The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.2040  Friday, 9 December 2005

From: 		Bill Arnold <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date: 		Thursday, 8 Dec 2005 13:14:38 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 16.2026 Celtic or English Folklore Purgatory
Comment: 	Re: SHK 16.2026 Celtic or English Folklore Purgatory

Peter Bridgman quotes me, "Thanks to Peter Bridgman, perhaps the premise 
of Shakespeare's Hamlet might be brought into a more proper focus...."

Then Peter writes, "Bill flatters me unnecessarily.  The Hamlet-St. 
Patrick's Purgatory connection has been written about by lots of people, 
notably Stephen Greenblatt who devotes much of his book 'Hamlet in 
Purgatory' to the  subject."

Hello, Peter!  Hey, I pledge my ignorance.  And we are making a useful 
point here.  I went back and searched some of Hardy's archives:



From:           Roger Schmeeckle <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 15 Dec 1998 10:56:40 -0800 (PST)
Subject:       9.1285  Re: Ghost from Purgatory

As Roy Flannagan admits in his entry, he has missed the long history of 
the scholarly discussion on the Ghost in _Hamlet_. The Ghost is not so 
'clearly Roman Catholic' as Flannagan expects it to be. Dover Wilson, in 
his _What Happens in Hamlet?_ (1962), argues that it is a Catholic ghost 
from purgatory.  On the other hand, Eleanor Prosser, in her _Hamlet and 
Revenge_ (1967), claims that it is a devil from hell. Roy W. 
Battenhouse, in his 'The Ghost in _Hamlet_: A Catholic "Linchpin"?' 
(1951), argues that Shakespeare created a pagan ghost 'with some 
superstitious touches of nominal Christianity' (p. 192).  Roland Mushat 
Frye, in his _The Renaissance Hamlet: Issues and Responses in 1600_ 
(1984), says that the Ghost's identity is ambiguous.  Walter N. King, in 
his _Hamlet's Search for Meaning_ (1982), proclaims that its identity 
does not matter; what matters, according to him, is its effects upon Hamlet.


So, Peter, you are deserved of praise, as it pertains to SHAKSPER and 
the archives, and to us folks who were not here in 1998.  I intend to 
get Stephen Greenblatt's book and read it.

Now, as to my point: it seems to me that the Spirit/Ghost is as one 
might suspect Shakespeare intended it, to be part and parcel of his 
audience, English, 1600.  Therefore, I consider this worthy of further 
investigation and discussion.  The correct INTERPRETATION of 
Shakespeare's Hamlet depends upon it.  It is the GIST of the PREMISE aka 

Clearly, the earlier 1998 entries do not do justice to the folklore 
aspect of Spirits/Ghosts which coming from their so-called Pagan History 
back to ancient Egypt and the AE and Greek and Roman *Mysteries* 
predating the Masonic Order [ quite a Big Thing in Great Britain, you 
must agree? ] offer a whole spin on the play I had not been aware of, 
and apparently neither have some recent commentators here on SHAKSPER. 
We look forward to recantations galore.

In summation: I am no longer as assured that the Spirit/Ghost was 
Catholic or Protestant, but might have been wholly of the Pagan Cloth. 
All Hallow's Eve to you!  Have a Wikken Good Night, and remember the 
Witches of Shakespeare's Macbeth!

Bill Arnold

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