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Home :: Archive :: 2008 :: February ::
Solid Flesh
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 19.0109  Monday, 18 February 2008

From:		David Bishop <
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Date:		Saturday, 16 Feb 2008 16:11:51 -0500
Subject: 19.0101 Solid Flesh
Comment:	Re: SHK 19.0101 Solid Flesh

I find it rather amazing to read Jenkins's note, in which he mentions 
the association of dryness or solidity with melancholy and entirely 
fails, as do all the editors Hardy cites, to note the very obvious and 
simple association of solid flesh with youth. Youth significantly 
contributes to the difficulty of dying. That dying, rather than some 
obscure kind of purification, is the point, is indicated, I think, by 
the alternative wish that the Everlasting had not fixed his canon 
'gainst self-slaughter. The first part might be paraphrased, "I wish I 
would drop dead." But anyone could say that.  Only a young man can 
lament the excessive solidity of his flesh which frustrates that wish.

I also believe that Hamlet has not yet reached the point of self-disgust 
which "sullied" would imply. Nor do I think the audience is quite ready 
to absorb that thought. What we have here is an angry young man, whose 
ideals of purity and faithfulness have been outraged-though an unbiased 
viewer (!) might be forgiven for feeling some uncertainty, at this 
point, about how far that youthful outrage is justified. Hamlet's rage 
is connected to his youth, and we know something, or think we do, about 
hotheaded youth. Jenkins says this begins the theme of self-disgust. I 
think he's premature. But this question turns on one's understanding of 
the whole play, which we can't get into here.

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