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Home :: Archive :: 2010 :: June ::
Hamlet's Feminine Endings

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 21.0226  Monday, 7 June 2010

From:         Peter Groves < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
Date:         June 5, 2010 11:01:43 PM EDT
Subject: 21.0218  Hamlet's Feminine Endings
Comment:      Re: SHK 21.0218  Hamlet's Feminine Endings

Richard Waugaman asks "what about Sonnet 20 ('A Womans face with natures owne hand painted')? Surely, it is no coincidence that, as Booth put it, 'Only this sonnet about gender has feminine rhymes throughout.'"

No doubt it is no coincidence, but it has always struck me as a sort of one-off joke: we observe that the sonnet is about confusion of gender, note the feminine endings, and think "how witty!".  But this is not the same as automatically associating feminine endings with femininity (sonnet 87 -- "Farewell, thou art too dear for my possessing" -- has 12 of them, almost as many as 20, but no connection with gender), and I find no evidence that readers and audiences have typically done so (or would gain anything from so doing).

Peter Groves
Monash University

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