Hark you, Guildenstern – and you too – at each ear a hearer.

I love the implicit staging of this one. You just have to put Guildenstern on one side and Rosencrantz on the other. And it’s such a juicy way to say, “Come stand on either side of me.” Or actually – it could also be a way to say, “Look at that you just stood on either side of me, you weirdos.”

Anyway, I love “at each ear a hearer.” I love the sound of it. I love that it has some hint of contradiction that hearers and ears are a bit like two magnets with the same charge. And I love the repetition of the ear in ear and hearer. Love, love and love. I can only imagine what a hash of this line something like “No Fear Shakespeare” would make.

But in addition to my deep affection for “at each ear a hearer,” I am intrigued by Hamlet’s choice to call Guildenstern by his name and not Rosencrantz. Is it a slight to Rosencrantz or a sign of more familiarity with him? He doesn’t say, “You, too, Rosencrantz” he just says “and you too” It’s a distinction and there’s a world of choice in it.

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