A Proximate Prince: The Gooey Business of 'Hamlet' Criticism

Liam Semler

Abstract


Now could I drink hot goo,
And do such gooey, gooey business as the day
Would quake to look on.
Soft, now to my blue goo.

Imagine the opening scene of Hamlet as a metaphor for interpretation. The darkened battlement stands for the conceptual domain in which the reader, any reader, encounters a text: it is a hermeneutic space. The Ghost signifies the shimmering appearance of a text in this space of interpretation, which is to say, not an actual printed text itself, but a text as it is conceptually encountered by a reader. The sentries, then, resemble interpreters who feel compelled to force the majestic text to speak intelligibly to them and their context, but who in the end can only cry, ‘Stay, illusion!’ as the Ghost dissolves, invulnerable as air.

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