Hamlet revision

Hamlet’s isolation within Elsinore depicted
His dislike of Claudius highlighted
His misery and longing for death revealed in
his first soliloquy
‘A little more than kin, and less than kind.’
‘more than kin’ now he’s both Claudius’
nephew and his stepson. ‘Less than kind’ in
two senses: not kindly disposed to Claudius,
nor does he think he is of the same kind.
‘ I am too much i’ th’ sun.’
He is having too much of his uncle calling
him sun, and also of the Sun. Hamlet, we will
soon discover, longs for death- to be out of
the sun.
‘Seems Madam? Nay, it is: I know not seems:’
This speech develops the theme of
appearance and reality. Hamlet reacts
furiously, feeling that his mother is implying
that his mourning is playacting.
Hamlet feels it is his mother who must have
been acting the bereaved widow just a week
or two previously.
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!
Hamlet reveals his deep anguish and melancholy.
He wishes to die, but suicide is viewed as a sin. He
desires to dissolve into dew- an impermanent
Contrast established between what is seen as
divine and what is seen as earthly (soiled flesh).
Fie on't! ah fie! 'tis an unweeded garden,
That grows to seed; things rank and gross in
Possess it merely.
Image of an untended garden leading to
disease and corruption. Shakespeare’s
imagery suggests that incestuous marriage is
a violation of nature, which creates disease in
the King’s court.
So excellent a king; that was, to this,
Hyperion to a satyr; so loving to my mother
That he might not beteem the winds of heaven
Visit her face too roughly.
Juxtaposition used to highlight difference between
Old Hamlet and Claudius. Hyperion-the Titan god
of light, represents honour, virtue, and regality -all traits belonging to Hamlet's father, the true
King of Denmark.
Satyrs, the half-human and half-beast companions
of the wine-god Dionysus, represent lasciviousness
and overindulgence, much like Hamlet's usurping
uncle Claudius.
Hamlet joins the watch with Horatio and
The Ghost appears and signals to Hamlet to
follow him.
The Ghost tells Hamlet he is the spirit of his
dead father, and orders revenge on his
murderer, Claudius.
Hamlet accepts his instruction and vows his
friends to secrecy.
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,
Hamlet uses three antithetical phrases to highlight
the uncertain identity/ moral status of the ghost.
Antithesis: rhetorical contrast of words by means
of parallel arrangement of words, phrase or
‘Action not words’; ‘they promised freedom and
provided slavery’
Marcellus: “Something is rotten in the state of
This refers both to the idea that the ghost is an
ominous omen for Denmark and to the larger
theme of the connection between the moral
legitimacy of a ruler and the health of the state as
a whole. The ghost is a visible symptom of the
rottenness of Denmark created by Claudius’s
This continues the motif of Denmark’s decay.
Motif- a recurrent thematic element.
'Tis given out that, sleeping in my orchard,
A serpent stung me. So the whole ear of Denmark
Is by a forgèd process of my death
Rankly abused. But know, thou noble youth,
The serpent that did sting thy father’s life
Now wears his crown.
Metaphor used to highlight how Denmark is
infected/ corrupted by Claudius’ actions.
Serpent is symbolic here. Represents the destruction
of Adam’s happiness in the Garden of Eden and the
introduction of sin into the world. Claudius is ‘the
serpent’ who now wears the crown.
The time is out of joint—O cursèd spite,
That ever I was born to set it right!
Image created of the state of affairs in Denmark
being like a dislocated shoulder/ disfigured body.
In this rhyming couplet, Hamlet reveals his lack of
confidence in his ability to correct matters.
Rhyming couplet: a pair of lines which rhyme with
each other.
Unlike other soliloquies, this speech does
consider the play’s action.
Concentrates on general philosophical
musing on some of the play’s main themesparticularly the moral legitimacy of suicide in
an unbearably painful world.
To be, or not to be: that is the question:
To live, or to die. This is the problem/
question that Hamlet considers in this
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?
Here Hamlet considers whether it is better to suffer
life’s misfortunes ‘slings and arrows of outrageous
fortune’, or to actively seek to end one’s troubles.
The metaphor ‘to take arms against a sea of
troubles, /And by opposing end them’ compares
the idea of hopeless resistance to life’s ills to the
futility of fighting against the sea. This captures
Hamlets feelings of being unequal to the task that
has been assigned to him.
To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd.
Hamlet compares death to sleep and thinks of the
end to suffering, pain, and uncertainty it might
bring. However, ‘Devoutly’ is a religious word,
which suggests that there is more than simply an
end to suffering to be considered.
To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause:
Hamlet alters his metaphor of sleep to include the
possibility of dreaming; he says that the dreams
that may come in the sleep of death are daunting,
that they “must give us pause.”
‘Rub’ – obstacle
This mortal coil- this earthly life/ physical body/
earthly suffering
there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
Hamlet decides that it is this uncertainty and
fear about the nature of the afterlife that
makes us stretch out the suffering of life so
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
A powerful metaphor which depicts Time as whipping
suffering humans and exposing us to scorn. In
Elizabethan times, criminals were whipped in public.
This image is being used to introduce the sufferings
that humans would endure in their lives.
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin?
 Here Hamlet lists a series of the scorns of times,
ranging from lovesickness to hard work to political
oppression, and asks who would choose to bear
those miseries if he could bring himself peace with
a knife.
 ‘Quietus’ -peace
 ‘Bodkin’ - dagger
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover'd country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Hamlet decides that it is terror /dread of the afterlife
which makes people submit to the suffering of
their lives rather than go to another state of
existence which might be even more miserable.
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.
Consideration of the uncertainty of the afterlife leads
to excessive moral sensitivity, which makes action
impossible. This mirrors Hamlet’s own situation
where uncertainty over the Ghost’s identity leads
him to contemplation and prevents him from
Due to betrayals by Ophelia and Gertrude,
Hamlet develops an unpleasant misogyny:
“I have heard of your paintings too, well enough.
God has given you one face and you make
yourselves another. You jig and amble, and you
lisp, you nickname God’s creatures and make
your wantonness your ignorance. Go to, I’ll no
more on ’t. It hath made me mad. I say, we will
have no more marriages. Those that are married
already, all but one, shall live. The rest shall keep
as they are. To a nunnery, go.”
In his only soliloquy, Claudius reveals his
guilt over the killing of his brother:
“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.”
Hamlet does not kill Claudius because he is
praying and his soul would go to heaven. The
dramatic irony is that Claudius is unable to pray.
“Now might I do it pat. Now he is a-praying.
And now I’ll do ’t. And so he goes to heaven.
And so am I revenged.—That would be scanned.
A villain kills my father, and, for that,
I, his sole son, do this same villain send
To heaven.”
Hamlet reveals to her that he is only acting
mad (his antic disposition). He also reveals
his fury at her incestuous marriage to
“Mother, for love of grace,
Lay not that flattering unction to your soul
That not your trespass but my madness
It will but skin and film the ulcerous place
Whilst rank corruption, mining all within,
Infects unseen.”
Unlike Hamlet, he wants vengeance wit no
regards to the consequences:
“To hell, allegiance! Vows, to the blackest devil!
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.”
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