hamlet leitmotifs

antic disposition what Hamlet puts on; with arms encumbered thus, or this headshake, or by pronouncing some doubtful phrase; such ambiguous giving out; appearance vs. reality; he’s testing what the ghost told him before he actually goes out and does it
more kin, less kind how Hamlet explains his relationship with Claudius; describes their unnatural relationship (they were kin first, than became family)
a mote in mind’s eye TROUBLE; the ghost is premonition that predicts the forecoming trouble (but Hamlet cannot ignore it because it could prefigure the downfall of Denmark); Horatio warns that Caesar ignored premonitions and it did not end well
primrose path of dalliance treads and recks not his own rede; Ophelia is saying that Laertes should follow his own advice
unweeded garden how Hamlet describes Denmark in his first soliloquy; it grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature possess it merely; occured in less than two months; the ghost will name Hamlet as its gardener
vicious mole of nature Hamlet believes some men are born with imbalance in their 4 humors; these men carry the stamp of defect, being nature’s livery or fortune’s star, his virtues else, be they as pure as grace, shall in general censure take corruption; DRAM OF EVIL
assuming a pleasing shape in Hamlet’s second soliloquy he thinks the Ghost may be a devil who is disguised as something with good news; he is very potent with such spirits and abuses to damn me
bait of falsehood What Polonius believes will help catch Laertes; will help take the carp of truth; slight sullies
becoming shadows of beggars Hamlet talks to R and G about ambitions; people who strive for great things may do things that are not so ethical (refferring to Claudius); a dream itself is but a shadow; beggars (who are without ambition) are the only humans with substantial bodies, and kinds and heroes (who are ruled by ambition) are only the beggars’ shadows
brevity, the soul of wit (wit=cleverness) Polonius says that in a wise speech, only a few words carry the central meaning; he wants Hamlet to be less wordy; the irony is that after he says this, he begins to rant about Hamlet and Ophelia’s relationship
catching conscience at the end of Hamlet’s second soliloquy, he states that he will use the play with a dozen added lines (murder of gonzago/the mousetrap) to get a guilty or nonguilty response from Claudius
hawks and handsaws Only when the wind is southerly, can Hamlet differentiate between these two; it refers to a proverb that mean “i can distinguish between things that do not resemble each other”; he’s trying to drop a hint to R and G that he is in antic disposition
madness with method Polonius believes that Hamlet’s odd behavior has an origin
quintessence of dust Hamlet’s view of man: what a piece of work is a man, how noble in reason, how infinite in faculties, in form and moving, in apprehension how like a god. the beauty of the world; BUT Hamlet sees a lack of value in man; man delights not me
consummation to be wished for to die, to sleep – to sleep, perchance to dream; Hamlet’s to be or not to be speech: he wonders if he should continue to live or commit suicide; he thinks suicide would end all of his troubles because he would be asleep forever
hoist with own petard Hamlet says its the sport to have the engineer hoist with this; having the maker of military devices blown up by his own explosives
native hue of resolution Hamlet says it is sicklied over with the pale cast of thought; the TRAGIC FLAW; we lose the name of action because of our consciences; conscience makes us cowards
not passion’s slave Hamlet gives Horatio the ULTIMATE (Boethian) COMPLIMENT; Boethius believed that the world we lived in only follows the wheel of fortune (no control of life), but Hamlet thinks that Horatio endures life’s sorrows and then celebrates them
plague for dowry Hamlet warns Ophelia that if she ever marries, he will give her this; be thou chaste as ice, as pure as snow, thou shalt not escape calumny; GET THEE TO A NUNNERY
playing the recorder Hamlet uses this instrument as a metaphor: you would play upon me, you woul seem to know my stops, you would pluck out the heart of my mystery, YET CANNOT YOU MAKE IT SPEAK; they can try to pump the information out of him, but Hamlet won’t say anything (you can’t play me)
purpose, slave to memory The Player King yet again voices the tragic flaw; of violent birth, but poor validity, most necessary tis that we forget to pay ourselves what to ourselves is debt; the passion ending, doth the purpose lose; Things Hamlet wants to say to Gertrude (getting reactions)
scourge and minister Hamlet believes Heaven has punished him to be these two things; I Must be cruel only to be kind
speaking daggers How Hamlet says he will confront his mother; Let me be cruel, but not unnatural; my tongue and soul in this be hypocrites
sugaring oer the devil Polonius says he and Claudius will do this with devotion’s visage and pious action; They will make Ophelia be reading to make her look innocent even tough she is up to nothing good; Polonius knows this plan is bad but he wants to carry it out because he wants to help the king (which benefits himself)
words without thoughts Claudius’s words fly up, but his thoughts remain below; these words will never go to heaven; The king feels guilty for his wrongdoing; he knows praying won’t save him
battalion of sorrows Claudius tells Gertrude that sorrows come in not single spies, but in large amounts; these tragedies include: Polonius’ murder, Hamlet’s removal to England, Hamlet is the one who killed Polonius, People confused about rumors of Polonius’ death, Ophelia has gone mad/crazy, Claudius foolishly gave Polonius a “hugger mugger” burial, and Laertes has returned and gone into hiding
bloody thoughts Hamlet’s reversal of attitude and his pulling out of the weeds; Hamlet’s call to arms after his true greatness speech
convocation of worms Not where he eats, but where he is eaten. Your worm is your only emperor for diet. We fat all creatures else to fat us, and we fat ourselves for maggots. Your fat king and your lean beggar is but variable service – two dishes but to one table; this is meant to show the insignificance of human existance and point out the idea that death is the universal leveller that comes to every man no matter if he be a king or a beggar who, at death, are the same
daring damnation Laertes shows his excessive passion in this revenge speech; To hell allegiance (to the king) vows (of loyalty to the king) to the blackest devil!; Let come what comes, only I’ll be revenged most thoroughly for my father
finding quarrel in a a straw definition of TRUE GREATNESS = finding it when honor’s at stake; Hamlet expresses his envy of Fortinbras; At first, Hamlet thinks Fortinbras’ invasion is merely the result of a nation’s having too much wealth and peace, but he soon recognizes the value of Fort’s actions
hugger-mugger the foolish funeral that Claudius gave Polonius
rosemary and rue two of Ophelia’s flowers; rosemary for remembrance; rue for sorrow (Ophelia) and repentance (Gertrude)
squeezing sponges Hamlet calls Rosencrantz this because he is trying to warn R and G that the king is merely using them to soak up/gain information – when Claudius no longer needs them, he will dispose of them; Ape and Apple imagery
wick of abatement Time qualifies passion, weakening it (just like too much thought does). Yet goodness (like passion), if it grows to excess can die (like the candle’s flame is drowned by melted wax); When we first say we are going to do something, we need to do it then.
alexander’s dust Hamlet makes the central philosophical point that all men, no matter their status and power in life, face the same end; That was base uses we may all return; in the face of death, our earthly accomplishments and lives are insignificant
being an antique roman Horatio says he is this more than a Dane; he wants to drink the poison and die with his best friend
divinity that shapes ends When our deep plots do pall, we should learn this; rough hew them how we will; reason/discretion vs. power/discretion = both are just a bungling of the higher plan; our thoughts are ours but those thoughts do not determine/control our actions (think player king speech)
fall of a sparrow We defy augury; there is a special providence for this; if it be now, tis not to come, if it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come; THE READINESS IS ALL; Hamlet acknowledges that at some point, he will die
just treachery what kills Laertes; the king’s to blame; he begs Hamlet to exchange forgiveness with him; Laertes recognizes his downfall was caused by his own knavery and baser nature
mewing cats and dogs Hamlet’s fatalistic accptance of the power of fate/fortune; Let Hercules himself do what he may; shows his acceptance of Destiny’s plan for him = innocence or guilt don’t really matter
standing aloof the final moment of suspense; why Laertes wants to fight Hamlet; He wants his family honor restored; will no reconcilement till by some elder masters of known honor I have a voice and precedent of peace to keep my name ungored

You Might Also Like