Then you live about her waist, or in the middle of her favors?

So many Hamlets steal the punch line from Guildenstern. They suggest that the middle of Fortune’s favors is between her legs. Now, I get that almost every Shakespeare actor that ever lived is constitutionally unable to resist a dirty joke (my non-Shakespearean boyfriend asked me, “Is there a law that says there must be exaggerated thrusting in every Shakespeare show?”) but if Hamlet makes the joke here – it is:

a) inaccurate geometrically

b) textually confused – he has just asked them if they live about her waist, which IS the middle, why would he then decide the ladyparts were in the middle? No sense.

C) stealing the thunder from Guildenstern. He makes this exchange a joke sandwich in which Hamlet gets the bread and Guildenstern gets the pimento paste in the middle. It’s also essentially the same joke three times in a row if Hamlet suggests Fortune’s middle is her mons pubis. If he is truly just following the metaphor they’ve set up, it makes the most sense that he’s truly trying to work out how they are.

They’ve said they’re not so great and not so bad and naturally Hamlet would have to conclude that they’re somewhere in between. He’s just continuing the metaphor. If Guildenstern’s “privates” line is a surprise to Hamlet, then his next line can be the surprise it seems to be, it can actually take on an exclamatory tone.

Hamlet is suggesting that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Fortune’s Belt, I think , and not her chastity belt. (Lord knows you wouldn’t catch Fortune in a chastity belt, not never, not nohow.) I’m not saying Fortune’s a strumpet but she probably gets around and there’s no one who could stop her.

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