The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1694  Thursday, 5 July 2001

From:           John Ramsay <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 03 Jul 2001 12:17:47 -0400
Subject: 12.1674 All may be well.
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1674 All may be well.

> Claudius, after beating himself to spiritual death, closes his soliloquy
> (Act III, Scene III) on a note of hope (All may be well).  What gave him
> reason to hope?
> He opens the soliloquy by comparing his crime to that of Cain.  He
> explores the possibility of being granted mercy (that is, after all,
> what mercy is for), and the utility of prayer.  But he concludes that
> mercy is not for him and that prayer will avail him nothing because he
> still retains his crime-begotten gains (his crown and his queen), and
> his ambition, which got him into his present predicament
> He never suggests the possibility of giving up those gains in exchange
> for mercy.
> He acknowledges that he may very well get home safely "in this world"
> because justice, which he wishes fervently to evade, is less than
> perfect, but "there" , justice will look him in the eye and he will have
> to "give in evidence" (did a lawyer write that line?)
> He thinks that repentance might help him, but, he cannot repent.
> All in all, he recognizes that he is in a very bad way, and calls for
> angelic assistance (which contradicts his prior assertion that no prayer
> could help him anyway.
> Suddenly, his mood changes, and he feels that "all may (yet) be well".
> What could have happened to have changed his appraisal of his boxed-in
> position? In his very next line, he tells us that his thoughts are very
> much on earth and will not go to heaven, so what does he mean by "all
> may be well"?
> What did the author intend to convey with that line?
> Jacob Goldberg

Hi, Claudius is a politician who always tries to put the best face on
things, a spin doctor. Tries to present himself as Hamlet's 'loving
father'. Greets the suicidal Ophelia with, 'How do you, pretty lady.'
Even when run through with a poisoned sword he says, 'O! Yet defend me,
friends; I am but hurt.'

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