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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: September ::
Hamlet an Allegory
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1569  Tuesday, 20 September 2005

From: 		L. Swilley <
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Date: 		Monday, 19 Sep 2005 07:05:27 -0500
Subject: 16.1556 Hamlet an Allegory
Comment: 	Re: SHK 16.1556 Hamlet an Allegory

Gabriel Egan wrote,

 >Elliott H. Stone repeats a common fallacy about the beginning of Hamlet.
 >
 >>It has been basic soldiering from time immemorial that the man on guard
 >>duty always speaks first. "Halt who goes there "or "Halt what is the
 >>password" or "Stand and unfold yourself". Why would our Shakespeare get
 >>this wrong? Why would he make such a fundamental error?
 >
 >Charles Edelman in his essay "Hamlet, soldier manque" (_Around the
 >Globe_ 21 (2002) pages 44-45) quotes William Garrard's The Arte of
 >Warre (1591):
 >
 >"If the Round or any other Officer come to search to watch & Sentinels,
when he doth first heare or see them approch, let him so soone as he doth
perceive them, demand with a lowd voice, Qui va la? Who goes there?"
 >
 >Gabriel Egan

Happily,  military instructions to the approaching soldier coincide with 
the effect of the exchange in the play. The soldiers' common knowledge 
of the reappearing ghost - and their fear of it - makes the approaching 
soldier's question fraught with a nervous element quite beyond military 
form.

L. Swilley

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