Hamlet Act 1 Quotes

“Though yet . . . Thanks.” ii (1-16) p. 21. Speaker: ClaudiusSituation: 1st Royal AudienceParaphrase: Although my brother recently died, and it would be appropriate to be in a state of mourning, our reason must overcome this natural desire to mourn and we must think about what is best for ourselves— so we have married Gertrude. with happiness at our newfound love at the funeral and with some sadness at our wedding; we have balanced out this happiness and sadness. He then reminds the assembled nobles and counselors that they have advised and encouraged them to take this step. “defeated joy”=depressed happiness; “an auspicious and a dropping eye”= a hopeful and a crying eye
“A little more than kin, and less than kind.” ii (67) p.25. Speaker: HamletSituation: 1st Royal AudienceIn this aside, we see Hamlet’s attitude toward his uncle. He is saying that his relationship to Claudius is too close (incestuous), so Hamlet is too “kin” to him but he does not feel kindly to him and he is not Claudius’s kind of person
“I am too much in the sun.” ii (69) p. 25. Speaker: HamletSituation: 1st Royal AudienceHamlet is saying he is too much in the limelight, too much in the King’s royal presence (the sun was an emblem of the King) and he’s punning on the word “son”- Hamlet finds the relationship too much for him and he thinks Claudius is making too much of it. Hamlet should be king.
“Seems, madam . . . suits of woe.” ii (79-89) pp. 25-27. Speaker: HamletSituation: 1st Royal AudienceGertrude is asking why Hamlet seems to be so sad at the death of his father, when everyone must die someday. Hamlet picks up on this word “seems” and explains that he does not “seem” sad but is really sad. It’s not his dark clothes, his sighs, his crying, his sad looks that express how he truly feels. Anyone could fake all of this, but what he has within himself is so much greater that he cannot show it.THEME: appearance vs. reality
“O that this . . . tongue.” ii (133-164) pp. 29-31. Speaker: HamletSituation: Hamlet’s 1st soliloquy after Claudius and Gertrude leave their first royal audience.In this soliloquy, we find out Hamlet’s inner thoughts and feelings.Paraphrase: I wish that my impure or solid body would dissolve or that I could commit suicide without going to Hell. Everything seems useless. Denmark is like a garden that needs to be weeded-All that is nasty has overgrown the good plants. It’s incredible that my father died less than 2 months ago, and he was like a sun god compared to this half-man half-beast (These goat men were often associated with unbridled lust). My father was so gentle and protective of my mother, and she was so affectionate to him, and yet she married right away, even before her funeral shoes got old, like Niobe (woman that cried in mythology) an animal would have grieved longer- She married within a month, before the swelling had left her eyes. How awful and sinful to gallop into an incestuous bed. Bad will come of it, but I can’t tell anyone how I feel.
” He was a man, take him for all in all, I shall not look upon his like again.” ii (195-196) p. 33. Speaker: HamletSituation: 1st discussion with HoratioNotice the high praise implied in this understatement. (about his father) Paraphrase: He was the ideal of a man, which is even higher than a king.
“And these few precepts . . . false to any man.” iii (64-86) pp. 43 – 45 Speaker: PoloniusSituation: Laertes is leaving for FranceAlthough most of this advice is excellent, it does show that Polonius is more concerned with how things “seem” to be, with the appearances, than Hamlet is.Paraphrase: Don’t tell others what you are thinking and do not act on any unruly idea. Be friendly, but not common. Treasure your true friends, but don’t try to be friends with everyone. Avoid fighting if possible, but if you must fight, fight to win. Listen to everyone, but only speak to a few. Accept others’ criticism of you, but don’t criticize others. Buy the best clothes that you can afford because people judge you by the way you look, especially in France. Don’t borrow or lend things because if you lend you may lose the friend when he doesn’t return the item and if you are always borrowing, you will not learn how to be economical. Especially be honest with yourself and you won’t be dishonest with anyone else.
“So oft it chances . . . from that particular fault.” iv (26-39) p. 51. Speaker: HamletSituation: As he waits with Horatio and others to see the ghostThis is Hamlet’s “tragic flaw speech” in which Shakespeare describes what he believes constitutes a tragic flaw by having Hamlet reflect on the tendency of one evil flaw to destroy an otherwise good character.Paraphrase: Often in certain people because of some flaw, which could come from their family (not their fault), or their having too much of one characteristic which makes them irrational, or by some accustomed act that corrupts the pattern of approved behavior, these people have the sign of this one flaw, given to them by nature or by fate, no matter how good the person is, he will be corrupted by his flaw.
“Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.” iv (100) p. 55. Speaker: MarcellusSituation: While Hamlet is talking to the ghostParaphrase: Something must be wrong for all of these ominous events to occur
. “But virtue, as it never will be moved . . . garbage.” v (60-64) p.59. Speaker: The GhostSituation: Ghost is speaking to Hamlet in the middle of the nightParaphrase: Goodness will remain goodness even if evil tries to seduce it in a beautiful shape, but vice, even if it is part of an otherwise holy person, will eventually satisfy itself with something filthy.
“There are more . . . in your philosophy.” v (187-188) p. 67. Speaker: HamletSituation: To Horatio after Hamlet has spoken with the GhostA famous line- Hamlet is recognizing the limits of human reasoning. Paraphrase: There are truths that are so mysterious that they are not part of philosophical learning.
“The time is out of joint . . . right!” v (210-211) p. 69. Speaker: HamletSituation: Hamlet has spoken with the GhostHere Hamlet expresses a very exalted view of what he has to do. He recognizes that Denmark is in utter disorder and he regrets that it is his task to bring order and justice to the country, but can any one of us “set it right”?

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