HUNTING EASTER EGGS IN HAMLET
Hunting Easter Eggs has become such a tradition. Why did Shakespeare start it?
Today is Easter Sunday 16th April 2017, exactly one year since, as I said in Shakespeare’s Revelation, I realised how Macbeth was such a key play in telling us how Shakespeare hides ‘ingredients in the cauldron’ to add subliminal spice to his plays. Like hidden Easter Eggs, as opposed to plot lines and themes, ingredients seem to be sprinkled at random. Bizarrely, they seem mostly to be hidden references to Old Testament prophesies regarding the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ!
I was on the loo this morning, feeling a bit rough after wrestling with a virus all night, and, as one does, to pass the time, I picked up a copy not of Macbeth, but Hamlet. It fell open at random at the part in Act 4.5 where, seemingly mad, Ophelia enters and has a moment or two with Gertrude and Claudius. Her rantings are ambiguous, oblique, and make little apparent sense — unless you know Shakespeare’s hidden agenda.
‘Where is the beauteous Majesty of Denmark?’, she wonders. As the thesis in the book asserts, Denmark now symbolises Eden, and Ophelia the soul of Hamlet (Christ), thus she is obliquely, sarcastically, accusing Gertrude and Claudius of having usurped the true King, the Christ.
How do we know this? Hidden in the cadence, she chants:
‘How should I your true love know from another one?’ — How do I tell true love from false?
‘By his cockle hat and staff, and his sandal shoon.’ — By his humble crown, rod of power, and sandals on his feet. Jesus Christ, in other words.
‘He is dead and gone Lady, he is dead and gone, at his head a grass-green turf, at his heels a stone.’
By referring to the recent burial of her father Polonius, she also alludes to the (romantically dubbed) ‘green hill’ of Calvary and the stone symbolising the rock, the Word of God.
‘White his shroud as the mountain snow.’
Now we have the muslin shroud said to have covered the body of Christ. The entire speech is peppered with ingredients, but, if you have any doubt left to whom she is alluding, this clinches it, especially for Easter Sunday egg hunting:
‘Then up he rose, and donn’d his clothes, and dupped (opened up) the chamber door (tomb)’.
I rest my case — it was getting so heavy. Happy Easter Egg Hunting.