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Shakespeare OED Assignment

Shakespeare OED Assignment - Jun-Hao Rosalyn Shih...

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Jun-Hao Rosalyn Shih Shakespeare I Prof. Julie Crawford October 6 th , 2008 Interpretations of the Word “Common” and Their Tell-Tale Differences The many applications of the word “common” in Act I Scene 2 shows how the characters of Hamlet use language to challenge, manipulate and control each other. The use of a word that connotes unity and universality ironically exposes conflict and disharmony. Even more, the handling of language signals telling clues as to how the characters manipulate their surrounding problems. In the court, Gertrude uses the word “common” to convey the indiscriminate nature of death. “Thou know’st ’tis common” (1.2.72), she chides Hamlet and his unnecessary display of grief over his lost father. “Common” is used to insist that death “[belongs] to all mankind alike” ( OED a .1b). Gertrude points out that all lives must come to an end, “passing through nature to eternity” (1.2.73). To her, Hamlet must cease his mourning because death is merely a transitional phase. She contrasts the universality of this passing with the “particular” nature of Hamlet’s
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