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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: May ::
Re: Time in Hamlet
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1094  Thursday, 10 May 2001

[1]     From:   Steve Roth <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 9 May 2001 11:37:22 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1077 Re: Time in Hamlet

[2]     From:   Steve Roth <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 9 May 2001 14:20:26 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1077 Re: Time in Hamlet

[3]     From:   Larry Weiss <
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        Date:   Thursday, 10 May 2001 00:15:41 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1077 Re: Time in Hamlet


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Steve Roth <
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Date:           Wednesday, 9 May 2001 11:37:22 -0700
Subject: 12.1077 Re: Time in Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1077 Re: Time in Hamlet

At 11:18 AM -0400 5/9/01, Andrew W. White wrote:

>Southampton's resemblance?  What about the Earl of Essex?  After all, he
>referred to himself as a 'prince,' fell from the Queen's favor and,
>after a bloody trip overseas (to Ireland, where Shakespeare's Henry V
>rather ahistorically went to fight) confronted her in her closet?

Agree completely. Essex's erratic behavior, among other things, can
certainly be seen as one of the models for Hamlet, especially given the
proximate dates--Essex rebellion in February 1601, Hamlet
rewrite/revival in Fall of 1601.

I would hesitate to get involved in any definite articles here ("the"
model), but the nobles I mentioned earlier in the thread (Southampton,
Essex, Oxford, Rutland) all represent a common Elizabethan
type--precocious, supercilious, erratic, dilettantish--characteristics
that many have seen figured in Hamlet.

And Caesar and Alexander--who ring so throughout the play, who both
entered the machinations of power in their teens, upon their fathers'
deaths, and who were both so intimately attached to their
mothers--further emphasize the image of a young noble being thrust into
political and dynastic turmoil. This especially rings true when you
explore the remarkable similarities between Hamlet's time with the
pirates and Caesar's, as depicted in Plutarch (which I discuss in
Chapters Two and Five).

>Essex, being a friend of the company

We have references to Essex attending plays, and of course the whole
Richard II imbroglio, but are there other references I'm not aware of
casting Essex as a "friend" of the Chamberlain's Men? I'd be very
interested in any pointers I could follow up on. A quick run through
Chambers didn't turn anything up.

Thanks,
Steve
http://princehamlet.com

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Steve Roth <
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 >
Date:           Wednesday, 9 May 2001 14:20:26 -0700
Subject: 12.1077 Re: Time in Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1077 Re: Time in Hamlet

At 11:18 AM -0400 5/9/01, Clifford Stetner wrote:

>As I have argued here previously, the confusion of Hamlet's age is not
>the result of faulty textual transmission but of the premodern
>psychoanalytic themes of the play.  The F1 line you cite: "I have bin
>sixeteene/heere, man and Boy thirty yeares." F1:3351 is a glaring clue
>as to the internationality of this confusion (i.e. sixteen for sexton).
>The ages 30 and 16 are emphasized by the dual identity "man and boy."
>Shakespeare must have remarked what Freud would later characterize as
>the phenomenon of regression in which certain neuroses can be understood
>to replicate previous stages of the ego's development.  Hamlet is a
>thirty old man caught in an adolescent conflict which in turn goes back
>to an infantile trauma.  The unconscious nature of this regression drama
>and the ego conflicts it creates on the level of consciousness are
>replicated by the ambiguity of the surface text and the deep analysis
>necessary to illuminate it, including probing the earlier quarto
>describing the adolescent Hamlet for clues.

An interesting take, Clifford. Sorry I hadn't picked it up from your
previous posts.

To be sure I understand, perhaps I could rephrase your statement and you
can tell me if I've got it right:

1. The four items in F1/Q2 that cast Hamlet as an adult (two by the
gravedigger, the Gonzago speech, and Gertrude's "fat and scant of
breath") serve to reveal a (layman's term) retarded adolescence in an
adult Hamlet, a regression to and replication of his teenage neuroses.

2. The "sixeteene" usage serves to highlight and point out this conflict
within Hamlet's character. (I won't even touch intentionality--see my
Author's Preface.)

3. The difficulty of perceiving/analyzing/addressing such a regressive
neurosis is mirrored in the difficulty of plumbing the play's (and the
prince's) depths.

4. Q1, with its unequivocal adolescent, is part of the material drawn on
by F1/Q2 to represent this psychological and textual difficulty.

If I've got it right, it's a wonderfully recursive view, quite in
keeping with this echo-chamber of plays.

Given all that, a textual question: do you think the four items were
just missed or messed up by the Q1 reporter, or that they were added at
some time after the creation of Q1?

Thanks,
Steve
http://princehamlet.com

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Larry Weiss <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Thursday, 10 May 2001 00:15:41 -0400
Subject: 12.1077 Re: Time in Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1077 Re: Time in Hamlet

Clifford Stetner wrote:

> As I have argued here previously, the confusion of Hamlet's age is not
> the result of faulty textual transmission but of the premodern
> psychoanalytic themes of the play.  The F1 line you cite: "I have bin
> sixeteene/heere, man and Boy thirty yeares." F1:3351 is a glaring clue
> as to the internationality of this confusion (i.e. sixteen for sexton).
> The ages 30 and 16 are emphasized by the dual identity "man and boy."
> Shakespeare must have remarked what Freud would later characterize as
> the phenomenon of regression in which certain neuroses can be understood
> to replicate previous stages of the ego's development.  Hamlet is a
> thirty old man caught in an adolescent conflict which in turn goes back
> to an infantile trauma.  The unconscious nature of this regression drama
> and the ego conflicts it creates on the level of consciousness are
> replicated by the ambiguity of the surface text and the deep analysis
> necessary to illuminate it, including probing the earlier quarto
> describing the adolescent Hamlet for clues.

Is this intended to be serious or a tongue-in-cheek demonstration of the
silliness of psychobabble?

As for Hamlet's age, as I have remarked before, the character is
precisely as old as the actor playing him appears to be.  Burbage was
about 34 (I believe) in 1600.  The two references to Hamlet's age in V.i
are not in Q1 and seem to have been added to assure the audience that
Burbage was not miscast.  See also Gertrude's comment in the next scene
that Hamlet is "fat."

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