When it comes to hanging, Shakespeare is USUALLY making a joke. He’s usually making a dick joke and/or a joke about execution.
So I’m trying very hard to make this line a joke somehow – even if only a joke at Osric’s expense.
Hangers could also be a reference to balls.
Could carriages as well? I mean – it’s just too good of an opportunity – a totally meaningless conversation about sword paraphernalia and you’re NOT going to include some dirty jokes? I just don’t see how Shakespeare could resist such a thing.
But I also don’t see a way to make this line work in a dirty way with any real likelihood.
I could deliver it as such – but it would require the laughter of Hamlet and Horatio to really sell it.
This is a rather rapturous response to some sword paraphernalia. And this does rather suggest that Osric has had the opportunity to peruse them all. That suggests they have been on display, more or less. Perhaps having the swords out and touched and admired adds the opportunity for plausible deniability. The plan is, after all, to cut Hamlet with a poisoned sharp sword and if the swords have been lying around in front of just everyone – their carriages fondled considerably by men like Osric, then men like Osric will be the most likely to be fingered in the crime once it has happened. Clever really. If it had gone off as planned – Claudius might have had Osric arrested for Hamlet’s murder.
So this is what Laertes is staking in this bet?
The pronouns don’t make this whole situation especially clear.
But also – it is a very odd amount of specificity.
Like – why does Osric know about all the accessories of these swords?
Has Laertes made a display of his swords? Has he brought them out and paraded them around?
Is Claudius doing the same with his six Barbary horses?
Are the horses walking around a track with Laertes’ swords on their backs?
I think this section is often cut in most productions so I’ve not really paid it much attention before but it is wholly bizarre.
And the fact that Laertes and Claudius are doing it all for show so they can kill Hamlet without discovery is even more bizarre.
The use of “with” here makes me wonder what the conditions and rules of this duel actually are.
The king has wagered with Laertes.
Does this mean he has bet Laertes? That is – if Laertes wins, he’ll give him six Barbary horses? Is that the deal? And then this whole swords with their carriages is what Laertes will give Claudius if he loses?
Is that right?
It’s not just a simple “Let’s see who wins” situation. There are stakes. But not for Hamlet – at least not in the public set up. It’s odd to frame it that way. The conditions are sort of needlessly complex. But maybe that needless complexity is on purpose – to distract from the murdering they’re planning on doing. If everyone is busy thinking about Barbary horses and carriages of swords, then they might not notice the murdering.
I’m curious about what this choice of weapons says about Laertes.
Does it reveal something about his character?
A quick google shows me that rapier and dagger was considered something that only a master fencer would use. My research on this matter is one academic style blog on the internet so it’s not extensive – but if it were so…it would suggest that simply by choice of weapon, Laertes is a skilled swordsman. It’s like – if you hear that someone is a doctor and then hear what kind, and he’s a neurosurgeon and also you were invited to have a doctoring contest with him.
Uh…who’s “them” here? Which “them” laid all this imputation on Laertes? Also – I feel that “meed” here is not accidentally sitting here sounding just like “mead” when Laertes has had a little experience with the drinking establishments in France. I mean – it’s a joke just sitting there waiting for Hamlet to make – and then he doesn’t. He goes right to an actually practical and non-joke question.
He lets that mead/meed confusion just rest there on the table.
It is interesting how “weapon” can so easily become a euphemism for penis. Osric surely doesn’t mean it that way but any group of actors is very likely to make this joke between shows or in rehearsal. Penis as a weapon is one of those long standing jokes – sword, dagger, rapier, etc.
And it’s funny, it’s funny, It’s so funny.
But there have been quite a few men who have, historically, used their penises as weapons. Rape is basically the weaponization of the penis.
I don’t understand how anyone would enjoy part of his body inflicting pain and trauma on another person. If I “lost control” of my knee sometimes and just “couldn’t help myself” and couldn’t stop kneeing dudes in the balls, I feel like I’d develop a sort of complicated relationship with my knee. Like, I’d need the knee to walk and to dance and what not but also, there it is – just, compulsively forcing itself into men’s crotches.
I feel like I would take precautions. I would find ways to mitigate my knee’s dark impulses. Maybe wrap it in bubble wrap? Hang signs from it that said, “Men beware, this knee wants to kick you. Maintain a distance of four feet at all times.”
If my knee were a weapon, I’d hope I would find ways to keep it sheathed. And for the men who don’t see their penises as weapons, those men seem like can just enjoy a part of their bodies and women’s bodies as well. It doesn’t really seem like it’s that difficult to just have a body with different parts and treat all other bodies with respect.
Look at Osric, doubling down on what he was going to say – just trying it again – just going on forward even though Hamlet purposefully misunderstood him.
He doesn’t rephrase, he just tries to continue his original idea – maybe fix it by doubling down on it.
Today I was reading the section of Soraya Chemaly’s book where she lays out how little men think of women’s intelligence and capability. I don’t recall the exact statistic but I believe that men assumed women’s ignorance at a rather startlingly large percentage. The assumption of capability just comes with your gender if you’re a cis male.
I nearly spit with rage when I read about the doctor who was dismissed on the plane, whose credentials were questioned when the first white man to stand up and claim doctorhood was ushered to the sick person immediately.
I am spitting mad about it. And in general. It has always been thus but I cannot tolerate it anymore.
It’s kind of great that Hamlet’s obfuscation of language has made a long sentence maker and obfuscator of language create a sentence as clear and succinct as this. It is a skillful manipulation of linguist style.