Hamlet – What’s Happening and Analysis

A little more than kin and less than kind. King Claudius and Hamlet talking about their new relationship as familyTwice related: uncle and “son”a less than unnatural relationship
I am too much in the sun. pun sun/sonHamlet is depressed over his father’s death and stays inside.
Tis unmanly grief. It shows a will most incorrect to heaven. It is not only my black clothes, my sighs and tears, my downcast face, and other outward signs of grief that indicate my true feelings. (Hamlet is grieving his father’s recent death)
O that this too, too solid flesh would melt,/Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew! (rest of soliloquy) The quotation is spoken after talking with Claudius and Gertrude. They do not want him to return to college but rather stay home in Denmark. The quotation means Hamlet contemplates suicide for the first time but refrains from killing himself because it is against his religion. Hamlet is also upset over his mother’s expedient marriage to his uncle.
Frailty, thy name is women. Hamlet is talking about how his mother married Claudius so quickly. The quotation shows that Hamlet is upset over his mother’s expedient and incestuous marriage to Claudius. The marriage also represents an ominous omen to Denmark due to the incestuousness of the situation.
All is not well/I doubt some foul play. Horatio, Bernardo, and Marcellus are telling Hamlet about the sightings of his father’s ghost. The quotation foreshadows that King Hamlet was murdered and did not die by natural causes.
Neither a borrower nor a lender be/This above all: to thine own self be true. Polonius is wishing Laertes farewell before he departs for France (I think). The quotations demonstrates a father-son relationship as well as a normal family which contrasts Hamlet’s family (hence Hamlet and Laertes are foils). Polonius just gives Laertes a long list of advice to keep in mind while he is gone so Laertes may be successful.
Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. Hamlet just began following the ghost and Marcellus and Horatio are contemplating following them. The quotation means the ghost represents an ominous omen for Denmark. The ghost also represents a visible symptom of the rottenness Denmark has taken on.
Revenge his most foul and most unnatural murder. The ghost is revealing to Hamlet that Claudius killed King Hamlet. The quotation is starting the plot. The ghost sets in motion a series of events in which Hamlet tries to exact revenge upon Claudius for his father’s death.
O cursed spite/That ever I was born to set it right. Marcellus and Horatio have just sworn secrecy to Hamlet about the truth of King Hamlet’s death. The quotation reveals that Hamlet does not really want to do anything. He is wondering why it has to be him to kill Claudius.
Brevity is the soul of wit. Polonius and King Claudius are discussing Hamlet’s supposed madness. The quotation means that a few words can carry a central meaning.
More matter with less art. The Queen, King, and Polonius are discussing Hamlet’s supposed madness. The quotation is pretty much telling Polonius to get to the point and stop using unnecessary language.
Though this be madness–yet there is method in’t. Polonius is trying to find out if Hamlet has really gone mad. The quotation is saying that there must be a method to Hamlet’s madness. Polonius believes Hamlet’s madness is a result of grief because his father died and Polonius commanded Ophelia to stop receiving Hamlet’s letters. However, this is dramatic irony because we know Hamlet is not mad but Polonius does not know that.
…for there is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern were sent by King Claudius to evaluate Hamlet’s mental state. The quotation means that only the human mind can decide whether something is either good or bad. Hamlet brings up the thought of whether something is fixedly “good” or “bad”.
O, what a rogue and peasant am I! (the rest of the soliloquy) Hamlet has just left the players and he has gone off to be alone. The quotation shows that Hamlet is upset with himself because the players can show so much emotion for nothing; whereas, Hamlet cannot show his emotions effectively when he as all the reason to.
The play’s the thing/Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the King. Hamlet gets the idea to put on a play replicating the death of King Hamlet so that he can reveal what Claudius has done. The quotation demonstrates Hamlet’s idea to make Claudius guilty and admit to killing the former King. Hamlet is using the play to see if the Ghost was telling the truth. The play is going to act as evidence for Hamlet based off of Claudius’s reaction.
To be nor not to be–that is the question. (rest of the soliloquy) Hamlet is talking to himself about everything while he waits for Ophelia to come and talk. The quotation demonstrates Hamlet thinking about suicide again. He feels that death would be an easy escape to the whole situation. However, he feels that the only reason stopping him from killing himself is fear of the unknown. So all in all Hamlet is going to live because he fears being damned.
Get thee to a nunnery. Why woulds’t thou be a breeder of sinners? Hamlet and Ophelia are talking about their relationship. Hamlet says here that he never loved Ophelia.
O, what a noble mind is here o’er thrown! Hamlet and Ophelia are talking about their relationship in a rather heated way. Ophelia is saying here that Hamlet has gone mad.
The lady doth protest too much, me thinks. Queen Gertrude says this to Hamlet while watching the play Hamlet has set up to trap King Claudius into a reaction of guilt. (sorry but do not know the significance of this one)
‘Tis a knavish piece of work, but what o’ that? Your Majesty, and we that have free souls, it touches us not. Hamlet and Claudius are talking about the play. The quotation means that (because it is a trap) the innocent will see nothing in the play but the guilty it will mean a lot to. In other words, if Claudius did not kill King Hamlet then the play will mean nothing to him but if he did the play is meant to reveal him.
I will speak daggers to her, but use none. Hamlet is talking to Polonius about what he will talk to his mother about. Hamlet pretty much means here that he is going to hurt his mother very badly with his words but he does not mean her physical harm.
O, my offense is rank, it smells to heaven; Claudius is by himself talking about his actions. The quotation shows that Claudius is realizing the terribly deed he has performed.
Now might I do it, now he is praying/And now I’ll do’t–and so he goes to heaven; This is when Hamlet is looking in on Claudius (who is vulnerable). Hamlet is getting ready to kill Claudius but decides against it because Claudius is asking for forgiveness to God. Hamlet does not want Claudius to go to heaven so he hopes to kill Claudius in an act of sin so he will go to hell. (this is peripeteia by the way)
My words fly up, my thoughts remain below./Words without thoughts never to heaven go. Claudius has just finished praying and has not seen Hamlet. The quotation means that his prayer pretty much sucked and it had no meaning to it. Claudius feels no remorse for his actions.
How now a rat?/Dead for a ducat, dead! Hamlet and Queen Gertrude are arguing over the play because it upset the King. Hamlet is pretty much saying that the person who is spying on them is going to die. This is Hamlet’s first and last rash decision (because Hamlet is a thinker, think tragic flaw here).
O what a rash and bloody deed is this! Queen Gertrude is reacting to Hamlet killing Polonius. The Queen is appalled by Hamlet’s actions for killing an innocent man. She is saying that what Hamlet did was senseless and rash.
O speak to me no more/These words like daggers enter in mine ears. Hamlet is telling his mother everything she has committed. The quotation shows that Queen Gertrude has been ignorant of her actions and is hurting emotionally now that Hamlet is revealing her sins.
Alas, how shall this bloody deed be answered? King Claudius and Queen Gertrude are talking about Hamlet killing Polonius. The quotation shows that something must be done to punish Hamlet. This also foreshadows King Claudius doing something wicked or heinous in order to get rid of Hamlet.
When sorrows come, they come not single spies,/But in battalions! Claudius and Gertrude are talking about everything that has been going on. The quotation means that problems always come in groups and never alone.
And where the offense is let the great axe fall. King Claudius and Laertes talking about Polonius’s death. The quotation shows that Claudius is telling Laertes to avenge his father’s death. This is also ironic because Claudius is practically sentencing himself.
Revenge should have no bounds. Claudius and Laertes are still talking about Polonius’s death. The quotation is revealing that Claudius is giving Laertes the green light to killing Hamlet.
One woe doth tread upon another’s heel/So fast they follow. Queen Gertrude is coming in while Claudius and Laertes conspire against Hamlet. The quotation reveals to Laertes that Ophelia is dead. (I unfortunately do not know much more analysis for this one)
O, from this time forth, my thoughts be bloody or be nothing worth. Hamlet is looking at how Fortinbras acted immediately to exact revenge for his father while Hamlet is doing practically nothing. The quotation pretty much says that now is the time for revenge. There will be no more sitting around, he will only set forth to kill Claudius now.
There’s a divinity that shapes our ends,/Rough-hew them how we will Hamlet has just returned from his voyage to England. The quotation shows that Hamlet is acknowledging the fact that God has a plan for everyone. This shows Hamlet undergoing a transformation, from being a worrier and over thinker to a resolute and honorable character.
Now cracks a noble heart. Good night, sweet prince,/And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest. Horatio is talking to Hamlet as he dies. The quotation is Horatio saying that Hamlet who is a good man is now dying and that he may peacefully go to heaven now.

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