The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.0952  Wednesday, 3 May 2000.

From:           David Bishop <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 2 May 2000 23:42:10 -0400
Subject: 11.0934 Re: Fortinbras
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.0934 Re: Fortinbras

Concerning Ed Taft's latest on Fortinbras: Ed, I'm not sure what you
mean by Claudius being an agent of Fortinbras's or Hamlet's actions at
the end. As for Hamlet moving from revenging to avenging his father, I'm
not sure his actions at the end have, by that time, much to do with his
father. His final act, whatever it is, is very complex. It involves
revenge, perhaps, but that revenge, such as it is, seems at the moment
to be more for the death of his mother. However, this can't exactly be
revenge because Claudius didn't intend to kill her. He did intend to
kill Hamlet, so there might be an element of genuine revenge there,
though I'm not sure I can feel the act as being about that. Laertes
actually kills him, and he forgives Laertes. And then Hamlet doesn't
exactly kill Claudius either, in a sense, since Claudius is killed by
the poison he himself, or Laertes, supplied. Like Laertes he's justly
killed with his own treachery. The element of justice in this ambiguous
killing also comes partly from the justice of killing a proven tyrant
(his tyranny proved by the commission Hamlet gives to Horatio). A
further complication is that when a king is proven a tyrant, one might
consider that his heir automatically becomes king-Hamlet the Dane-with
the legitimate power to deal justly with his predecessor. It all adds up
to quite a mysterious act.


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