The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.0681  Monday, 15 March 2004

From:           Jay Feldman <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 12 Mar 2004 10:59:38 EST
Subject: 15.0652 The Three Sons in Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0652 The Three Sons in Hamlet

Rolland Banker provides us with the following snippet from an article
originally published in The Atlantic Monthly titled: The Three Sons in
Hamlet by Jean Paris; June 1959. It places the sin of the original
tragedy at the feet of King Hamlet.

"Far from being the first victim of an act of violence, King Hamlet is
himself the first slayer of another's father and the conqueror of
another's lands. . . The slaying of their king and the annexation of
their lands could only have appeared to the Norwegians as a crime, no
matter how valorous an act it may have seemed to the Danes, and for
Fortinbras' son such an act called inexorably for vengeance."

My question is: does not this conjecture miss the observation made by
Horatio that King Fortinbras was the instigator of the duel?

"Our last king...
Was, as you know, by Fortinbras of Norway,
Thereto prick'd on by a most emulate pride,
Dar'd to the combat"

Additionally, young Fortinbras "hot and full" is covertly and recklessly
about to involve his country in a war after thirty years of peace.
Horatio tells us Fortinbras seems to think he can take on Denmark using
men from a "list of lawless resolutes". Is this son replicating the
arrogance of his father? Does not Hamlet comment on exactly this
aggressive militarism when he says to the Norwegian captain that young
Fortinbras' adventure against Poland is, "th' imposthume of much wealth
and peace". Could Hamlet be referring to an inflated ego when he
describes Fortinbras as a prince whose spirit is "with divine ambition

Jay Feldman

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