The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.2052 Monday, 22 November 1999.
From: Martin Mueller <
Date: Saturday, 20 Nov 1999 16:43:43 -0600
Subject: 10.2026 Re: Gertrude
Comment: Re: SHK 10.2026 Re: Gertrude
With regard to Ann Lounsbury's comments on illegitimacy, Gertrude and
the Bastard in King John: There is a strong chain of verbal associations
that link King John, Hamlet, and King Lear from that perspective.
Shakespeare's source play for King John was The Troublesome Reign, where
he found a scene in which the Bastard puts enormous pressure on his
mother to tell him the truth. He threatens to do to her what Nero did to
his mother. When she tells him that she was unfaithful, he is
delighted. Shakespeare's version of this scene is not as cruel, and
there is no reference to Nero (although the Bastard refers to Nero later
in the play).
But this is a "closet scene" of sorts and almost certainly the source
for the closet scene in Hamlet, where Nero is both on Hamlet's and
That is not all: the innocent phrase "pop in/out" occurs in Hamlet and
King John in the contexct of illegitimacy and disinheritance. The
collocation of 'legitimate', 'fourteen' and 'land' ties the dispute
between the brothers in King John to the dispute of the brothers in King
Lear. There is also the cryptic remark by Edgar/Poor Tom: "Nero was an
angler in the lake of darkness," a phrase that is largely out of context
in Lear but resonates with the Bastard-Hamlet-Edgar-Edmund links.
More about this for anybody interested at http:
//faculty-web.at.nwu.edu/english/mmueller/Shakespeare, a little web site
on Shakespeare Quirky Words, under the entries 'pop' and 'Nero'