The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.2292  Thursday, 4 December 2003

From:           Bill Arnold <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 3 Dec 2003 06:21:43 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 14.2281 Dramatis personae
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.2281 Dramatis personae

Jay Feldman writes, "Bill, though this goes a bit astray, I want to ask
you the following: if one were to disregard any thought or argument that
assumed knowledge of Shakespeare's intention (accepting that as fact for
the sake of this question), could one present 'Hamlet' with an evil
ghost and do so without altering a single line of text?  Awaiting your
gentle response."

D Bloom  writes, "Poisonally, I think that if Claudius had been the
illegitimate father of Hamlet (D. Dane) he wouldn't have bragged about

These aren't those *gentle* lawyer-like "Have you stopped beating your
wife" rhetorical red-herrings, are they?

OK: of course they are, as taught in Law 101: to confuse the jury, the
lawyer is taught to *impugn* either the witness offering *good* evidence
or *good* evidence itself.

In both cases, in my humble and most sincere and *gentle* response
[notice how lawyer-like *loaded* this statement *IS*]: the *good* of the
play Hamlet is red-herringed by questions which *posit* the inescapable
conclusion that the *spirit/ghost* of the father of Hamlet is either
*evil* or a *cuckold*!

Both are far from the *reality* of the play: even Prince Hamlet calls
the evil Claudius a "villain" and marks him a stereotype; and calls the
good spirit of his departed father "honest" and marks him a credible
witness to a villainous crime of brother murdering brother; and as to
evil Claudius calling Prince Hamlet "son" bespeaks not a whit/wit more
than the *fact* that the evil murderer married the prince's mother and
made him a *step-son* by marriage.

Neither of the above are real enough to deserve merit of an answer,
anymore than the loaded and "gentle" lawyer-like "Have you stopped
beating your wife" question taught in Law 101.

Bill Arnold

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