Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: March ::
Re: Shakespeare's Names
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.0415  Tuesday, 9 March 1999.

[1]     From:   Anthony Burton <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Monday, 8 Mar 1999 16:08:22 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0396 Re: Shakespeare's Names

[2]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Monday, 08 Mar 1999 23:43:58 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0396 Re: Shakespeare's Names

[3]     From:   Peter Holland <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 9 Mar 1999 08:55:53 GMT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0396 Re: Shakespeare's Names

[4]     From:   Lisa Hopkins <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 9 Mar 1999 10:31:30 -0000
        Subj:   Names


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Anthony Burton <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Monday, 8 Mar 1999 16:08:22 -0500
Subject: 10.0396 Re: Shakespeare's Names
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0396 Re: Shakespeare's Names

Shakespeare uses names to suit his purposes, and there is no single
explanation for the choices.  Rosencranz and Guildenstern were
contemporary Danish(?) aristocratic names, and gave local color.  As a
name, Hamlet comes from the sources-Saxo and Belleforest.  It is
fascinating to link the madness with the Amlodi/Brutus connection  to
cleverness masquerading as dimwittedness, and I think the best
discussion is in Hamlet's Mill by von Deschend and de Santillana, if I
recall correctly.   As to Polonius, I also think there is a special
connotation hidden in his name, a change from the Q1 Corambis, which
also had a special connotation.  An article about thirty years ago in
ShQ convinced me that the old name reflects the Latin phrase for
"cabbage twice served is death" in reference to his regurgitated
percepts to Laertes which in Q1 are in inverted commas.  I'm convinced
but can't prove that Polonius reflects his part in a successful affair
with the Poles, and the play  brings them in specifically-when in angry
parle the old King smote the sledded Polacks on the ice.  Those lines
always conjured up in me the picture of a peace negotiation on the
surface of a frozen body of water between two opposing armies, at which
the Danish contingent treacherously armed themselves and slaughtered
their unarmed counterparts.  A very unpleasant doublecross.  In Q2 and
F, Polonius' character as a counselor of treachery is further
emphasized-"I'll loose my daughter" first appears-and strengthens the
overall picture  of an unrepentant double-dealer; spying on his son,
loosing his daughter, hiding behind arrases, etc.  I hoped to find an
analog in the historical material,  and came up only with the
tantalizing lost Skjoldunga saga which is preserved only in a one
paragraph Latin summary, describing a battle fought on ice and involving
treachery-but in non-payment to the victorious soldiers and not in
breaching a peace agreement; there is another battle on ice in the
Kalfsvisa, involving some of the same characters that  Gollancz
considers part of The Literary History of Hamlet.

The Greek meaning of Ophelia, pace Ruskin, is something closer to
"succor," the kind of assistance a fallen warrior needs on the field of
battle.  And, she is Hamlet's love connection;  Polonius, Laertes, and
Hamlet, through a series of miscalculations, and Ophelia herself all
work to separate Hamlet from the love in his life even as he strives to
revenge his father's murder the good Christian way, until her death
makes the breach irrevocable.  A nice argument can be made-following
Corinthians 13, that Hamlet's Christianity is deficient in respect of
its lack of love (the King James "charity" = agape= love), and that
Ophelia/Love was exactly the succor Hamlet  needed to arrive at a more
measured and  just plan of vengeance, and save his soul; after all, the
play is a tragedy, I assume he got something wrong.  If Ophelia lived
and they married, their first son would of course have been named
Hamlet.  It's a neat name.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Monday, 08 Mar 1999 23:43:58 -0800
Subject: 10.0396 Re: Shakespeare's Names
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0396 Re: Shakespeare's Names

Jack Heller asks:

>More difficult, however, may be the name Iago. However obliquely, is
>anything being suggested about King James or any other James with this
>European (Italian?) form of the name James? In Thomas Dekker's Whore of
>Babylon, St. James Park becomes St. Iago's Park.

Somebody mentioned on this list about five years ago that St. James was
the patron of crusades against the moors.  No doubt you can find it with
the search function.  That said, Omer Englebert's _The Lives of the
Saints_ doesn't mention him at all.

Cheers,
Se

 

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.