“Buzz, buzz,” says Hamlet when Polonius tells him the actors have arrived: meaning that this is old—or at least unnecessary—news. In Hamlet’s mind, the arrival of the players is a given, something already settled. This essay is concerned with reading Dickinson through the internalized voice and plot of Hamlet, Shakespeare’s text and character, which functions as a heuristic device for reading Dickinson’s thoughts on death. Dickinson takes knowledge of Hamlet for granted; in her metaphysical world Hamlet is old news, a literary and dramatic echo of that moment when language and its speaker are forced to meet with their own epistemological and representational limits. In Hamlet, I argue, Dickinson found a model for her own half-spoken metaphysical dramas of the brain.


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pp. 46-68
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