Critical Commentary on A. G. Gardiner’s “On Shaking Hands”

A. G. Gardiner’s amusing subject On Shaking Hands is a beautifully curved piece of essay carrying out a discussion to pros and cons of shaking hands. Gardiner is of the view that hands shake is the most innocent and amiable custom of greeting. Even it is criticized on medical grounds. Taking the concept Gardiner rather carries out a thorough discussion On Shaking Hands. Gardiner then mentions few of the examples of salutation worldwide. In India we pay ‘Namaskar’ while the Japanese ‘kowtow’. Such examples can easily be multiplied.

Gardiner comparatively discusses hands shake along with the other mood of salutation kissing, practiced and excessively nourished in the 15th and 16th century during reign of Tudor kings. Gardiner thinks that along with the mood of kissing as a salutation there is a sense of sexual overtones.

In defense of hand shaking Gardiner farther says that without hand shaking salutation becomes artificial and gross. Hand shaking is natural instinct that cannot be denied. There are two kinds of hand shaking – if sometimes it is unimpassioned, it is sometimes excessively passionate. By the mode of expression hand shaking is handy. The personality of the hand shakers is quite revealed by this mood of salutation. By the very warmness of hand shaking, one’s honesty or dishonesty, deceitfulness or gaiety, courage or candour are revealed. Thus there are the examples of clammy hands, nicest hands, energetic hands etc. Even the flattery of flawing hands with their ugliness and meanness are exemplified in these physical gestures. Dickens’ David Copperfield has such hands in Uriah Heep. The cold from and matter of fact hands can be seen in Speaker, the publisher. The starlings of Yorkshire with passionate and vigorous hands are enough to display extravagant passion.




Gardiner while carrying out this discussion must find himself a social critic and his social criticism is not blunts rather an amusing at reading. In Gardiner's writing On Shaking Hands a lucid and precise discussion is carried out in perfection and emphatically declares that unless, the medical proof of any contamination is established he would not stop hand shaking.


Ardhendu De

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