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|Hamlet's Feminine Endings|
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 21.0234 Thursday, 10 June 2010
From: William Sutton <
You are not wrong about sonnet 87: though the -ing endings ring in the final couplet with a King (aching)? and waking, though their rimes are er's.
And sonnet 26 has 6 including a feminine final couplet. 28 has 4 including fc. neither is specifically gender oriented. Other fem couplets are 33 + 111.
Sonnet 3 on the other hand the entire first quatrain is fem lines. may have st to do with his mother.
Sonnet 11 has 4 and mistress nature may have some hand in this.
Maybe the fresh numbers in sonnet 17 influence the number of fem lines of which there are 2.
Interesting are the sonnets dealing with the triangle affair 40-43. Sonnet 40 has 4 fem endings in 2nd quatrain. You could force 2 into the 2nd quatrain of 41 by voicing the -ed endings. 42 is clearly referring to her and her doings in the 2nd quatrain and has 6 fem endings. And the -ed endings in 1st quatrain of 43 must be stressed making 2 fem endings.
Sonnet 88 has 4 fem endings but then it talks of weakness, the very thing a fem ending does.
Granted there are plenty of pairs of fem rime words scattered through the series which do not point to gender. (leisure pleasure broken open spirit merit smother other etc. 113 has 2. 114 has 4. 115 2. 116 2. Does this have significance? were they done around the same time? They do tie together in argument. though 116 gets all the attention.
118 2nd quatrain is all fem. 119 has 6 spread over 2 quatrains. 120 has 4. and even an embedded double one in lines 11 + 12.
And soon to you, as you to me then tend'red (fem ending)
121 has 4.
124 has 2. does unfather'd count as gender pointing?
The Mistress sonnets have 2 fem endings and because of the subject matter gender implications in 131, 132 and 133. The spacious joke of line 5 in 135 is feminine.
141 142 and 144 all contain a pair of fem endings. the latter being a female evil. then skip to 151's treason and reason. and finally 6 fem endings in sonnet 152. in which the thee he accuses is a she. Or not if we don't carry the narrative through and accept them as individual poems.
So is there an argument to be made for accepting gender into the use of feminine lines?
Funnily enough sonnet 150, if you accept the original punctuation as the closest to authorial, makes it the only truly end-stopped masculine line sonnet with an intact structure of 4, 4, 4, 2, in the entire series. Every other sonnet has it's verse structure interfered with in some manner. But then again maybe that was the point of these sonnets in the first place.
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