All the things a father can worry about when his son goes to Paris:
Those college kids get up to so much mischief! – What with the keg parties and the profanity and the getting into fights and what not.
And the drabbing, of course, these kids and their drabbing.
First, of all, a drab is a whore – which I do not understand because whores tend NOT to be the most drab women in the room –
Painted, bright, gaudy, visible, yes. Drab – no.
Where did this meaning diverge?
Second: Is drabbing an acceptable behavior for a young man of this era?
Reynaldo has some question about this, but Polonius isn’t too worried. I guess he sees drabbing as a way for a young man to sow his wild oats?
Maybe, in a society that places such strict limits on a woman’s sexuality, drabbing might be the only way to get some action before a wedding.
I guess then my question is: What are the sexual mores of the Denmark that Shakespeare’s created?
Are they Renaissance England’s?
Maybe not – because a study of marriage at the time would indicate that ladies and gents got busy before marriage quite a lot. Shakespeare’s wife was quite pregnant when they married. Are Hamlet and Ophelia lovers or sweethearts?
Hamlet’s awfully keen on sending her to a nunnery. And Laertes is pretty interested in Ophelia’s chastity. Ophelia’s songs later in the play might indicate a loss of that chastity, if you wanted to read them that way.
I feel like the acceptability of drabbing in a culture would directly relate to the status and acceptability of women’s sexuality in the culture.
If this Denmark puts the hard thumb on sex before marriage – whoredom thrives.
If Denmark figures people will, of course, get into some hanky panky sometimes, whoredom would be a lot less acceptable.
In this current American culture, whoredom is fascinating to a lot of people and certainly is not in any danger of disappearing. But it is not thought of as the honorable thing to do, not part of a young man’s wild oats, not standard frat boy behavior, not generally talked about in open conversation and certainly not something a father might wish his son to be labeled with.
Fencing, though – that’s funny. Because fencing has become sort of refined sport. There would be no shame in getting caught fencing in public.