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Home :: Archive :: 1996 :: December ::
Re: Tone of "Madam"
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, SHK 7.0942.  Friday, 13 December 1996.

(1)     From:   Kelly A. Malone <
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        Date:   Thursday, 12 Dec 1996 22:25:12 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0936  Q: Tone of "Madam"

(2)     From:   David Evett <R0870%
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        Date:   Thursday, 12 Dec 1996 23:10 ET
        Subj:   SHK 7.0936  Q: Tone of "Madam"


(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Kelly A. Malone <
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Date:           Thursday, 12 Dec 1996 22:25:12 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 7.0936  Q: Tone of "Madam"
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0936  Q: Tone of "Madam"

In "The Family, Sex, and Marriage in England 1500-1800," Lawrence Stone writes
that "early seventeenth-century convention [for modes of address from children
to parents] was stiff, formal, and deferential, parents being addressed as
'Sir' and 'Madam'"(260).  Of course, Hamlet is a rather old child, but the
conventional mode of address might still stick.

Kelly Malone

(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Evett <R0870%
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Date:           Thursday, 12 Dec 1996 23:10 ET
Subject: Q: Tone of "Madam"
Comment:        SHK 7.0936  Q: Tone of "Madam"

You could always start with the concordances; Spevack records 526 uses of the
term in 32 plays.  Not surprisingly, there is a rough correlation between the
number of uses per play and the relative importance in each play of the women
of rank to whom the word is normally addressed; thus there are lots of them in
_AWW_ (the Countess) and _Ant_ (Cleopatra), none at all in _Wiv_ and _1H4_.
Some of them, like Capulet's to Juliet as he is raging at her attempt to escape
marriage to Paris, are ironic; but the great majority merely indicate the
respect due to age, station, and motherhood.  I have not taken time to work out
whether the word is more likely to occur in relatively public situations, such
as the one in _Ham_ 1.2,than in tetes a tetes; it may be worth notice that
although the word occurs a round dozen times in the Riverside text of _Ham_,
including 3 others in 1.2 (twice by Hamlet, once by Claudius), there are none
in the closet scene.

Concordantly,
Dave Evett
 

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