The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 20.0603 Monday, 14 December 2009
From: Kenneth Chan <
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
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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