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Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: June ::
Re: Hamlet's First Soliloquy
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0558.  Wednesday, 22 June 1994.
 
(1)     From:   Christine Mack Gordon <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 21 Jun 1994 09:25:21 -0500
        Subj:   Hamlet's first soliloquy
 
(2)     From:   Paul Hawkins <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 21 Jun 1994 16:19:39 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0550  Re: Hamlet's First Soliloquy
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Christine Mack Gordon <
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Date:           Tuesday, 21 Jun 1994 09:25:21 -0500
Subject:        Hamlet's first soliloquy
 
Some very preliminary thoughts: Hamlet has been home from Witteberg for two
months; he came home, presumably, for his father's funeral. He was, according
to his own and others' report, devastated by his father's death. Sunk in gloom
and grief, he may not have been paying careful attention to what was going on
around him, i.e. any indication that Gertrude and Claudius might be developing
a relationship (or, indeed, continuing one that had developed earlier). Mom's
wedding comes as another major blow to his "image" of his family-- he starts to
pay attention; he begins to suspect that all is not well ("it is not, nor it
cannot come to good"), but has no real proof at this point beyond his own
feelings about the events, and he may not be sure he can trust those. Enter the
ghost and possible "evidence" to confirm his suspicions.
 
This all goes to prove just how drastically things change (or appear to change)
at home once you've gone off to college (ask any freshman of your
acquaintance). Apologies to those who don't like discussing characters as if
they were real people, but there it is. Happy solstice to all! --Chris Gordon
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Paul Hawkins <
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Date:           Tuesday, 21 Jun 1994 16:19:39 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 5.0550  Re: Hamlet's First Soliloquy
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0550  Re: Hamlet's First Soliloquy
 
Though Hamlet holds his tongue temporarily at the approach of he knows not
whom, he lets it go again, introducing the subject that disturbs him early on
in his scene with Horatio and in the presence of Marcellus and Barnardo.  He
does so indirectly--"I prithee do not mock me, fellow student,/I think it was
to see my mother's wedding"--and then says rather grandly, "Would I had met my
dearest foe in heaven/ Or ever I had seen that [the wedding] day, Horatio."
Perhaps what's motivating his actions is his shame, shame for his mother's
actions--as well as for his womanish sensibility, as Robert O'Connor writes.
 
Hamlet silences himself, and yet he loves to talk, as William Godshalk
observes, and even about the distressing subject, but only if he can achieve
some distance from it, through witty solicitations of other people's reactions
or through poised pronouncements.
 
Paul Hawkins
 

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