The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0825 Wednesday, 19 December 2007
From: Lynn Brenner <
Date: Monday, 17 Dec 2007 14:24:10 EST
Subject: 18.0836 The Manipulators of _Hamlet_
Comment: Re: SHK 18.0836 The Manipulators of _Hamlet_
>It seems to me that Shakespeare, anticipating the likes of Agatha
>Christie, deliberately built in a great deal of suggestiveness as to the
>identity of the one or more secret schemers of the play, so that many
>different candidates for such a role would be plausible. Starting with
>the hero, of course.
James Thurber's short story, 'The Macbeth Murder Mystery' anticipates
and enthusiastically embraces Arnie's suggestion, although of course
it's about Macbeth, not Hamlet.
At a small English hotel, the narrator meets an American devotee of
Agatha Christie who bought a Penguin edition of Macbeth by mistake, and
having nothing else to read, subjected it to close analysis. Instantly
dismissing the suggestion that Macbeth and Lady M. killed the king-"the
people you suspect first are never guilty. It would spoil everything if
you could figure it out right away"-she fingers Macduff as the guilty
man. Prima facie evidence: his long, elaborate speech after he discovers
the body. "All that stuff was rehearsed," she said. "'My God, there's a
body in here!' is what an innocent man would say."
But, protests the narrator, How about the banquet scene? How about the
sleepwalking scene? Her answer: The Macbeths act guilty to shield each
other, each mistakenly believing the other is the murderer.
As I recall, the narrator enters into the spirit of the game and trumps
her theory with an even better one. Duncan's real murderer: Lady M's
father, also disguised as one of the weird sisters.
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