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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: July ::
Re: To be or not to be
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1733  Wednesday, 11 July 2001

[1]     From:   Vick Bennison <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 10 Jul 2001 11:23:46 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1729 Re: To be or not to be

[2]     From:   Arthur D L Lindley <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 11 Jul 2001 10:18:20 +0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1729 Re: To be or not to be


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Vick Bennison <
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Date:           Tuesday, 10 Jul 2001 11:23:46 EDT
Subject: 12.1729 Re: To be or not to be
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1729 Re: To be or not to be

Bruce Young states:

>He could perhaps be thinking of suicide if he thinks he owes God (or
> someone else) a death (compare 1 Henry IV 5.1.126; 2 Henry IV 3.2.235;
> Timon of Athens 3.5.82).
> But I think it more likely he's referring to revenge.  His father has
> been killed.  He believes--perhaps wrongly--that he has a duty, "owes"
> it to his father or to the code of honor he has been socialized to
> accept, to take revenge.

But taken in the context of the speech, how would killing Claudius be
payment for

                                "the whips and scorns of time,
     The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
     The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
     The insolence of office and the spurns
     That patient merit of the unworthy takes, "

In other words, you seem to be saying that Hamlet is saying "why should
I suffer all this crap when I could settle my accounts by getting
revenge on Claudius".  That doesn't make any sense.  How would getting
revenge on Claudius change his suffering the crap, unless, of course, he
assumes he will die in the process.  His statement doesn't make any
sense unless his death is part of the "quietus".  But why throw in the
topic of revenge at that point of the speech?  He says "who would bear
[this crap] when he himself [could do something with a dagger that would
make all this crap go away]"  He must do something with the dagger that
results in his death.  That is the only thing I can think of that would
make all the crap go away.  So "his quietus make" = doing something that
results in his death and, in my amateur opinion, the quieting of his
spirit.

- Vick Bennison

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Arthur D L Lindley <
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Date:           Wednesday, 11 Jul 2001 10:18:20 +0800
Subject: 12.1729 Re: To be or not to be
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1729 Re: To be or not to be

The available range of meanings for 'quietus est' might be suggested by
the Duchess of Malfi's use of the term in her proposal scene with
Antonio (1.2.380 in Brennan's New Mermaid edn.)  There the term is part
of the commercial language relating to A's role as her steward but is
also part of her promise of peace in marriage.  Since the proposal
follows directly upon Ferdinand's and the Cardinal's threats, the
audience will recognize that her quietus is also a death sentence.

By the way, I'm writing an article about the suppression of carnality
and the carnivalesque in DM.  At one point I mention in passing that the
world of Webster's play realizes the evils latent in Act I of As You
Like It (murderous fraternal hostility, for example). Has anyone
discussed this (probably loose) analogy?

Arthur Lindley

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