The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.1646  Friday, 3 September 2004

From:           M Yawney <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 2 Sep 2004 09:56:25 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 15.1634 Best Cinematic Hamlet?
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1634 Best Cinematic Hamlet?

L. Swilley writes,

 >If Hamlet is mad, the inevitable consequence of his
 >madness is that he
 >is not responsible for his actions; he becomes only
 >an inert issue, like
 >the mad Ophelia, for the other characters.  Has
 >there ever been an
 >interpretation that moves the moral, the responsible
 >*center* of the
 >play to any other character?

Does a play necessarily have a "moral, responsible center?" It had never
occurred to me that there is one in Hamlet. Perhaps Horatio's observer
status makes him a more reliable interpreter of the other character's
actions, but I would hesitate to call him a moral center of this play.

As Jeffery M. Jones discusses in his wonderful essay "Geezer Theater,"
how often modern audiences look for there to be a character in a play
that speaks for the author, a moral center. But this is not necessarily
the case for every play. A modern example Jones cites is Aunt Dan and
Lemon, but it could be argued that in plays such as Measure for Measure,
Timon of Athens, and Hamlet that Shakespeare's meaning is communicated
by the oppositions and juxtapositions of views, rather than conveyed by
any single character.

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