Hamlet Quotations Acts 2-3

“Though this be madness, yet there is method in ‘t.” -Speaker: Polonius-Situation: When he speaks with Hamlet in the hall-Notes: He is denying Hamlets company. Even though what he says seems crazy, there seems to be an underlying rationality. Famous but misquoted.
“Denmark’s a prison. A goodly one, in which there are many confines, wards, and dungeons, Denmark being one o’ th’ worst. Why, then, ’tis none to you, for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. To me it is a prison. O God, I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams.” -Speaker: Hamlet-Situation: When Rosencratz and Guildenstein arrive-Notes: Hamlet describes the whole country as a prison. Yes the whole world is sort of a prison with many parts. Denmark is the most horrible part of that prison of the world. Well if you don’t think it is a prison, it is not. Ironic because he doesn’t believe because that is what R and G believe; he is pretending to be like everyone else. R and G are ambitious. Hamlet disagrees he is ambitious and wants to be king. I could live within a pecan and have all the power I needed. What’s bothering him is the bad dreams.
“Good my lord, will you see the players well bestowed? Do you hear, let them be well used, for they are the abstract and brief chronicles of the time. After your death you were better have a bad epitaph than their ill report while you live. God’s bodykins, man, much better. Use every man after his desert, and who should ‘scape whipping? Use them after your own honor and dignity. The less they deserve, the more merit is in your bounty.” -Speaker: Hamlet to Polonius -Situation: After the players/actors arrive-Notes: Polonius, will you take care of the players? Make sure they are treated well. They are the historians of the era. It would be better for you to have something negative written on your tombstone than for the actors to speak badly about you while you are alive. Hamlets reply to Polonius: You have to treat these actors much better than they deserve. If you treat the people the way they deserve, then they will be punished. Treat people well because you are a good person. Treating people well who don’t deserve will make you more honorable.
“We are oft to blame in this,’Tis too much proved, that with devotion’s visageAnd pious action we do sugar o’erThe devil himself.” Speaker: PoloniusSituation: Polonius and Claudius in the hallNotes: We are often guilty of a false display of religious devotion. With the appearance of religious belief and action, we could even make the devil look good.
“How smart a lash that speech doth give my conscience!The harlot’s cheek, beautied with plastering art,Is not more ugly to the thing that helps itThan is my deed to my most painted word.O heavy burden!” Speaker: Claudius (aside)Situation: Claudius and Polonius in the hall- Notes: How correct this is, and how guilty this makes me feel. The face of a hore, covered with makeup, is not seen as more horrible than are my false words to my false deeds- Oh, what a troubled conscience I have!Hore’s face=Claudius’s deed of murdermakeup=Claudius’s false (hypocritical) actionsThe king is Guilty!
“To be, or not to be? That is the question—Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to sufferThe slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,And, by opposing, end them? To die, to sleep—No more—and by a sleep to say we endThe heartache and the thousand natural shocksThat flesh is heir to—’tis a consummationDevoutly to be wished! To die, to sleep.To sleep, perchance to dream—ay, there’s the rub,For in that sleep of death what dreams may comeWhen we have shuffled off this mortal coil,Must give us pause.” Speaker: Hamlet (Soliloquy)Situation: Before he meets Ophelia in the hallNotes: To live or die, that is the issue. Is it better to endure living in a troubled world or attempt to deal with the troubles and either to die in the attempt or end the troubles. It would be great to end my existence and be without the pain but I may dream: that’s the problem because after death, we may suffer (have bad dreams), a possibility that could cause us to avoid killing ourselves.
“Since my dear soul was mistress of her choiceAnd could of men distinguish, her electionHath sealed thee for herself, for thou hast beenAs one in suffering all that suffers nothing—A man that Fortune’s buffets and rewardsHast ta’en with equal thanks. And blessed are thoseWhose blood and judgment are so well commingled,That they are not a pipe for Fortune’s fingerTo sound what stop she please. Give me that manThat is not passion’s slave, and I will wear himIn my heart’s core, ay, in my heart of heart,As I do thee.” Speaker: Hamlet to HoratioSituation: Before the playNotes: Since I have become an adult and could choose my friend, my deepest self has chosen you as my best friend because you are a stoic, someone who takes suffering and pleasure in the same way, and people like you who have balanced passion and reason are so lucky because they are not victims of events. You take the ups and downs the same way (stoic), not getting too upset or excited. (Notice the musical metaphor of being a flute that fortune can play) I prefer the person that is not enslaved to his feelings, and that person I will be close to as I am to you-
“Why, look you now, how unworthy a thing you make of me! You would play upon me. You would seem to know my stops. You would pluck out the heart of my mystery. You would sound me from my lowest note to the top of my compass. And there is much music, excellent voice, in this little organ, yet cannot you make it speak? ‘Sblood, do you think I am easier to be played on than a pipe? Call me what instrument you will, though you can fret me, yet you cannot play upon me. Call me what instrument you will, though you can fret me, you cannot play upon me” Speaker: Hamlet to R. and G. Situation: After the playNotes: See how you treat me as something worthless. You try to manipulate me, you act like you know my inner workings and there is much music in this flute and you can’t play it. By the blood of Christ, do you believe I can be manipulated easier than a flute? Call me anything, though you can bother me, you can’t manipulate me. Pun- you can’t fret (bother or irritate) me and you can’t play (play like an instrument and manipulate) me
“May one be pardoned and retain th’ offense?In the corrupted currents of this worldOffense’s gilded hand may shove by justice,And oft ’tis seen the wicked prize itselfBuys out the law. But ’tis not so above.There is no shuffling. There the action liesIn his true nature, and we ourselves compelled,Even to the teeth and forehead of our faults,To give in evidence.” Speaker: Claudius (Soliloquy)Situation: After the PlayNotes: Can one be forgiven and keep their ill-gotten gains? In the evil earthly world, bribery can often relieve a sinner from judgment, but not in heaven. There is not trickery. Their our sins are clearly seen, and the sinner must testify against himself.
“There’s letters sealed, and my two schoolfellows,Whom I will trust as I will adders fanged,They bear the mandate. They must sweep my wayAnd marshal me to knavery. Let it work,For ’tis the sport to have the engineerHoist with his own petard. And ‘t shall go hard,But I will delve one yard below their mines,And blow them at the moon. Oh, ’tis most sweetWhen in one line two crafts directly meet.” Speaker: HamletSituation: To his mother in her bedroomNotes: R. & G., whom I trust as I would poisonous snakes, have been given sealed letters. They will clear my path and lead me to trickery. Let that be, because it is great fun to have the bombmaker blown up by his own bomb. It will be difficult, but I will dig below their bombs and blow them up. It’s so great when two ships or two crafty plans are on a collision course.

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