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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: May ::
Re: Time in Hamlet
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1029  Friday, 4 May 2001

[1]     From:   Dana Shilling <
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        Date:   Thursday, 3 May 2001 11:24:09 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1016 Re: Time in Hamlet

[2]     From:   Steve Roth <
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        Date:   Thursday, 3 May 2001 11:57:04 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1016 Re: Time in Hamlet

[3]     From:   R. A. Cantrell <
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        Date:   Thursday, 3 May 2001 15:42:58 -0400
        Subj:   Time in Hamlet

[4]     From:   HR Greenberg <
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        Date:   Thursday, 3 May 2001 19:03:50 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1016 Re: Time in Hamlet


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Dana Shilling <
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Date:           Thursday, 3 May 2001 11:24:09 -0400
Subject: 12.1016 Re: Time in Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1016 Re: Time in Hamlet

Dr. Greenberg asked:>

> >How do you fit the gravedigger's reference to "thirty years since...."
> >If Hamlet is a young man before the pirates take him, are we to assume
> >he spent 8 or more years with them? Or was he one of the oldest students
> >at Wittenberg U?

Hamlet seems like exactly the sort of person to spend years or even
decades ABD....

Dana Shilling

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Steve Roth <
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Date:           Thursday, 3 May 2001 11:57:04 -0700
Subject: 12.1016 Re: Time in Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1016 Re: Time in Hamlet

>Dear Friends,
>
>I'm sure many of you know that an English aged 30 attending school in
>Wittenberg was commonplace in Shakespeare's time. William Tyndale, so we
>believe, was 30 when he enrolled there.
>
>Steve

Good point, and thanks for the feedback.

Also Nashe's well-known Pierce Penilesse (1592) passage regarding Danes:
"For fashion sake some will put their children to schoole, but they set
them not to it till they are foureteene yeere olde: so that you shall
see a great boy with a beard learne his A B C. and sit weeping under the
rod, when he is thirtie yeeres old." (J. W. Hales was the first to cite
this, I believe, in 1876.) Both Nashe and his Pierce are notoriously
unreliable reporters, however, more interested in scurrilous screeds
than historical accuracy. (One could even speculate, though without
supporting evidence,  that this passage is what prompted Shakespeare to
put the whole thirty-year business into the play.)

Tyndale entered Oxford at about age 15, earned his B.A. at about 17, and
his MA (Magdalen) at about 20. He was then an instructor at Cambridge
until about 25. He then acquired patronage, moved to Germany, and
finished his New Testament translation by about age 30. So he wasn't
really a "student" at that point, though he certainly had university
associations. (And Hamlet does call Horatio his "fellow-student",
FWIW...)

And Tyndale was of a middle-class Gloucestershire family. Noblemen and
royalty went to (and left) university at a far younger age--12-18. Cf,
for instance, Wriothesley/Southampton and Devereux/Essex, who
matriculated at ages 12 and 13 respectively. Wriothesley was done in
four years, and Essex only lasted two. Manners/Rutland (fifth earl) was
at Cambridge from fourteen to nineteen. de Vere/Oxford took his
Cambridge M.A. at 14, and added an Oxford M.A. at 16.

James VI/I, something of scholar, ended his formal education (private
tutors, not university) around age 14. Other royals (English and Danish)
had similar upbringings.

I've looked hard, but can't find a single royal or noble of the time who
was still at school at age 30--or even close, actually. There are
probably some out there, but if so they're quite exceptional.

One could argue from his reading (and eloquence) that Hamlet is a
lifelong scholar like Tyndale, but it feels like quite a stretch to me.
Southampton, Essex, Rutland, Oxford, and James seem more likely models.

Thanks again for the feedback. It's prompted me to develop this section
more thoroughly.

Steve
http://princehamlet.com

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           R. A. Cantrell <
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Date:           Thursday, 3 May 2001 15:42:58 -0400
Subject:        Time in Hamlet

I do not recall whether or not it occurs in HAMLET, but it seems that
throughout the plays it is very often 2 o'clock.  Has anyone else
noticed this?

All the best,
R. A. Cantrell

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           HR Greenberg <
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Date:           Thursday, 3 May 2001 19:03:50 EDT
Subject: 12.1016 Re: Time in Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1016 Re: Time in Hamlet

I stand corrected, and will look forward to reading Steve's
supplementary material. Best. HR Greenberg MD ENDIT

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