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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: August ::
Joshua Logan and "Hamlet"
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1366  Tuesday, 23 August 2005

[1] 	From: 	Larry Weiss <
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	Date: 	Monday, 22 Aug 2005 12:48:55 -0400
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 16.1354 Joshua Logan and "Hamlet"

[2] 	From: 	Kenneth Chan <
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	Date: 	Tuesday, 23 Aug 2005 09:19:34 +0800
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 16.1354 Joshua Logan and "Hamlet"


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Larry Weiss <
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Date: 		Monday, 22 Aug 2005 12:48:55 -0400
Subject: 16.1354 Joshua Logan and "Hamlet"
Comment: 	Re: SHK 16.1354 Joshua Logan and "Hamlet"

My nominee for the moment of self-realization is the 23/24 word 
monosyllabic clause following and preceding caesurae in "How all 
occasions ...".  Of course, this doesn't apply to the folio version.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Kenneth Chan <
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Date: 		Tuesday, 23 Aug 2005 09:19:34 +0800
Subject: 16.1354 Joshua Logan and "Hamlet"
Comment: 	Re: SHK 16.1354 Joshua Logan and "Hamlet"

L. Swilley writes:

"In his "An Autobiography," Joshua Logan writes:

"A play should take its protagonist through a series of experiences 
which lead to a climactic moment towards the end when he learns 
something about himself that he could have known all along but has been 
blind to. ...
  ... it is true of Hamlet and Macbeth... You'll find it in every 
successful play. For when the protagonist has this revelation, one which 
raises his moral stature, the audience can grow vicariously along with 
him. Thus, people leave the theater feeling better, healthier minded 
than when they arrived."  ...

Looking at "Hamlet" with Mr. Logan's remark here in mind, I am set on to 
wonder where Hamlet's discovery, his learning something about himself, 
that "climactic moment," occurs in the play.  If Macbeth's moment of 
this kind is his "Tomorrow and tomorrow" observation, is Hamlet's his 
"If it be not now, etc.," marking the "emotionally shattering blow" of 
his possible realization and acceptance that Divine Will rather than his 
own should prevail.  (If this is so, I have yet to see or hear of a 
production that honors it.) If this is so, what has caused it? It has 
occurred hard on the heels of Hamlet's defense to the doubting Horatio 
of his nasty treatment of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, and immediately 
following his mockery of Osric - hardly events (or are they?) that would 
bring one to such realization and acceptance."

What L. Swilley rightly points out here actually suggests that this is 
not how Shakespeare operates. With all due respect to Logan, Shakespeare 
does not appear to convey his message the way Logan suggests.

Shakespeare's message actually does not reside in what his protagonist 
learns about himself. The message resides in the audience's emotional 
experience of the play in its entirety. Shakespeare conveys his message 
by making us live through it. It is akin to an initiation where one 
learns because one has experienced it directly. This is what makes 
Shakespeare's plays so valuable.

A good example of how Shakespeare conveys his meaning is found in 
Hamlet. Here, Shakespeare relentlessly repeats his message throughout 
the play via dramatic portrayals of its meaning so that we can 
experience it directly. These dramatic portrayals of his message then 
build to a climax towards the end of the play. Practically all of 
Shakespeare's plays are carefully crafted to convey his meaning in this 
manner.

If anyone is interested in seeing how this works, a more detailed 
explanation can be found in my article entitled "The Meaning Behind the 
Dialogue Between Polonius and Reynaldo" at 
http://homepage.mac.com/sapphirestudios/qod/article2.html

With best wishes,
Kenneth Chan

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