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The following lines from the play dialogue, Scene by Scene, demonstrate the existence of the Bird Motif in the play, and show its significance. I include comments as seems necessary.

Scene 1

Scene 1#147-SD (a cock crows)

Scene 1#158 Bernardo: It was about to speak when the cock crew.

Scene 1#161 The cock that is the trumpet to the morn,

Scene 1#168 Marcellus: It faded on the crowing of the cock;

Scene 1#171 This bird of dawning singeth all night long,

Scene 2

Scene 2#011 With an auspicious, and a dropping eye, - birds are implicit. The word "auspice" comes from the idea of divination by watching birds in flight. From Latin 'avis' ("bird") + 'specere' ("to look.")

Scene 2#225 But even then, the morning cock crew loud,

Scene 3

Scene 3#069 Of each new-hatched, unfledged courage; beware - The terms new-hatched and unfledged are figures of speech based on birds.

Scene 3#112 Which are not 'starling'; tender yourself more dearly, - Has implicit wordplay with starling, as the regular Note explains.

Scene 3#120 Polonius: Aye, springs to catch woodcocks; I do know,

Scene 4

Scene 5

Scene 5#033 Hamlet: Haste me to know it, that I, with wings as swift

Scene 5#122 Hamlet: Hillo, ho, ho, boy come, and bird, come!

Scene 6

Scene 7

Scene 7#142 When I had seen this hot love on the wing,

Scene 7#298 and your secrecy to the King and Queen molt no feather:

Scene 7#334 pace, but there is an aerie of children, little

Scene 7#335 eyases, that cry out on the top of question, and

Scene 7#339 goose quills, and dare scarce come thither. - The mention of goose quills was perhaps not supplied by Shakespeare as an instance of the Bird Motif, but still, geese are birds.

Scene 7#371 I know a hawk from a handsaw.

Scene 7#412 we'll into it like friendly falconers, fly at anything we see;

Scene 7#549 But I am pigeon livered, and lack gall

Scene 7#551 I should ha' fatted all the region kites

Scene 8

Scene 8#166 O'er which his melancholy sits on brood,

Scene 8#167 And I do doubt, the hatch and the disclose

Scene 9

Scene 9#087 Promise-crammed; you cannot feed capons so.

Scene 9#233 thy damnable faces and begin, come, the croaking raven doth bellow

Scene 9#254 (speaks): Would not this, sir, & a forest of feathers,

Scene 9#262 A very very . . . peacock.

Scene 10

Scene 10#071 Oh limed soul, that struggling to be free, - Refers to the use of birdlime.

Scene 11

Scene 11#210 Let the birds fly; and, like the famous ape,

Scene 12

Scene 13

Scene 14

Scene 15

Scene 15#055 Even for an eggshell. Rightly to be great, - Perhaps it's marginal to count this.

Scene 16

Scene 16#044 They say the owl was a baker's daughter;

Scene 16#118 Cries cuckold to my father, brands the harlot - The term cuckold comes from "cuckoo," apparently because of the cuckoo's behavior of laying its eggs in the nest of a different species, which burdens the rightful owners of the nest with rearing the cuckoo's offspring.

Scene 16#151 And like the kind, life-rendering pelican,

Scene 16#173 (speaks): Fare you well, my dove!

Scene 16#188 (sings): For bonny sweet Robin is all my joy!

Scene 17

Scene 18

Scene 19

Scene 19#262 Anon, as patient as the female dove,

Scene 19#263 When that her golden cuplets are disclosed, - The term cuplets means "chicks."

Scene 20

Scene 20#093 crib shall stand at the king's mess; 'tis a chough, but as I say, spacious in the

Scene 20#173 Horatio: This lapwing runs away with the shell on his head.

Scene 20#175 many more of the same bevy, that I know the drossy age dotes on - - The word bevy is used for a group of birds.

Scene 20#181 Ostrick - who brings back to him that you attend him in the hall - The name Ostrick is the word "ostrich" slightly redone in the style of a Danish name.

Scene 20#202 the fall of a sparrow; if it be, 'tis not to come; if it be not to come,

Scene 20#304 Laertes: Why, as a woodcock to mine own spring, Ostrick;

Scene 20#353 The potent poison quite o'er-crows my spirit;


In total, 44 Bird references can be easily found.

© 2014 Jeffrey Paul Jordan

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