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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: July ::
Re: To be or not to be
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1767  Tuesday, 17 July 2001

[1]     From:   Thomas Larque <
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        Date:   Friday, 13 Jul 2001 18:54:29 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1754 Re: To be or not to be

[2]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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        Date:   Friday, 13 Jul 2001 11:46:32 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1754 Re: To be or not to be

[3]     From:   Bruce Young <
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        Date:   Friday, 13 Jul 2001 12:50:21 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1754 Re: To be or not to be

[4]     From:   Andrew W. White <
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        Date:   Friday, 13 Jul 2001 21:07:07 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1754 Re: To be or not to be

[5]     From:   Susan St. John <
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        Date:   Friday, 13 Jul 2001 18:53:13 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1742 Re: To be or not to be

[6]     From:   Larry Weiss <
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        Date:   Friday, 13 Jul 2001 22:45:08 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1754 Re: To be or not to be

[7]     From:   Clifford Stetner <
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        Date:   Saturday, 14 Jul 2001 00:53:17 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1754 Re: To be or not to be

[8]     From:   Lucia A. Setari <
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        Date:   Saturday, 14 Jul 2001 11:11:50 +0100 (BST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1754 Re: To be or not to be

[9]     From:   John Ramsay <
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        Date:   Sunday, 15 Jul 2001 01:54:46 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1754 Re: To be or not to be


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Thomas Larque <
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Date:           Friday, 13 Jul 2001 18:54:29 +0100
Subject: 12.1754 Re: To be or not to be
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1754 Re: To be or not to be

>John Ramsay.  I don't believe Hamlet would have been carrying around a
>long sword (or more likely rapier) when he happens upon Claudius at
>prayer.  When he thinks of killing him there, he is probably carrying
>and thinking dagger.

That doesn't sound logical to me.  For one thing he actually *says*
"sword".  "Up, sword, and know thou a more horrid hent" (3.3.88) and
there seems little reason to disbelieve him, since we know that it was a
matter of routine in Shakespeare's day that a man carried a sword at all
times.  Viola, pretending to be very young, "between boy and man", still
carries a sword and Toby tells her that if she will not fight then she
will have to "forswear to wear iron about you" - obviously a very
humiliating thing for a man to do.  In Shakespeare's sources,
furthermore, the mad Hamlet constantly carries a sword, which - because
of his apparent madness - is nailed into its sheath so that he cannot
hurt himself.  This all seems good evidence that when Hamlet says
"sword" he means "sword".

On the other hand, it clearly *is* possible to kill somebody else with a
bodkin or small knife, as the tragic murder of a young boy in Britain
recently proved (he died from a single stab wound to the leg - his
killers may only have intended to hurt him).  Even using the more
harmless sense of "bodkin" (as a hair ornament) a "Traditional Ballad"
"Lord Thomas and Fair Annet" which I have not been able to find a date
for, but which seems to use an older form of English, describes a
jealous bride stabbing her husband's former suitor with a bodkin from
her hair.

The bride she drew a long bodkin
  Frae out her gay head-gear,
And strake Fair Annet unto the heart,
  That word spak nevir mair.

http://www.bartleby.com/40/8.html

Thomas Larque.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
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Date:           Friday, 13 Jul 2001 11:46:32 -0700
Subject: 12.1754 Re: To be or not to be
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1754 Re: To be or not to be

Hi, all.

I've been following this thread on and off, but it strikes me that
no-one has pointed out that Hamlet's speech opens with ontological
language:  the question is one of being and nothingness, not just of
immediate actions, political or even suicidal.  In fact, as the end of
the speech moving towards a discussion of "the undiscovered country"
would, I think, indicate, the quietus made with a bare bodkin isn't
nearly quiet enough.  One might still be, even after death, experiencing
whatever dreams may come.  In other words, the speech seems to hinge on
the difference between death and annihilation.

Cheers,
Se

 

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