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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: March ::
Re: Hamlet's Age
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.0376  Friday, 5 March 1999.

[1]     From:   E. H. Pearlman <
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        Date:   Thursday, 04 Mar 1999 09:23:51 -0700 (MST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0363 Re: Hamlet's Age

[2]     From:   David Evett <
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        Date:   Thursday, 04 Mar 1999 17:48:42 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0363 Re: Hamlet's Age

[3]     From:   Drew Whitehead <
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        Date:   Friday, 5 Mar 1999 10:09:37 +1000 (GMT+1000)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0363 Re: Hamlet's Age

[4]     From:   Hardy M. Cook <
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        Date:   Friday, 5 Mar 1999 09:28:10 -0500
        Subj:   Re:  SHK 10.045 Re: Hamlet's Age


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           E. H. Pearlman <
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Date:           Thursday, 04 Mar 1999 09:23:51 -0700 (MST)
Subject: 10.0363 Re: Hamlet's Age
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0363 Re: Hamlet's Age

Why is it so difficult to acknowledge that Hamlet is student age (20 or
so) when the play begins but 30 by the time it concludes?  E. Pearlman

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Evett <
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Date:           Thursday, 04 Mar 1999 17:48:42 -0500
Subject: 10.0363 Re: Hamlet's Age
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0363 Re: Hamlet's Age

Matters like marriage age are hard to pin down because the data are
scattered and unreliable, and they vary according to location and
status.  Lawrence Stone has stuff in both The Crisis of the Aristocracy
and Marriage and the Family, and though the younger generation of social
historians urges us to read him with large chunks of salt he is still a
useful source.

David Evett

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Drew Whitehead <
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Date:           Friday, 5 Mar 1999 10:09:37 +1000 (GMT+1000)
Subject: 10.0363 Re: Hamlet's Age
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0363 Re: Hamlet's Age

Personally I have to admit that the Q1 reading of Hamlet's age does seem
the more likely to me, however, Q1 aside the F1 and Q2 readings are the
ones that I prefer for they make Hamlet, like me, a mature-age student.
The difficulties of completing a Ph.D. on minimal income with three
small children to support seem trivial compared to Hamlet's problems
(fictional thought they are) and I take some small measure of comfort in
that.

Drew Whitehead

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Hardy M. Cook <
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Date:           Friday, 5 Mar 1999 09:28:10 -0500
Subject: 10.045 Re: Hamlet's Age
Comment:        Re:  SHK 10.045 Re: Hamlet's Age

Once again, I simply admit to being stumped. I agree with E. H. Pearlman
- why cannot the character be young in the beginning and older at the
end.

And I re-submit my posting of Tuesday to that effect below:

>Hamlet is a character in a play. In the last act of that play, the
>character is identified as being thirty years old. The character in the
>beginning appears considerably younger. My assumption has always been
>that the character metaphorically ages between leaving for England and
>returning to Denmark and that the aging involves an acceptance of death
>- a movement from
>
><Queen.> Good Hamlet, cast thy nighted color off,
>And let thine eye look like a friend on Denmark.
>Do not for ever with thy vailed lids
>Seek for thy noble father in the dust.
>Thou know'st 'tis common, all that lives must die,
>Passing through nature to eternity.
><Ham.> Ay, madam, it is common. (1.2.68-74)
>
>and
>
>To be, or not to be, that is the question:
>Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
>The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
>Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
>And by opposing, end them. To die, to sleep --
>No more, and by a sleep to say we end
>The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
>That flesh is heir to; 'tis a consummation
>Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep --
>To sleep, perchance to dream -- ay, there's the rub,
>For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
>When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
>Must give us pause; there's the respect
>That makes calamity of so long life:
>For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
>Th' oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
>The pangs of despis'd love, the law's delay,
>The insolence of office, and the spurns
>That patient merit of th' unworthy takes,
>When he himself might his quietus make
>With a bare bodkin; who would fardels bear,
>To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
>But that the dread of something after death,
>The undiscover'd country, from whose bourn
>No traveller returns, puzzles the will,
>And makes us rather bear those ills we have,
>Than fly to others that we know not of?
>Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
>And thus the native hue of resolution
>Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
>And enterprises of great pitch and moment
>With this regard their currents turn awry,
>And lose the name of action. (3.1.55-87)
>
>to
>
>                                  There is special
>providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be now,
>tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if
>it be not now, yet it will come -- the readiness is all.
>Since no man, of aught he leaves, knows what is't to
>leave betimes, let be. (5.2.219-224).
>
>We should not forget that this play is a fiction:
>
>Is it not monstrous that this player here,
>But in a fiction, in a dream of passion,
>Could force his soul so to his own conceit
>That from her working all the visage wann'd,
>Tears in his eyes, distraction in his aspect,
>A broken voice, an' his whole function suiting
>With forms to his conceit?  And all for nothing,
>For Hecuba! (2.2.551-558).
>
>We might as well ask "When did Cassio take Bianca for his mistress?"
>
>Of course, there is always the possibility that the character was meant
>to be a perpetual graduate student - Been there; Done that!
 

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