2001

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1937  Thursday, 2 August 2001

From:           Andrew W. White <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 1 Aug 2001 17:47:58 -0400
Subject:        Re: To be or not to be

Ed Taft asks:

>Who else in this play may love and trust his father too much, and may be
>allowing himself to be used as a tool to further a father's ends?

True -- and that's why I feel Hamlet's initial pleadings, and his
initial use of "nunnery" appeal to Ophelia's truthful nature.  He knows
she's in too deep for her own good, and begs her to admit it's a
set-up.  Her failure to do so sets him off in another direction entirely
-- she, of all people, should understand the need to level with him, and
yet she, of all people, is out to set him up.  Hence, his switch to the
other, brothel sense of "nunnery" and related insults for the rest of
the scene.

I think the use of the word "nunnery" covers both, opposite senses of
the word, and that is what makes the scene so especially powerful, and
painful for the audience to watch, because they can see what would have
been, if only things had happened differently.

Andy White

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