AP Literature & Composition: Hamlet, Shakespeare Famous Lines and Meanings

Hamartia A fatal flaw leading to the downfall of a tragic hero or heroine.
Vernacular Language spoken by the people at the time. (Modern Language)
In what language is Hamlet written in? Modern Language
Iambic Pentameter Literally meter containing 5 iams. Unstressed and stressed. Always starts unstressed.
Femme Fatale Enchantress/Temptress. Characterized by beauty, charm, charisma. Brings downfall. MAY appear as witch or vampire, but not usually. Ex: Eve -Genesis, The Sirens in Mythology.
Fool Kings entertainment, courts gesture. Stupid characters are ridiculed for fun. Contain a kernel of wisdom, often don’t know the value of wisdom.
Noble Savage Archetypal Character in Literature. Ex: Hagrid from Harry Potter, Shrek, and Chewbacca.
Clown Synonymous with “blue collar worker” or laborer. In Hamlet, it is a grave digger. In Macbeth, it is a drunken porter. Often provide same wise advice as fool, as well as comic relief.
“A little more than kin and less than kind.” -Hamlet Hamlet says to Claudius.
“Frailty, thy name is woman!” -Hamlet Hamlet criticizing how weak his Mother is.
“To thine own self be true, and it must follow as the night the day that thou canst not be false to any man.” -Polonius Polonius giving Laertes advice.
“One may smile and smile and be a villain.” -Hamlet Hamlet looking at Claudius.
“The play’s the thing wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the King.” -Hamlet Hamlet.
“To be, or not to be, that is the question:” -Hamlet Hamlet’s dramatic monologue to Ophelia.
“I must be cruel to only be kind.” -Hamlet Hamlet addressing his Mother

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