1604 (“Good”), Quarto 2: “Should I kill myself, or not?

Hamlet (Q2, 1604), EARLE VAERE bare bodkin, #1Fig. 1:  “VAERE” = Danish = “to be”.  “AT VÆRE ELLER IKKE VÆRE” =

Danish:  To be or not to be.”  In cipher-context, the letter-string cluster is asking the question:  Does Earle Vere (“VEARE” is the Danish spelling for the House of Vere) wish to kill himself with a bare bodkin?  

Hamlet (Q2, 1604), 3.1., VERE borne, quietas make, #2Fig. 2

Hamlet (Q2, 1604), 3.1., I'M VEER, perchance to dreame, the rub, #3Fig. 3

Hamlet, To Be, (Q2, 1604), 3.1., LETHE DEEP, 4aFig. 4a

Hamlet (Q2, 1604), To be, LETHEDEEP, Raw Prs, 4bFig. 4b

   Of particular note is the first line of the soliloquy (in the 1603 and 1604 versions, only), a plaintext representing Edward de Vere’s suicidal thoughts (ideation):

“To be, or not to be, that is the Question.”  

The phrase, that is the Question is a phrase containing 17 letters.  The number 17 is an evident and frequent number-letter-play used throughout the Shakespeare canon and elsewhere in texts written by Oxford (and by others when pointing to Oxford’s contributions) as a means of giving himself (identifying himself) credit for his work, by using 17 as a textual referent and signature. A good example of the number-letter-play of Oxford’s use of 17 is his ‘Crown Signature’, Edouarde Oxenforde, a signature combining his title as 17th Earl of Oxford with 17 letters in his name.

And Why not?

Hamlet (Q2, 1604), To be, 3.1., HELL, that is the question, #5Fig. 5

Hamlet (Q2, 1604), To be, 3.1., the dread of HELL, #6Fig. 6

Hamlet (Q2, 1604), To Be, 3.1., HELL, ME, O., #7Fig. 7


VIII. 17. MMXIV       


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