Good madam!

The note on Genius suggests that this line is evidence that Hamlet knows the drink is poisoned.

I don’t see it.

I see how it COULD be possible.

But it is certainly not evidence.

For one thing, this line is as open as the most open scene. It could be a way to say, “What the heck, mom!”

He could be responding to his mother drinking and given that we know how Hamlet feels about Claudius’ drinking, it’s possibly not positive.

Or it could be a way to accept the toast. It could be a cheers, or a response to the cheers. It could be a salute.

It could be a way to accept the toast. It could be a cheers, or a response to the cheers. It could be a salute.

It could be punctuated as

Good, madam.

Like. Good.

The exclamation point that some editor put here might lead one toward an expression of alarm – but still…

I feel that if Hamlet really thought the cup was poisoned and he really wanted to prevent his mother from drinking it, he’d do more than say “Good madam.” There’s a lot more effective ways to prevent someone from drinking a glass of wine.

Also – the notion that Gertrude knows it’s poisoned, too, and drinks it, is equally bonkers. Again, I see how it COULD be pushed in that direction but it lacks a clear motivation. Why not just spill it if she’s trying to keep Hamlet from drinking? What reason could she have for killing herself?

I mean, you could invent some, sure – she is stuck between a rock and a hard place with her husband and her son – but killing herself doesn’t SOLVE that – it just gets her out of it. I feel like we’d need a whole lot more back story to buy a Gertrude who drinks poison on purpose.

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