PlayShakespeare.com
Welcome, Guest
Username: Password: Remember me
  • Page:
  • 1
  • 2

TOPIC: Claudius' response to 'Gonzago'

Claudius' response to 'Gonzago' 6 years 11 months ago #792

Hamlet changed the Player queen's two eight-line speeches.

The Players' original Gonzago play was written in sestets, six-line stanzas. We see that in the Player king's first speech. Six lines of rhymed verse.

(Venus and Adonis is in sestets, by the way. Shakespeare was well familiar with sestets for rhymed verse, to say the least. His first fame came from a long poem in sestets.)

In the original Q2, the Player queen's first speech is 13 lines, the middle line of which is unrhymed. That unrhymed line is a divider, to preserve the six-line stanza. (You'll find in the Arden 2 that Professor Jenkins simply left out the 'divider line' because he couldn't figure out what it was - he didn't count the lines of verse, and didn't realize the line in question was in the middle! Quite unfortunate.)

The 'Mousetrap' stanza structure is:

(king): six lines
(queen): six lines
The unrhymed divider line
(queen): six lines

So, the Gonzago play was originally written in sestets.

However, keep reading, and you'll see the queen's next two speeches aren't six lines. They're eight lines. Also, Hamlet speaks up during both those eight-line speeches. Hamlet, himself, is "telling" us which speeches he changed. That is, Shakespeare had Hamlet speak when Hamlet heard his own lines recited.

Overall, for the 'Mousetrap':

(king): six lines
(queen): six lines
The divider line
(queen): six lines
(king) 4 and 1/2 lines - interrupted!
(queen): eight lines! And Hamlet speaks.
(king): thirty lines, which is five sestets
(queen): eight lines! And Hamlet speaks.
(king): a closing couplet and a half line, to conclude.
(queen): a rhyming 1 and 1/2 line, to conclude.

The play has eight full sestets. That establishes that the original Gonzago play was written in sestets. Sestets dominate, obviously, by far.

Also, the play, as performed, has one interrupted stanza. It has the concluding four-line stanza in mixed voice, between the king and queen.

And it has two octets. Hamlet speaks during each of them.

Hamlet earlier said, "12 or 16 lines." Two sestets would be 12. Two octets would be 16. Hamlet meant it would be two sestets if he abided by the play's original structure. Or, it would be two octets, if he didn't.

He didn't. Hamlet is responsible for the two octets - the only octets in the play.

(Also, the later Lucianus speech is a sestet, again. Same as the 'Gonzago' play, overall. Hamlet didn't change that.)

Hamlet did say "a speech," but we saw at the earlier recital about Ilium, by the 1st Player, that Hamlet's memory isn't perfect. Excellent, but not perfect. He thought it was one speech, but it turned out to be two.

So, Hamlet rewrote the two original 'Gonzago' queen sestets, and made them into the 'Mousetrap' octets that we find - the ones where Hamlet, himself, speaks up.

In those Arden books, you will not even find any indication that any of the editors involved ever thought of counting the lines, although they couldn't possibly have missed that it was rhymed poetry, right in front of their faces. Their failure is sad and unfortunate.

Anybody who has even an elementary education about poetry should know enough to at least take a quick look for stanza in rhymed verse. Shakespere is, of course, famous for his long poems in nice, neat stanzas of rhymed verse.

In the long history of commentary about the 'Mousetrap' you won't even find any editor or commentator who thought of trying to count the lines, and that's with rhymed poetry right in front of his face. It's a serious black mark against Shakespeare studies.

Imagine, hundreds, and thousands, of people who are supposed to be well educated in the subject of poetry, and they look at the 'Mousetrap' and see rhymed poetry right in front of their faces - and they don't even try counting the lines to look for stanza. Good heavens.

Anyway, there's your answer:

Hamlet changed the Player queen's two eight-line speeches. They were originally sestets, in the Gonzago play, and he changed them to octets.
The administrator has disabled public write access.

Claudius' response to 'Gonzago' 6 years 11 months ago #799

Your observations are astute, and it does seem that the text in fact supports them.

But Shakespeare likes playing games with us, and could it be that what you're seeing was put there as a distraction from a still deeper level of meaning?

My take is this:

Only the dumb show, Prologue and Lucianus' words are part of the Murder of Gonzago. Hamlet's dozen or sixteen lines ran away with him and swelled into the *entire* Player King/Player Queen sequence (and this part only is the Mousetrap). The Player King and Queen are acting out what would or should have happened, in Hamlet's opinion, between Old Hamlet and Gertrude, if Gertrude had been true to Old Hamlet - a situation without "offence", i.e. with no conflict (and hence not really a story at all, but simply an ideal state of things).

Shakespeare/Hamlet indeed makes it appear that the Player King and Queen sequence is part of the Gonzago play, by having the King be drowsy by the end of it, apparently from the poison. However, Hamlet states that this Queen, unlike Gertrude, will keep her word. So this sequence is not an attempt to show what is actually going on, but a way to show how the ideal differs from the reality, and use this to demonstrate to Gertrude where she went wrong. As the Murder of Gonzago is supposed to expose Claudius' bad conscience, showing what he did and instilling repentance in him, the Player King and Queen sequence is supposed to use a similar, if reversed, tactic on Gertrude, showing what she *didn't* do and instill in her repentance for that.

What really clinches the Mousetrap as intended for Gertrude is that Claudius likes to call Gertrude "his mouse".

What do you think of that? :-)
The administrator has disabled public write access.

Claudius' response to 'Gonzago' 6 years 11 months ago #801

What I think of that is, it's impossible. :) Refuting it in detail would take more time than I can devote. What it boils down to, is that the Player king and queen speeches, overall, allude to things in the play which the Hamlet character couldn't know about.
The administrator has disabled public write access.

Claudius' response to 'Gonzago' 6 years 11 months ago #804

Can you at least supply a couple of examples?
The administrator has disabled public write access.

Claudius' response to 'Gonzago' 6 years 11 months ago #808

The death of Ophelia, for one.
The administrator has disabled public write access.

Claudius' response to 'Gonzago' 6 years 11 months ago #809

It would indeed take some explanation (which sadly you don't seem prepared to attempt, but maybe it's just as well, as I doubt your case would be a convincing one) for me to see any reference to the death of Ophelia in that passage. And it doesn't matter anyway, since the words are really Shakespeare's rather than Hamlet's.
The administrator has disabled public write access.

Claudius' response to 'Gonzago' 6 years 11 months ago #812

I have made every reasonable attempt, and more, to respond to you, and if you don't appreciate it, you can take a hike.

Got it?

Do you have signatures turned off?

If so, turn them back on, and follow the link.
The administrator has disabled public write access.

Claudius' response to 'Gonzago' 6 years 11 months ago #815

By the way, I have been looking at your comments on the Player King and Queen passage on your homepage, and I am extremely impressed with your observations. I absolutely agree that Hamlet intends the Player King to represent Hamlet Sr., and that the audience and Claudius think him to be Claudius, and that this indeed fires up Claudius' fears about Hamlet wanting to kill him. I have not noticed this doubleness in that passage before, and I am once again blown away by Shakespeare's brilliance.

Now, this would seem to slightly undercut my idea that The Mousetrap is intended for Claudius' mouse, Gertrude, but it doesn't entirely. This kind of thing is where valid interpretation plays into it, and one overlapping layer does not exclude another. Shakespeare has left a lot of possibilities open. He has spread out a lot of bread crumbs. He is showing us many different and overlapping patterns. Several different interpretations *can all be correct*! If the analyst or stage director does not notice the one, he can latch onto the other to get, in each case, a sensible reading out of it. The text allows for several readings, and is of course intended to. ("O 'tis most sweet, when in one line two crafts directly meet.") I stand by my Gertrude-centric reading of the Mousetrap, though I acknowledge that there are other layers of meaning in there as well.

We do part ways, however, as regards your perceived allusions to Ophelia (and the sonnets you allege are about her) in this passage. I think you are reading too much into it. But I can see that you are very fond of that particular bit of glossing, so I realize you are not likely to be swayed from it. We all have our hobby-horses! :-)
The administrator has disabled public write access.

Claudius' response to 'Gonzago' 6 years 11 months ago #824

Hamlet does intend the 'Mousetrap' to affect Gertrude, too. That's why he speaks to her during the performance, of course. But the notion that the 'Mousetrap' might be primarily, or entirely, intended for Gertrude is obviously an eccentric notion, separated from the reality of what the Hamlet playtext says.

Most people find Hamlet too difficult to read, and they wander away from what it says, into their own ideas. Happens all the time. Most people, unable to read the play, treat it as an inkblot, so to speak, and only talk about themselves, instead. But an interpretation cannot be correct, about Hamlet, if it's merely one's own notion, divorced from what Shakespeare wrote.

For example, consider your own idea that Hamlet's "12 or 16" lines could be any number of lines that you, personally, want them to be. Factually, the play, itself, says "12 or 16" (paraphrased.) One who ignores that explicit statement in the playtext is not interpreting Hamlet, he's interpreting himself.

It's doubly odd when a person calls Shakespeare brilliant, and then blithly ignores what he wrote. Strange.

And you actually cannot see the allusion to Ophelia in the player king's mention of something falling from a tree? Really?
The administrator has disabled public write access.

Claudius' response to 'Gonzago' 5 years 3 months ago #2348

Forgive me for bringing up an old thread. I realize the original participants might not still be around, but I just stumbled upon this thread and wanted to add something in case anyone is still interested.Willedever wrote:
Hamlet changed the Player queen's two eight-line speeches.

The Players' original Gonzago play was written in sestets, six-line stanzas.
I have two problems with the line-counting here. First is the question of this "divider line".
In the original Q2, the Player queen's first speech is 13 lines, the middle line of which is unrhymed. That unrhymed line is a divider, to preserve the six-line stanza. (You'll find in the Arden 2 that Professor Jenkins simply left out the 'divider line' because he couldn't figure out what it was - he didn't count the lines of verse, and didn't realize the line in question was in the middle! Quite unfortunate.)
Unless using these divider lines is something that Shakespeare or anyone else did elsewhere (is this the sole instance?), I see two things, both of which Jenkins mentions (in the intro), that point to the inclusion of this line being a mistake, and either scenario of its being accidentally left in the copy or being crossed out of the copy and erroneously included by the compositor seem likely enough. One, that this line breaks the structure for no dramatic purpose points to it being an error. Perhaps the supposed dividing of the stanzas would count as a dramatic purpose, but I think both this division's existence and obviousness are arguable. Two, this line duplicates unrhetorically both the wording and meaning of the lines that immediately follow. The rhythm and meaning of that set of lines in Q2 jump out as being wrong.

My second, more important, issue is that you apparently count a metrically-singular line of verse as two separate lines when multiple characters are involved in speaking it:
Overall, for the 'Mousetrap':

(king): six lines
(queen): six lines
The divider line
(queen): six lines
(king) 4 and 1/2 lines - interrupted!
(queen): eight lines! And Hamlet speaks.
(king): thirty lines, which is five sestets
(queen): eight lines! And Hamlet speaks.
(king): a closing couplet and a half line, to conclude.
(queen): a rhyming 1 and 1/2 line, to conclude.
If you instead count the lines using the meter, which seems immensely more appropriate to me, you get all perfect sestets:
P.K.  1 Full thirty times hath Phoebus' cart gone round
		2 Neptune's salt wash and Tellus' orbed ground,		
		3 And thirty dozen moons with borrow'd sheen		
		4 About the world have times twelve thirties been,		
		5 Since love our hearts and Hymen did our hands		
		6 Unite commutual in most sacred bands.
P.Q.  1 So many journeys may the sun and moon		
		2 Make us again count o'er ere love be done!		
		3 But, woe is me, you are so sick of late,		
		4 So far from cheer and from your former state,		
		5 That I distrust you. Yet, though I distrust,		
		6 Discomfort you, my lord, it nothing must:		
		1 For women's fear and love holds quantity;		
		2 In neither aught, or in extremity.		
		3 Now, what my love is, proof hath made you know;		
		4 And as my love is sized, my fear is so:		
		5 Where love is great, the littlest doubts are fear;		
		6 Where little fears grow great, great love grows there.		
P.K.  1 'Faith, I must leave thee, love, and shortly too;		
		2 My operant powers their functions leave to do:		
		3 And thou shalt live in this fair world behind,		
		4 Honour'd, beloved; and haply one as kind		
		5 For husband shalt thou--		
P.Q.  5 O, confound the rest!		
		6 Such love must needs be treason in my breast:		
		1 In second husband let me be accurst!		
		2 None wed the second but who kill'd the first.		
Ham.  - [Aside] That's wormwood.		
P.Q.  3 The instances that second marriage move		
		4 Are base respects of thrift, but none of love:		
		5 A second time I kill my husband dead,		
		6 When second husband kisses me in bed.		
P.K.  1 I do believe you think what now you speak;		
		2 But what we do determine oft we break.		
		3 Purpose is but the slave to memory,		
		4 Of violent birth, but poor validity;		
		5 Which now, like fruit unripe, sticks on the tree;		
		6 But fall, unshaken, when they mellow be.		
		1 Most necessary 'tis that we forget		
		2 To pay ourselves what to ourselves is debt:		
		3 What to ourselves in passion we propose,		
		4 The passion ending, doth the purpose lose.		
		5 The violence of either grief or joy		
		6 Their own enactures with themselves destroy:		
		1 Where joy most revels, grief doth most lament;		
		2 Grief joys, joy grieves, on slender accident.		
		3 This world is not for aye, nor 'tis not strange		
		4 That even our loves should with our fortunes change;		
		5 For 'tis a question left us yet to prove,		
		6 Whether love lead fortune, or else fortune love.		
		1 The great man down, you mark his favourite flies;		
		2 The poor advanced makes friends of enemies.		
		3 And hitherto doth love on fortune tend;		
		4 For who not needs shall never lack a friend,		
		5 And who in want a hollow friend doth try,		
		6 Directly seasons him his enemy.		
		1 But, orderly to end where I begun,		
		2 Our wills and fates do so contrary run		
		3 That our devices still are overthrown;
		4 Our thoughts are ours, their ends none of our own:		
		5 So think thou wilt no second husband wed;		
		6 But die thy thoughts when thy first lord is dead.		
P.Q.  1 Nor earth to me give food, nor heaven light!		
		2 Sport and repose lock from me day and night!		
		3 To desperation turn my trust and hope!		
		4 An anchor's cheer in prison be my scope!		
		5 Each opposite that blanks the face of joy		
		6 Meet what I would have well and it destroy!		
		1 Both here and hence pursue me lasting strife,		
		2 If, once a widow, ever I be wife!		
Ham.  - If she should break it now.		
P.K.  3 'Tis deeply sworn. Sweet, leave me here awhile;		
		4 My spirits grow dull, and fain I would beguile		
		5 The tedious day with sleep.			
P.Q.  5 Sleep rock thy brain,		
		6 And never come mischance between us twain!		
		[Exit. He sleeps.]
Hamlet did say "a speech," but we saw at the earlier recital about Ilium, by the 1st Player, that Hamlet's memory isn't perfect. Excellent, but not perfect. He thought it was one speech, but it turned out to be two.
So we must take the text precisely at its word (dozen or 16 lines) except when it disagrees with your theory (a speech)? If Hamlet could be wrong about the number of speeches, then a fortiori he could be wrong about the number of lines. Also, this is not a question of Hamlet's memory; he is predicting how long his insertion will be.

My current thinking points to Lucianus' speech being the one that Hamlet inserted, since it comes more than merely near the circumstance of his father's death; it is specifically the way he was killed. This is also the part that aims right at exciting Claudius' guilt. It explains Hamlet's calling Lucianus the nephew (i.e., because these are Hamlet's words). It also echoes earlier images of Hamlet: the first line reminds me of Pyrrhus, rank weeds, his father's wholesomeness, Claudius' usurpation, etc. And this is the place that Hamlet most interrupts and inserts himself into the play.

But I am not married to any interpretation. It would be nice to know which player(s) Hamlet gives his instructions to before the play. Oh, actually, so Hamlet does again refer to his insertion as a single speech, after he has just written it ("Speak the speech...").
The administrator has disabled public write access.
  • Page:
  • 1
  • 2
Moderators: William Shakespeare
Time to create page: 0.216 seconds