Hamlet Quotation Revision
Activity • Add analysis and evaluation to each point and quotation
The true extent of Hamlet’s misery is revealed in his first soliloquy: “O, that this too too sullied flesh would melt Thaw and resolve itself into a dew! Or that the Everlasting had not fix'd His canon 'gainst self-slaughter!”
“O, that this too too sullied flesh would melt Thaw and resolve itself into a dew! Shakespeare’s use of imagery here is effective in conveying how Hamlet is so miserable that he cruses the solid nature of his body; he wishes it would dissolve into something as easily dispersed as a few drops of moisture. This is the first the audience learn of his desire for death. However, his religious beliefs prevent him form acting upon this. Suicide is against the ‘canon’ of Christianity so Hamlet is prevented form acting. This foreshadows his later procrastination over killing Claudius; his considerations of the heavenly consequences of his actions prevent him from acting in this world.
The conflict between Hamlet’s contemplative nature and his desire to revenge his father is exacerbated by the ambiguous nature of the ghost: “Be thou a spirit of health or goblin damned, Bring with thee airs from heaven or blasts from hell, Be thy intents wicked or charitable,”
“Be thou a spirit of health or goblin damned, Bring with thee airs from heaven or blasts from hell,” Shakespeare’s use of antithesis is effective in highlighting Hamlet’s uncertainty over the Ghost’s real identity. This is of crucial importance because if its intents are ‘wicked’ he could lose his soul. This relates directly to one of the tragedy’s central themes: the difficulty of separating appearances from reality. Claudius’ reign has created a rotten, deceitful society in Elsinore- one where the truth can not be easily distinguished form the many lies.
The Ghost reveals to Hamlet that Claudius is guilty of regicide: “But know, thou noble youth, The serpent that did sting thy father’s life Now wears his crown.”
“But know, thou noble youth, The serpent that did sting thy father’s life Now wears his crown.” • Shakespeare’s imagery is successful in conveying the extent of Claudius’ evil. By comparing him to a snake, he creates obvious allusions to the Garden of Eden, with Claudius taking on the role of the devil. Indeed, just like the devil in serpent form encouraged man to disobey God, Claudius’ act of regicide would be viewed by Shakespeare’s audience as being against God’s will.
In his most famous soliloquy, Hamlet considers the philosophical question of why so many of us choose to accept the sufferings of existence: “Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing end them?”
“Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing end them?” In the first metaphor, Shakespeare skilfully creates an image of life’s suffering being akin to the experience of being on a battlefield while airborne weapons are launched at you; hurt and pain are inevitable and inescapable. This passive acceptance of misery is then contrasted with taking an active approach t o our problem’s. However, with one of his most brilliant metaphors, Shakespeare suggests that any such attempts are doomed to fail. The image of attempting to battle the sea suggest a futile task which will overwhelm the protagonist.
In his only soliloquy, Claudius reveals his guilt over his brother’s death: “Oh, my offence is rank. It smells to heaven. It hath the primal eldest curse upon ’t, A brother’s murder. Pray can I not.” Shakespeare’s imagery of Claudius’ offence as something that has gone off or is rotten illustrates how his acts of regicide and incest have created the corruption that overwhelms Elsinore.
Through the character of Laertes, Shakespeare creates a direct contrast with Hamlet and his approach to revenge: “Conscience and grace, to the profoundest pit! I dare damnation. To this point I stand That both the worlds I give to negligence. Let come what comes, only I’ll be revenged Most thoroughly for my father.
“Conscience and grace, to the profoundest pit! I dare damnation. To this point I stand That both the worlds I give to negligence. Let come what comes, only I’ll be revenged Most thoroughly for my father. • The use of alliteration is effective in highlighting Laertes’ rash disregard for the consequences of his actions. He cares little for what happens in this world or the next; he simply wants revenge. However, this allows him to be easily manipulated by Claudius.
By the play’s final scene, Hamlet has realised that there is a time when it is correct to take action: • “He that hath killed my king and whored my mother, • Popped in between th' election and my hopes, • Thrown out his angle for my proper life • (And with such cozenage!)—is ’t not perfect conscience • To quit him with this arm? And is ’t not to be damned • To let this canker of our nature come • In further evil?”
“He that hath killed my king and whored my mother, Popped in between th' election and my hopes, Thrown out his angle for my proper life (And with such cozenage!)—is ’t not perfect conscience To quit him with this arm? And is ’t not to be damned To let this canker of our nature comeIn further evil?” Shakespeare’s imagery here helps to highlight the poisonous effect that Claudius’ illegitimate rule has on Danish society. Therefore, by giving his life to end this unnatural and corrupted rule, Hamlet becomes a tragic hero. It is ironic that in this final scene, Claudius dies by his own poison.