Questions tagged [hamlet]

Questions about the play 'Hamlet' by William Shakespeare, and related materials. Use this tag with the [william-shakespeare] tag.

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Hamlet - swear on my sword part - why the sudden shift in tone?

So the text of Hamlet is here: http://shakespeare.mit.edu/hamlet/full.html This is during Act 1, Scene 5. Hamlet, Horatio and Marcellus are running around swearing on the sword multiple times. I find ...
2 votes
2 answers
799 views

Why does "less than" mean "not" in "A little more than kin, and less than kind"?

In Act 1, Scene 2, Line 65, Hamlet [Aside] "A little more than kin, and less than kind" does less than mean not? If so, what semantic notions underlie less than and not? How did less than ...
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"Which dreams, indeed, are ambition" in Hamlet Act 2, Scene 2

I am reading Hamlet; Act 2 Scene 2 contains the following exchange: Hamlet: O God, I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams. ...
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Why did Hamlet tell Ophelia: "Get thee to a nunnery!"?

In Hamlet [III, 1], Hamlet tells Ophelia (lines 1814,27,34): Get thee to a nunnery! […] Go thy ways to a nunnery. […] Get thee to a nunnery. […] To a nunnery, go; and quickly too. […] To a nunnery, ...
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Meaning of "apparel oft proclaims the man" in Shakespeare’s "Hamlet"?

Here is a speech of Polonius from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, act 1, scene 3: Give every man thine ear; but very few thy voice: Take each man’s censure: but reserve thy judgement: Costly thy habits as thy ...
2 votes
1 answer
135 views

"How say you then? Would heart of man once think it?" Hamlet Act 1 Scene 5

After Hamlet returns from speaking with the Ghost, he initially resists questioning about it, then suggests he will reveal what it said if the others can keep a secret, How say you then? Would heart ...
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1 answer
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Why are there three different versions of the "solid/sullied/sallied flesh" line in Hamlet?

While looking up about the passage asked about in this previous question, I noticed that there are different versions of the same line in Hamlet, Act I Scene II, line 333: O that this too too solid ...
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8 votes
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"Too too sullied flesh" in Hamlet. Why twice?

Oh, that this too too sullied flesh would melt, Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew (Hamlet, Act I, Scene II) Why does "too" occur twice? It is one in a series of repetitions which occur ...
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1 answer
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Why does Horatio answer "a piece of him" when asked if Horatio is there?

In Hamlet, Act 1: Scene 1, when Bernardo asks if Horatio is there, Horatio responds "A piece of him": MARCELLUS. Holla! Bernardo! BERNARDO. Say, What, is Horatio there? HORATIO. A piece of ...
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4 votes
1 answer
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How can a "desk" be considered a secret keeper?

I was reading Hamlet, Act II, scene 2, when I encountered the following lines: .....what might you, Or my dear majesty your queen here, think, If I had play'd the desk or table-book, Or given my ...
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Meaning of "glimpses of the moon" in "Hamlet"

I read this in Hamlet act I scene IV:                                 What may this mean, That thou, dead corpse, again in complete steel Revisit'st thus the glimpses of the moon... I'm unable ...
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1 answer
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What is meant by 'patient' in Hamlet's famous soliloquy?

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? Is there a veracious etymological basis for the ...
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Why would Hamlet fear suicide if he knew of life after death?

Prince Hamlet describes his fear of death in poetic phrases. To be or not to be, that is the question: ...               To die, to sleep; To sleep, perchance to dream—aye, there's the rub: For in ...
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If Hamlet, being a prince, outranked Horatio, why did he address him as "sir"?

Hamlet Act 5 Scene 2: HAMLET: So much for this, sir. Now shall you see the other. You do remember all the circumstance? HORATIO: Remember it, my lord! Horatio replies to Hamlet calling ...
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8 votes
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644 views

How is Hamlet different from a conventional Elizabethan revenge play?

It is well known that Thomas Kyd's The Spanish Tragedy established the genre of revenge tragedy in Elizabethan drama. The play contains many elements such as the appearance of a ghost, a play within ...
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5 votes
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Inconsistencies in the character of Horatio in Hamlet

In the Shakespearean tragedy Hamlet, Horatio is a friend and "fellow student" of the eponymous prince. A meticulous reading of the text will reveal certain apparent inconsistencies in the depiction ...
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6 votes
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What does Hamlet mean when he calls Claudius a "villain"?

In Shakespeare's tragedy Hamlet, prince Hamlet repeatedly calls Claudius a "villain". Here is a quote from Act 2 Scene 2 : Bloody, bawdy villain! Remorseless, treacherous, lecherous, ...
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8 votes
1 answer
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Where and how did James Joyce condemn Hamlet as a failure?

Earlier this year, someone asked Why did T.S. Eliot make a statement that 'Coriolanus' was Shakespeare's masterpiece and that 'Hamlet' was an artistic failure? If the Wikipedia article about William ...
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Why did T.S. Eliot make a statement that 'Coriolanus' was Shakespeare's masterpiece and that 'Hamlet' was an artistic failure?

According to T.S. Eliot, Shakespeare actually failed as an artist in Hamlet. Those who have read the relevant critical essay by Eliot, could you kindly let me in on the title of that essay and explain ...
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Why is 'Hamlet' considered one of the very best plays ever?

When an intellectual work (philosophy book, literary book, painting etc) is studied there are (at least) two principal questions to be addressed: What is this work about? Why is this work important? ...
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Is there any significance in Shakespeare's use of the name "Laertes" (name of the father of Odysseus) in Hamlet?

Is there any significance in Shakespeare's use of "Laertes" (name of the father of Odysseus) in Hamlet? Do we associate the name with The Odyssey more strongly than Shakespeare, to whom it was just ...
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What does the line “Excellent, i' faith, of the chameleon's dish. I eat the air, promise-crammed. You cannot feed capons so.” mean, from Hamlet?

“Excellent, i' faith, of the chameleon's dish. I eat the air, promise-crammed. You cannot feed capons so.” Hamlet, act 3, scene 2 What does this sentence mean? What are the chameleon, air and ...
5 votes
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"What a piece of work is man" - echo in The Lord of the Rings?

In The Fellowship of the Ring, after Gandalf tells Frodo the story of the One Ring and challenges him to destroy it, Frodo looks at the ring and we read this description: how rich and beautiful was ...
5 votes
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Why was Ophelia psychologically ill in the Shakespearean play Hamlet?

In the Shakespearean play Hamlet Ophelia became psychologically ill. Was it because of Hamlet's behavior or how society treated her or what's the real reason behind her sudden illness? Did ...
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3 votes
2 answers
144 views

In Early Modern English, how did 'see' semantically shift to mean 'note/record'?

John McWhorter PhD Linguistics (Stanford). Words on the Move (2016). p. 86. Emboldening mine.   Commonly we are told that Shakespeare's language is "high," such that the challenge can be ...
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11 votes
3 answers
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Do Guildenstern and Rosencrantz deserve to die?

In Shakespeare's play Hamlet (which you can read online), Hamlet is on a voyage with his two friends, Guildenstern and Rosencrantz, to give a letter to a foreign ruler. However, Hamlet discovers that ...
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7 votes
1 answer
2k views

How do Hamlet's thoughts and doubts about the afterlife affect him?

In Hamlet, there are many references to the afterlife, god, and what the consequences of his actions are. My question is this: Did Hamlet's pre-conceptions about the afterlife ultimately affect his ...
9 votes
3 answers
940 views

Why doesn't Hamlet like improvisation?

In Shakespeare's play Hamlet, Hamlet has a famous monologue about how to properly perform a play. During one portion of the monologue, he has some harsh words for people who improvise: O, reform it ...
6 votes
2 answers
276 views

Why didn't Hamlet's modifications to the theater troupe's play "tip off" anyone else?

When a theater troupe visits Hamlet's castle, he makes some... rather pointed changes to their show, which now includes a murder much like the one his uncle performed. Why didn't anyone else (...
18 votes
6 answers
33k views

The meaning of "The rest is silence" in "Hamlet"

Hamlet's very last words are The rest is silence. What do they actually mean? This being Shakespeare, I reckon the significance of these words cannot be only the banal comparison between death and ...
10 votes
2 answers
397 views

Was the sealed letter ordering Hamlet's death a Biblical reference?

Is the sealed letter that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern carry that orders Hamlet's execution a deliberate reference to the Biblical King David having Uriah the Hittite carry a letter to Joab ordering ...
10 votes
2 answers
2k views

Is Hamlet correct when he says "it is an honest ghost"?

The Ghost in Hamlet claims to be Hamlet's father's spirit released from Purgatory. Is it possible that the Ghost is lying? Has it been sent from Hell to stir up mischief in Elsinore? (The play does ...
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