The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.1325 Tuesday, 27 July 1999.
Date: Monday, 26 Jul 1999 15:19:10 -0400 (EDT)
I was going over the text of Hamlet and a line jumped out at me. In V,
ii, 394, Horatio refers to being able to tell 'of deaths put on by
I wonder if it has ever been suggested that Ophelia was not really dead
but perhaps only given some sleeping potion akin to that taken by
Romeo. This might explain why Laertes stops the gravediggers from
throwing on the dirt. The last word on the subject comes from Claudius
who says that her grave shall have a living guard until the matter
between Hamlet and Laertes is decided. Perhaps, this was also to allow
time for her to awaken from the effects of a sleeping potion.
Another line which recently came to my attention is IV, vii, 127, where
Laertes says that to prove himself his father's son he will cut Hamlet's
throat in a church. There is a striking resonancy in this to III, iii
where Hamlet forgoes the opportunity to kill Claudius specifically
because he is at prayer. I wonder if this difference between Hamlet and
Laertes has ever been analyzed.
Yours in the work,