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Hamnet


"Of all the stories...about Shakespeare’s life, [Hamnet] is so gorgeously ...
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Discuss the twins' last moments together.

Created: 06/16/22

Replies: 7

Posted Jun. 16, 2022 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 2951

Discuss the twins' last moments together.

Hamnet's death comes as a shock to all in his family, but our insight into the twins' last moments together reflects a kind of knowing that not even Agnes is able to access. How do their similarities affect the family's ability to grieve and heal?

How does Hamnet live on as "Agnes watches the child drop from her younger daughter, as a cloak from a shoulder" but still looks for her son's face in Judith, as he might have aged into it (279)?


Posted Jun. 19, 2022 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
juliep

Join Date: 04/07/12

Posts: 194

RE: Discuss the twins' last moments...

Hamnet and Judith lie together on the same pallet, holding hands, and Agnes at first mistakes one for the other, as she is expecting Judith to be at death’s door, not Hamnet. She fusses around Hamnet with “her useless paste and and bandages.” Susanna can see that it’s too late, and Judith, who has recovered, wants to lie next to her brother again. The next pages are some of the most beautiful descriptions of death and grieving I have ever read.


Posted Jun. 19, 2022 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Marcia S

Join Date: 02/08/16

Posts: 405

RE: Discuss the twins' last moments...

Hamnet would do anything to save Judith, including trading places with her— dying for her. They are forever bonded to one another because they are twins.
I don't literally believe he took her place, his illness was just more than he could endure.
The family continually saw Hamnet's features in Judith as she aged. It was a constance physical reminder of what was lost and "what could have been."


Posted Jun. 20, 2022 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
katherinep

Join Date: 07/16/14

Posts: 328

RE: Discuss the twins' last moments...

It was heart-rending. She lives and he dies and yet she is left to grieve and is forever a reminder to all around her of him. She even wonders if her father is staying away because he cannot bear to see her face, as it is so similar to Hamnet's. Thank goodness for the wisdom and sensitivity of Susannah


Posted Jun. 20, 2022 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
celiaarnaud

Join Date: 04/18/12

Posts: 73

RE: Discuss the twins' last moments...

I loved O'Farrell's two-sentence paragraph at the end of Hamnet's death scene. "Then here is silence, stillness. Nothing more." It brings to mind the Hamlet's last line in the play: "The rest is silence." It was a subtle way to echo the play.

I thought it was an interesting choice to couch Hamnet's death as a literal exchange of his life for Judith's life. He and Judith have played tricks on people by changing places. It occurs to him that he might be able to "hoodwink Death." It's as if he willed Judith to live and himself to die in her place.


Posted Jun. 21, 2022 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
joanw

Join Date: 04/21/11

Posts: 48

RE: Discuss the twins' last moments...

The twins' last moments together before Hamnet's death was heartbreaking. The love for each other and to be willing to die for one another was so heartbreaking.


Posted Jun. 21, 2022 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
mtnluvr

Join Date: 10/03/20

Posts: 20

RE: Discuss the twins' last moments...

Hamnet's death was one of the most poignant scenes in the novel. Such love that he had for his sister! I don't believe that he actually changed places with her, but it was just a twist of fate that took him instead of her. As Agnes said, she was so busy caring for Judith, she didn't notice that he was so sick. Perhaps he actually believed that he could trick death just as he and Judith had fooled others.


Posted 1 hour ago Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Andrea

Join Date: 08/31/18

Posts: 30

RE: Discuss the twins' last moments...

This sad scene focuses on the two sickened children discussing their unthinkably painful departure from one another while Death lurks nearby. Hamnet is unable to let Judith go and wishes to join her. Judith wishes Hamnet to stay for their family’s sake. They argue until Hamnet suddenly has the idea to try and hoodwink Death by switching places as they previously did with their family so that Judith can live. Death, it seems, joins in the game.


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