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17

There appear to be multiple ways of reading this sentence, depending on how you interpret the context of "rest" and "silence". Hamlet has been experiencing a great deal of upset and distress during the course of the play. Enough to drive him to madness. So one possible reading of this sentence is that the "silence" of death will finally allow him to "rest". ...


17

Since Hamlet was published in several editions during the Jacobethan era, it is worth looking at how these early editions rendered these lines, using the old-spelling editions published by Internet Shakespeare Editions. The first quarto (Q1), published in 1603, which has sometimes been called a "bad quarto", gives the lines as follows: O that this ...


12

Because suicide is a mortal sin According to the Church, suicide is a sin against God, because only God has the right to bring life and decide death. Suiciders didn't receive a Christian burial: they were not allowed to be buried in hallowed ground and there was no mass sung for anyone who committed suicide. They have been excommunicated from the Church and ...


12

So...I'm going to say probably coincidence, though there is some evidence in your favor. Thus I'll present the evidence first and then my own conclusion; do with it what you will. Tolkien on Shakespeare The evidence here is mixed, but I'll give a brief summary. Tolkien referred to the shabby use made in Shakespeare of the coming of 'Great Birnam wood to ...


12

I don't believe it's a specific reference to that story in the Book of Samuel. A message that instructs the recipient to execute the messenger is a well-known old trope that has appeared in many stories. TVTROPES WARNING The TvTropes page “Please Shoot the Messenger” contains many examples. Possibly the most well-known example is the story of ...


11

What do you think the Ghost might be lying about? Claudius definitely murdered his brother, which we find confirmed in the play-within-a-play (act 3 scene 2), and by Claudius's own confession (act 3 scene 3). However, it's true that the Ghost might not be Hamlet's father. In that case, it would still have to know the details of his father's death, and the ...


10

TL;DR: Joyce criticized dramatic flaws in Hamlet, but never condemned the play as a “failure”. Summary Richard Ellman’s biography of Joyce makes it clear that Joyce thought Henrik Ibsen a better dramatist than Shakespeare, and in 1908 he criticized the dramatic aspects of Hamlet in a conversation with his brother Stanislaus. However this has to be balanced ...


10

Whether this passage reflects Shakespeare's view on improvising is hard to say. However, Sam Plumb made several interesting comments on Shakespeare's Globe blog: Strictly speaking, improvising was illegal since all play texts needed to submitted to the Master of the Revels for approval before they could be performed. (And yes, some plays were sent back with ...


8

With Shakespeare's characters, you usually know what they're thinking. With Hamlet, you're never sure. In the second scene he goes over recent events but says, "I must hold my tongue!" He agonizes over his situation, considers every alternative, and finds reasons to avoid action, but he never tells us what drives him. He behaves as if there are voices in ...


8

Your premise is wrong here: see doesn't mean note in this passage; see means make sure, and thou character means you write it down. So in thy memory see thou character means make sure that you make a record of this in your memory, which means more or less the same thing as note these things well. See still can mean make sure: from Oxford ...


8

Whether you think Rosencrantz and Guildenstern deserve to die depends to some extent on the moral framework you use. When writing Hamlet, Shakespeare was working in the tradition of the revenge tragedy (although the play is almost an anti-revenge tragedy) and he was using a story that ultimate goes back to a Nordic tradition. So there are several moral ...


7

The question assumes that "see" is the only verb in the sentence and that "character" is a noun. This results in the following analysis: "these few precepts": direct object, "in thy memory": locative adjunct, "see": predicate (main verb?), "thou": subject, "character": another direct object? An object complement? This analysis assumes that "see" (or "look",...


7

To start: what is the most basic sense here? What is the "chameleon's dish"? And what is a capon? Well, among the folklore of Shakespeare's time, there was a belief that chameleons lived on nothing but air, so the "chameleon's dish" is simply "air". A capon is a castrated rooster, sometimes force-fed, which was viewed as superior eating to ordinary roosters....


7

Interpretations of this line appear to vary. According to Bernard Lott (New Swan Shakespeare, Advanced Series. Longman, 1968, 1990), the line may mean that he [Horatio] has not yet woken up fully to the surroundings and has left part of him downstairs in the warmth. Horatio is not in sympathy with all the tension that the others feel. According to G. R. ...


6

Well... who says they didn't? We see the play mostly from Hamlet's point of view. He has few allies, and deliberately pushes people away. For all we know, lots of other people were suspicious of the guy who started screaming when presented with a situation not unlike the circumstances of his rise to power. They just didn't do anything about it, at least not ...


6

I have found two possible explanations for this. Unfortunately, we are unlikely to ever know which - if either - is correct. 1: It's a Punctuation Error According to W. Edward Farrison in his essay Horatio's Report to Hamlet (Modern Language Notes, June 1957) it is a printing mistake. He notes that in early editions of the play, the mark after "once" ...


5

The word "villain" is derived from the 14th-century word "villein" which means: a free common villager or village peasant of any of the feudal classes lower in rank than the thane. Merriam Webster dictionary So originally, it would certainly have carried the connotation of low birth. I found this question on English Language & Usage about the ...


5

tl;dr It isn't. Hamlet and its contemporaries Hamlet is one of a cluster of similar plays that were tremendously popular on the Elizabethan and Jacobean stage that are now grouped as revenge tragedies. These plays draw upon the works of the Stoic philosopher and playwright Seneca, whose blood-soaked tragedies feature the revenge motif, a ghost, and ...


5

Shakespeare uses the word "desk" in two plays: Hamlet, Act II, scene 2 (cited in the question) and The Comedy of Errors, Act IV, scene 1, where Antipholus of Ephesus says (emphasis added), To Adriana, villain, hie thee straight: Give her this key, and tell her, in the desk That's cover'd o'er with Turkish tapestry, There is a purse of ducats; let ...


5

Christopher Strobbe's answer is excellent, and I'll add this thought because, in my experience, the greatest literature operates on many levels. This is especially important for Dramatic literature, in that stage productions require an actor as vehicle to get the audience to connect with the material, which requires the actor being able to connect to the ...


5

Hamlet was never very close with these two, and accuses them immediately: "I know the good king and queen have sent for you." Unlike his real friend Horatio, they have no reason to come to the hinterlands of Denmark other than to spy for Claudius. The two come and go with the king and queen to the play which Hamlet stages, and then they bring the message ...


5

Hamlet wants revenge for his father's murder. If he kills Claudius at the moment he's praying, Hamlet thinks, Claudius's soul will be pure and he'll be forgiven, and can therefore get into Heaven. King Hamlet died without a final confession/absolution/sacrament etc. and so his soul is wandering in Limbo. (I think that's the correct theological interpretation,...


5

I understand it as an intensifying repetition as in 'very very brave', 'long long time ago' but, apparently, there is no full agreement on this fragment even between the specialists (or, at least, in 1877, there wasn't): too too] Nares pointed out the intensive effect of this reduplication, giving instances from Holinshed and Spenser, and adding that it is ...


5

Since Hamlet was published in several editions during the Jacobethan era, it is worth looking at how these early editions rendered these lines. The first quarto (Q1), published in 1603, which has sometimes been called a "bad quarto", gives the lines as follows: O that this too much grieu'd and sallied flesh Would melt to nothing, or that the ...


5

Readers who think that Hamlet is sincerely expressing his own thoughts and feelings in this scene tend to interpret his cruelty to Ophelia as arising out of his disgust with his mother Gertrude for marrying her husband’s murderer, which he has generalized to the whole of her sex (“Frailty, thy name is woman!”). As editors rarely fail to note in gloss, ‘...


5

In this specific context, "which" is a relative adjective that refers back to the dreams Hamlet spoke of. Merriam-Webster gives the following example (emphasis mine): Our next meeting will be on Monday, at which time a new chairman will be elected. Below is another example from Linguapress (emphasis mine): He reached the village, at which point ...


4

Hamlet refers to the improvisation of clowns, rather than of actors in general. His reasoning is explicit: he doesn't want the audience to laugh. The play has a point ("some necessary question of the play"), and he doesn't want it lost on the audience just to satisfy some clown's "pitiful ambition" (to be noticed, attract attention, and possibly patronage). ...


4

The sense of ‘glimpse’ that we need here is this one, cognate with ‘gleam’: glimpse, n., 1.a. A momentary shining, a flash. Oxford English Dictionary With this sense in mind, we can imagine that on this cold night, when “the air bites shrewdly”, the wind blows clouds across the face of the moon, so that it shines for a moment and then is hidden ...


4

ShakespearesWords.com provides two definitions for "sir": man, person, individual gentleman, lord, gallant, master The first definition can be ignored, since it is not a form of address. The article Address forms on ShakespearesWords.com also adds the following explanation: respectful title for a priest, clerk, or other professional; often mock ...


3

Thomas Kyd's The Spanish Tragedy was immensely popular; not only was it printed ten times between 1592 and 1633 (although only one copy of the 1592 edition has survived), it was also quoted, alluded to and reworked by other authors. Thomas Kyd is also attributed an Ur-Hamlet, which is now lost. The Spanish Tragedy borrowed certain elements from Seneca's ...


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