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Home :: Archive :: 2010 :: July ::
Hamlet's Feminine Endings
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 21.0318  Monday, 26 July 2010

From:         S. L Kasten <
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Date:         July 25, 2010 10:54:01 AM EDT
Subject: 21.0300  Hamlet's Feminine Endings
Comment:      Re: SHK 21.0300  Hamlet's Feminine Endings

Larry Weiss commented

>What makes R & G "exotic"; they are Danish gentlemen at the 
>Danish court. Their names actually belong to well-known Danish 
>families.

We aren't talking about today's Helsingborg, we are talking about an Elsinore 
where everyone had names like Claudius, Marcellus, Bernardo, Laertes etc. To me 
R & G's Germanic names stand out starkly.

As for being gentlemen at the Danish Court--

"Queen:  Good Gentlemen, he hath much talked of you
... 
                           ...If it will please you
to show us so much gentry and good will
As to expend your time with us a while,
For the supply and profit  of our hope,
Your visitation shall receive such thanks
As fits a king's remembrance."

And Hamlet's question: "what have you, my good friends, deserv'd at the hands of 
Fortune, that she sends you to prison hither?" and further on: "But in the 
beaten way of friendship, what make you at Elsinore?" and R's answer: "To visit 
you, my lord, no other occasion."

-- suggest otherwise.

The king's observation

"That being of so young days brought up with him and sith so neighbour'd to his 
youth and haviour,..."

must refer to their being fellow students of Hamlet's at Wittenberg and, like 
Horatio, truants.

I did check the Danish yellow pages and found that there indeed many 
Rosenkrantzes but not a single Guildenstern, Gildenstern, Guldenstern etc.

I also have a personal Danish friend named Rosenberg whose parents brought the 
name with them when they moved from Poland to Copenhagen. One might wonder when 
did the Rozenkrantzes arrive and when did the Guildensterns disappear?

But a question more germane to the list is what was in the author's mind when he 
planted these two north-European named characters among the almost consistently 
south-European named characters of the main plot? My ethnic background forces me 
to see R&G's names as surnames. If they are, this too sets them apart from the 
other characters in the play. If they are to be considered given names even more 
so. Would there be any subliminal resonance in the ear of Shakespeare's 
audience?

Or, a la Gabriel Egan, in the way they looked?

Best wishes,
Syd Kasten


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