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

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 ...
Matt Thrower's user avatar
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18 votes
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Why are there three different versions of the "solid/sullied/sallied flesh" line in Hamlet?

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 ...
Tsundoku's user avatar
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13 votes

Why would Hamlet fear suicide if he knew of life after death?

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 ...
Yasskier's user avatar
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12 votes
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"What a piece of work is man" - echo in The Lord of the Rings?

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 ...
auden's user avatar
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12 votes
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Was the sealed letter ordering Hamlet's death a Biblical reference?

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 ...
b_jonas's user avatar
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11 votes
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Where and how did James Joyce condemn Hamlet as a failure?

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 ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
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10 votes

Why doesn't Hamlet like improvisation?

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 ...
Tsundoku's user avatar
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10 votes

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

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 ...
ktm5124's user avatar
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9 votes

Do Guildenstern and Rosencrantz deserve to die?

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 ...
Tsundoku's user avatar
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8 votes

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

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 ...
Ralph Crown's user avatar
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7 votes

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?

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 ...
andejons's user avatar
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7 votes

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

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 ...
Peter Shor's user avatar
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7 votes

Why does Horatio answer "a piece of him" when asked if Horatio is there?

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 ...
Tsundoku's user avatar
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7 votes

Why did Hamlet tell Ophelia: "Get thee to a nunnery!"?

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 ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
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7 votes
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Hamlet - swear on my sword part - why the sudden shift in tone?

The shift of tone from solemnity to comedy has puzzled commentators on the play. One theory is that the later part of the scene is a survival from an earlier version of Hamlet, the so-called Ur-Hamlet....
Gareth Rees's user avatar
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7 votes

Literary background of being poisoned via the ear?

Pliny has already been mentioned in a comment. Scholars also point to the play The Murder of Gonzago (not extant today), a dramatic treatment of the murder of Francesco Maria I della Rovere, Duke of ...
henryflower's user avatar
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6 votes
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Why didn't Hamlet's modifications to the theater troupe's play "tip off" anyone else?

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 ...
Joshua Engel's user avatar
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6 votes

Do Guildenstern and Rosencrantz deserve to die?

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 ...
Lauren-Clear-Monica-Ipsum's user avatar
6 votes
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In Early Modern English, how did 'see' semantically shift to mean 'note/record'?

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 ...
Tsundoku's user avatar
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6 votes
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Inconsistencies in the character of Horatio in Hamlet

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 ...
Matt Thrower's user avatar
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6 votes
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"Too too sullied flesh" in Hamlet. Why twice?

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 ...
tum_'s user avatar
  • 1,160
6 votes

"Too too sullied flesh" in Hamlet. Why twice?

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 ...
Tsundoku's user avatar
  • 45.9k
6 votes

Literary background of being poisoned via the ear?

Harold Jenkins's edition of Hamlet for the Arden Shakespeare (1982) says in a footnote to Hamlet's "A poisons him i'th' garden for his estate" that this appears to echo a folklore motif and ...
Tsundoku's user avatar
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5 votes

How is Hamlet different from a conventional Elizabethan revenge play?

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....
verbose's user avatar
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5 votes
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What does Hamlet mean when he calls Claudius a "villain"?

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 ...
Matt Thrower's user avatar
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5 votes

Why doesn't Hamlet like improvisation?

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, ...
DukeZhou's user avatar
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5 votes
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How can a "desk" be considered a secret keeper?

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 ...
Tsundoku's user avatar
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5 votes

Meaning of "apparel oft proclaims the man" in Shakespeare’s "Hamlet"?

Polonius advises his son to buy clothes ("habits") which are as good as he can afford but to avoid buying clothes that are showy ("gaudy"). The phrase "the apparel oft ...
Tsundoku's user avatar
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5 votes
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"Which dreams, indeed, are ambition" in Hamlet Act 2, Scene 2

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 ...
Tsundoku's user avatar
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4 votes
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How do Hamlet's thoughts and doubts about the afterlife affect him?

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. ...
Lauren-Clear-Monica-Ipsum's user avatar

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