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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: March ::
Re: Shakespeare's Names
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.0426  Wednesday, 10 March 1999.

[1]     From:   Bruce Young <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 09 Mar 1999 17:19:45 +0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0396 Re: Shakespeare's Names (Polonius)

[2]     From:   Terence Hawkes <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 9 Mar 1999 12:24:32 -0500
        Subj:   Shakespeare's Names


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bruce Young <
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Date:           Tuesday, 09 Mar 1999 17:19:45 +0000
Subject: 10.0396 Re: Shakespeare's Names (Polonius)
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0396 Re: Shakespeare's Names (Polonius)

Shakespeare may have changed the name Corambis to Polonius for reasons
other than (or in addition to) those suggested by Larry Weiss.  Someone
has suggested-I think it was Joan Hutton Landis in "Shakespeare's
Poland" (Hamlet Studies 6 (1984))--that Polonius is parallel to Polonia
(Poland) in the following way:

Just as young Fortinbras has been deflected from taking revenge against
the offending party (Denmark) in the death of his father (killed by old
Hamlet) and attacks Poland instead, so Hamlet is accidentally deflected
from taking revenge against Claudius and kills Polonius instead.  Poland
and Polonius both function, in a sense, as innocent bystanders, victims
inadvertently or indirectly caught up in the cycle of revenge, before
the original or intended victims (Denmark in the case of Fortinbras,
Claudius in the case of Hamlet) are taken over or killed.

Once this parallel is noticed, it's harder to talk about Polonius
supposedly "deserving" his death.

Bruce Young

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Terence Hawkes <
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Date:           Tuesday, 9 Mar 1999 12:24:32 -0500
Subject:        Shakespeare's Names

There's a fascinating essay by Harry Levin called 'Shakespeare's
Nomenclature' in which he speaks, amongst other things, of the evocative
power of names and their function in the plays as 'a kind of
psychological onomatopoeia'. It's in Gerald W. Chapman (ed.) Essays on
Shakespeare, Princeton UP 1965, pp. 59-90.

Terence Hawkes
 

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