HW HomePrevious CNView CNView TNMView TNINext CN

Line 341 - Commentary Note (CN) More Information

341 With such dexteritie to incestious sheets,1.2.157
1723- mtby2
341 dexteritie] Thirlby (1723-) suggests “ celerity” fairly strongly.
1733- mtby3
mtby3 = mtby2
341 dexteritie]
1747 warb
341 dexteritie] Warburton (ed. 1747): “Dexterity, for quickness simply.”
1747 mtby4
341 dexteritie] Thirlby (1747-) “MP an celerity fnm Hoc ibi. Yet to post with dexterity is a very odd phrase unless for a tumbler walking upon his hands.”
1753 blair
blair = warb
341 dexteritie]
1765- mDavies
mDavies ≈ warb without attribution
341 dexteritie] Davies (ms. note in John, ed. 1765, opp. 146): “Dexterity for rapidity.”
1773- mSteevens
mSteevens = warb
341 dexteritie]
1778 mmal1
mmal1≈ tby without attribution
341 dexteritie Malone (-1778, fol. 50v): “I suspect the author wrote ‘With such celerity.”
1784 Davies
Davies = mDavies
341 dexteritie] Davies (1784, 3:12): “ Dexterity for rapidity.”
1791- rann
rann ≈ Davies
341 dexteritie] Rann (ed. 1791-): “With such velocity, so rapidly.”
1854 del2
341 dexteritie] Delius (ed. 1854): “dexterity = Behendigkeit, eigentlch Alles, was Einem rasch von der Hand geht.” [Dexterity means agility, everything that proceeds quickly from someone’s hand.]
1860 Walker
Walker ≈ mtby without attribution
341 dexteritie] Walker (1860, 2: 242): “Words Corrupted in the Beginning” [of the word] : “I cannot help suspecting that Shakespeare wrote ‘celerity.’”
1860 Lettsom in Walker
Lettsom contra Walker
341 dexteritie] Lettsom (1860, 2:242-3): “[[But in a tract called Ancient Words, &c., p. 688, Walker quotes as an example of dexterity used for celerity, W. Rowley, A Match at Midnight, i. l (9), Dodsley, vol. vii. p. 316,—‘and I pray, however Fortune, she that gives over with the dexterity she takes, shall please to fashion out my </p.242 ><p. 243> sufferings, yet,’ &c. He seems, therefore, to have been in doubt about the matter.—Ed.”]]
1866 dyce2
dyce2 = Walker + contra Walker
341 dexteritie] Dyce (ed. 1866): “Surely not.”
1868 tsch
tsch contra Lettsom on Walker
341 dexteritie] Tschischwitz (apud Furness, ed. 1877): “To say that ‘dexterity’ means celerity, involves an intolerable pleonasm when connected with ‘wicked speed.’ Sh. had clearly in mind the Italian destressa, which contains the idea of deceit, and consequently of a haste or of an artifice which is morally wrong.”
1872 cln1
cln1 ≈ Lettsom? + //
341 dexteritie] Clark & Wright (ed. 1872): “not ‘adroitness,’ but ‘celerity.’ So, in [1H4 2.4.286 (1216)], ‘with as quick dexterity.’”
1874 Schmidt
341 dexteritie] Schmidt (1874): “nimbleness.”
1877 v1877
v1877: warb, walker, dyce2, cln1, tschisch
341 dexteritie]
1883 wh2
wh2 : standard
341 dexteritie] White (ed. 1883): “possibly a misprint for ‘celerity,’ but more probably a loose use of the word.”
1885 mull
mull : standard
341 dexteritie] Mull (ed. 1885): “expedition.”
1904, rpt. 2007 Bradley
341 incestius] Bradley (1904; rpt. 2007, p. 87, n. 19) comments on the importance of the incest motif, asserted three times by Hamlet (341, 2365, 3807) and twice by the ghost (729, 768): “If, as we may suppose, the marriage was universally admitted to be incestuous, the corrupt acquiescence of the court and the electors to the crown would naturally have a strong effect on Hamlet’s mind.” Ed. note: Perhaps that is why, surrounded as he is by members of the king’s court at the end, Hamlet has to plead with Horatio to tell his tale aright: he cannot count on the witnesses to repeat what Laertes has claimed about the king.
1913 Trench
Trench ≈ Bradley on incest + H8 connection
341 incestious] Trench (1913, p. 54): “The marriage, being within prohibited degrees of affinity was ’incestuous.’ ” Trench (p. 257), discussing H8, says that the situation of Catherine of Aragon determined the attitude towards Gertrude in Hamlet.
1935 Wilson
Wilson WHH contra T.S.Eliot
341 incestious] Wilson (1935, pp. 39, 43, 208, 307) < p. 39> claims that what disturbs Ham. is the sin of incest, her “infringement of ecclesiastical law.” </ p. 39> < p. 208> Ham. is “trapped and defiled by the slimy coils of Gertrude’s lust,” but he is not insane. </ p. 208> < p. 307> With the horror of incest, Wilson counters T. E. Eliot’s judgment that Ham.’s emotion is “in excess of the facts as they appear” (qtd from The Sacred Wood 2nd ed. pp. 98-101). </p. 307>
1936 cam3b
cam3b: Trench
341 incestious] Wilson (ed. 1936, rpt. 1954, add. notes): “Trench (pp. 55, 257-60) notes ‘that the recent internal history and the existing international position of Sh.’s England turned largely upon that very point, the case of Gertrude being precisely parallel with that of Catherine of Aragon.’”
Ed. note: Not precisely. Catherine had no children by her first husband (the brother of Henry 8), and she swore that her first marriage was not consummated; Henry never refuted her assertion. Though Wilson in his 1937 note on p. 335 refers to Trench’s appendix B here, he ignores Trench’s point that it is not incest but remarriage that most concerns Ham.
1938 parc
341 incestious] Parrott & Craig (ed. 1938): “In Shakespeare’s day marriage with a deceased husband’s brother was considered incestuous.”
1939 kit2
kit2: standard
341 desteritie] Kittredge (ed. 1939): "speed, eager haste."
1958 fol1
fol1: standard
341 incestious] incestuousWright & LaMar (ed. 1958): “according to contemporary theology, the marriage of a woman with her husband’s brother was incestuous.”
1980 pen2
341 dexteritie] Spencer (ed. 1980): “facility.”
1982 ard2
ard2: standard
341 dexteritie] Jenkins (ed. 1982): “nimbleness. Cf. 1H4 2.4.286 (1216), ’You carried your guts away as nimbly, with as quick dexterity . . . ’ ”

ard2: standard
341 incestuous] Jenkins (ed. 1982): “Incest formerly included the union of a woman with her husband’s brother. (See Leviticus 18.16; 20.21).”
1985 cam4
cam4; W. F. Trench
341 incestious] Edwards (ed. 1985): "Marriage to a brother’s wife was explicitly forbidden by the Church. See the ’Table of Kindred and Affinity’ in the Book of Common Prayer. Henry VIII had been given special dispensation by the Pope to marry his brother’s widow, Catherine of Aragon. His later inability to obtain from the Pope a dissolution of his marriage precipitated the English Reformation and the succession of Queen Elizabeth. W. F. Trench thought that Shakespeare and the audience of Hamlet would share the national view that such a marriage was sinful. See his Shakespeare’s ’Hamlet’, 1913, pp. 55, 257-60."
1987 oxf4
oxf4: Schmidt
341 dexteritie] Hibbard (ed. 1987): "nimbleness (Schmidt)."

341 incestious] Hibbard (ed. 1987): "because marriage to a deceased husband’s brother was forbidden by the Church, whether Catholic or Protestant."
1988 bev2
bev2: standard
341 incestious] Bevington (ed. 1988): “(In Shakespeare’s day, the marriage of a man like Claudius to his deceased brother’s wife was considered incestuous.).”
1992 fol2
341 incestious] Mowat & Werstine (ed. 1992): “Hamlet calls the marriage of his mother and his uncle ’incestuous’— i.e., a violation of the laws against intercourse between close kin. The Ghost will also make this change [729]. Other members of the Danish court seem to see the marriage of Gertrude and Claudius as legal and legitimate. Debates about the incestuousness of a marriage between a widow and her dead husband’s brother were heated in the 16th century (especially during the divorce trial of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon). The Bible gives conflicting commands about such marriages. How one is to view the marriage of Gertrude and Claudius is an ongoing focus of interest for students of Hamlet.” Ed. note:See Kliman 1999, below.
1999 Kliman
Kliman: bible +
341 incestuous] Lev. 18.6 ff proscribes various unions, including brother with brother’s wife: “Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy brother’s wife: it is thy brother’s nakedness” (10.16). The penalty is childlessness (20:21). Leverite marriage, on the other hand, specifies a brother’s obligation to a dead brother; he must marry the widow to produce heirs for his brother (Deut. 25.5-9). This union is required only if the brother left no heir (and justifies the marriage of H8 to his dead brother’s childless widow). See also 729, 768, 2365, 3807. In Mt. 22.24, Mk. 12.19, Lk 20.28, the issue of Leverite marriage is brought up to question which husband the wife (who married several brothers consecutively) would join in heaven; Jesus does not deny Leverite marriage but asserts that in heaven there is no marriage. Interestingly enough, though the word incest appears alone or in adjectival form five times in the play, Hamlet does not mention it during the closet scene.
2006 ard3q2
ard3q2: religious; historical ref.; xref
341 incestious] Thompson & Taylor (ed. 2006): “For a man to marry his brother’s wife was forbidden by Judaeo-Christian tradition (Leviticus, 18.16 and 20.21; Book of Common Prayer, ’Table of Kindred and Affinity’). The audience would presumably be aware that Henry VIII had gained papal permission to do just this when he married Katherine of Aragon (widow of his brother Arthur), though he subsequently claimed it was a sin after all when he wished to marry Anne Boleyn (mother of Queen Elizabeth), thereby precipitating the English Reformation (Shakespeare and John Fletcher were later to dramatize this event in Henry VIII). Interestingly, the Queen in Fratricide Punished . . . mentions a papal dispensation for her second marriage in the equivalent of the closet scene (3.6; Bullough, 7.145-6). Within Hamlet, only Hamlet and the Ghost seem concerned about the charge of incest (see [729] and [768]); the King himself, for example, does not list it among his sins in his attempt to pray in [2311-48]; the Queen sees her second marriage as merely ’hasty’ [1081] and the councillors have apparently, ’gone along’ with it ([193-4]).”
341 3807