Why, he had none.

No coat of arms, sure, that’s one way to look at it – though it doesn’t seem the most obvious. The most obvious to me at least, would be his weapons. Adam had no weapons. Adam had no weapons because he did not need them. In Eden, there was no violence – at least not until the next generation made their way in. But there was no need of weapons before. In an idyllic peace – there are no arms, no weapons. And this almost makes me weep today, here in America, where yet another deadly mass shooting has ripped through our lives. And people hug their weapons close, they feel them so necessary, the world they imagine they need them for is so far from Eden.


Was he a gentleman?

This makes me want to do some investigation into gentlemen. Because that word has so many connotations. It could just mean man. Like a gentle man. A man.
Or a man of a particular class. And this is what I’m curious about. When did this happen? And why? And how?

And there is of course, my favorite sense of this gentleman situation that is exploiting that confusion – which is a scene from Mystery Team – wherein these three boys try to get into a Gentlemen’s Club in order to pursue their case. And they interpret this Gentlemen’s Club as a club for upper crust Englishmen and show up in top hats and monocles to try and get in. It is, of course, a strip club and the bouncer humors the young Gentlemen trying to pass in front of him. One of the boys just says, “England!”
I enjoy this clip so much that I may never hear the word Gentleman again without also thinking “England!” and “a folded up tracing of a hammerhead shark.” (You’ll have to watch the clip to get that bit.)

If this had not been a gentlewoman, she should have been buried out o’ Christian burial.

This is actually a pretty astute social observation for a character that is often played as stupid. This is not stupid. This is very likely the real unvarnished truth. There are rules that do not apply to the gentry, to the upper crust, to the wealthy. Rules are stringently applied to the poor and loosely to the privileged.

Now – in this case, we don’t know that Ophelia is NOT due this Christian burial. By Gertrude’s account, she drowned by accident – so it’s perfectly acceptable to bury her legitimately. But – with even a whiff of doubt, a poor woman would have likely been shifted to the doubtful corner. A noblewoman, a gentlewoman, enjoys the benefit of the doubt and a poor woman, if there is any doubt, does not enjoy any benefit. There is no benefit of the doubt for a poor woman. Probably a priest is expensive.

Will you ha’ the truth on’t?

Yes, please. I will always have the truth on it. I’d like to have the systemic truth, the political truth, the personal truth. I am very much attached to authenticity.
That is not to say I need to have my truth unvarnished. I like some varnishing. I don’t need to be told if I don’t look my best – I don’t care, really – and someone’s opinion on this will only make me feel bad. I also am willing to sit on the truth for peace – like in some of my relationships where we just quietly accept that we are not telling one another everything.
But in most other instances, I’m keen on having the truth.

But is this law?

There are some things that are laws that just seem weird. Like – why do we have marriage laws? Why is the law involved in love? Why do you have to go get an official document to get officially married? Why do you need to be officially married? Like – for the IRS, I guess? I don’t know why there are benefits for married people. I guess because they tend to make children? And we want to make sure they’re provided for officially? It just seems weird to legislate people’s relationships.
I’m not a libertarian – there are many many laws that make total sense to me. Laws that help us take better care of each other, for example. Laws that provide for children. Laws that guide us to treat our fellow citizens with respect – that prevent us from yielding to our baser instincts. But marriage laws are baffling to me.

Nay, but hear you, goodman delver –

I really want to mess around with this scene now in a rehearsal room. I mean, I’ve always liked it. I’m generally a fan of a comic moment in a tragic play so this scene is a welcome relief when watching and fun to play from the inside (I assume. I’ve never played it on stage.) But now the status battle between these two gravediggers feels so clear and I would like to dive into that directly. The default is almost always the First Gravedigger as the master grave digger and the Second as his apprentice. His stupid apprentice, too. But number 2 is really taking number 1 down a peg, again and again. Calling number 1 “goodman delver” – essentially Mister Digger – is a way to lower number 1’s status, especially after his bloviating for a while. Like – alright, Mister Digger, let’s not get too big for our digging britches.

Why, ‘tis found so.

This sounds like a conclusive finding of law
which makes me think about this thing I heard
On the Politically Reactive podcast interview with Lee Romero of the ACLU.
I think she said that law was regressive
It was always behind
That because it always bases case rulings on previous cases
It is inherently stuck in the past.
When things are found in law
They are found on the past
Not on the future we’d like to see.
I have found that this is one of the many reasons
Law would never have suited me for a career.

the crowner hath sat on her, and finds it Christian burial.

Coroner can be a tricky word to say. There’s something about the R in the middle that could trip up a not so careful speaker. Put that R at the beginning and it’s no trouble at all. You could say CROWNER while drunk as a skunk but I’d bet coroner would be a real stumbling block if you had a few in you. This may, in fact, be the situation of these gravediggers. They have certainly been played drunk more than once.

and therefore make her grave straight

Most notes will suggest that the gravedigger is saying to make her grave straight away, as in, right away, as in ASAP. As this is common usage in Shakespeare, I agree. But puns are also common in Shakespeare and I’d bet that the other sense of straight is not entirely unwanted here. Make her grave straight as in, not round, not bent, not curved.

Which makes me wonder if there might have been some customs of burial that would allow for different kinds of death. Like, aren’t you supposed to bury some people face down? Like witches or something? And I could imagine a world wherein you were supposed to bury a suicide victim in, say, a fetal position, curved around themselves for comfort.

So, yes, of course, the gravedigger is saying he should make the grave right away – but Shakespeare’s propensity for wordplay makes me wonder about other ways of experiencing that “straightness.”

I tell thee she is:

I have some questions about the power dynamic between these two gravediggers. Normally in a comedy duo, you have the boss and the 2nd and/or the smart one and the stupid one. But these two keep switching status. The first gravedigger would seem to have the highest status because he speaks first but then the second gravedigger responds with a commanding, “I tell thee she is” and then an order. Sometimes the first one gives the orders and sometimes the 2nd. In the end, the first sends the 2nd for refreshment so he would seem to be top banana – but it is not readily apparent from the dialogue. The 2nd really loses his status when he fails to tell a joke well – and so the 1st can send him away.

I almost always see this played as if the Gravedigger who speaks first is the boss – but I think it would be very interesting to see them as equals, in a status competition until the 2nd loses.