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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: March ::
Re: Hal
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0490  Friday, 2 March 2001

[1]     From:   Skip Nicholson <
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        Date:   Thursday, 1 Mar 2001 07:03:44 -0800
        Subj:   RE: SHK 12.0484 Hal (was Welsh, etc.)

[2]     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Thursday, 01 Mar 2001 16:03:15 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0484 Hal (was Welsh, etc.)


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Skip Nicholson <
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Date:           Thursday, 1 Mar 2001 07:03:44 -0800
Subject: 12.0484 Hal (was Welsh, etc.)
Comment:        RE: SHK 12.0484 Hal (was Welsh, etc.)

Happy St David's Day to Hal and all...

Cheers,
Skip Nicholson
South Pasadena [CA] HS

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[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <
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Date:           Thursday, 01 Mar 2001 16:03:15 -0500
Subject: 12.0484 Hal (was Welsh, etc.)
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0484 Hal (was Welsh, etc.)

Merri Neidorff writes:

>Is this the accepted reading of these lines? I have never formally
>studied Shakespeare, but I've done a lot of reading and, as this is a
>favorite play, have it in a number of editions (Riverside, Bevington,
>Folger, Arden). I don't see it in the footnotes. I've always read the
>"foul and ugly mists" as Hal referring to his own dalliance, the "loose
>behavior" he promises to throw off.

I'm not big on accepted readings, because every now and again a student
will come up with a totally unacceptable reading that I find quite
acceptable and insightful.  So perhaps the "base contagious clouds" are
Hal's own actions rather than his base followers.  But he does begin his
speech: "I know you all, and will a while uphold /The unyok'd humor of
your idleness" (Riverside 1.2.195-6). He may be addressing the departing
or departed Poins and Falstaff, or the audience at large. In any case, I
feel that "you all" makes a better referent for "ugly mists" than Hal's
"loose behavior" (208).  But I certainly see the strength of your
argument: "So when this loose behavior I throw off" may refer back to
"breaking through the foul and ugly mists/Of vapors."

>Let me hasten to add, before the arrows start to fly, that I *am* aware
>there is no "real" Hal, but this is how I envision him when I read the
>play; and that the above is my own interpretation and I don't require
>anyone to adopt it.

Absolutely!  Characters are not real people.  But we make believe that
they are, and we treat them "as if" (als ob) they are more than mere
words on a page.  Nevertheless, as Norm Holland reminds us, it would be
silly to ask: "Where is Hal these days?" If I asked that about King
Henry V, you could answer quite rightly: "We know exactly where he is."

Yours, Bill Godshalk
 

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