The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0537 Tuesday, 6 June 2006
From: Jeffrey Jordan <
Date: Monday, 5 Jun 2006 18:50:28 -0500
Subject: 17.0517 Jenkins vs. Thompson
Comment: Re: SHK 17.0517 Jenkins vs. Thompson
Replying to Sean King.
I can't argue very energetically with you about Arden's policy with the
Arden 3. I'll toss in some advice for them, myself. I'm sure they'll
appreciate it. :-) What Arden shudda oughta coulda mighta done
instead, with the Arden3, was to make the lower-priced edition of
Hamlet, for the general public, a conflated text, a best-guess
combination of the originals. Then, if Arden had made the "scholarly
supplement" a transcription of all 3 originals, with suitable
commentary, I think there might have been less complaint about the
second volume being so relatively expensive. Maybe. Allow me to ask
you, would the price of the second volume be so objectionable if it had
included all 3 originals? I'd find the price easier to accept, were
that the case.
>Well, one would need to have a view as to how the
>phrase [...cowards ~of us all~ ] got into *Q1*
>as well, of course... (I'm not saying you don't have
It's surpassingly hard to tell how *anything* got into Q1, or even why
Q1 was printed. Q1 is an abiding mystery. (I have my own ideas about
it, although nothing I can prove to the satisfaction of an eager world.)
But the overall phrasing of the line looks "actorial" in Q1. It gives
the appearance somebody was winging it, as throughout most of Q1. The
Folio did pick up the phrase "of us all." The question is where the
Folio editor(s) got it. It may have come only from Q1, or it may be
authorial. Impossible to say with certainty. But it isn't in Q2.
I think Q2 was printed from S's closet drama manuscript. I think he had
an expanded, more complex Hamlet in manuscript that he provided to a
literary circle, same as the Sonnets. There were people who wouldn't go
to the public theater to see a stage performance, but especially, there
were some who appreciated a reading form of a play like Hamlet, I
believe. Like "the novel" versus "the movie" in current terms. And
while Q2 claims to be printed from "true and perfect copy," there's no
claim Hamlet was performed onstage in that version. It's a little
unusual for stage performance to be left unmentioned. "Closet drama"
would be an immediate explanation for the omission, in the case of Q2.
My personal hypothesis (and I won't be offended if you call it a wild
guess) is that S was agreeable to having his closet drama printed at the
time Roberts registered Hamlet. However, S wanted to review it before
publication, which took considerable time. The publisher wanted to go
to print with something by 1603, but didn't have the okay yet for the
full Q2, so he took a little of the manuscript that he had, and filled
it out with a reconstruction of the stage version, with sadly mangled
dialogue. Then, by late 1604, S had the Hamlet manuscript in a shape
that suited him for publication, and we get Q2 in print. Admittedly,
there are problems with my hypothesis, which I'm aware of, but won't
bother to list here. But it would account for the printing of both Q1
and Q2. It would make Q1, in its general shape, the stock stage version
as it was performed in the 1590s. Give or take. The length of Q1 is
about right for standard stage performance.
The full Q2 is so rarely attempted on stage that the times when
companies try it becomes news events. That virtually shouts "closet
drama." Then, there's the onyx-union difference, which has a nice
explanation when page vs stage is considered. The onyx works superbly
in print, but not at all on stage.
But anyway, pardon my rambling habit, the phrase in question, "of us
all," could even be both authorial and non-authorial. It could be
authorial for stage dialogue, as we find it in both Q1 and the Folio,
but non-authorial in literature, where Q2 replaces it with a dramatic
pause. So, hm. S may have tried the line both ways, and the difference
we now find could be his own variation.
>But folks who have big disagreements with HJ (as I have
>myself, for that matter) have nonetheless referred to his
>edition as "magisterial". ...
Jenkins did some fine work that anybody else would rightly honor. True
and no argument at all about that.
I do wish he'd caught why there's a scene change at the beginning of Act
4, though. But everybody misses it, and the historical commentary about
the scene change is misleading and mostly worse than useless. Furness
was close, in 1877. I couldn't call Arden2 "magisterial," though, when
it misses the reason for an important scene change. As Shakespeare
wrote the flow of events, in Q2, there is most definitely a good reason
for the new scene. It's a different room. Hamlet's "neighbor room"
phrase is the key.
Gertrude ran from her room to Claudius's, where she expected to find
Hamlet caught red-handed with Polonius's body, and under arrest for
murder. The Closet Scene is in Gertrude's room, and the next scene is
in Claudius's. It took Gertrude a minute or two to realize that when
Hamlet said "neighbor room" he meant Claudius's room. "Neighbor room"
is such a vague phrase she didn't get it right away. She then dashed
down the hallway to Claudius's room, and rushed in, out of breath, which
caused the profound sighing of her kissing hills that Claudius noticed.
It's the Royal Suite. There's a King's Room and a Queen's Room, side by
side. From the Queen's Room, the "neighbor room" is the King's Room.
(In a real palace or castle, each would have luxurious multi- room
quarters, but I believe it's safe to take it that the play simplifies to
give the King and Queen each a single private room, at least for the
purpose of the flow of events onstage.)
We know Claudius is in the Royal Suite, because Guildenstern said so.
After the Mousetrap play, G told Hamlet that Claudius was "in his
retirement." It's reference to where Claudius would ordinarily retire
for the night, his private quarters. That has to be the Royal Suite.
But Claudius isn't in Gertrude's closet, so he must be in the King's
Room. So, at the beginning of Act 4 Gertrude is entering the King's
Room, where she finds Claudius in conference with R & G.
The presence of R & G (in Q2) would be why Hamlet changed his mind, and
hid Polonius's body under the stairs. As he approached the King's Room
he must have heard Claudius and R & G talking, or perhaps glanced in and
saw them. He then quickly dragged Polonius's body elsewhere. Thus,
when Gertrude rushes in, Hamlet isn't there under arrest as she feared
he would be. She goes ahead and defends Hamlet to Claudius, since she
knows the death of Polonius is bound to become known.
Apparently S had Hamlet say "neighbor room" because we're supposed to
understand that Hamlet can't stand to say the name, Claudius. In the
entire Closet Scene, despite all Hamlet's verbiage, he never says
"Claudius." Nor does Hamlet like to think of Claudius as King, so he
doesn't say, King's Room. He uses that vague phrase "neighbor room."
That's the reason for the scene change. Gertrude has gone from her room
to the "neighbor room" where she expected to find her son under arrest,
caught with Polonius's body, and sorely in need of her to defend him on
a murder charge.
The Folio difference, not including R & G at the start of A4s1, would be
simply that the Folio editors weren't that familiar with the closet
drama version (under my hypothesis.) R & G are barely there in Q1; they
get a mention, and G gets one short line.
So, there is a reason for the scene change. It took Gertrude time to
realize what Hamlet's innocent-sounding "neighbor room" phrase meant,
then she hot footed it to Claudius's room, next door. There's a room
change. Q2 is correct in giving her an "enter" at A4s1. S knew what he
was doing, and later editors and commentators are making a mistake in
trying to argue against what he left us in Q2. Q2 contains few errors,
and none at all in entries and exits. All of the stated entries and
exits in Q2 are right.
There's a good reason for each entry and exit that Q2 shows. Even the
mysterious "little orphan exit" near the end of the Nunnery Scene is
there for a good reason. It's Gertrude's exit. ;-) She said to
Claudius, "I shall obey you," but she did NOT say "my Lord," and there
would be more than one arras in the room (the room is the Lobby.) And
she gets no exit in that passage. Where's her exit? - its much further
down, that's where! When Polonius and Claudius turned to Ophelia, and
Ophelia looked at them, Gertrude hid instead of leaving, and they didn't
notice. She wanted to hear what Hamlet said to Ophelia, too, of course.
Hamlet is HER son. Claudius and Polonius will stay and listen, but
Gertrude will casually walk away? Really now, it defies common sense.
S knew about female curiosity, and human curiosity in general, and he
knew of his own characters that Hamlet is Gertrude's son. What Gertrude
meant with her remark to Claudius was, "I shall obey you, oh, next week.
We'll have lunch, we'll chat, we'll do the 'obey' thing. But not
now." Claudius didn't notice she left out "my Lord." But I'll bet a
cookie Shakespeare did 'notice' she left out that phrase of
subservience. S left out "my Lord" from the dialogue for a good reason,
I do believe. Gertrude hid, instead of leaving as Claudius told her to.
Then S gave her the exit where we find it.
At that Nunnery Scene exit, Hamlet has already left, Ophelia has her
head down crying, and Claudius and Polonius have not yet emerged from
behind their arras. Gertrude steps quickly from behind her arras, and
out the door. The other characters never know she was there. It partly
accounts for Gertrude's sudden fear in the Closet Scene that Hamlet may
murder her. She heard Hamlet say, in the Nunnery Scene, "those that are
married already, all but one shall live." She's married, to Claudius,
and she knows Hamlet doesn't like that. In the Closet Scene, Gertrude
suddenly fears she might be the "one" Hamlet meant.
Where Q2 shows an entry, or an exit, ya gotta take it with utmost
seriousness, and exert every effort to explain it, instead of trying to
argue around it or against it. A misprint here or there in Q2 is
arguable, sure, (and there are the omitted passages that the Folio
adds,) but the stage mechanics from the hand of S, as best we have them,
demand explanation whenever humanly possible, not argument or dismissal.
Gertrude's entry in A4s1 is right! It's a different room, the
"neighbor room." The lonely exit near the end of the Nunnery Scene is
right! It's Gertrude's exit. Those are both valid stage directions
from the hand of Shakespeare, exactly as the original printing shows, in Q2.
There's a deplorable tradition of trying to argue, in various ways,
against the original printings of Hamlet, instead of trying harder to
understand them, that goes back to Warburton, the sad Mr. Collier, and
includes many others. It's a bad tradition that has caused people to
miss significant things that S included in Hamlet. I do NOT include
Professor Jenkins in that unfortunate tradition - I think he was a
victim of it, in those instances where he missed something. He put too
much reliance on secondary sources that happened to have famous names
attached, I think.
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