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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: January ::
Hamlet
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.0100  Wednesday, 14 January 2004

From:           Gerald E. Downs <
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Date:           Tuesday, 13 Jan 2004 16:31:39 EST
Subject: 15.0084 Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0084 Hamlet

David Bishop says:

 >Gerald Downs hears "aught" as unidiomatic, but it doesn't sound
 >that way to me.

If "since no man knows of aught he leaves" is clear, why can't it be
explained? The reading:

    Since no one knows of what he dies, he should be ready . . .

is consistent with Hamlet's speech. No need to get complicated.

 >"Since no man knows even the tiniest bit about the tiniest bit he
 >leaves behind when he dies, what does it matter when he dies?"

But Hamlet knew a lot about what he left behind. His concern was to
"deny augury."

 >Hamlet gains depth and a vertiginous hint of nihilism by denying
 >that after death you know aught of aught. . . . If you know nothing,
 >it suggests an absence of consciousness, a complete annihilation.
 >You may get around this with various theological theories

Hamlet had less need than anyone of "theological theories" because he
was told directly by his father's spirit that one knows plenty after
death and that one may die unprepared. If productions would only leave
in the porkypine line we might remember the importance of these dramatic
facts.

Gerald E. Downs

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