The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0831  Thursday, 1 May 2003

From:           Bill Arnold <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 30 Apr 2003 08:20:30 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 14.0821 Re: Hamlet and Belleforest's Histoires
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0821 Re: Hamlet and Belleforest's Histoires
Tragiques (1576)

Brian Willis writes,

    "On Hamlet's antic disposition and feigned madness:

    "III. iv.

    "Not this by no means that I bid you do...
     Nor make you to ravel all this matter out:
     That I essentially am not in madness
     But mad in craft.

"This comes after many things which seem to convince Gertrude that he is
mad: the killing of Polonius, the talking to the ghost. But from the
moment she suggests it is ecstasy, Hamlet does a convincing job of
proving his sanity. If one can read through that latter half of the
scene and still doubt his sanity, I would have to suggest they are
missing something. If it's good enough for Gertrude, it's good enough
for me. And wasn't a convention of the revenge tragedy this feigning of
madness in order to go undercover as it were?"

In response, I would agree, and suggest that Grebanier's book points out
that Belleforest's Histoires Tragiques (1576) makes this amply clear!
Apparently this latter fact seems to escape some Shakespearean
scholars.  There is no doubt, after reading Grebanier on Belleforest's
HT that Will Shakespeare did not create his Hamlet out of a whole new
cloth.  Instead, he had either Kyd's version of Belleforest's HT or had
read the latter in French or translation, or had another colleague give
him the PLOT and CHARACTER of the earlier play in exquisite DETAIL.

Having said that, it behooves those who engage in this debate to take
either a look at Grebanier or Belleforest's HT.  So much becomes clear
about how the plot and character of Shakespeare's Hamlet should be
analyzed and therefrom an exegesis created which fits the play
"Shakespeare Wrote" according to Grebanier, and the central point I
agree with and am trying to get across to SHAKSPEReans.

Bill Arnold

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