Hamlet Discussion Group

Okay, kiddies, you asked for it.  This space is for you to post whatever questions, comments, ruminations, etc. that you have with respect to Hamlet. Have at it…


~ by Ms. Cox on October 28, 2009.

3 Responses to “Hamlet Discussion Group”

  1. First! So just to start this off, I personally am curious about the whole primogeniture situation in regards to Hamlet as well as the University of Wittenberg, where he attends school and where Martin Luther nailed his 95 Thesis to the church door. Anyone up for some discussion?

  2. Dave, do you remember when we discussed whether Denmark at the time was an absolute monarchy? If I remember correctly we did not know the answer but we suspected that Denmark had a system of absolute monarchy.

    Well, I looked it up and it turns out that up until the year 1665, Denmark had an elected monarch.

    “The monarchy was originally elective, but in practice the election normally fell on the eldest son of the reigning Monarch.”

    “The succession, which was based on the principle of male primogeniture, was laid down in the Royal Decree of 1665”


    Therefore we can assume that Claudius was elected by the Danish nobility. Hamlet lost the crown through a relatively democratic means. (I would call it aristocratic since only the nobility voted)

    It is Hamlets own fault that he did not get the crown. Instead of staying up to date on Danish politics and gaining the favour of his nobles, he was having fun and “studying” out west.

  3. I’m glad that this conversation has come up, and I hope that others will read what David and Soma are discussing. I just felt the need to add some thoughts, so here goes…

    It won’t be until Act V, scene ii when Hamlet will tell the audience that Claudius “popped in between the election and my hopes/Thrown out his angle for my proper life” (5.2.64-65). These lines are the only lines in the play where the audience finds out that (the scholar) Hamlet had his eye on the crown. As you note, Soma, it wasn’t until 1665 that Denmark instituted hereditary monarchy, and so a it was the nobles and court officials who voted the next king. Shakespeare, of course, is not interested in telling us why the nobles chose Claudius over Hamlet. You state that Hamlet “was having fun and ‘studying’ out west” as the main reason for his inability to be a worthy candidate for Hamlet Sr.’s throne. You might also consider that Claudius might have actively campaigned for the kingship, wooing the nobles in a similar manner to how he wooed Gertrude. (We already know that he is a powerful and convincing statesman). The nobles might also have considered Hamlet to be too young or too inexperienced (although personally I suspect the latter here, as he is in his his twenties, presumably, when his father was murdered. Kings and Queens much younger than twenty ascended the throne.)

    This is mostly me just thinking out loud. Other ideas??

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