This presence knows, And you must needs have heard, how l am punish’d With sore distraction.

Is saying “this presence” a way to avoid naming Claudius specifically? Like, would he have to name the king in a collection of people otherwise? Is “this presence” a way to not say, “The King, the Queen and all these other people here”?

I like “this presence” as a collective of people. It’s more potent than “group” or “crowd” or “people” even.

I would almost like to call an audience “this presence” – because their presence is what makes the especially significant – how they are present tells us so much about them. It somehow sounds more alive than audience or the public or spectators.

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