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Home :: Archive :: 2008 :: January ::
Soliloquies - Truth or Lie...or Overheard
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 19.0033  Thursday, 17 January 2008

[1] 	From:	Larry Weiss <
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	Date:	Wednesday, 16 Jan 2008 13:39:18 -0500
	Subj:	Re: SHK 19.0028 Soliloquies - Truth or Lie...or Overheard

[2] 	From:	Scott Shepherd <
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	Date:	Wednesday, 16 Jan 2008 13:51:30 -0500
	Subj:	Re: SHK 19.0028 Soliloquies - Truth or Lie...or Overheard


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:		Larry Weiss <
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Date:		Wednesday, 16 Jan 2008 13:39:18 -0500
Subject: 19.0028 Soliloquies - Truth or Lie...or Overheard
Comment:	Re: SHK 19.0028 Soliloquies - Truth or Lie...or Overheard

Tony Burton is surely correct when he says that the text offers "a menu 
of performable juicy choices," but to distinguish that from "ambiguity 
and confusion" invites the question of whether there is a difference 
between those two formulations beyond the obvious rhetorical one -- 
"juicy choices," good; "ambiguity and confusion," bad.

Putting the semantic quibble to the side, Tony has offered one possible 
choice, depending on Hamlet's unexpressed deduction from all the 
circumstances that he is being overheard. Scott Shepherd offers another 
alternative, down to the manner in which the returned gifts are wrapped. 
Both, I suppose, can be presented on stage with varying degrees of 
cogency; but as I think that Tony, at least, will acknowledge, neither 
is compelled by the text.

In fairness, I do not claim that my interpretation is absolutely 
compulsory either or, indeed, that it is the only plausible answer. My 
more modest claim is that it is the best answer that has yet been 
advanced. It has the advantage of being supported by two short 
consecutive speeches ("For to the noble mind ..." and "Ha ha! Are you 
honest?") which the actors can easily perform in a fashion which 
instantaneously suggests that Ophelia was coached and Hamlet recognizes 
that. Tony's interpretation, on the other hand, requires the audience to 
recall a galaxy of details and reach the conclusion that Hamlet also has 
reached the same deduction without the benefit of a speech saying so. 
Scott's interpretation is even worse in that it requires the director to 
employ stage business and props that are nowhere hinted at in the text. 
The director may choose to do that; but that is his choice, not 
Shakespeare's.

Don Bloom is also on to something when he suggests that interpretations 
may be informed by the background and cultural biases of the critic, and 
he cites Merchant of Venice as the obvious example. In this case, 
however, diligent self analysis has failed to identify anything in my 
background which can be said to have influenced my solution, except a 
native tendency towards logic and reason, and professional experience in 
construing words and drawing conclusions from the statements and actions 
of others.

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:		Scott Shepherd <
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Date:		Wednesday, 16 Jan 2008 13:51:30 -0500
Subject: 19.0028 Soliloquies - Truth or Lie...or Overheard
Comment:	Re: SHK 19.0028 Soliloquies - Truth or Lie...or Overheard

I sympathize with Don Bloom's impatience, even if it is expressed rather 
ad hominem. But I do think the topic is interesting and textually 
arguable, and worth a bit of a fight because the standard interpolation 
has become so entrenched and so radically alters the meanings of the scene.

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