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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: June ::
Strange Construction Hamlet
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.1364  Wednesday, 30 June 2004

From:           HR Greenberg <
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Date:           Tuesday, 29 Jun 2004 09:26:20 EDT
Subject:        Strange Construction Hamlet

I do not have the text in front of me at this moment but was reading
Hamlet after hearing it driving  and was struck by the last or nearly
last speech in the bedroom scene as Hamlet says his many goodbyes to
Gertrude. "What shall I do" she asks, after he 'clefts her heart in
twain". He tells her not to 'ravel this matter out' in return for a few
reachy kisses. But the opening of his admonition is very strange.
Something along the lines of 'do not this which I bid you, etc..." which
strikes as very roundabout, and for some reason makes me think of the
uncanny opening of the play, where the sentry is challenged by the
supposed intruder, instead of the usual challenge and return, sentry
asking, newcomer replying.

Am I picking up something scholars have noted. Are there similar odd
constructions threaded throughout the play?  I also may be naive in
citing the inconsistencies of Hamlet's references to and treatment of
Polonius, "these tedious old fools"  "use him well" to the players, et
cetera.

A bit of wandering and wondering before I start work this am. My main
point is the double negative, or whatever one would call it as a
rhetorical device in the goodbye to Gertrude.

Thanks in advance.

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