The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0992 Tuesday, 1 May 2001
Date: Monday, 30 Apr 2001 10:07:27 -0700
Subject: Time in Hamlet
Dear SHAKSPER list members:
I've done a lot of work lately analyzing the time structure in Hamlet,
and I'd be interested in hearing feedback from folks on the list.
Some of my assertions:
o The time structure of the play is in fact remarkably tight and
coherent, contrary to several assertions made in this list's February
discussion of "Time Passage in Hamlet"
o There are several striking references in the play to times and dates,
their real-world equivalents, Shakespeare's sources, and to events in
Shakespeare's life, that haven't been noted before.
o In the play as presented in late 1601/early 1602, Hamlet was
unequivocally a teen--sixteen at the beginning of the play, just past
seventeen on his death.
I give what is, I think, strong support for these bald assertions in
Chapters One and Two of my book, "Hamlet: The Undiscovered Country,"
available at <http://princehamlet.com>.
Chapter One ("How Many Years Had Hamlet the Dane?") is up there for all
Chapter Two ("Abstract and Brief Chronicles of the Time") is part of the
paid version of the book, but I'm putting it up "in clear" for
SHAKSPEReans who would like to explore the issue:
I'll leave it up for a week or so.
You can also see the time structure laid out graphically at:
There's further support in three of the appendices ("A Tragical Hystorie
of Hamlet's Age," "Thirty Dozen Years: How Many Years Had Gertrude the
Queen," and "The Drowning of Katherine Hamlett."). And Chapters Three
through Five give further support by exploring the really interesting
stuff: the implications and import of Hamlet's youth, and the other
chronological material in the play.
You'll also find much early commentary (Furness, Bradley, etc.) on
Hamlet's time structure and Hamlet's age on the links page:
I'm (admittedly) enthusiastic for SHAKSPEReans to know about the book,
but I'm even more interested in hearing feedback. Please don't hesitate
to reply with thoughts, comments, and vilifications, either on or off
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