Hamlet: "The indifferent children of the earth"
I'm reading the book The Stolen Child by Kevin Donohue.
It's about a boy who is replaced by a changeling at the age of 7.
The human boy becomes a hobgoblin while the changeling lives his
In one scene, the hobgoblin boy and his friend, Speck, are
reading books together. Speck says to him:
"Listen to this, Aniday. I'm reading Hamlet hre and
these two fellows come in. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Hamlet
greets them: 'Good lads, how do ye both?' And Rosencrantz says, 'As
the indifferent children of the earth.'"
A few paragraphs later, Aniday thinks to himself: "The
indifferent children around me did not share my enthusiasm for the
Donohue is describing the hobgoblins as being indifferent to the
world of humans. What do you think Shakespeare meant?
I address this issue in Lesson 14: Titans and
Rosencratz, still uncomfortable with his role in the
betrayal, responds to Hamlet’s overly hearty greeting, “Good, lads,
how do you both?” with, “As the indifferent children of the
earth” (2.2.24). This cryptic remark seems to
underscore two things. First, the allusion to “the children
of the earth” would subtly show Rosencratz own university education
and his knowledge of Greek mythology. In the myth of Titan, a race of giants are
called “the children of the earth” and these often unruly
children were “considered the personification of the forces of
nature.” Like a plaything of these overgrown children,
Rosencratz believes that he is powerless, at the whim of the
forces of nature, the king and the queen. (Click here for my lesson on Rosencratz and
Guildenstern’s roles in the deception.)
You can read the entire lesson at: