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Home :: Archive :: 2009 :: January ::
Heroes
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 20.0037  Tuesday, 20 January 2009

From:      Conrad Cook <
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Date:      Thursday, 15 Jan 2009 12:18:42 -0500
Subject:   Heroes / Horatio's Advice on the Duel and What It Implies

David Basch wrote:

 >> For example, Horatio recognizes that the dueling match is a trap

   and he tries to warn Hamlet, saying, "My Lord, you will [lose] that
   wager." And when Hamlet has misgivings about participating in the
   duel match, Horatio advises that he say that he is ill. Despite
   this, Prince Hamlet overrules him in this and everything else. Try
   and tell a determined prince a thing or two! <<

Horatio's warns Hamlet that he will *lose* the duel; and he tells 
Hamlet, if Hamlet has an ill premonition, to obey it. Neither of those 
constitutes a recognition that the duel is a trap.

The larger point in this interaction, I think, is that Hamlet values 
people who are willing to tell him he's full of it. Horatio does this in 
a quiet way; Ophelia does it in a demure, feminine way, as with, "You 
are good as a chorus, my lord." Gertrude does it in a snippy motherly 
way, or tries to. We never see Laertes interact with Hamlet while they 
are on good terms, but from Laertes' behavior toward Hamlet and his 
advice to Ophelia we can infer that Laertes is very willing to contest 
Hamlet.

This is in contrast, for example, to Polonius and Osric, who are 
probably not bad people, but who are too groveling for Hamlet to 
respect. It also contrasts with the Players, who show an easy and 
appropriate respect for the prince, and the Gravedigger, who shows 
respect while thwarting him in every respect. Meanwhile, Claudius, 
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern flatter him while preparing to betray him.

Conrad

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