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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: January ::
Re: A Very Drab
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, SHK 8.0144.  Wednesday, 29 January 1997.

(1)     From:   Patricia Southard Gourlay <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 28 Jan 1997 11:38:57 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0122  Q: A Very Drab

(2)     From:   Don Foster <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 28 Jan 1997 15:23:00 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0122  Q: A Very Drab


(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Patricia Southard Gourlay <
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Date:           Tuesday, 28 Jan 1997 11:38:57 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 8.0122  Q: A Very Drab
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0122  Q: A Very Drab

The whore has no power or status, and no way to respond to wrongs (like abuse
or= being cheated?) except by screaming and cursing. Hamelt could be expressing
both self-contempt and his sense of helplessness.

(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Don Foster <
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Date:           Tuesday, 28 Jan 1997 15:23:00 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 8.0122  Q: A Very Drab
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0122  Q: A Very Drab

Re: Diana Smith's query.

cf.

       "...get thee hence, and pack like a lout.
 *Huf.* Adieu like a whore."  <T. Preston, *Cambises* [1570?]

"Pack, counterfeit, pack away, dissembling drab!" T. Heywood, *Edward IV*,
pt. 2 (pub. 1599);

Prostitutes were (1) forever forced to push off, to change their place of
residence, depending on available houses (hence, in part, pack/unpack/pack
away); (2) and (more importantly here) whores were proverbially temperatmental
shrill of tongue when upset.  Needless to say, Hamlet is having some anxieties
about his masculinity--having a self overfull of words but evidently lacking in
potent virtu.  (Branagh, no Coleridgian thinker or Nietzchean seer, has
remedied that with a Hamlet chock-full of transcendent masculinity.)

As for the question of what a male or female whore or drab is "like," here are
a few representative remarks by male authors:

"*Conscience*. What, Lucar, thou lookest like a whore full of deadly hate."
<Robert Wilson, *The Three Ladies of London* (1584)>

"like a whore in changeable array, / With painted cheeks / And coral lips,..."
<Thomas Moffet, *The Silkeworms and their Flies* (1599)>

"I came running to see them, who like a whore spoils every good thing that
comes into his hand." <T.Dekker, *If It be Not Good* (1612)>

Middleton has a satirical account of an encounter with a gorgeous and
effeminate cross-dressed male drab. See "Ingling Pyander," in T.M., *Six
Snarling Satires* (1599).  Also of interest: John Taylor's, "A Comparison
betwixt a Whore and a Book."

Don Foster
 

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