All entries for Monday 30 October 2006
October 30, 2006
‘And here, ay here, there goes the hare away.’ uttered from the position of commentator rather than active participant, Hieronimo’s words betray fear that he might miss the chance of talking to the King. They also betray dissatisfaction that the King comes accompanied by Ambassador, Castile and most importantly, by Lorenzo thus referring back to the court drivel and the ‘standers-by’ who try to ‘strike’ Hieronimo ‘mute’ (l. 4).
The phrase, with multiple meanings, constitutes one of the editorial disputes. Edwards points out that often the phrase refers ‘to losing something one has tried to achieve or hold’ (Edwards, fn l.24, p. 80) and that here it emphasises Hieronimo’s fear of losing his opportunity with the King (Bevington, fn l.24, p. 91), who passes by ‘preoccupied by business’ (Mulryne, fn l.24, p. 82). Boas, however, reads the proverb to mean ‘here the matter ends’ (Boas, fn l.24, p. 406) but points out that Schick, quoting Gosson’s Schole of Abuse, p. 70: ‘His labor, hoc opus est, there goeth the hare away,’ interprets the phrase as ‘there is the game I want to hunt; that’s where the game lies.’ (cf. Boas, p. 406). Cairncross reads it as ‘the quarry escapes’ (Cairncross, fn l.24, p. 131), while Eisaman reads it as ‘The hunt is underway’ (fn l.24, p. 343).
‘nay, stay,’ the words suggest Hieronimo’s frustration with the fact that the King walks on occupied with other business and a company unpropitious to the plea he has to make.
‘Here’s the King’ functioning both as an aside (expressing Hieronimo’s surprise) and as stage directions, the words inform the audience that the King is about to enter.
‘Here I’ll have a fling at him that’s flat’: ‘here I’ll have a go at petitioning the King, that’s for certain’ (Bevington, fn l.21, p. 91). Hieronimo has already made up him mind: to see the king, whom he can hear/see coming, and plead for justice. As the soliloquy discloses in the following two lines, he has also decided to get even with the two murderers of his son Balthazar and Lorenzo at a later stage.
‘He takes them up again.’ having finished his debating, Hieronimo takes up the rope and the poniard, the two props that were instrumental in his decision-making: they occasioned flashbacks to both Horatio’s death and flashforwards to potential courses of action for Hieronimo.
‘This way … and this way’ – his words bring to an end the interruption occasioned by the soliloquy, returning to the beginning of the scene when Hieronimo was on his way to see the King (This way); his second ‘this way’ anticipates the King’s entrance.
‘He flings away the dagger and halter’ having dismissed the thought of killing himself, Hieronimo dismisses the two instruments.
‘let’s know’ invites further consideration of his choices ‘let us stop and ponder’ (cf. Bevington, fn l.17, p. 91). It exposes the flaw in his demonstration: if he commits suicide, the murder of his son would remain unavenged; on the other hand, it marks the final shift in Hieronimo’s pursuit of justice: having found social and divine unsatisfactory/unattainable, he decides in favour of personal justice.
‘Soft and fair, not so!’ the instruction ‘slow down, easy now’ (Eisaman, fn l.16, p. 343), ‘gently, wait a moment’ (Bevington, fn l.16, p. 91) pleads for reason over emotion.
‘This way or that way?’ – prompted by the two props he brandishes, Hieronimo voices his indecision: if he is to commit suicide, should he stab himself with the poniard or hang himself with the noose?
‘Turn down this path or this’ – Hieronimo contrasts the two choices: to die by the poniard or by the rope.
‘Away, Hieronimo, to him be gone’ the same prompting to action ends Hieronimo’s exploration of the second form of justice divine justice.
‘An expression of impatience’ according to Bevington (fn l.5, p.90), this instruction marks the shift in Hieronimo’s soliloquy. Anticipating the obstacles others will put in his way, he moves from seeking social justice from the King to pleading with a higher ‘judge’ Pluto for divine justice.
Now sir, – Whether Hieronimo ‘reasons distractedly with some imaginary interlocutor or with himself’ throughout the soliloquy, his ‘now, sir’ elicits the audience’s interest and demands its full attention (cf. Bevington, fn. l. 1, p.90).
Enter Hieronimo, with a poniard in one hand, and a rope in the other.
Hieronimo carries ‘the stock properties of a would-be suicide’ in Elizabethan drama (Boas, fn 1 SD, p. 405). Hieronimo’s entrance is comparable to that of the repentant usurer in Greene and Lodge’s Looking Glass for London and England, who enters ‘with a halter in one hand, a dagger in the other’ (Edwards, fn III.12.0.1, p. 78). As Boas points out, in Spenser’s The Faerie Queene (I, 9: 29), Despair offers Sir Trevisan ‘a rope’ and Sir Teruin ‘a rusty knife’ when persuading them to die, while in ‘Skelton’s Magnyfycence (l. 2312 ff.), Despair offers Magnyfycence a knife and a rope’ (Boas, fn 1, p. 405). Kyd’s stage directions also anticipate Shakespeare’s Hamlet, where the Prince talks of suffering men who might their ‘quietus make | With a bare bodkin?’ (III, 1: 75-6). Ironically they are also the two instruments that brought the death of his son, Horatio stabbed and hanged in the garden.
Duke of Castile’s son. Lorenzo is nephew to the King of Spain’s and brother to Bel-Imperia.
Prince, Viceroy of Portugal’s son.
Hieronimo’s son. Horatio was Andrea’s friend and later in the play became Bel-Imperia’s lover.
King of Spain (‘Spanish King’), brother to the Duke of Castile and uncle to Lorenzo
Knight Marshal of Spain, Horatio’s father and Isabella’s husband.