The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0948  Thursday, 15 May 2003

From:           Bill Arnold <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 14 May 2003 07:51:08 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 14.0935 Re: Performances and Audiences in Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0935 Re: Performances and Audiences in Hamlet

Michael Shurgot writes, "I admit that I have not read Grebanier since
grad school in the early 70's, but does not the script make clear that
Hamlet is struggling with why HE has been called on to right a wrong by
killing a King, exactly Claudius's crime?  ('O cursed spite, that ever I
was born to set it right.') Etc. There is revenge, and there is
philosophy; Hamlet has much of the latter, ponders the nature and fate
of human kind, especially his 'god-like' reason, and has trouble fitting
the former into the latter.  Do we really admire people who just run out
and kill?"

No, and neither did Grebanier.  But you are pointing your finger at the
wrong accursed character!  That is the crime of Laertes, who Grebanier
writes "is a chip off the old block [291]" and is a perfect foil for
Hamlet, who uses Reason unlike Laertes who does not, and blindly avenges
his father Polonius' death without any knowledge of what happened.  In
fact, according to the text, and Grebanier's read also, Laertes was
taken in by, and lied to by, the murderous Claudius, the real villain of
this tragedy.  Grebanier writes of Laertes, "How differently from Hamlet
he goes about avenging a father's murder!  His recklessness, unsupported
by either the intelligence or the noble-mindedness of a Hamlet,
precipitates him into the vilest sort of behavior [291]."

You ought to re-read Grebanier.  He is a delight to behold.

Bill Arnold

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