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Home :: Archive :: 2009 :: December ::
Four Riddles in Hamlet
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 20.0618  Friday, 18 December 2009

[1] From:   Jim Fess <
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     Date:   Wednesday, 16 Dec 2009 13:16:49 +0800
     Subj:   SHK 20.0610 Four Riddles in Hamlet

[2] From:   Sid Lubow <
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     Date:   Thursday, 17 Dec 2009 00:09:54 EST
     Subj:   Four Riddles in Hamlet

[3] From:   Lynne Kinder <
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     Date:   Thursday, 17 Dec 2009 06:57:54 +0000 (GMT)
     Subj:   Re: SHK 20.0603 Four Riddles in Hamlet


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       Jim Fess <
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Date:       Wednesday, 16 Dec 2009 13:16:49 +0800
Subject: Four Riddles in Hamlet
Comment:    SHK 20.0610 Four Riddles in Hamlet

These four riddles are unnecessary for the audience. For readers who 
treat Hamlet as a detective novel, they are challenged by four methods: 
(Polonius describes Hamlet's words, "Though this be madness, Yet there 
is Method in it.")

1) multiple definitions: hide (fox) as a verb or noun.

2) anagram: camel, weasel, and whale within Hamlet.

3) sound play: son and sun both to sound but with different meanings.

4) abridgement: North-west Passage to North-west.

Hamlet isn't really mad, Ophelia is. Laertes commented her mad words as 
"A document in madness, thoughts and remembrance fitted." It means her 
words recorded something true but absurd, a history fit Laertes' 
thoughts and memory. Hamlet's madness shows method, Ophelia, the truth. 
It will come later.

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       Sid Lubow <
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Date:       Thursday, 17 Dec 2009 00:09:54 EST
Subject:    Four Riddles in Hamlet

Camel, Weasel, Whale

Unfortunately, Jim Fess' has erred by misquoting Polonius' line, writing 
"By the Miss, and it's like a Camel indeed." Disregarding the emphasis 
placed on 'Miss' by capitalizing it, the line should read, "By th' mass 
and 'tis, like a camel indeed." It misleads him to interpret it as 
meaning: "By the Miss...indeed: By the missing C, Hamlet indeed spells 
Camel."

Hamlet sees Polonius as part of the conspiracy, one of the men close to 
the hems of power responsible for the death of Hamlet's father, the 
King. Someone similar to the evil man Shakespeare wrote about in his 
earlier play, Richard III, the "bunch-back'd toad." The deformed Duke of 
Gloucester, who promoted the evil plots to gain the throne and yet wooed 
the wife of the murdered Prince of Wales. She despised the "deform'd' 
creature and spat upon him but he prevailed upon her to accept his 
engagement ring, as Claudius did in this play, Hamlet.

Our hero Hamlet sees a similar hump-back'd comspiracy in the three 
principal villains that have usurped the throne and killed his 
counterpart in Richard III. This prince in Hamlet is alive, out for 
revenge and puns throughout the play, about his relatives, "uncle-father 
and aunt-mother,"

KING CLAUDIUS ....But now, my cousin Hamlet, and my son, --

HAMLET     [Aside]  A little more than kin, and less than kind.

KING CLAUDIUS     How is it that the clouds still hang on you?

Kin, indeed, a king, a little more than kin, and less than what kind of 
king a king should be, indeed a son, to Anglo-Saxons, the word 'kind', 
meaning, child. And punning further, on Claudius' name, Hamlet leaves 
Polonius in a cloud by leading him into this mass of wit which goes over 
the old man's head, making him look up to the sky to see a cumulus 
cloud.  (A massy cloud form with a flat base and rounded outlines piled 
up like a mountain). Or like a whale, a humpbacked one?

HAMLET     Do you see yonder cloud that's almost in shape of a camel?

LORD POLONIUS     By the mass, and 'tis like a camel, indeed.

HAMLET     Methinks it is like a weasel.

LORD POLONIUS     It is backed like a weasel.

HAMLET     Or like a whale?

LORD POLONIUS     Very like a whale.

HAMLET     Then I will come to my mother by and by. They fool
      me to the top of my bent. I will come by and by.

LORD POLONIUS     I will say so.

HAMLET     By and by is easily said.

[Exit POLONIUS]      By and by - his short future time is coming

Sid Lubow

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       Lynne Kinder <
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Date:       Thursday, 17 Dec 2009 06:57:54 +0000 (GMT)
Subject: 20.0603 Four Riddles in Hamlet
Comment:    Re: SHK 20.0603 Four Riddles in Hamlet

From:       Kenneth Chan <
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     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.

Lynne Kinder: Could this not mean that the dead (ghost) King is with the 
body of Polonius, but the King is not with the body (meaning his own 
body, not that of Polonius) because he is a ghost and his body is 
buried? I'm quite prepared to be told that I'm wrong - I'm very new to 
Shakespeare, but very interested.

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