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Home :: Archive :: 2007 :: December ::
The Manipulators of _Hamlet_
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0825  Wednesday, 19 December 2007

From:		Lynn Brenner <
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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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