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Sep26-05, 12:52 PM
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The more carefully I look at Hamlet, the more problems I find - not only in this scene but in the whole play. And I don't know how to tell whether any one thing was intentional or a mistake, either by Shakespeare or in the copy. Here's where I'm at so far. (I quoted the texts liberally in case anyone isn't famliliar with them. If you know what they say, you can safely skip most of the quotes. I'm using Q2 (indigo) mainly and will try to note any relevant differences between it and Q1 (red) and F1 (green).)

Before The Murder of Gonzago, henceforth 'the play', Claudius agrees to let Gertrude speak with Hamlet before deciding whether to send him to England.
Pol. Lord, doe as you please,
But if you hold it fit, after the play,
Let his Queene-mother all alone intreate him
To show his griefe, let her be round with him, [1840]
And Ile be plac'd (so please you) in the eare
Of all their conference, if she find him not,
To England send him: or confine him where
Your wisedome best shall thinke.
King. It shall be so,
Madnes in great ones must not [vnmatcht vnwatch'd] goe.

And after the play, Claudius has changed his mind and decided to send Hamlet to England ASAP, because Hamlet is now too dangerous.
King. I like him not, nor stands it safe with vs
To let his madnes range, therefore prepare you,
I your commission will forth-with dispatch,
And he to England shall along with you,
The termes of our estate may not endure
Hazerd so neer's as doth hourely grow
Out of his [browes Lunacies].

Before the play, Hamlet is unsure of Claudius' guilt.
Ham (to Horatio). There is a play to night before the King,
One scene of it comes neere the circumstance
Which I haue told thee of my fathers death,
I prethee when thou seest that act a foote,
Euen with the very comment of thy soule [1930]
Obserue my Vncle, if his occulted guilt
Doe not it selfe vnkennill in one speech,
It is a damned ghost that we haue seene,
And my imaginations are as foule
As Vulcans stithy; giue him heedfull note,
For I mine eyes will riuet to his face,
And after we will both our iudgements ioyne
In censure of his seeming.

I take it that since Hamlet has told Horatio of the murder and asked for his help in judging Claudius' reaction, he is actually trying to find the truth.
Note that they will be watching specifically and carefully Claudius' face, i.e., it seems that Hamlet expects Claudius to be able to control himself to a large degree and doesn't need Claudius to get up and storm away. Hamlet's eariler comments also support this.
Ham. ...Ile obserue his lookes,
Ile tent him to the quicke, if a [doe but] blench
I know my course.

And after the play:
Ham. Why let the strooken Deere goe weepe,
The Hart vngauled play,
For some must watch while some must sleepe,
Thus runnes the world away. Would not this sir & a forrest of fea-
thers, if the rest of my fortunes turne Turk with me, with prouinciall
Roses on my raz'd shooes, get me a fellowship in a cry of players?
Hora. Halfe a share.
Ham. A whole one I.
For thou doost know oh Damon deere
This Realme dismantled was
Of Ioue himselfe, and now raignes heere
A very very paiock.
Hora. You might haue rym'd.
Ham. O good Horatio, Ile take the Ghosts word for a thousand
pound. Did'st perceiue?
Hora. Very well my Lord. [2160]
Ham. Vpon the talke of the poysning.
Hor. I did very well note him.

Ham. What, frighted with false fires?
Then let the stricken deere goe weepe,
The hart vngalled play,
For some must laugh, while some must weepe,
Thus runnes the world away.
Hor. The king is mooued my lord.
Hor. I Horatio, i'le take the Ghosts word
For more then all the coyne in Denmarke.

(I think the attributing of this last line to Horatio is a typo.) I take this and his speech when Claudius is praying to mean that Hamlet is now convinced of Claudius' guilt.

Assuming none of these are mistakes, something has happened during the play to make Claudius and Hamlet change their minds: Hamlet becomes too dangerous and Claudius becomes guilty. So I want to figure out when, how, and why the changes happen.

Ham. O God your onely Iigge-maker, what should a man do but
be merry, for looke you how cheerefully my mother lookes, and my
father died within's two howres. [1980]
Oph. Nay, tis twice two months my Lord.
Ham. So long, nay then let the deule weare blacke, for Ile haue a
sute of sables; o heauens, die two months agoe, and not forgotten yet,
then there's hope a great mans memorie may out-liue his life halfe a
yeere, but ber Lady a must build Churches then, or els shall a suffer
not thinking on, with the Hobby-horse, whose Epitaph is, for o, for
o, the hobby-horse is forgot.

The Trumpets sounds. Dumbe show followes. [1990]
Enter a King and a Queene, the Queene embracing him,and he her,he
takes her vp, and declines his head vpon her necke,he lyeshim downe vp-
pon a bancke of flowers, she seeing him asleepe, leaues him: anon come in an
other man, takes off his crowne, kisses it, pours poyson in the sleepers eares,
andleaues him:the Queene returnes, finds the King dead, makes passionate
action, the poysner with some three or foure come in againe, seemeto con-
dole with her, the dead body is carried away, the poysner wooes the Queene
with gifts, shee seemes harshawhile, but in the end accepts loue.

Oph. VVhat meanes this my Lord?
[Ham. Marry this munching Mallico, it meanes mischiefe.
Ham. Marry this is Miching Malicho, that meanes
Oph. Belike this show imports the argument of the play.
[Ham. We shall know by this fellow, Enter Prologue.
Ham. We shall know by these Fellowes]
The Players cannot keepe, they'le tell all.
Oph. Will a tell vs what this show meant? [2010]
Ham. I, or any show that you will show him, be not you asham'd
to show, heele not shame to tell you what it meanes.
Oph. You are naught, you are naught, Ile mark the play.
Prologue. For vs and for our Tragedie,
Heere stooping to your clemencie,
We begge your hearing patiently.
Ham. Is this a Prologue, or the posie of a ring? [2020]
Oph. Tis breefe my Lord.
Ham. As womans loue.

None of the versions say anything about Claudius' reaction to the dumb-show, and I can find nothing else to indicate whether Ophelia's uncertainty about its meaning is shared by Claudius. But considering it with Hamlet's comments about his father and mother, it must be clear that the dumb-show is, at least, about Gertrude marrying Claudius after King Hamlet's death. And I take Claudius' presence as prima facie evidence that he did see the dumb-show.

Enter King and Queene.
King. Full thirtie times hath Phebus cart gone round
Quee. O confound the rest,
Such loue must needes be treason in my brest,
In second husband let me be accurst,
None wed the second, but who kild the first.
Ham. That's wormwood [2050]

I'm not yet sure what to make of Hamet's comment here, but it doesn't have much to do with Claudius anyway, and the play doesn't show Baptista as having anything to do with the murder.
Quee. The instances that second marriage moue
Sleepe rock thy braine,
And neuer come mischance betweene vs twaine. Exeunt.
Ham. Madam, how like you this play?
Quee. The Lady doth protest too much mee thinks.
Ham. O but shee'le keepe her word.
So far, the play's dialogue and Hamlet's comments have all been about Gertrude's marriages.
King. Haue you heard the argument? is there no offence in't? [2100]
Ham. No, no, they do but iest, poyson in iest, no offence i'th world.

Note that there has been no mention of poisoning yet - it has only appeared in the dumb-show. I take this as Hamlet provoking Claudius.
King. What doe you call the play?
Ham. The Mousetrap, mary how tropically, this play is the Image
of a murther doone in Vienna, Gonzago is the Dukes name, his wife

Jenkins, in his Arden edition, says that the play probably was based on a true story, the murder of the Duke of Urbino, a 'famous soldier', by his wife's kinsman in 1538. I haven't chased down the sources he cites, though I probably will try to soon. In the play, the Duke and Duchess have been changed to King and Queen, presumably to fit better with King Hamlet, Claudius, and Gertrude. The name Shakespeare uses for the King/Duke, Gonzago, was the name of the accused murderer. And the name Shakespeare uses for the murderer, Lucianus, is one letter away from an anagram of Claudius. I'm not sure of the significance of this name switch, murderer becoming victim. It may not have even been Shakespeare's change but a change by his source, if there was one, as Hamlet soon claims (the story is extant, and written in very choice Italian). It's clear though that Hamlet didn't make the change, since he earlier asked the Player King to play The Murder of Gonzago. (BTW, the Duchess' name was Leonora not Baptista. There was another Duchess of Urbino named Battista, for what it's worth.)
It does at least seem significant that Hamlet tells Claudius that the play is an image of a real murder and now calls it The Mousetrap.

you shall see anon, tis a knauish peece of worke, but what of
that ? your Maiestie, and wee that haue free soules, it touches vs not,
let the gauled Iade winch, our withers are vnwrong. This is one Lu- [2110]
cianus, Nephew to the King.

Every version agrees on Hamlet calling Lucianus 'nephew to the King'. I'll try not to confuse anyone here, myself included. Hamlet just called the play's King a Duke (Gonzago is the Dukes name). This may be a mistake, or Hamlet may be referring to the real story. Q1 doesn't help much:
Ham. Mouse-trap: mary how trapically: this play is
The image of a murder done in guyana, Albertus
Was the Dukes name, his wife Baptista

'guyana' could just be a mishearing of Vienna. I don't know yet whether Albertus was the real Duke's name. And since Q1 calls the play's King and Queen 'Duke and Dutchesse' in the scene directions and headings, the 'Duke' part doesn't make it any clearer whether this was a mistake or reference to the real story. Of course, Q1 is considered a bad quarto - and for good reason, IMO, so I'm not giving it too much weight anyway. So...
Hamlet now calling Lucianus the nephew to the King may also be a mistake or reference to the real story (I don't know whether the real murderer was the Duke's nephew - just a kinsman of the Duchess). But notice that Hamlet doesn't say 'nephew to the Duke', as you would expect if he were referring to the real story. This too could be a mistake. It could also be Shakespeare or Hamlet intentionally mixing fiction with reality, as would be most fitting given the situation. And since I can't think of anything to support 'nephew to the King' being a mistake and it fits with and adds meaning to Hamlet, I'm inclined to believe that Shakespeare did it intentionally. But I don't think nephew appears anywhere else in Hamlet; Hamlet is called Claudius' cousin or son. I'll have to check on this as well.
Hamlet identifying the murderer as nephew to the King suggests that Hamlet is also identifying himself as the murderer of the (current) King. I think this is the source of the idea that Hamlet is threatening Claudius, as is hinted at in several places and later made explicit by Claudius when talking to Laertes:
King. ...Sith you haue heard and with a knowing eare,
That he which hath your noble father slaine [3010]
Pursued my life.
Laer. It well appeares...

This may have been a rumor that Claudius started himself; it may have been everyone's interpretation of the play; it may have come, in part or in whole, from Hamlet killing Polonius. I haven't found anything to clearly decide this yet - still something to think about. But back to the play...

Enter Lucianus.
Oph. You are as good as a Chorus my Lord.
Ham. I could interpret betweene you and your loue
If I could see the puppets dallying.
Oph. You are keene my lord, you are keene.
Ham. It would cost you a groning to take off mine edge.
Oph. Still better and worse.
Ham. So you mistake your husbands. Beginne murtherer, leaue [2120]
thy damnable faces and begin, come, the croking Rauen doth bellow
for reuenge.

Who is the croaking raven bellowing for revenge? If Lucianus is only meant to represent Claudius, this doesn't make any sense as a reference to Lucianus - Claudius didn't kill King Hamlet for revenge and has nothing at all to avenge. If Lucianus is meant to represent only Hamlet, the nephew and revenge parts make sense - Hamlet is a croaking raven (in his suit of sables) seeking revenge - but in the rest of the play, Lucianus is clearly meant to represent Claudius. So Hamlet could just be talking about himself and not Lucianus. But then the remark seems unmotivated and out of place - it's just puzzling - why then is it even there? I think it makes sense that the remark does refer to Lucianus and Lucianus is meant to represent both Hamlet and Claudius, murderer becoming victim, victim becoming murderer/revenger. I am becoming convinced that Lucianus is playing a dual role: He represents Claudius killing King Hamlet and Hamlet killing Claudius. Hamlet is using the play to find out whether Claudius is guilty, and if Claudius is, to tell him that Hamlet knows what he did and is going to avenge his father. I think Hamlet does a similar thing with Pyrrhus. Duality is a theme running all through Hamlet. And when Hamlet tries to kill Claudius but kills Polonius instead, he fulfills this dual role of Lucianus, as he later acknowledges to Horatio:
Ham. ...but I am very sorry good Horatio,
That to Laertes I forgot my selfe; [3580]
For by the image of my Cause, I see
The Portraiture of his;

Ham. beleeue mee, it greeues mee much Horatio,
That to Leartes I forgot my selfe: [3580]
For by my selfe me thinkes I feele his griefe,
Though there's a difference in each others wrong.

So granted, Hamlet and Claudius are not being equated here; They are similar but not the same. Sorry, I realize this is a bit hectic - I'm still trying to sort out everything myself.

Luc. Thoughts black, hands apt, drugges fit, and time agreeing,
Considerat season els no creature seeing,
Thou mixture ranck, of midnight weedes collected,
VVith Hecats ban thrice blasted, thrice inuected,
Thy naturall magicke, and dire property,
On wholsome life vsurps immediatly. [2130]
Ham. A poysons him i'th Garden for his estate, his names Gonza-
go, the story is extant, and written in very choice Italian, you shall see
anon how the murtherer gets the loue of Gonzagoes wife.
Oph. The King rises.
Quee. How fares my Lord?
Pol. Giue ore the play.
King. Giue me some light, away. [2140]
Pol. Lights, lights, lights.

Ham. He poysons him i'th'Garden for's estate: His
name's Gonzago: the Story is extant and writ in choyce
Italian. You shall see anon how the Murtherer gets the
loue of Gonzago's wife.
Ophe. The King rises.
Ham. What, frighted with false fire.
Qu. How fares my Lord?
Pol. Giue o're the Play.
King. Giue me some Light. Away. [2140]
All. Lights, Lights, Lights.

Ham. He poysons him for his estate.
King Lights, I will to bed. [2140]
Cor. The king rises, lights hoe.

Ugh, I think I need to sort out some other things before I attack this part - there are so many things in these few lines, I don't know where to begin. The first question: When does Claudius rise?

Does anyone see any problems or solutions? Have an answer to when, how, and why Hamlet and Claudius change their minds? Did anyone even read this?