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Home :: Archive :: 2009 :: December ::
Four Riddles in Hamlet
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 20.0603  Monday, 14 December 2009

From:       Kenneth Chan <
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Date:       Saturday, 12 Dec 2009 04:51:01 +0800
Subject: 20.0587 Four Riddles in Hamlet
Comment:    Re: SHK 20.0587 Four Riddles in Hamlet

ROS: My Lord, you must tell us where the body is, and go with us to the 
King.
HAM: The body is with the King, but the King is not with the body.

In line with both the play's recurring theme of death and the human 
tendency to deny a personal mortality, as well as the fact that 
Rosencrantz is talking about the body of Polonius who has recently died, 
the meaning of Hamlet's statement is likely to be this:

The physical body, which inevitably ages and dies, is certainly with the 
King, but the King refuses to recognize this impermanent nature of his 
body, so his mind is "not with the body." He behaves as though he will 
live forever, ignoring the inevitability of death (even to the extent of 
murdering his own brother for mere materialistic ends).


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