ACT 3, Scene 1 (the “To be” Act): “Vaere liveth, a nunry.” “Ed Veer, Lord Hamlet.”

Hamlet (Quarto 2, 1604), 3.1., Ed de Veer, Lord Hamlet, #1Fig. 1

Hamlet (Q2, 104), 3.1., DEVEERO raw Ps., #2Fig. 2

The play is about John Veer, represented by the Ghost, and who killed him:

Hamlet (Q2, 1604), 3.1., John's the showe, #3Fig. 3

Hamlet (Q2, 1604), 3.1., Veer, O what a noble mind, #4Fig. 4

Hamlet (Q2, 1604), 3.1., VAERE, liveth, a nunnery, #5Fig. 5

    Mystery surrounds the death of Edward de Vere. There is uncertainty regarding his gravesite, and where it may be. One theory holds that Oxford went to the island of Mersea, and was taken care of by nuns in a nunnery. The word “Mersea” itself is intriguing in that, if pronounced in French, it can be a homonym for both “Merci” (Thank you) as well as for the English word “mercy”, which is Old French for pity for offences in the past.

   In the context of Hamlet’s rant and confession to Ophelia of his past offences (hinted at in the “To be or not to be” soliloquy when he utters the last line (referring to Ophelia): ‘Nimph in thy orizons [prayers) be all my sinnes remembred”, and in the listing of his faults in the speech to Ophelia, following the imperative he gives Ophelia after he says, ‘Get thee to a Nunnerie’. Hamlet’s/Vere’s ‘sinnes’, in this light, make a nunnery an oppropriate place for Opehlia to go, and for Vere’s sins to be forgiven (as an act of ‘Mersea’/’mercy’).

   Was the first published form of Hamlet written from a nunnry in Mersea–in 1603? Is the “Nunnery” speech a clue, or confession by Vere as to his whereabouts? Is this where he was when Queen Elizabeth died–which would account for his historically recorded absense at her funeral in 1603?





IX. 17. MMXIV      


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