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Home :: Archive :: 2010 :: March ::
Mousetrap in Hamlet

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 21.0136  Friday, 26 March 2010

[1]  From:      Conrad Cook < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
     Date:      March 19, 2010 1:03:59 AM EDT
     Subj:      SHK 21.0121 Mousetrap in Hamlet 

[2]  From:      Nicholas Clary < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
     Date:      March 19, 2010 10:48:28 AM EDT
     Subj:      RE: SHK 21.0121  Mousetrap in Hamlet

[3]  From:      John Cox < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
     Date:      March 20, 2010 8:10:11 AM EDT
     Subj:      Re: SHK 21.0121 Mousetrap in Hamlet

[4]  From:      Hardy M. Cook < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
     Date:      Friday, March 26, 2010    
     Subj:      Re: SHK 21.0121 Mousetrap in Hamlet 

[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:         Conrad Cook < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
Date:         March 19, 2010 1:03:59 AM EDT
Subject: Mousetrap in Hamlet
Comment:      SHK 21.0121 Mousetrap in Hamlet

Richard Waugaman < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it > wrote:

>Stuart Gillespie wrote that Shakespeare may have borrowed
>Claudius' 'limed soul' in Hamlet from St. Augustine.
>
>Have Hamlet scholars noted the possible connection between the
>'Mousetrap' play in Hamlet and St. Augustine's trope (in Sermon
>130) of Christ on the cross as a 'mousetrap' to catch Satan, in order
>to prevent Satan from harming humankind? According to St.
>Augustine, "The devil exulted when Christ died, but by this very
>death of Christ the devil was vanquished, as if he had swallowed the
>bait in the mousetrap. He rejoiced in Christ's death, like a bailiff of
>death. What he rejoiced in was then his own undoing. The cross of
>the Lord was the devil's mousetrap; the bait by which he was caught
>was the Lord's death....">
>
>Hamlet's possible use of St. Augustine's trope places Hamlet in a
>God-like role, using the _Mousetrap_ play to ensnare the devilish
>Claudius before he can do further damage to Hamlet, Gertrude,
>and the state of Denmark. Further, Hamlet is thereby externalizing
>onto Claudius aspects of his own vexed relationship with the Ghost.
>That is, if Protestants are correct and there is no Purgatory, then the
>Ghost was likely to be not the soul of Hamlet's father, but instead a
>devil in disguise, trying to _trap_ Hamlet into committing the sin of
>murdering the possibly innocent Claudius.

Well, I got in trouble the last time I broached this subject. But look:

It doesn't put Hamlet in the role of God at all, as he does not knowingly send his only begotten son to get slaughtered.

The _Mousetrap_ is indeed a trap, but it snaps closed on the wrong person -- Polonius.

"What ho, a rat!"

Polonius is hiding in the skirts, err tapestries of Gertrude when Hamlet penetrates them with his rapier. Hamlet ends that scene by admonishing Gertrude not to allow Claudius to paddle her neck with his damned fingers, and calling her his MOUSE...

Right. Mouse-trap. Snaps closed on Polonius.

Polonius is Christ. One of them; there are three. He's the old one.  He's the one who Mankind, Hamlet, slaughters, thinking he's got the snake Claudius. Polonius played Julius Caesar in the capital. Brutus killed him. Different play, same script.

Polonius tells Gertrude, "I pray you, be ROUND with him." The scene is about rebirth. In this crazy-insightful retelling of the Christian story, mankind is reborn into sin by perpetrating the crucifixion.  That sin won't be washed clean until he trades forgiveness with Laertes, the young Christ, in the typologically inverted image of Pauline doctrine.

And where does Polonius end up? At supper. Not where he eats, but where he is eaten. And that's explained to Claudius in a short passage about fish and kings that you might want to re-read if you're interested in theological readings of _Hamlet_. Claudius hears the news with horror, of course.

I mean, it's real clear. People don't see it because they don't want to see it, in my opinion.

Conrad.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:         Nicholas Clary < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
Date:         March 19, 2010 10:48:28 AM EDT
Subject: 21.0121  Mousetrap in Hamlet
Comment:      RE: SHK 21.0121  Mousetrap in Hamlet

Yes, others have seen the connection between the "Mousetrap" play in Hamlet at St. Augustine's trope in Sermon 130. I cite separate studies by Roy Battenhouse (1969), Herb Coursen (1969), and John Doebler (1972) in my own essay on the play scene: "'The very cunning of the scene': Hamlet's Divination and the King's Occulted Guilt," Hamlet Studies, 18:1 (1996): 7-28.

Cheers,
Nick Clary

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:         John Cox < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
Date:         March 20, 2010 8:10:11 AM EDT
Subject: 21.0121 Mousetrap in Hamlet
Comment:      Re: SHK 21.0121 Mousetrap in Hamlet

The lines of inquiry that Richard Waugaman mentions were pursued in 1969 by Roy Battenhouse, in Shakespearean Tragedy: Its Art and Christian Premises.

Best,
John Cox

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:          Hardy M. Cook < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
Date:          Friday, March 26, 2010    
Subject: 21.0121 Mousetrap in Hamlet
Comment:       Re: SHK 21.0121 Mousetrap in Hamlet 

I recently saw the video of the Tennant/Stewart Hamlet that I had seen in Stratford two summers ago. 

The video confirmed my memory of the Mousetrap staging. If I were ever to have gotten the chance to direct _Hamlet_, I would have directed the Mousetrap play within the play as it was done in this production. 

Patrick Stewart's Claudius does not emotionally lose it as it were, maintaining the character's position of being a worthy antagonist to the Hamlet character, who has been called the most intelligent character ever created for the stage.

I don't have time now but I will take screen captures from the video and put them into a PowerPoint presentation in which I will explain my ideas about the staging of the Mousetrap.

More to come.

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_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
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.

 

 

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