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TOPIC: Hamlet Q2 version

Hamlet Q2 version 7 years 3 months ago #757

Back to A5s1, a footnote relevant to Hamlet's age.

This line by the sexton Clown.....

~~~~~
Here’s a skull now hath lien you I’the earth 23 years.
~~~~~

The original Q2 language is.....

-=-=-
heer's a scull now hath lyen you i'th earth 23. yeeres.
=-=-=

Recall the "lie" banter between Hamlet and the Clown, and notice Hamlet has just mentioned "lying in the earth," only three short speeches earlier.

Also, the Bard often wrote poetic couplets, as we know. In interpreting couplets for prose meaning, it's often necessary to rearrange the words. Do that with the Clown's line, above.

From this:

heer's a scull now hath lyen you i'th earth 23. yeeres.

You get this:

heer's a scull now you hath lyen i'th earth 23. yeeres.

Modernized, and with a touch of punctuation:

Here's a skull, now you have lyin' in the earth: 23 years.

It gives "now you have lying in the earth" just before the Clown says "23 years."

Shakespeare is telling us that when the Clown says "23 years," he's lying ("in the earth.") It goes right along with Hamlet saying the skull has a bad smell, which means it isn't older than 9 years.

Put Hamlet at 16, as mentioned earlier, then put the skull age at, say, 8 years. That would make Yorick alive when Hamlet was 7, and younger. It does go along with Hamlet, as a child, riding Yorick's back. It all works. And it's no accident that it all works out.
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Hamlet Q2 version 7 years 3 months ago #763

Willedever wrote:
But if you do repunctuate, I suggest only this change.....

... well come. The readiness ...

Yep. That makes sense. I'll leave the rest as Q2 states.
Willedever wrote:
A5s2, this.....

Ho! Let the door be locked!

I think the actor/director can decide this. It's fairly close to Q2 and yet still makes sense.


Geez... I guess that's about it! Now on to bigger and better things!
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Hamlet Q2 version 7 years 2 months ago #770

I've gotta add a note about playing Hamlet, concerning when Hamlet and Horatio first meet. People do weird things with that meeting sometimes, which don't really work on stage, and don't make any sense. Here's how to play it.

I'm talking about this exchange:

-=-=-=-
Horatio: Hail to your Lordship.
Hamlet: I am glad to see you well; Horatio, or I do forget my self.
=-=-=-=

First, keep in mind that Marcellus is leading Horatio to Hamlet. Also, that Hamlet and Horatio are very good friends.

Bring Marcellus, Horatio, and Barnardo on stage a little earlier than it shows in the original playscript. Be aware that the original Q2 entries are especially keyed to the dialogue, they're not always intended as perfect marks for physical presence on stage (far from it.) Time the entry so that Marcellus et al arrive at Hamlet just as he finishes the soliloquy, and has not looked toward them yet. It does take good timing.

Hamlet is looking into the distance, finishing his soliloquy as the others physically enter. Marcellus stops at conversational distance from Hamlet, maybe 3 feet, whatever's comfortable or what the performance calls for.

Again, Marcellus is in the lead. Horatio is behind Marcellus.

Horatio ducks down behind Marcellus to hide, and Horatio yells out "Hail to your lordship!"

Hamlet turns, and all he sees is Marcellus (and Barnardo.) Hamlet stares directly at Marcellus, wondering if he's "mad." Hamlet thinks Marcellus must have yelled it. He gives Marcellus a very sharp look. Marcellus just stands there, and tries to look innocent.

Hamlet then says to Marcellus, "I am glad to see you well," but with the undertone of, 'are you really well, or are you nuts?'

Then Horatio pops up from behind Marcellus, and grins at Hamlet. Aha, that explains it!

Hamlet exclaims "Horatio!" and steps to him to shake his hand. And etc.

Hamlet's line before the semicolon is spoken to Marcellus. Then there's a pause. Hamlet says the second part of his line, beginning with "Horatio!" when Horatio stands up so Hamlet can see him.

Don't do goofball stuff like pretending Hamlet can't see. It never really works on stage. Use timing and physical position to handle it.

Also, doing it like that begins the characterization of Hamlet and Horatio as good friends. Buddies will do little teasing tricks like that.
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Hamlet Q2 version 7 years 2 months ago #790

I agree with you about the play's first exchange between Hamlet and Horatio. But this bit is making my head hurt:
Willedever wrote:
Back to A5s1, a footnote relevant to Hamlet's age.

This line by the sexton Clown.....

~~~~~
Here’s a skull now hath lien you I’the earth 23 years.
~~~~~

The original Q2 language is.....

-=-=-
heer's a scull now hath lyen you i'th earth 23. yeeres.
=-=-=

Recall the "lie" banter between Hamlet and the Clown, and notice Hamlet has just mentioned "lying in the earth," only three short speeches earlier.

Also, the Bard often wrote poetic couplets, as we know. In interpreting couplets for prose meaning, it's often necessary to rearrange the words. Do that with the Clown's line, above.

From this:

heer's a scull now hath lyen you i'th earth 23. yeeres.

You get this:

heer's a scull now you hath lyen i'th earth 23. yeeres.

Modernized, and with a touch of punctuation:

Here's a skull, now you have lyin' in the earth: 23 years.

It gives "now you have lying in the earth" just before the Clown says "23 years."

Shakespeare is telling us that when the Clown says "23 years," he's lying ("in the earth.") It goes right along with Hamlet saying the skull has a bad smell, which means it isn't older than 9 years.

Put Hamlet at 16, as mentioned earlier, then put the skull age at, say, 8 years. That would make Yorick alive when Hamlet was 7, and younger. It does go along with Hamlet, as a child, riding Yorick's back. It all works. And it's no accident that it all works out.

What about the Clown's reference to the year of Hamlet's birth? Please elucidate.
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Hamlet Q2 version 7 years 2 months ago #794

sorensonian wrote:
... this bit is making my head hurt:

That's normal, when discussing Hamlet. :)
What about the Clown's reference to the year of Hamlet's birth? Please elucidate.

I did a post about Hamlet's age, here:

http://www.playshakespeare.com/forum/vi ... ?p=685#685

Is that responsive to your question? I'll try writing more about the subject if it isn't.
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Hamlet Q2 version 7 years 2 months ago #795

Willedever wrote:
Want to get into the subject of Hamlet's age? Boggle your mind, amaze your friends, and frighten the dog. :D

Hamlet is 16 years old -- and the sexton actually says so. He does not say Hamlet is 30. That is a fact in the playtext.

But it's a beast to read, and explain, because of the intricate and ingenious way Shakespeare wrote the passage. I could go through it, but it takes a while. And I'm not sure this thread is the best place for all that, anyway. It requires showing how the sexton's remarks can be read in two different ways (intentionally written so by Shakespeare.) Under one reading, it does appear the sexton is implying Hamlet is 30. But under the other reading, which is what the sexton is really trying to say, it makes Hamlet 16.

It involves an intentional word puzzle from Shakespeare. And it's a doozy. It's funny how some people will call Shakespeare a genius, but then act as if they don't think he was good with words. Guess again.

As far as the playtext goes, the point about Hamlet's age does have relevance to this line.....

~~~~~
1 Clown. Why, here in Denmark. I have been sexton here, man and boy, thirty years.
~~~~~

There's no error in that, in modern spelling. However, in Q2, "sexton" is spelled 'Sexten.' That original spelling is intentional, chosen to suggest "sixteen" (six and ten.) The Folio then did things outright by spelling the word "sixeteene." The Folio editors obviously knew what was going on in the passage, and they used the special spelling to try to be helpful to the reader, to help carry the point that Hamlet is really 16.

Everything people have ever written about Hamlet being 30 is wrong.

There are places in Hamlet where the dialogue is extremely difficult to follow, because of the exact way it's written, and even Ph.D's in English have a lot of trouble with it. Even well-known authors of books have a lot of trouble with the Hamlet dialogue, and sometimes it really shows.

Anyway, the immediate point is the spelling of "sexton." It's entirely an editorial judgment call, but the wordplay of Q2 'Sexten' to suggest 16 is important, on the fact of Hamlet's age. You might consider leaving it 'Sexten' (with the capital) in the playtext, exactly as the original Q2 shows. In stage performance, it's simply spoken as "sexton."

Or, just leave it as you have it. It'll always need a commentary note to explain what's going on with the sexton's statement. Spelling, alone, won't get the job done, no matter how it's spelled.

Heck, as long as I'm here. Here's the two different ways of reading the sexton's line. And again, this is intentional from Shakespeare, that it can be read two different ways.

-=-=-
Why, here in Denmark. I have been sixteen (years) here, (as sexton) -- (and alive as a) man and boy, (for) thirty years.
=-=-=

The original Q2 word 'Sexten' does double duty in the line. It's devilishly clever.

That's what the sexton is actually trying to say. He's been sexton for 16 years, and his total age is 30. Bingo! - Hamlet is 16.

The second reading, the one that always "gets" people, is.....

-=-=-
Why, here in Denmark. I have been (the) sexton here, man and boy, (for) thirty years.
=-=-=

That's soooo easy. It's TOO easy. Superficially, that sounds as if it might be right, and it would make Hamlet 30. However, the sexton couldn't have been the sexton when he was only a little boy. If you read it like that, Shakespeare gotcha. Even the Ph.D's and the famous authors have tried to read it like that, and it gets 'em every time.

And for a full analysis, there's even a third reading. :shock: But it doesn't change Hamlet being 16.

Actually, I tend to think you're right. There's definitely something very clever going on in these lines, and Shakespeare once again demonstrates that he's even more brilliant than we could possibly imagine. Still, if I were you I'd be careful of pronouncing one of the two (or more) meanings definitive. Maybe the different possible interpretations are equally valid? Maybe the hint with the 30 years is there for good reason, to make us think (as we commonly do) that some significant change has taken place in Hamlet between acts IV and V. So I don't think we ought to dismiss the more apparently obvious meanings too quickly, even if it can be shown that Shakespeare is manipulating us and has other meanings in mind as well. But I agree that a close analysis like the one you're offering can be extremely enlightening.

Have you published any books on Shakespeare analysis?
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Hamlet Q2 version 7 years 2 months ago #796

sorensonian wrote:
Actually, I tend to think you're right.

Good, because I am. ;)
Shakespeare once again demonstrates that he's even more brilliant than we could possibly imagine.

Well, he wasn't that brilliant, but he was dam' good.
Still, if I were you I'd be careful of pronouncing one of the two (or more) meanings definitive.

Both the interpretations I gave are definitely right. There's also a couple more ways to view it, which are relevant.
Maybe the different possible interpretations are equally valid?

A valid interpretation is a relevant interpretation, and there are different degrees and kinds of relevance.
Maybe the hint with the 30 years is there for good reason, ...

Well, sure, and the reason is the sexton. He's the one who says it. The sexton is saying he's thirty.

The sexton Clown is a lampoon of Ben Jonson. When James Roberts registered Hamlet for publication, on July 26, 1602, Ben Jonson was 30 years old.

You've heard of the so-called "war of the theaters?" Jonson was writing for boy actors, in competition with the Globe, for one thing. Recall the mention of the child actors. Much more could be said about it. Shakespeare got the last laugh on Jonson, by far, by lampooning him in the immortal Hamlet as an "even Christian" who's arrogant and ignorant, calls his friend a jackass, and demands liquor while he's working. And Jonson a sexton, of all things. It's hilarious.

"Poor Yorick" has topical allusion to Gabriel Spenser (sometimes spelled "Spencer,") who was killed by Jonson in a duel with swords. I need to double-check Spenser's age when he died, but he may have been 23.

Gabriel Spenser is buried in St Leonard's Churchyard in Shoreditch, the same churchyard where James Burbage, Richard Burbage, and Richard Tarlton are buried. Also, William Somers, who was court jester to King Henry VIII, is buried at St Leonard's.

"Poor Yorick" (poor man of "yore") is actually allusion to the actor's graveyard at St Leonard's, where William Somers, Richard Tarlton, James Burbage, and Gabriel "Spencer" were all buried at the time Hamlet was published.

Alas, poor Yorick = alas, poor dead actors, of yore.

Saint Leonard is a patron of prisoners. ("Denmark's a prison.")

Saint Leonard is historically associated with Saint Lie. You know of the "lie" banter between Hamlet and the sexton.

And so on.
So I don't think we ought to dismiss the more apparently obvious meanings too quickly, even if it can be shown that Shakespeare is manipulating us ...

That's the wrong way to view it. Shakespeare was telling us things, is what he was doing. But of course those things had to fit into his play. He was manipulating his audience in a way, but a fun and informative way, not a malicious one.
Have you published any books on Shakespeare analysis?

I have too much material for a print publication of practical size.

Edit - fixed a typo in a name
Last Edit: 7 years 2 months ago by Willedever.
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Hamlet Q2 version 7 years 2 months ago #797

Willedever wrote:
The sexton Clown is a lampoon of Ben Jonson. When James Roberts registered Hamlet for publication, on July 26, 1602, Ben Jonson was 30 years old.

That's a possibility I'm open to. But wasn't the play written a year or two before it was registered?
Willedever wrote:
You've heard of the so-called "war of the theaters?" Jonson was writing for boy actors, in competition with the Globe, for one thing. Recall the mention of the child actors.

Yes, I'm well aware of it.
Willedever wrote:
"Poor Yorick" has topical allusion to Gabriel Spenser (sometimes spelled "Spencer,") who was killed by Jonson in a duel with swords.

That's certainly possible. But I believe there are other (even deeper) levels to it as well. I believe Shakespeare himself generally (but not exclusively) speaks through his plays in the fools' voices, and Yorick, "a fellow of infinite jest", is one of these self-references. But to see this requires a better view of my own overarching theory, which ties all the plays and poems together.
Willedever wrote:
("Denmark's a prison.")

I should know - I live here! :-)
Willedever wrote:
Have you published any books on Shakespeare analysis?

I have too much material for a print publication of practical size.

One is tempted to ask, Wherefore have these gifts a curtain before 'em? Well, I know the Internet is a very accessible venue these days, but do you not desire recognition and approval from established academia? What do scholars say when you present your case to them, as I'm sure you must have done on a number of occasions?
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Hamlet Q2 version 7 years 2 months ago #800

sorensonian wrote:
But wasn't the play written a year or two before it was registered?

The date the Bard began writing Hamlet is unknown. The proto-Hamlet of c. 1589 may have been his, perhaps with some assistance from Kyd with the blank verse to pad it out to stage length (which would account for Kyd getting associated with it.)

As to ending date, the Bard was still working on Hamlet, a little, after the Second Quarto manuscript was ready for printing. The total writing that went into the Hamlet we have today probably spans 16 years, or so.
I have too much material for a print publication of practical size.
One is tempted to ask, Wherefore have these gifts a curtain before 'em? Well, I know the Internet is a very accessible venue these days, but do you not desire recognition and approval from established academia? What do scholars say when you present your case to them, as I'm sure you must have done on a number of occasions?

Lemme tell ya somethin', as long as we're here. Don't tell anybody. It's a secret. Hamlet says in the play that he may put on an "antic disposition."

It's a banana for the monkeys.

I.e., it's a sop to the groundlings. It's something for people who aren't really able, mentally, to handle what's going on in Hamlet, and provided for them, so that they can still watch, or read, the play and be reassured that Hamlet is just "acting funny" and it's okay.

Then go back and look through "scholarly" - ahem - Hamlet commentary, over the many years, and even up until today. Look at how many academic scholars have grabbed "antic disposition" like they've found the Holy Grail - without the slightest idea they're chewing on the banana for the monkey.

But why should I tell them?
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Hamlet Q2 version 7 years 2 months ago #805

I'm not quite sure what you're getting at (nor how it answers my question). You're saying that the antic disposition is a ruse for the readers/critics, as well as for the other characters in the play?
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