The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1011 Wednesday, 10 May 2000.
Date: Tuesday, 9 May 2000 14:16:16 -0400
Subject: 11.0989 Re: Fortinbras
Comment: Re: SHK 11.0989 Re: Fortinbras
Ed Taft and I seem to have a difference of opinion about "what does not
have to be mentioned in 5.2." I would say that to make this into a
fulfillment of the ghost's command, Hamlet would have to say something
about how he's killing Claudius because Claudius killed his father. In a
way he does, with the word "murdrous", but with all the other deaths now
happening that seems to me not to make much of a distinct impression.
Revenge plays a part in our awareness, I think, but in a subtle and
mysterious way. The main energy of revenge seems to be transferred from
the ghost's death to Gertrude's and Hamlet's. Meanwhile, justice enters
the picture through the objective proof of Claudius's tyranny, and
Hamlet's therefore "legitimate" transformation into "Hamlet the Dane",
with a license to kill the tyrant.
The question is about the dramatic impact, and import, of the scene.
From every place in the play there are threads that can be followed, by
a chain of more or less logical inferences, to anywhere else-even to
Richard II, for example. Which inferences really contribute to the
dramatic sense of the scene and which don't can be hard to decide. A lot
of poststructuralists enjoy saying it's impossible. Here, at the end of
Hamlet, is one place where Ed's intuitions and mine seem to part