The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0762  Wednesday, 4 April 2001

From:           Clifford Stetner <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 30 Mar 2001 21:32:34 -0500
Subject: 12.0724 Re: Nay, very pale.
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0724 Re: Nay, very pale.

I would like to argue that what is on stage in Hamlet's dialogues with
Horatio is the ghost of Thomas Kyd, who may very well have died while
Shakespeare was writing this play from sickness derived from his torture
and imprisonment in the tower on suspicion of atheism (and who many
scholars find reason to believe authored an earlier Hamlet/ghost play).
I begin with the theory, which has been unanimously refuted by everyone
I've tried it on, that the audience (those in any way familiar with the
world of Elizabethan popular theater, which seems to be most Londoners)
would immediately associate the name Horatio with Kyd, by virtue first
of the possible Ur Hamlet, and second of the Horatio in the Spanish
Tragedy.  It is not, after all, a common name in the drama or elsewhere.

Beginning with this hypothesis, I'm led to infer a close relationship
between Shakespeare and Kyd, perhaps apprentice/master, perhaps fellow
scholars at the school of theater.  The red or pale duality seems to me
to parallel the angry or sad duality, and Horatio's answer defines the
ghost that informs the action of the play as a ghost of sorrow rather
than wrath.  Purely in the realm of speculation, given the association
made by Karen Peterson of "ghost" with "corpse," it is perhaps the pale
sad corpse of Kyd that Horatio describes for us here.

Clifford Stetner

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