THIRD ASSIGNMENT: “THE UNREAD HAMLET”: Your job on this assignment requires that you marshal evidence to construct an argument favoring the completely neglected conclusion that Shakespeare’s most famous play has escaped the attention of readers, scholars, and directors for centuries. We will look at three critical points in the play that show the play in a far different light than we have commonly assumed.
1. AT THE BEGINNING: Despite the common assumption that the play concerns itself primarily with revenge prompted by the Ghost’s words “Avenge this most unnatural murder,” we get an entirely different impression if we follow upon the Ghost’s actual words closely in their entirety. Sin, not revenge, prompts much of what the Ghost says to Hamlet and much of ow it wishes itself known…to a point.
2. IN THE MIDDLE: We cannot ,we must not, theorize that we can only know Hamlet through some psychoanalytic measure of his manhood or lack thereof. Hamlet speaks and acts in numerous instances in the lineaments of his father’s spirit, who attends upon him as an Ibbur (a benevolent spirit)—a fact about the play missed for centuries. We need to research this sixteenth-century Jewish ideas of Ibbur and Dybbuk to determine the likelihood of Shakespeare’s having known (and applied) it in Hamlet.
3. AT THE END: Under his father’s spirit’s benign influence, Hamlet destroys (and purges) the sinful Claudius twice—once by sword answering Claudius’ poisoned sword treachery against Prince Hamlet, and once by poisoned cup answering Claudius’ poisoning of King Hamlet. Hamlet next proceeds, but now as King Hamlet II, to accomplish all manner of good
deeds, Hamlet in effect precisely honoring the ghost’s exact commend.
Choose a theme:
1. sin – Hamlet seeks revenge for the death of his father
2. Ghost taking over Hamlet – prince fortinbres seeks revenge for the death of his father, King Fortinbres
3. Laertes seeks revenge vs Hamlet for killing his father polonius