The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 21.0037  Friday, 15 January 2010

From:       Justin Alexander <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:       Friday, 15 Jan 2010 01:51:47 -0600
Subject: 21.0010 Good Marriages in Shakespeare
Comment:    Re: SHK 21.0010 Good Marriages in Shakespeare

David Basch wrote:

 >I take note of this because, as Lynn focuses on their marriage, the
 >character of Hamlet emerges here in higher relief than in other
 >situations. Hamlet shows by his reactions he is a person who is
 >altogether over righteous. He is straitlaced and proper to a fault, as
 >he describes the love of Gertrude and Claudius from his eyes, that
 >of a priggish, stunted adolescent, as Lynn observes.

To play a bit of devil's advocate here: The play strongly implies that 
Hamlet isn't the only one criticizing the marriage. We are, in fact, 
introduced to Claudius as he gives a political speech which carefully 
justifies the relationship. And even Gertrude describes it as an 
"o'erhasty marriage".

 >This situation is important in revealing Hamlet's character flaw of
 >"over righteousnes" that interferes with his capacity to act with
 >wisdom to the opportunities and dangers that confront him. Thus,
 >his perpetual over righteousness gets the better of him in wanting
 >the perfect punishment for Claudius. He therefore fails to act when
 >he has the opportunity to mete out justice to Claudius, enabling
 >Claudius to live and turn the tables on him.

I'm honestly skeptical of giving to Claudius ("no place indeed should 
murder sanctuarize") the ethical summary of the play. Villains typically 
don't get to play that role; in fact, it's usually the reverse.

Justin Alexander

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