Why is Polonius Killed?

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dulcinea
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Why is Polonius Killed?

Post by dulcinea » Wed Nov 25, 2009 6:49 pm

Sure he is a fussy and somewhat ridiculous old man, but I can't understand why he has to be killed.
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Re: Why is Polonius Killed?

Post by John F » Wed Nov 25, 2009 8:14 pm

I guess the question is, why does Hamlet stab the person hiding behind the arras, who turns out to be Polonius. Hamlet believes the eavesdropper is Claudius:

Is it the king?...

Thou wretched, rash, intruding fool, farewell!
I took thee for thy better...

Who else would it be, in Claudius's bedroom? And it's Claudius whom Hamlet feels himself obliged to kill, in revenge for his father's murder. If Hamlet had seen that the spy was Polonius, he wouldn't have killed him.
dulcinea wrote:I can't understand why he has to be killed
An odd way of putting it. Since Polonius's death is an accident resulting from mistaken identity, he doesn't have to be killed at all. Or do you mean what dramatic purpose the death serves, why it's necessary to the play? Polonius's murder shows that Hamlet really is decided on killing Claudius, despite all his wavering, and capable of doing it. As for the plot, Polonius's murder brings on Ophelia's madness and death, and it also brings Laertes back to Denmark, setting up the final scene with the duel in which nearly everybody dies.
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Re: Why is Polonius Killed?

Post by jbuck919 » Wed Nov 25, 2009 9:00 pm

What's interesting (I've discussed this with English teachers) is how hard it is to get teenagers reading the play for the first time to understand that this is a horrible crime, made worse by Hamlet's lack of remorse. They think that because Polonius was a garrulous old eavesdropper whom Hamlet found tiresome and inferior he deserves to die. They don't get complexities like the generally non-villainous hero in effect committing murder.

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Re: Why is Polonius Killed?

Post by John F » Thu Nov 26, 2009 4:14 am

Yes, Hamlet really doesn't give a damn, does he? He then conceals the body - "I'll lug the guts into the neighbor room" - for no apparent reason. This is one scene in which Hamlet may actually be out of his mind, or nearly, not just pretending. Certainly the balance of his mind is disturbed, as the expression goes. The whole speech, ending the scene:

There's letters seal'd; and my two schoolfellows,
Whom I will trust as I will adders fang'd,
They bear the mandate; they must sweep my way
And marshal me to knavery. Let it work;
For 'tis the sport to have the enginer
Hoist with his own petar; and ' shall go hard
But I will delve one yard below their mines
And blow them at the moon. O, 'tis most sweet
When in one line two crafts directly meet.
This man shall set me packing:
I'll lug the guts into the neighbour room.
Mother, good night. Indeed, this counsellor
Is now most still, most secret, and most grave,
Who was in life a foolish prating knave.
Come, sir, to draw toward an end with you.
Good night, mother.

So much for Polonius. And for Rosencrantz and Gildenstern, whom Hamlet will soon send to their deaths. That these characters are made fun of in the play doesn't make Hamlet's final dealings with them any less shocking.
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Re: Why is Polonius Killed?

Post by jbuck919 » Thu Nov 26, 2009 8:39 am

John F wrote:Yes, Hamlet really doesn't give a damn, does he? He then conceals the body - "I'll lug the guts into the neighbor room" - for no apparent reason. This is one scene in which Hamlet may actually be out of his mind, or nearly, not just pretending. Certainly the balance of his mind is disturbed, as the expression goes. The whole speech, ending the scene:

There's letters seal'd; and my two schoolfellows,
Whom I will trust as I will adders fang'd,
They bear the mandate; they must sweep my way
And marshal me to knavery. Let it work;
For 'tis the sport to have the enginer
Hoist with his own petar; and ' shall go hard
But I will delve one yard below their mines
And blow them at the moon. O, 'tis most sweet
When in one line two crafts directly meet.
This man shall set me packing:
I'll lug the guts into the neighbour room.
Mother, good night. Indeed, this counsellor
Is now most still, most secret, and most grave,
Who was in life a foolish prating knave.
Come, sir, to draw toward an end with you.
Good night, mother.

So much for Polonius. And for Rosencrantz and Gildenstern, whom Hamlet will soon send to their deaths. That these characters are made fun of in the play doesn't make Hamlet's final dealings with them any less shocking.
Kenneth Branagh does a wonderful job with the horrific prolongation of the bedroom scene (Hamlet says "good night" to his mother five times).

Another aspect of that scene (as well as others) that is pretty much lost on modern audiences involves form of address. Hamlet consistently says "you" to his mother, but she wavers back and forth between "you" and "thou." Similarly, Horatio not only says "you" to Hamlet throughout but invariably addresses him as "my lord." The one exception is when Hamlet dies ("Good night, sweet prince, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.").

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Brendan

Re: Why is Polonius Killed?

Post by Brendan » Sun Nov 29, 2009 4:17 pm

It is the scene where Hamlet reveals his true colours, and his bloated opinion of himself shown to be nothing but the self-justification of callous vanity. He lacks or has discarded true honour for his inflated sense of self, and shows it, gloating over the impending deaths of his "friends" to boot - and condemns himself in this and the subsequent scenes with Laertes at Ophelia's grave. Who is the real "foolish prating knave" in the scene?

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Re: Why is Polonius Killed?

Post by Tarantella » Mon Jul 09, 2012 1:33 am

I've just stumbled across this old thread and will make a couple of comments.

Today we might say that Hamlet has Narcissistic Personality Disorder, which is characterized by self-absorption, egomania and lack of empathy - as well as grandiosity, emotional immaturity and failure to take responsibility. All the hallmarks are there for Hamlet and, though this would not have been formally identified as a 'personality disorder' in Elizabethan England, I think it's very existence in Hamlet provides one explanation for his inability to act on his (late) father's instructions. The whole text is peppered with the tell-tale first person, "I", "me", "my" - indicative of ego-centrism - and even Horatio accuses Hamlet of "thinking too precisely on the event". These people cannot act - they merely behave like 'drama queens', and the lack of empathy is front and centre. See how he treats Polonius, R&G and Ophelia with complete disdain - you see, it's really all about HIM. And when Laertes is grieving over Ophelia, Hamlet wants to show that he's the more aggrieved and throws himself into the grave in a theatrical flourish. This is where I became really suspicious!!
It's funny; as you get older you become less sympathetic with some of your youthful Shakespearean heroes! As for Othello - let's not go there!!

Just saying...

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Re: Why is Polonius Killed?

Post by jbuck919 » Mon Jul 09, 2012 3:02 pm

Tarantella wrote:Today we might say that Hamlet has Narcissistic Personality Disorder, which is characterized by self-absorption, egomania and lack of empathy - as well as grandiosity, emotional immaturity and failure to take responsibility.
I knew someone like that in grad school. The other thing about them is that they need at least one Horatio. :)

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Re: Why is Polonius Killed?

Post by Tarantella » Mon Jul 09, 2012 5:36 pm

Another sad thing about them is that they cannot handle intimacy and, therefore, seldom have friends. Horatio was ultimately no use to Hamlet because Hamlet wouldn't listen. The idealistic Horatio loved his friend and could see his flaws: for me, this character is the real 'hero' of the play. And that gratuitious last speech of Hamlet's:

"Had I but time..." - even at the end it's still all about him and he wants to tell his "story". At least there is a kind of apology, but too little too late ("that I have shot my arrow oe'r my house and hurt my brother")

Same with Othello, "think of one who loved not wisely but too well". But wait: there are dead bodies everywhere, including your virtuous wife and it's still all about you. Give me a break.

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Re: Why is Polonius Killed?

Post by jbuck919 » Mon Jul 09, 2012 5:49 pm

Tarantella wrote:Another sad thing about them is that they cannot handle intimacy and, therefore, seldom have friends. Horatio was ultimately no use to Hamlet because Hamlet wouldn't listen. The idealistic Horatio loved his friend and could see his flaws: for me, this character is the real 'hero' of the play. And that gratuitious last speech of Hamlet's:
Yet Shakespeare goes out of his way, as he does many times in that play to prevent any simplistic conclusions about Hamlet's character, to allow Hamlet an expression of genuine friendship and admiration for Horatio, entirely gratuitous to the progress of the play but at least partially defining for the relationship between the two.

Since my dear soul was mistress of her choice,
And could of men distinguish her election,
Sh'hath seal'd thee for herself. For thou hast been
As one, in suff'ring all, that suffers nothing;
A man that Fortune's buffets and rewards
Hast ta'en with equal thanks; and blest are those
Whose blood and judgment are so well commeddled
That they are not a pipe for Fortune's finger
To sound what stop she please. Give me that man
That is not passion's slave, and I will wear him
In my heart's core, ay, in my heart of heart,
As I do thee.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Re: Why is Polonius Killed?

Post by Tarantella » Mon Jul 09, 2012 6:27 pm

Magnificent words, but I don't believe a word of it!! I don't think mine is a simplistic interpretation - just one based on life experience and a fair bit of cynicism about peoples' motives. There's always a conflict between what Hamlet SAYS and what he actually does and I wonder if that isn't a deliberate strategy on the part of Shakespeare to alert us to those character contradictions, if you like? And that extract is 2 lines short of a full sonnet; i.e. without the 'sting' of the last couplet!!

Don't think I dislike Shakespeare - I adore his plays and particularly his language. I just think that the language is more powerful and BETTER than the characters who speak them, is all. I love the language and character of Marc Antony, "my heart is in the coffin there with Caesar and I must pause till it comes back to me". Magnificent!!

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Re: Why is Polonius Killed?

Post by lennygoran » Thu Jul 12, 2012 8:25 am

Tarantella wrote: But wait: there are dead bodies everywhere, including your virtuous wife and it's still all about you. Give me a break.
Well at least with Verdi's Otello you get great music and great arias! Regards, Len :)

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Re: Why is Polonius Killed?

Post by Tarantella » Thu Jul 12, 2012 6:36 pm

Don't misunderstand me: the language is unbelievable poetry. I just don't think it belongs in Othello's mouth - he forfeited the right to be called "poetic" by allowing himself to be manipulated by a narcissistic Iago and he strangled a gorgeous wife on the flimsiest of evidence - ergo, he was a misogynist. So, I don't "fall" for the poetry, as I once did was when I was young, to make me 'believe' the central character was 'better' than he behaved (they're mostly 'he', aren't they?). When I wrote this (at 35) in a major paper the Professor was horrified and he, too, accused me of being simplistic and making generalizations. But as I've grown older one of the few benefits of that :lol: is a certain clarity of thinking (about people and their motivations) and my Shakespearean comments are evidence of that - and I stick by this.

Operatic Shakespeare - now that's something else because we have music front and centre.

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Re: Why is Polonius Killed?

Post by John F » Fri Jul 13, 2012 3:04 am

Othello's eloquence is an essential part of his character. It's his eloquence that won Desdemona's love and swayed the Venetian Senate - his claim, "rude am I in my speech," is just a rhetorical ploy - and Shakespeare takes pains to emphasize it by contrast not only with Iago but the other characters in the play. The "unbelievable poetry" does indeed "belong in Othello's mouth." It's who he is, and at the end, when he's lost everything else, it's all he has left.

But Tarantella is right not to equate the heightened poetic rhetoric of Othello's speech with heightened moral character or insight or wisdom. He learns nothing from what he has done and gone through; the eulogy he wants, as "one who loved not wisely but too well," flatters himself. This is true to life, we all know people whose talk is more impressive and persuasive than their character. As so often, Shakespeare holds the mirror up to nature.
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Re: Why is Polonius Killed?

Post by Tarantella » Fri Jul 13, 2012 3:43 am

And thank YOU for that eloquent contribution. The frisson one gets from reading or listening to great words is, for me, equal to the experience of Bach or Beethoven. In the case of either man I wonder how in the name of the gods anybody develops that kind of divine gift?

This is a tangential comment: years ago I remember reading a retrospective on Buster Keaton, written by Richard Corliss in "Time" magazine. He spoke of Keaton as an artist "born fully grown". I've never forgotten that strikingly apposite description and I think we can certainly say the same about Shakespeare: there's no sign of a process of 'development'.

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Re: Why is Polonius Killed?

Post by John F » Fri Jul 13, 2012 4:48 am

Well, you know how much I hate to disagree with people. :wink: But Shakespeare's style definitely did develop, and has been analyzed into three Beethovenian periods - early, middle, and late. Frank Kermode describes Shakespeare's style after "Julius Caesar" as a "toughening and gnarling of language, accompanied by a new freedom and variety of metaphor and a more rugged pentameter... In 'Coriolanus' we have this lexical and syntactic habit in its full maturity: stubborn repetition, free association, violent ellipses; in short, a prevailing ruggedness of tone."

As for early Shakespeare, the histories mostly excepted, the language is often florid and rhetorically show-offy. When Romeo and Juliet meet, they converse in the form of a perfect Italian sonnet. That's on the way out in "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and gone by "The Merchant of Venice." Kermode observes, "It's safe to say that at the time he wrote 'Titus Andronicus' he simply lacked the means to do, or even envisage, what he achieved later."

There's also a progression of genre, with history plays ("reality theatre") dominating the early work, the great tragedies the middle period, and the romances - which deliberately flout the dramatic unities and even basic plausibility - at the close.

Can we think of any artist at all, with a career of any length, whose art did not develop so that at the end it was significantly different from at the beginning? Buster Keaton, perhaps, if Corliss says so (is that what he means?), and maybe Mendelssohn, though that may do him an injustice. Who else?
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Re: Why is Polonius Killed?

Post by Tarantella » Fri Jul 13, 2012 5:47 am

Orson Welles. Yes, that's what Corliss means.

And points taken about the studies of Frank Kermode; you obviously have a comprehensive understanding of this. But I'll bet there would be other academics who disagree. Harold Bloom? Careers are forged on this kind of argument.

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Re: Why is Polonius Killed?

Post by John F » Fri Jul 13, 2012 7:10 am

I'd be interested in what Bloom might have to say about Shakespeare's development, but I don't have his book. Can you or someone else here contribute that?

As a onetime English major and editor of college English textbooks and anthologies, I have my own opinions, and I quoted Kermode not only because he knows his stuff but because he sensibly agrees with me. :) But if I can find another author who believes Shakespeare didn't develop, I'll post that. Lots of stuff about Shakespeare in my library to choose from, and then there's the performing arts library where I work. Maybe they'll have Bloom on Shakespeare in their circulating books so I can just take it down from the shelf and have a look.
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Re: Why is Polonius Killed?

Post by Tarantella » Fri Jul 13, 2012 8:21 am

Your earlier comment about Romeo and Juliet conversing in the form of a kind of sonnet. These were young lovers and 'flowery' language and idealism would have suited them. I thought the language glorious but, again, much of it was way beyond them in years and experience. They just weren't that 'ripe'. Ironically, it was Stephen Sondheim who has expressed regret for his 'purple prose' in "West Side Story", when we know Shakespeare was well capable of doing the same and nobody regretted that!!

I presume one can only be a one-time English major if 'one' has gone on to post-grad and read something else. I am a 'permanent' English post-grad!! But I also have an undergrad major in Musicology. My library is nothing like that of yours, but I have lots of books on music, composers, music history, and also dozens on film genres, technique and directors. Another passion!

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Re: Why is Polonius Killed?

Post by John F » Fri Jul 13, 2012 9:10 am

Tarantella wrote:Romeo and Juliet conversing in the form of a kind of sonnet
It's not a kind of sonnet, it's a real sonnet, and like Shakespeare's sonnets published under his own name, it develops an extended metaphor. Courtly and artificial in every way - no two people, and certainly not two teenaged lovers-to-be, ever introduced themselves like this:

ROMEO: If I profane with my unworthiest hand
This holy shrine, the gentle fine is this:
My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand
To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss.

JULIET: Good pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much,
Which mannerly devotion shows in this;
For saints have hands that pilgrims' hands do touch,
And palm to palm is holy palmers' kiss.

ROMEO: Have not saints lips, and holy palmers too?
JULIET: Ay, pilgrim, lips that they must use in prayer.
ROMEO: O, then, dear saint, let lips do what hands do;
They pray, grant thou, lest faith turn to despair.

JULIET: Saints do not move, though grant for prayers' sake.
ROMEO: Then move not, while my prayer's effect I take.

End of sonnet. Kiss. And then Romeo begins another sonnet, but Juliet has had enough and brings him down to earth with a thump at the end of the first quatrain, and Shakespeare comments through her on the bookish nature of their meeting:

ROMEO: Thus from my lips, by yours, my sin is purged.
JULIET: Then have my lips the sin that they have took.
ROMEO: Sin from thy lips? O trespass sweetly urged!
Give me my sin again.
JULIET: You kiss by the book.

This is the kind of thing young Shakespeare put into his early plays. While the later ones have set pieces too, they aren't as overtly and showily literary as this.
Tarantella wrote:I presume one can only be a one-time English major if 'one' has gone on to post-grad and read something else.
Nope, just a bachelor's degree in English. Of course I've always continued to read, but not to study for credit, so I'm an English major no longer. It's nice to be paid for one's post-graduate work instead of having to pay for it!
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Re: Why is Polonius Killed?

Post by Tarantella » Fri Jul 13, 2012 9:23 am

Indeed, it is a real sonnet and magnificent at that. I love the speech about (paraphrasing) 'cutting him into little stars so all the world will be in love with night". Stephen Sondheim said, "tonight the world is just an address, a place for me to live in, no better than alright" and HE was worried about purple prose!!

PS: I'm old enough to remember Zeffirelli's (circa 1968) film production and that scene, in particular, was especially beautiful.

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Re: Why is Polonius Killed?

Post by John F » Fri Jul 13, 2012 1:06 pm

One thing I'd like to ask Shakespeare about, if he logs in to CMG, is that sonnet. What I'd like to ask is, why? Since he isn't taking calls, I'm left to guess. The sonnet serves a dramatic purpose - it shows us what kind of kids Romeo and Juliet are, and how well attuned they are to each other if they can improvise a formally perfect and intricately thought sonnet at first meeting. But there are other ways of showing this which are less artificial and more dramatically efficient.

So I'd like to ask him if he wrote that sonnet just for fun, an act of compositional virtuosity for its own sake which he could expect at least some in his audience to catch on to and enjoy too. Like Verdi ending "Falstaff" with a buffo fugue, quite needless to the opera whose story is over, which he wrote for his own pleasure (that's why he wrote the whole opera) and which audiences always enjoy.
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Re: Why is Polonius Killed?

Post by jbuck919 » Fri Jul 13, 2012 1:44 pm

John F wrote:One thing I'd like to ask Shakespeare about, if he logs in to CMG, is that sonnet. What I'd like to ask is, why? Since he isn't taking calls, I'm left to guess. The sonnet serves a dramatic purpose - it shows us what kind of kids Romeo and Juliet are, and how well attuned they are to each other if they can improvise a formally perfect and intricately thought sonnet at first meeting.
There are other points in the play (and I suppose not only in this play, but here it is notable because of the age of the characters) where elevated language shifts abruptly to very ordinary discourse.

JULIET: Thou knowest the mask of night is on my face;
Else would a maiden blush bepaint my cheek
For that which thou hast heard me speak to-night.
Fain would I dwell on form, fain, fain deny
What I have spoke; but farewell compliment!
Dost thou love me? I know thou wilt say ‘Ay’;

Since the archaic "thou" and "ay" lend any phrase a false dignity to modern ears, it does not come across very well, especially to young people reading the play for the first time, that Juliet has interrupted a poetic conceit to speak in the plainest of plain English (and does so without breaking the verse to boot).

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Re: Why is Polonius Killed?

Post by John F » Fri Jul 13, 2012 4:50 pm

That's a point in the sonnet too that most moderns miss, but that the Elizabethans wouldn't have. Juliet properly and modestly addresses Romeo with the formal "you," and when in beginning a second sonnet he addresses her with the intimate "thy," she puts him in his place with "you": "You kiss by the book."

(The kissing is ambiguous. Italians greet each other with kisses even today, and while Romeo obviously has more than the formalities in mind, Juliet apparently does not - not yet.)
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Re: Why is Polonius Killed?

Post by Tarantella » Fri Jul 13, 2012 4:56 pm

John F wrote:One thing I'd like to ask Shakespeare about, if he logs in to CMG, is that sonnet. What I'd like to ask is, why? Since he isn't taking calls, I'm left to guess. The sonnet serves a dramatic purpose - it shows us what kind of kids Romeo and Juliet are, and how well attuned they are to each other if they can improvise a formally perfect and intricately thought sonnet at first meeting. But there are other ways of showing this which are less artificial and more dramatically efficient.

So I'd like to ask him if he wrote that sonnet just for fun, an act of compositional virtuosity for its own sake which he could expect at least some in his audience to catch on to and enjoy too. Like Verdi ending "Falstaff" with a buffo fugue, quite needless to the opera whose story is over, which he wrote for his own pleasure (that's why he wrote the whole opera) and which audiences always enjoy.
Firstly, it's a pleasure to belong to a forum with such knowledgeable people! Secondly, let's not be too 'literal'. When people are in love (granted, not usually 13) they often speak to each other in flowery or poetic tones - some have been known to write poetry to the other!! Also, people don't stand on a stage singing a da capo aria, dressed in period costume, when someone is about to die. Nor do they serenade a woman under her window singing some of the most profound music of Mozart and less profound words by da Ponti. Nor do they ascend to heaven or have a god arrive to greet them, singing. (Not unless under the influence of some kind of substance!)

Shall I go on?
Last edited by Tarantella on Fri Jul 13, 2012 5:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Why is Polonius Killed?

Post by jbuck919 » Fri Jul 13, 2012 5:00 pm

Tarantella wrote:Shall I go on?
No need.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Re: Why is Polonius Killed?

Post by John F » Fri Jul 13, 2012 5:33 pm

Tarantella wrote:let's not be too 'literal'. When people are in love (granted, not usually 13) they often speak to each other in flowery or poetic tones - some have been known to write poetry to the other!!
To write it, yes, and the sonnet was the conventional form for love poems in Shakespeare's time. But as far as I know, this is the only instance in any play, certainly in any play by Shakespeare, in which a passage of dialogue is rigorously composed in a well known closed poetic form such as the sonnet. So it really can't be explained in terms of the dramatic conventions of the times.
Tarantella wrote:Also, people don't stand on a stage singing a da capo aria, dressed in period costume, when someone is about to die. Nor do they serenade a woman under her window singing some of the most profound music of Mozart and less profound words by da Ponti. Nor do they ascend to heaven or have a god arrive to greet them, singing.
Well, Samuel Johnson did define opera as "an exotic and irrational entertainment." :) But the features you've mentioned were once conventions of the genre, common coin, and not striking departures from convention such as Romeo's and Juliet's sonnet. As such, their sonnet deserves special attention and to be "taken literally," rather than glossed over as if it weren't conspicuously special.

(Not that the da capo aria should be exempted from such attention. One author concludes, after a detailed discussion of René Descartes' theory of the emotions and Handel's da capo arias, "Whatever Handelian opera seria may lack in its reflection of your world and mine it more than makes up for by the perfection with which it reflects its own world of Cartesian emotions - a world that is musical to a degree that even the world of 'Figaro' is not." But that's another issue.)
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Re: Why is Polonius Killed?

Post by Tarantella » Fri Jul 13, 2012 6:22 pm

But what about YOUR views, not just those of critics?

"I am two fools, I know, for loving and for saying so in rhyming poetry"!!!

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Re: Why is Polonius Killed?

Post by John F » Sat Jul 14, 2012 8:23 am

I generally post views that I agree with - or if not, then I say why not. I get the impression that if something has been published, especially in a book, you don't want to hear about it. If that's so, then I'm going to be giving you a lot of trouble. :mrgreen:

For example, I've come across this in Marjorie Garber's "Shakespeare After All," an excellent overview of the entire oeuvre and well worth the $20 for its 950 pages.
Marjorie Garber wrote:This is a most unusual sonnet, in that it is spoken by two people, and thus breaks the convention of the love sonnet of the adoring lover who writes of, and to, his beloved because he cannot reach her in person, whether because she is married to someone else, or because she insists (like Rosaline) on remaining chaste, or, as in the case of Petrarch's later sonnets to Laura, because she is dead. "Love's Labour's Lost" offers some especially comic instances of what happens when this convention is broken - when a fretting lover is overheard by his lady as he rehearses or composes his sonnet. In "Romeo and Juliet," by contrast, we have a sonnet that is mutually composed by the two lovers, and moreover, a sonnet that works. It results in a kiss. The sonnet tradition of unattainable or unrequited love is turned inside out, and the artifice of conventional language goes with it. This is love at first sonnet.
Bravo! I couldn't have said it better myself - indeed, I couldn't have said some of it at all. Which is why I quoted it. To post it as if it were my own thinking, whether word for word or in paraphrase, would be dishonest.

Anyway, most of my previous message was pure John F, so your reply, "But what about YOUR views, not just those of critics?", was inappropriate, and indeed not a response at all. So maybe you're just not interested? Or only interested when people agree with you? I don't understand.
John Francis

Tarantella
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Re: Why is Polonius Killed?

Post by Tarantella » Sat Jul 14, 2012 9:10 am

Of course I'm interested - don't be facetious. And I appreciate your quotes from books and I'm glad you agree with them. It is inappropriate for you to suggest I 'don't want to hear about it' when you quote from a text. I admire originality and would like you to disagree, now and again, with a critic if and when that's necessary. As I remarked earlier, I read a lot of texts and found myself disagreeing with a lot of them: they were either arcane or verbose or drawing too long a bow for me. The Othello issue is a case in point. In my essay all those years ago, when I argued that, in fact, Othello WAS a "gull, a dolt" I quoted Rousseau at the end, all about the passions of men and how these become dangerous if not contained. The poor Professor, still wearing his threadbare jacket from decades ago and carrying his sepia notes, wasn't able to deal with anybody thinking outside the square. Pretty soon, JF, I realized that a university was a centrifuge and that ideas merely spun around inside of it. Very disenchanting, but I usually got Distinctions or High Distinctions for most of my work because I put a great deal of thought into it, even though it often challenged the prevailing orthodoxy. For a person like me, the 'orthodoxy' is there to be challenged. (Look, I'm enjoying this discussion!)

Decades ago when I studied Musicology there was a new Professor appointed head of the Music Department. She wanted the line pushed that western classical music was elitist and that Ethnomusicology was more valid because it put 'ethnic' music on an equal values footing with art music. All right so far... Then she started to attack the whole notion of the ritual of concerts, reception of the music, snobbery etc., and I rebelled. She thought she was being impressive, but to this mature age student she wasn't earning any brownie points. I wrote and told her that to attempt to build the stature of a new tradition at the expense of belittling another was futile; that the 'new' subject had to stand on its own two feet. When I arrived 2 or 3 weeks later for the Residential School she asked "Where is Sue? I want to talk to her". She sought me out and demanded an explanation for my ideas. Naturally my thought was "uh oh, I'm going to fail here" but, no, I was going to have it out with her. I told her that I thought her ideas were Political Correctness gone mad and that she'd alienated me because of this. We 'had it out' and finally agreed to disagree and I went on to get excellent grades. So, that's how it is.

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