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Home :: Archive :: 2007 :: June ::
Pregnant Ophelia
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0362  Thursday, 7 June 2007

From: 		Arnie Perlstein <
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Date: 		Saturday, 12 May 2007 12:07:25 -0400
Subject: 	Question about history of idea of Ophelia as Pregnant by

This morning I inadvertently joined the distinguished (or dubious, 
depending on your point of view) club of all those who have ever 
wondered whether Shakespeare intended to create a plausible implication 
that Ophelia was pregnant by Hamlet when she killed herself. For what 
it's worth, after reading up on the subject, I believe Shakespeare did 
indeed intend to do that, but I don't mean to open up a very old can of 
worms again with this message. This idea seems to have been thoroughly 
discussed in this list several times, and I have nothing new to add on 
the subject.

My specific question is, does anyone know when that theory was first 
proposed? I would suspect probably before 1700, given that it is 
apparently a thought that has been repeatedly and independently 
rediscovered many times (as I just did), which is one of the reasons why 
I think it was intentional.  But I'd be curious to know more about any 
actual published pre-20th century versions of the theory.

It also occurs to me that this message would also be an opportune moment 
for me to announce that I will be giving a presentation at Oxford on 
June 7 entitled "So you think you know all the right answers to all the 
right questions about Jane Austen's Emma?" in which I will, in part, be 
making the case for a number of never previously claimed allusions to 
Shakespeare plays (including but not limited to Hamlet) in Jane Austen's 
Emma, beyond those discovered previously by Jocelyn Harris and others.

The details on my talk can be found at my brandnew blog

http://sharpelvessociety.blogspot.com/

and at the website for the Romantic Realignments Seminar at Oxford:

http://www.romanticrealignments.blogspot.com/

Cheers,
Arnie Perlstein
Weston, Florida

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