Friday, February 5, 2010
Reck your own rede.
Because I'm reading currently re-reading Hamlet, I've been getting to muse over rather familiar passages. It never ceases to amaze me how many phrases that we currently use have their origins in Shakespeare's works. I cannot help but feel the weight of Hamlet's just critiques of my sex regarding the brevity and shallowness of their relational attachments. "Frailty, thy name is woman!" or better yet, "O most pernicious woman! O villain, villain, smiling damned villain! My tables--meet it is that I set down, that one may smile and be a villain". But something that caught my eye more this read-through was Laertes' parting advice to his sister Ophelia regarding the attentions of Hamlet,
"Then weigh what loss your honor may sustain, if with too credent ear you list his songs; or lose your heart; or your chaste treasure open to his unmaster'd opportunity. Fear it, Ophelia, fear it, my dear sister; and keep you in the rear of your affection, out of shot and danger of desire. The chariest maid is prodigal enough, if she unmask her beauty to the moon: virtue itself scapes not calumnious strokes: the canker galls the infants of the spring, too oft before their buttons be disclosed; and in the morn and liquid dew of youth contagious blastments are most imminent. Be wary, then; best safety lies in fear: youth to itself rebels, though none else is near" ( translation: Guard your heart, and "tender yourself more dearly")
Really, it's interesting. In context, he's just spent many lines explaining how Hamlet is a prince, and she's not in his league, regardless of Hamlet's protestations that he loves her. Ophelia replies somewhat wryly (or at least it sounds that way in my mind when I read it) ,"I shall the effect of this good lesson keep...but, good my brother, do not, as some ungracious pastors do, show me the steep and thorny way to heaven; whilst, like a puft and reckless libertine, himself the primrose path of dalliance treads, and recks not his own rede." (translation: Oh, I will, but make sure you do too!)
Her father Polonius adds his own advice farther down in the scene, "When the blood burns, how prodigal the soul lends the tongue vows; these blazes, daughter, giving more light than heat--extinct in both, even in their promise, as it is a-making--you must not take for fire." So true...and on a different note, I've always associated the idea of light and heat with Desiring God ministries, so it was funny to see that phrase elsewhere.