Open main menu
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
Prince of Denmark

ed. E. E. T. S., p. 206, occurs: "the rotten body [of man] that is worms' meat."

IV. v. S. d. Here the first Folio omits the Gentleman, no doubt, as Collier suggested, to avoid the employment of another actor.

IV. v. 20., S. d. The direction in the Quarto of 1603 is, "Enter Ofelia playing on a lute, and her haire downe, singing." This is the basis for the traditional stage-business.

IV. v. 25. cockle hat. The cockle hat, staff, and sandals were the guise of a pilgrim and often the disguise of a lover. Cf. Romeo's costume at the ball in Romeo and Juliet. The hat was so called from the custom of putting cockle-shells upon pilgrims' hats. The shell was used to denote that the pilgrim had been to the shrine of St. James of Compostella in Spain.

IV. v. 42. owl . . . daughter. There is an old mediæval legend that a baker's daughter was turned into an owl for refusing bread to our Lord.

IV. v. 97. Switzers. The kings of France employed Swiss mercenaries as guards, and the term 'Switzer' gradually became almost synonymous with 'guard.'

IV. v. 141. swoopstake. A gambling term used when the winner clears the board of all the stakes.

IV. v. 145. life-rendering pelican. It was a common belief that the pelican either fed its young or restored them to life when dead with its own blood. It was thus an emblem of self-sacrifice.

IV. v. 164. Hey non nonny. Such meaningless refrains are common in old songs. Cf. 169, 'a-down.'

IV. v. 171. wheel. Although this word is usually rendered 'burden,' 'refrain,' it is possible that Ophelia is referring to singing at the spinning wheel.

IV. v. 171. false steward. This ballad or story is unknown at the present day.