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-- Philip Weller, November 13, 1941 - February 1, 2021
Dr. Weller, an Eastern Washington University professor of English and Shakespearean scholar for more than 50 years.

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Bradley, A. C. Shakespearean Tragedy: Lectures on Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth.
2nd ed. London: Macmillan, 1905.
PAGE 402
NOTES ON HAMLET

the King's speech at the opening of the scene will certainly conclude that the marriage has only just been celebrated, and also that it is conceived as involving the accession of Claudius to the throne. Gertrude is described as the 'imperial jointress' of the State, and the King says that the lords consented to the marriage, but makes no separate mention of his election.

     The solution of the difficulty is to be found in the lines quoted above. The marriage followed, within a month, not the death of Hamlet's father, but the funeral. And this makes all clear. The death happened nearly two months ago. The funeral did not succeed it immediately, but (say) in a fortnight or three weeks. And the marriage and coronation, coming rather less than a month after the funeral, have just taken place. So that the Ghost has not waited at all; nor has the King, nor Laertes.

     On this hypothesis it follows that Hamlet's agonized soliloquy is not uttered nearly a month after the marriage which has so horrified him, but quite soon after it (though presumably he would know rather earlier what was coming). And from this hypothesis we get also a partial explanation of two other difficulties. (a) When Horatio, at the end of the soliloquy, enters and greets Hamlet, it is evident that he and Hamlet have not recently met at Elsinore. Yet Horatio came to Elsinore for the funeral (I. ii. 176). Now even if the funeral took place some three weeks ago, it seems rather strange that Hamlet, however absorbed in grief and however withdrawn from the Court, has not met Horatio; but if the funeral took place some seven weeks ago, the difficulty is considerably greater. (b) We are twice told that Hamlet has 'of late' been seeking the society of Ophelia and protesting his love for her (I. iii. 91, 99). It always seemed to me, on the usual view of the chronology, rather difficult (though not, of course, impossible) to understand this, considering the state of feeling produced in him by his mother's marriage, and in particular the shock it appears to have given to his faith in woman. But if the marriage has only just been celebrated the words 'of late' would naturally refer to a time before it. This time presumably would be subsequent to the death of Hamlet's father, but it is not so hard to fancy that Hamlet may have sought relief from mere grief in his love for Ophelia.

     But here another question arises: May not the words 'of

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