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The fallacy of authorial intent

Ever notice that Hamlet talks about "the undiscovered country from which no man returns" even though he's just SEEN A FREAKING GHOST? A lot of people argue that Shakespeare had some deep point he was making with that contradiction, but you know what? I think he just made a mistake.

In my writing program my teachers all treat as an axiom the idea that everything that is in a piece of written work was put there with absolute intention by the writer-- if it's in there, they say, it was put there deliberately, for a very definite reason, and therefore should be treated with the appropriate importance. But as a writer, i have to say I find that to be a load of bull. Yes, if it's there, somebody had to write it, but the reasons why they wrote it could be for the dumbest things.

Maybe the writer didn't know what to say at a particular part, so they just said some shit. Maybe they had a really good beginning and really good ending and they needed SOMETHING in there to bridge point A and point B. (I have that one a lot.) Maybe they wrote something that seems prfound and fitting to you but they really just stumbled onto it without realizing how well it worked. (I've had that one too!) Point is, I seriously doubt every single but of every piece is put there because of some deep, totally thought-out and internally-consistent reasoning. 


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 13th, 2013 04:47 am (UTC)
It may be apocryphal, but I always think of William Faulkner's response to all the student essays he received over the years about his short story, "The Bear": "I guess I need to re-read that."

BTW, I don't see it as a contradiction. Calling a friend in California is not the same thing as returning to California. I'm entirely open to Bard-fallibility, but he may simply not have seen the contradiction.
Jun. 13th, 2013 01:23 pm (UTC)
Jun. 13th, 2013 02:40 pm (UTC)
You know, what ever drivel will fill out the meter and if needed, rhyme scheme. I think he'd have slipped in "There once was a man from Nantucket" if he'd known it.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

About Me

My name is Phoebe. I'm Boston area theater professional and English professor focused in writing, acting, directing, and modeling. I'm known for having lots of interests, lots of opinions about those interests, and a very high estimation of the value thereof. This blog is for talking about whatever's on my mind, from my daily life to my activities to musing on any number of abstract topics. Thanks for taking the time to read.

My productions:

Upcoming Productions:

MRS. HAWKING part 2 and 3

at the Watch City Steampunk Festival 2016

presented by The Chameleon's Dish

Vivat Regina
by Phoebe Roberts

at 2PM


Base Instruments
by Phoebe Roberts

at 6PM

Saturday, May 13th 2017
at 274 Moody Street, Waltham, MA

Other Achievements:

"The Tailor at Loring's End" screenplay
Quarter Finalist in the Final Draft Big Break Screenwriting Competition 2013

"Adonis" screenplay
Top Ten Percent in the Bluecat Screenwriting Contest 2015

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April 2017


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