Hamlet Act 2-3 Quotations

“Though this be madness, yet there is method in it” Speaker: Polonius (aside)Situation: As he tried to figure out the reason for Hamlets madnessParaphrase: Although Halmet is acting crazy there seems to be some sense or rationality underneath what he is saying.
“Denmark’s a prison…A goodly one; in which there are many confines,wards and dungeons, Denmark being one o’ the worst…Why, then, ’tis none to you; for there is nothingeither good or bad, but thinking makes it so: to meit is a prison…O God, I could be bounded in a nut shell and countmyself a king of infinite space, were it not that Ihave bad dreams.” Speaker: Hamlet Situation: talking to ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN as they try to find out the reason for his madenessParaphrase: Hamlet describes Denmark as a prison when his friends disagree, Halet pretends to adopt the view point of most people > That you can rationalize anything to make it seem good or bad just by thinking about it > ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN believe that Hamlets madness comes from his disappointed ambition to not being named King. Hamlet disagree > he could be in a space as small as terrible dreams > what dreams could he be refering to ? His father’s suffering in purgatory? Ophelia’s rejection?
“Good my lord, will you see the players wellbestowed? Do you hear, let them be well used; forthey are the abstract and brief chronicles of thetime: after your death you were better have a badepitaph than their ill report while you live…God’s bodykins, man, much better: use every manafter his desert, and who should ‘scape whipping?Use them after your own honour and dignity: the less they deserve, the more merit is in your bounty.Take them in.” Speaker: HamletSituation: to Polonius after the actors arriveParaphrase: Treat these actors well bc they are historians of the era. It would be preferable to have a negativer description on your grave stone than saying negative things about you now, treat all people better than they deserve if you only treat people better than they will be beaten. Treat people well bc you are a person of good character not bc they are.
“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: Polonius Situation: Polonius and Claudius in the hallParaphrase: We are often guilty of a false display of religious devotion, with the appreance 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 burthen!” Speaker: Claudius (aside)Situation: Polonius and Claudius in the hallParaphrase: How correct this is and how guilty this makes me feel, the face of a whore covered with make-up is not seen as more horrible as are my false words and my false deeds, oh what a troubled conscience I have .Significance: Whore’s face = Claudius’s deed of murderMake-up = Claudius’s false (hypocritical) actionsThe aside brought on by Polonius’s observation shows that Claudius feels guilty about the murder and his hypocracy
“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 heart-ache and the thousand natural shocksThat flesh is heir to, ’tis a consummationDevoutly to be wish’d. 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 (silioquoy) Situation: Before he meets Ophelia in the hallParaphrase: (64) To live or die, that is the issue(65-68) Is it better to live in a troubled world or attempt to deal with the troubles, and either to die in the attempt or end the troubles. (68-72) It would be great to end my existence and be without the ain, but I may dream. (73) Thats the problem (74-76) After the death, we may suffer (have bad dreams) a possibility that may cause us to killing ourselves.
“Since my dear soul was mistress of her choiceAnd could of men distinguish, her electionHath seal’d 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 blest 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: HamletSituation: To Horatio before the playParaphrase: Since I have become an adult and could choose my friend, my deepest self has chosen you as my best friend bc 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 bc they are not victims of events I prefer the person that is not enslavedtohisfeelings and that person I will be chosen to as I am to you.
“Why, look you now, how unworthy a thing you make ofme! You would play upon me; you would seem to knowmy stops; you would pluck out the heart of mymystery; you would sound me from my lowest note tothe top of my compass: and there is much music,excellent voice, in this little organ; yet cannotyou make it speak. ‘Sblood, do you think I ameasier to be played on than a pipe? Call me whatinstrument you will, though you can fret me, yet youcannot play upon me.” Speaker: HamletSituation: to ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN after the playMeaning: Hamlet is letting his old school fellows know that he will not be manipulated like an instrument. (Notice the musical metaphor with “fret me.”)Paraphrase: (401-402) You can bother me (or play me as an instrument with frets), but you cannot figure me out and make me behave as you would wish.
“May one be pardon’d and retain the offence?In the corrupted currents of this worldOffence’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 compell’d,Even to the teeth and forehead of our faults,To give in evidence.” Speaker: ClaudiusSituation: Siliouquoy after the playParaphrase: Can one be forgive and keep the rewards of the crime? In this corrupt world, money often buys justice. But this is not the case in heaven. In Gods court, one cannot escape justice, and we are even forced to testify against ourselves
“There’s letters seal’d: and my two schoolfellows,Whom I will trust as I will adders fang’d,They bear the mandate; they must sweep my way,And marshal me to knavery. Let it work;For ’tis the sport to have the engineerHoist with his own petard: and ‘t shall go hardBut I will delve one yard below their mines,And blow them at the moon: O, ’tis most sweet,When in one line two crafts directly meet.” Speaker: HamletSituation: Hamlet speaks to his mother in her chamberParaphrase: it’s great fun to have the bombmaker destroyed by his own bomb.

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