The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1354  Monday, 22 August 2005

From: 		L. Swilley <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date: 		Saturday, 20 Aug 2005 09:25:47 -0500
Subject: 	Joshua Logan and "Hamlet"

In his "An Autobiography," Joshua Logan writes:

"A play should take its protagonist through a series of experiences 
which lead to a climactic moment towards the end when he learns 
something about himself that he could have known all along but has been 
blind to.  This discovery comes as such an emotionally shattering blow 
(and that is the key word: emotionally) that it changes the entire 
course of his life, and that change must be for the better... the 
audience must feel and see the leading man or woman become wiser and the 
discovery must happen on stage in front of their eyes... Of course, the 
classic example is Oedipus, but it is true of Hamlet and Macbeth... 
You'll find it in every successful play. For when the protagonist has 
this revelation, one which raises his moral stature, the audience can 
grow vicariously along with him. Thus, people leave the theater feeling 
better, healthier minded than when they arrived.  It's an exciting 
experience and that exciting experience and that excitement makes a play 

Looking at "Hamlet" with Mr. Logan's remark here in mind, I am set on to 
wonder where Hamlet's discovery, his learning something about himself, 
that "climactic moment," occurs in the play.  If Macbeth's moment of 
this kind is his "Tomorrow and tomorrow" observation, is Hamlet's his 
"If it be not now, etc.," marking the "emotionally shattering blow" of 
his possible realization and acceptance that Divine Will rather than his 
own should prevail.  (If this is so, I have yet to see or hear of a 
production that honors it.) If this is so, what has caused it? It has 
occurred hard on the heels of Hamlet's defense to the doubting Horatio 
of his nasty treatment of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, and immediately 
following his mockery of Osric - hardly events (or are they?) that would 
bring one to such realization and acceptance.

L. Swilley

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