Here hung those lips that I have kissed I know not how oft.

I’m not sure how to feel about the fact that a seven year old Hamlet kissed his grown man jester on the lips an untold amount of times. It’s different times, I know. But – these days we’re a little bit more careful with boundaries of this kind. A kiss on the lips feels quite intimate. And fine in a three year old, maybe, who is learning how to kiss and when to kiss and so on. But by seven? I don’t know. I love my friend’s children – some of whom are around this age – and I cannot imagine kissing them on the lips.

I wonder about this intimacy between these two – and about how physical intimacy played out between young people and adults in Shakespeare’s time – or just physical intimacy in general. In some cultures, kissing on the lips is much more common. Was that so in Renaissance England? How about hugs? Kisses on the cheeks? Pats on the back? I want to know the rules and the taboos. Lord knows the English now are not particularly touchy people…so how have those mores changed?


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