Joan Wolf/Revising Shakespeare
In Joan Wolf's The Counterfeit Marriage, Catherine challenges her husband's reluctance to try to solve the political problems arising from betrayals during the war by obliquely beginning with Hamlet. She describes the plot and all the wrongs Hamlet faces and then asks her husband what Hamlet does about it:
Allandale was looking at her steadily, "Nothing."
Her strategy not only provokes her husband of convenience into re-examining his responses to the situation after the war, but her insight into his dilemma also prompts his long delayed discovery that she know him better than anyone and that he loves her, though he did not realize it. Although the relation to the love plot is indirect in this second example, in both cases Hamlet's inactivity are invoked as obstacles within the hero's character.
"Precisely," she said. "Confronted by evil, he does nothing. He laments
the state of the world-- 'an unweeded garden' he calls it, 'things rank
and gross in nature possess it merely.' He contemplates suicide. And
what does all this bellyaching get him?"
"He got exactly what he wanted," Allandale spoke harshly. "Death."
"Yes, Hamlet was satisfied. But what," she leaned forward in her chair,
"what about Denmark, James? What did he do for them?"
Allandale rose from his chair and paced to the window. With his back to
her, he said, "I hardly think this is the time of night to be discussing
"I wasn't discussing Hamlet," she returned. "And you know it" (95-96).
Such brief Shakespearean references offer fledgling interpretations or reinterpretations of Shakespeare's plays as part of the communication strategies of romance. In a similar way, Joan Wolf offers a scathing critique of Shakespeare's Richard III as one of the first points of argument between Valentine and Diccon in Fool's Masquerade:
"Richard the Third, Valentine, is the most bitterly wronged king in all of
The Earl then picks apart Shakespeare's sources, argues the logic of killing the two princes whil leaving Clarence's son's alive, and points out Henry's actions after Richard died. His devotion to the slandered but historically heroic Richard persists throughout the novel and her agreement with his reinterpretation shows his influence on Valentine.
Incidental Shakespeare, by novel / Reference List by Play / Return to: Rewriting Shakespeare
I held his gaze. "I only know about him from Shakespeare."
His mouth twisted. "You and everyone else. Crookback Richard, villain,
usurper, murderer. And none of it is true"(66).