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Home :: Archive :: 2012 :: March ::
Laertes, the Superior Fencer?

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.093  Wednesday, 7 March 2012

 

[1] From:        Conrad Cook < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:         March 6, 2012 2:08:09 PM EST

     Subject:     Re: Laertes, the Superior Fencer?

 

[2] From:        Nick Ranson < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:         March 6, 2012 8:00:31 PM EST

     Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Laertes

 

 

[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------

From:        Conrad Cook < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         March 6, 2012 2:08:09 PM EST

Subject:     Re: Laertes, the Superior Fencer? 

 

Andrew Wilson < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it > writes,

 

>Has anyone here seen a production or read an interpretation of 

>Hamlet that depicts Laertes as the clearly superior swordsman 

>in the final scene, with the reason for Hamlet’s success in the 

>first three bouts being that Laertes, knowing his sword is 

>unbated and envenomed, can’t quite bring himself to stab 

>Hamlet?

 

Issac Asimov.  He wrote that Laertes, playing against his conscience during the match, couldn’t hit Hamlet and had to cheat. When Hamlet gets the unbated weapon, Laertes knows the weapon is poisoned and therefore is fighting for his life.

 

I’m going from memory, and it has been some time.  It’s worth a read. Find this in Asimov’s book on Shakespeare, in the chapter on Hamlet.

 

Conrad

 

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:        Nick Ranson < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         March 6, 2012 8:00:31 PM EST

Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Laertes

 

Andrew: we know that Laertes is considered the superior swordsman by the odds laid on him (5.2.126-127 Oxf. text) 12 to 9; and by Hamlet’s own acknowledgement: “I shall win at the odds (157).” And was the foil unbated from the start—or did Laertes slip it off after a pass or two? We cannot have the duel end too quickly either, can we? so any kind of stage business is invited by the openness of the text here, I think. As it might have been in the very earliest productions in whatever milieu the company performed.  

 

Nick Ranson.

 
 

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