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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: July ::
Re: To be or not to be
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1715  Sunday, 8 July 2001

From:           Clifford Stetner <
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Date:           Friday, 6 Jul 2001 21:13:24 -0400
Subject: 12.1681 Re: To be or not to be
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1681 Re: To be or not to be

>From The Author's Abstract of Melancholy

I'll not change life with any king,
I ravisht am: can the world bring
More joy, than still to laugh and smile,
In pleasant toys time to beguile?
Do not, O do not trouble me,
So sweet content I feel and see.
   All my joys to this are folly,
   None so divine as melancholy.

I'll change my state with any wretch
Thou canst from gaol or dunhill fetch;
My pain's past cure, another hell,
I may not in this torment dwell!
Now desperate I hate my life,
Lend me a halter or a knife;
   All my griefs to this are jolly,
   Naught so damn'd as melancholy.

Richard Burton. Anatomy of Melancholy 1621

> Excuse me, but what is the understanding of Melancholy here?  Melancholy
> does not mean 'sad' and cannot be oversimplified as 'suicidal,' although
> feelings of that sort do seem to be a part of the picture.  If we read
> all of Hamlet's words and actions through this over-simplistic
> framework, we do damage to the character and his creator.  There are
> moments of high clarity in his thinking, moments of passionate
> engagement with the here-and-now, and yes moments of despair

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