The famous Walsingham ballad is also echoed by Ophelia in Hamlet, (26) and "reechy
" is Hamlet's term for the kisses Iris uncle gives his mother; (27) it might even be possible to hear in Younker Harmans' description of Sidney as "Sir Philip Sidney, Scholers, souldiers pride" an echo of Ophelia's description of Hamlet as having "The courtier's, soldier's, scholar's, eye, tongue, sword."28 Another Shakespeare play is also evoked when Younker Harmans says,
He covers the Reechy
Painting and the Old Church window, Hamlet and the living dead, masochistic damnation in Othello, Macbeth and the angels of doom, and the promised end of King Lear.
Obscurity = veiled, refers to some tangential or unlikely source [Bora-chio: "like Pharaoh's soldiers in the reechy
painting, like god Bel's priests in the old church window"]
In the next scene (1.2), Wilton played an amiably avuncular but lecherous Claudius, signaling his general looseness of conduct by unbuttoning the same double-breasted suit that he wore as the Ghost, and by groping Gertrude's derriere after a rather "reechy
" kiss to celebrate his coronation and marriage.
There are many synecdoches in the scene: Hamlet says that his mother's re-marriage "Calls virtue hypocrite, takes off the rose/From the fair forehead of an innocent love/And sets a blister there" (3.4.41-43); he bids her let Claudius "Pinch wanton on your check, call you his mouse,/And let him for a pair of reechy
kisses,/Or paddling in your neck with his damned fingers/May you to ravel all this matter out" (167-170); when he removes Polonius' body, he says he'll "lug the guts into the neighbour room" (186).
The same "reechy
" (rancid) kisses Hamlet fantasizes about come up in Updike's detailed description of the moment when the desire between Gertrude and Claudius erupts.
Gentle affection (but without the ostentation of reechy
kisses) accompanied their early interactions and Lady Macbeth never humiliated her husband during her exhortations to greatness.