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Home :: Archive :: 2009 :: December ::
Four Riddles in Hamlet
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 20.0593  Friday, 11 December 2009

From:       Sid Lubow <
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 >
Date:       Thursday, 10 Dec 2009 14:29:44 EST
Subject:    Knowing A Hawk from a Handsaw.

HAMLET    You are welcome: but my
      uncle-father and aunt-mother are deceived.

GUILDENSTERN        In what, my dear lord?

HAMLET    I am but mad north-north-west: when the wind is
      southerly I know a hawk from a handsaw.

Hamlet is angry and appears mad to all who hear him. But his rage is 
hardly kept in check when one realizes that he is on a manhunt to the 
hunting grounds to avenge his dead relative, his father, slain by his 
uncle, devilishly. He looks madly north-north-west, but when the wind is 
southerly, hunters and the hawks know the herons (heronshaw) are in 
flight, right into the claws of the hunters.

A Southerly Wind

A southerly wind and a cloudy sky
Proclaims of a hunting morning
Before the sun rises away we'll fly
Away from our drowsy beds scorning...
etc.

And when the players leave and the hunter's trap is set, Hamlet 
soliloquizes: "Now I am alone" and pregnant of his cause to spring the 
trapsychologically, for mother, though she have no tongue, "will speak / 
With most miraculous organ."

He'll "have grounds more relative than this," (what could be more 
relative than uncle-father, aunt-mother) "the play's the thing / Wherein 
I'll catch the conscience of the King."

The King flew right onto the trap and took mot-her-on as well.

Sid Lubow

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