The Language of the Flowers and Hamlet: Prince of Denmark Essays

The Language of the Flowers and Hamlet: Prince of Denmark Essays

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The Language of the Flowers was a language that was created as a means of communication between wealthy, educated women of Elizabethan times. There is not a specific date or name of the person that created it. It was/still is a very elegant and discreet means of communication between lovers and lady friends. If one of these bouquets or “messages” fell into the wrong hands it would often be overlooked as a women’s pastimes and was considered to be folly. As our own Modern Technology and our language evolves, the original meanings of the flowers is either lost or it is changed in some way. As these meanings change, so do Ophelia’s words to Laertes and Queen Gertrude’s description or explanation of Ophelia’s death. These changes have a great impact upon the translation or the meaning of the plot of this play.
“There’s rosemary (1), that’s remembrance; pray, love, remember; and there is pansies (2), that’s for thoughts…There’s fennel (3) for you, and culumbines (4); there’s rue (5) for you and here’s some for me; we may call it herb of grace o’ Sundays (5). O, you must wear your rue (5) with difference. There’s a daisy (6). I would give you some violets (7), but they wither’d all when my father died” (Act 4, Scene 5, lines 180-181, 183-187).
(1)Rosemary means remembrance. (2) Pansies mean thoughts. (3) Fennel has two meanings, (a) worthy of all praise, and (b) strength. (4) Culumbines means folly. (5) Rue is also known as herb of grace o’ Sundays, but only has one meaning, distain. (6) Daisy has two different meanings, (a) innocence or (b) false promises of love. (7) Violet has several different meanings depending upon the type and its color, (a) blue meaning faithfulness, (b) dame meaning watchfulness (c) Sweet meaning Modesty an...

... middle of paper ... may be the only translation that we have of these flowers, but they can be read in different ways. I have included all to show the possible entire meaning of these small passages from Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. It is up to the reader to interpret the flowers as they will and perhaps one day there will be a true translation.

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