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Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are nevertheless dead: the hypothetical adolescence of Prince Hamlet and the contested remorselessness of young offenders

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journal contribution
posted on 2004-01-01, 00:00 authored by John MorssJohn Morss
A young man stabs a defenceless elderly man to death, and remarks “I’ll lug the guts into the neighbour room.” Martha Grace Duncan has argued that such apparent remorselessness and other forensic features must be interpreted differently in children and young people as compared to adult defendants, because of developmental effects. Professor Duncan discusses a range of fictional as well as real examples in pressing her claim, and also appeals to psychiatric, psychological and psychoanalytic expertise. In order to examine the general validity of her argument, it is hypothesised here that a Duncanian adolescence defense has been presented for Prince Hamlet who, miraculously revived, now stands his trial for murder. It is argued that the “adolescence defense” is unsound in principle and that children and youth (whether or not as superannuated as the Prince of Denmark) should be treated in the same forensic manner as adults. If we respect children and youth, we must respect their autonomy however uncomfortable for us this may be: “So young, my lord, and true.”

History

Journal

University of New England law journal

Volume

1

Issue

2

Pagination

187 - 197

Publisher

University of New England

Location

Armidale, N.S.W.

ISSN

1449-2199

Language

eng

Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2004, University of New England

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