So, picture it. Georgianna has begun our tour of the Folger Library, and we’re in this very cool dining hall decorated with stained glass representations of characters from the plays. She asks my son whether he can name a particular piece.
“That’s Hamlet,” my boy replies, pointing at one before I can even figure it out. “Because he’s talking to a skeleton.”
“Very good,” Georgianna replies. “Now can you find someone else from that play?”
Again, before I can take it all in (I think I spy Polonius, actually), the boy points to another window and says, “Over there! The Joker!”
I laugh. “No,” I tell him, “I think that’s the Fool from King Lear.”
“No, he’s right!” Georgianna tells us “See the skull that he’s stepping on? We’ve always taken that to mean that this is Yorick.”
Now, I’m quite sure that this full time employee of the center of the Shakespeare universe knows more about this stuff than I do. But it strikes me as odd. Not only is every other window a major character – Henry V, Cleopatra, Portia, Julius Caesar – but, as far as I can tell, each play is only represented once. Why then would Hamlet be represented not only by two windows, but with a minor character that never even appears in the play?
I must know! Surely somebody reading this has been in that room and knows the story of those windows. Clue me in!
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