Sunday, 26 May 2013

re:coil (for logoholics only)

Was Shakespeare's famous reference to our "mortal coil" strictly of the first meaning, or was Hamlet indulging in another example of Bardic ambiguity? The inference of date and (unknown) origin seems to militate against such a twofold reading. In other words, the "trouble and confusion" sense of the word ascribed to the passage in the play predates its now more familiar meaning of "spiral looping" by fifty years or so. But the play itself was written only a decade or so before the first recorded use of the physical term. Mightn't Hamlet, then, anachronistically aware of the convoluted connotations creeping into the term around the time of the play's composition, be in fact entwining the two meanings, psychical and physical, evoking, as it were, mortality's mythical roots, when a serpent first coiled around the forbidden tree to all of mankind's SINuous undoing?  (posted at Merriam Webster

No comments: