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Greek Tragic Women on Shakespearean Stages$
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Tanya Pollard

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198793113

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198793113.001.0001

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What’s Hecuba to Him?

What’s Hecuba to Him?

(p.117) 3 What’s Hecuba to Him?
Greek Tragic Women on Shakespearean Stages

Tanya Pollard

Oxford University Press

Chapter 3, “What’s Hecuba to Him?,” observes that when Hamlet reflects on the charged power of the tragic theater, he turns to Hecuba: “What’s Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba,/ That he should weep for her?” Building on Chapter 3’s account of Hecuba’s prominence in Titus Andronicus, this chapter argues that Hecuba offers Shakespeare a privileged symbol for tragedy, one that defines the genre especially by its power to move audiences’ emotions. In staging Hamlet’s imagined encounter with Hecuba, Shakespeare reflects on his own negotiations with a genre identified especially with grief, sympathy, and the affective impact of female lament.

Keywords:   Tragedy, grief, sympathy, Shakespeare, Hamlet, Hecuba

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