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Home :: Archive :: 2008 :: March ::
Solid Flesh Once More
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 19.0175  Thursday, 13 March 2008

From:		Carol Barton <
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Date:		Tuesday, 11 Mar 2008 15:54:18 -0400
Subject: 19.0162 Solid Flesh Once More
Comment:	Re: SHK 19.0162 Solid Flesh Once More

Amen, to David Bishop.

Otherwise, as I've frequently pointed out to my students, that sign on 
the Elks' Club that reads

           MEMBERS ONLY

could mean that only fingers, toes, and -- ahem -- other appendages are 
permitted to enter, and the sign on the Wilson Bridge (which spans the 
Potomac between Maryland and Virginia) that reads

           NO STOPPING WHILE FLASHING

means that if you're running over the bridge wearing only your raincoat, 
you have to keep moving while you -- strut your stuff.

Ditto WATCH FOR TURNING VEHICLES, which always gives the mental image of 
a convoy of eighteen-wheelers revolving in synchronized spins in front 
of me.

Words--especially Shakespearean words--have meaning--and "solid" is the 
word that makes sense in this context, as many other respondents have 
pointed out. Forgive my invocation of this horrid image, but it's one 
with which Shakespeare's audiences were ghoulishly familiar: not only 
does a solid like ice "resolve itself into a dew" when it melts . . . 
so does a human body being burnt at the stake. (I don't think WS 
intended to evoke the latter, and I also don't think Hamlet sees himself 
or his flesh at any point in the play as "sullied"--not even by murder.)

And while we're on that subject: I saw the Olivier interpretation again 
last evening, and (begin sensitized to it by recent debates on SHAKSPER) 
realized that he played the "eavesdropping" scene as though Hamlet knew 
before the fact that he and Ophelia were being observed, having 
overheard Claudius, Gertrude, and Polonius plotting the encounter only 
seconds before Ophelia arrived with her book. (His Hamlet even screams 
"all but one" to the arras, and punches his fist into the curtain.)

Apologies if someone's pointed that out already; I've been otherwise 
occupied.

Best to all,
Carol Barton

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