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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: March ::
Nay, very pale.
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0707  Saturday, 24 March 2001

From:           Jack Hettinger <
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Date:           Wednesday, 21 Mar 2001 09:49:54 -0500
Subject:        Nay, very pale.

Friends,

For a long time I have wondered about the significance of Horatio's
response to Hamlet that the "countenance" of the Ghost was "very pale"
(1.2.236:
Bevington).

Hamlet: What looked he, frowningly?
Horatio: A countenance more in sorrow than in anger.
Hamlet: Pale or red?
Horation: Nay, very pale.

Neither Bevington, nor the Riverside, nor the Norton gloss this detail.
Walter McGee in The Elizabethan Hamlet (1987) claims that pale is the
color of an infernal ghost (p. 133) but does not seem to document this
claim.  (I've read the book thoroughly but certainly could have missed a
citation, for which I do apologize.) I've read numerous other books and
articles, as well as a dissertation on ghosts in Renaissance English
drama, to no avail.

Can anyone help? Many thanks.

Jack

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