Our Jan. 12th CLE presentation will be by Tom Regnier
Hamlet and the Law of Homicide: The Life of the Mind in Law and Art.
Approved for 1 CLE credit.

  • The author of Hamlet was aware of changes that were occurring in the law of homicide in the late 16th and early 17th centuries, particularly the evolution away from the medieval view of law, which focused entirely on a person’s actions, to the modern view, which also takes into account a person’s state of mind.
  • This legal development paralleled the evolution in Shakespeare’s art: a greater emphasis on the inner life of the character than was seen in earlier literature.
  • This presentation examines the law of homicide and the closely related law of suicide in terms of fact patterns in Shakespeare’s Hamlet: Hamlet’s feigned madness, the killing of Polonius, the duel between Hamlet and Laertes, the use of poison as a tool for murder, Hamlet’s ultimate killing of Claudius (murder or manslaughter?), the death of Ophelia (accident, suicide, or insanity?), and references by the gravediggers to the famous law case Hales v. Pettit.



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