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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: June ::
Re: Q1 Hamlet
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.1050  Tuesday, 22 June 1999.

From:           Bruce Young <
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Date:           Monday, 21 Jun 1999 15:29:17 +0000
Subject: 10.1044 Re: Q1 Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1044 Re: Q1 Hamlet

I was impressed by Steve Urkowitz's defense of Q1 Hamlet, but I would be
surprised if all other theories (especially memorial reconstruction)
simply "have no basis."   I'm no expert on the subject.  But I wonder,
"if the 'bad' parts really aren't so bad," can the following really be
something Shakespeare wrote and intended to have spoken on stage?:

To be, or not to be, I there's the point,
To Die, to sleepe, is that all? I all:
No, to sleepe, to dreame, I mary there it goes,
For in that dreame of death, when wee awake,
And borne before an euerlasting Iudge,
>From whence no passenger euer retur'nd,
The vndiscouered country, at whose sight
The happy smile, and the accursed damn'd.
But for this, the ioyfull hope of this,
Whol'd beare the scornes and flattery of the world,
Scorned by the right rich, the rich curssed of the poore?
The widow being oppressed, the orphan wrong'd,
The taste of hunger, or a tirants raigne,
And thousand more calamities besides,
To grunt and sweate vnder this weary life,
When that he may his full Quietus make,
With a bare bodkin, who would this indure,
But for a hope of something after death?
Which pusles the braine, and doth confound the sence,
Which makes vs rather beare those euilles we haue,
Than flie to others that we know not of.
I that, O this conscience makes cowardes of vs all. . .

"I mary there it goes"?

Also, picking a passage at random, I noticed that the iambic pentameter
is exceedingly elastic-even more so than in Shakespeare's late plays.
In this passage, the number of syllables range from 6-14 (noted at the
end of each line), to me a sign that someone is throwing this together
pretty carelessly, with only the slightest effort to approximate blank
verse:

 [Ham.] I so, come forth and worke thy last, (8)
And thus hee dies: and so am I reuenged: (10)*
No, not so: he tooke my father sleeping, his sins brim full, (14)
And how his soule stoode to the state of heauen (10)
Who knowes, saue the immortall powres, (7-8)
And shall I kill him now,  (6)
When he is purging of his soule? (8)
Making his way for heauen, this is a benefit, (12)
And not reuenge: no, get thee vp agen, (10)
When hee's at game swaring, taking his carowse, drinking drunke, (14)
Or in the incestuous pleasure of his bed, (10)*
Or at some act that hath no relish (9)
Of saluation in't, then trip him (8)
That his heeles may kicke at heauen, (7)
And fall as lowe as hel: my mother stayes, (10)*
This phisicke but prolongs thy weary dayes. (10)*
 [exit Ham.]

 [King] My wordes fly vp, my sinnes remaine below. (10)*
No King on earth is safe, if Gods his foe. (10)

It's also interesting that, where the wording matches Q2 and F1 very
closely, the Q1 lines are-not always, but more often than not-among the
few 10 syllable lines, 3 of them among the 4 rhyming lines (see lines
marked with asterisk above).

I'd be interested to hear the counter-arguments.

With anticipation,
Bruce Young
 

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