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1353-4 gell in apprehension, how like a God: the beautie of the | world; the 
1877 clns
clns
1353 apprehension] Neil (ed. 1877): “A logical term signifying the power of receiving or forming ideas; imaginative capacity. See Richard II, I, iii 300.”
1982 ard2
1350-53 man...God] Jenkins (ed. 1982): "The variant punctuation, once F ceased to be regarded as the superior text, has made this a major crux. The issue is not of course between F’s question-marks (for exclamations) and Q2’s commas but between different groupings of the words. Either (a) in accordance with F man is ’in form and moving . . . express and admirable’, ’in action . . . like an angel’, and ’in apprehension . . . like a god’ ; or (b) in accordance with Q2 as normally interpreted, man is ’infinite’ not only ’in faculties’ but also ’in form and moving’, he is ’express and admirable in action’, is ’like an angel in apprehension’, and finally ’like a god’ without any qualification. The higher authority is with Q2 as believed printed from Shakespeare’s autograph, and F’s handling of the punctuation in general entitles it to a little weight. Yet we cannot confidently assume that the pointing of Q2 reproduces that of its copy, and the editor is thrown back upon his judgment of the sense. Alexander, accepting the Q2 punctuation, nevertheless insists that Q2 means the same as F : its commas after moving, action, and apprehension he regards as ’commas with inversion’ indicating a pause for emphasis within the phrase rather than making off one phrase from its neighbour (’Shakespeare’s Punctuation’, Proceedings of Brit. Acad., 1945, pp. 75-6 ; TLS, 1931, p. 754). Dover Wilson, however, is influenced by the Q2 pointing to maintain interpretation (b). He argues forcibly against action and for apprehension as the attribute of angels (on which see also C. Bourland in Smith Coll. Studs. in Mod. Langs., XXI, 6-9 ; T. Hawkes in MLR, LV, 238-41). Yet this interpretation runs up against serious objections elsewhere, and the sense of the passage as a whole requires (a). (1) Although one may readily accept the hyperbole of ’infinite in faculties’, it is difficult to think of a man as infinite in ’form’. On the other hand express is appropriate for ’form’ (as in ’the express image’ of Hebrews I. 3) and shows indeed a turn of thought characteristic of Shakespeare, who joins ’form’ and ’pressure’ at I. v. 100 and III. ii. 24. From L. exprimo, expressus, to press out, the word refers to the clear impression made by a die or seal and so to the faithful reproduction of an original. Hence it describes a man as not only well designed but well executed, and so sustains the idea of a ’piece of work’, which can inspire the wonder that leads on to ’admirable’. (2) To attach ’in apprehension’ to ’an angel’ leaves ’how like a god’ in rhythmic imbalance. One may grant Dover Wilson that the absolute ‘like a god’ would make a superb climax, and it is true tht Pico della Mirandola in the Heptaplus, after ascribing to man the intellectual power of angels, ends by calling him God’s likeness (Dei similtudo). Yet the pattern of the present speech — ‘how like . . . in’ — seems to require continuation with ‘how like a god’ in some particular respect. And this would also be more in line with Hamlet’s way of thought. For it is only when he contemplates the complete ideal in his father that he sees a man as wholly godlike (III.iv.60-2). Cheracteristically when he thinks of a man as like a god in some way he laments how unlike a god he is in others; and the present panegyric is no exception. After an unlimited comparison of a man as ‘like a god’, to celebrate him as ‘the paragon of animals’ would be bathos, whereas to pass from ‘in apprehension . . . like a god’ to man as ‘the paragon of animals’ shows a natural progression of thought. For man is an animal, as the play elsewhere will tell us (esp. IV. iv. 33-9), yet is raised above other animals by his ’godlike reason’, through which he is ’the paragon’ of them (cf. Pico, On the Dignity of Man, ’Man is rightly . . . thought to be . . . the animal really worthy of wonder’ and I. ii. 140 LN). Apprehension I take to be the intuitive reason, which is higher than the discursive (cf. I. ii. 150 LN). With Wilson Knight (Wheel of Fire, rev. 1949, pp. 338-9) we may compare the faculty which can ’apprehend More than cool reason ever comprehends’ (MND V. i. 5ff.) and which links with the creative imagination. Shakespeare is of course drawing on a common stock of ideas and terms (cf. Bright, p. 70, ’the mind, in action wonderful, and next unto the supreme majesty of God, and by a peculiar manner proceeding from himself, as the things are, subject unto the apprehension, and action thereof’) : but the combination of them is quite his own. An apparent imitation of the passage in a mock-eulogy of women in Marston’s Malcontent (I. v), ’in body how delicate, in soul how witty . . . ’, etc., lends a little support to the F interpretation."
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