The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.1065 Thursday, 30 November 2006
Date: Wednesday, 29 Nov 2006 16:40:21 -0600
Subject: Hamlet - yet once more
An old friend and I were today discussing "Hamlet" for the umpteenth
time. One of the points introduced made me aware for the first time
(shame!) of the three repetitions of the idea of one dying unshriven.
The Ghost protests that he was so served by Claudius; later, Hamlet
backs off from killing Claudius because he prefers to catch him in an
unshriven state, "kicking his heels at heaven"; this is followed his
ugly treatment of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern whom he sends to their
death "no shriving time allowed." (It would appear that Hamlet's conduct
in these last two events is expressly against the logical extension of
the Ghost's restraining remark to Hamlet about Gertrude, "Leave her to
Then what is to be made of Hamlet's calm attitude on his return to
Elsinore - after the butchering of R. and G., (about which, by the way,
Horatio is horrified.)
Then the whole play shows Hamlet trying to bring Claudius to justice for
the murder of his father, yet it is not that issue, but Claudius'
successful plot against the prince's life that destroys him. This is in
the public order. I suppose we may say that, by this means, Claudius'
crime is one against the state, rather than the object of personal
revenge. It would be seriously irresponsible of a prince to act out of
personal revenge rather than for correction of the public order.
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>
DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the
editor assumes no responsibility for them.