, then Shakespeare could have done a
much better job of making clear that this is what is happening.
The fact that Hamlet talks about providence and fate and readiness makes
it likely that he does not see himself in control of all the action.
The agonizing, delay, and confusion that mark much of the play and the
resignation that comes near the end all suggest UNCERTAINTY rather than
certainty on Hamlet's (and other characters') part.
At times Hamlet-with his cleverness and readiness to take advantage of
circumstances-does seem like a chess player. But I see nothing like the
precise and large scale understanding of his world and ability to
manipulate it that are implied by some of the theories, e.g., about his
having arranged for the pirates to attack. I think there's every reason
to take Hamlet at his word about having improvised and acted on impulse
during the trip to England and the (unforeseen) attack by pirates.
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