Hamlet Acts III-V

III i 53-56Your loneliness.— We are oft to blame in this,//’Tis too much proved, that with devotion’s visage//And pious action we do sugar o’er//The devil himself. Polonius to OpheliaContext: Polonius and the King are sending Ophelia to return Hamlet’s things so they can spy on his reaction.Meaning: Read from this prayer book, so it looks natural that you’re all alone. Come to think of it, this happens all the time—people act devoted to God to mask their bad deeds.
III i 58-62How smart a lash that speech doth give my conscience!//The harlot’s cheek, beautied with plast’ring art,//Is not more ugly to the thing that helps it//Than is my deed to my most painted word.//O heavy burden! King to himselfContext: Polonius’ comment to Ophelia about sins reminds the King of the murderMeaning: His words whip up guilty feelings. The ***** wearing make-up (to cover up STDs) is just like the ugly actions I’m disguising with fine words.
III i 43-47And for your part, Ophelia, I do wish//That your good beauties be the happy cause//Of Hamlet’s wildness. So shall I hope your virtues//Will bring him to his wonted way again,//To both your honors. Gertrude to OpheliaContext: After the king tells her the plan to spy on Ophelia and HamletMeaning: As for you, Ophelia, I hope that your beauty is the reason for Hamlet’s insane behavior, just as I hope your virtues will return him to normal some day, for the good of both of you.
III i 160-164O , what a noble mind is here o’erthrown!//The courtier’s, soldier’s, scholar’s, eye, tongue, sword,//The expectancy and rose of the fair state,//The glass of fashion and the mould of form,//The observed of all observers quite, quite down! Ophelia about HamletContext: Hamlet has just denounced Ophelia and all women in general, saying that all marriages should endMeaning: Oh, how noble his mind used to be, and how lost he is now! He used to have a gentleman’s grace, a scholar’s wit, and a soldier’s strength. He used to be the jewel of our country, the obvious heir to the throne, the one everyone admired and imitated. And now he has fallen so low!
III i 174-177Was not like madness. There’s something in his soul//O’er which his melancholy sits on brood;//And I do doubt the hatch and the disclose//Will be some danger which for to prevent Claudius to PoloniusContext: King and Polonius come out from hiding spot and discuss Ophelia’s and Hamlet’s interactionMeaning: His words, although they were a little disorganized, weren’t crazy. No, his sadness is hatching something, like a hen does sitting on an egg. What hatches very well may be dangerous.*then sends Hamlet to England (for execution)
III ii 59-63 To feed and clothe thee? Why should the poor be flattered?//No, let the candied tongue lick absurd pomp,//And crook the pregnant hinges of the knee//Where thrift follow fawning. Dost thou hear? Hamlet to HoratioContext: Hamlet is complimenting Horatio to soften him up before he tells him that Claudius killed jid fathweMeaning: Why would anyone flatter a poor person? No, keep flattery for kissing the hands of those who can pay well. You understand?
III ii 72-75To sound what stop she please. Give me that man//That is not passion’s slave, and I will wear him//In my heart’s core, ay, in my heart of heart,//As I do thee. Something too much of this! Hamlet to HoratioContext: Hamlet is buttering up Horatio before asking him to help watch his father to see if he’s guiltyMeaning: Show me the person who’s master of his emotions, and I’ll put him close to my heart—in my heart of hearts—as I do you.
III ii 377-379speak. ‘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, you cannot play upon me. Hamlet to GuildensternContext: Guild told Hamlet that his mom wants to talk to him and asks him the cause of his “distemper”Meaning: My God, do you think I’m easier to manipulate than a pipe? You can push my buttons, but you can’t play me for a fool.
III ii 403-406I will speak daggers to her, but use none.//My tongue and soul in this be hypocrites—//How in my words somever she be shent,//To give them seals never, my soul, consent! Hamlet to himselfContext: Polonius just asked to escort Hamlet to his mother’s chamber and Hamlet said he would go aloneMeaning: I’ll speak as sharp as a dagger to her, but I won’t use one on her. And so, my words and thoughts will be at odds.
III iii 60-63Offense’s gilded hand may shove by justice//And oft ’tis seen the wicked prize itself//Buys out the law; but ’tis not so above! Hamlet about ClaudiusContext: Hamlet draws his sword to kill Claudius but doesn’t because he’s praying. He doesnt want him to repent his sins and go to heaven instead of hellMeaning: In this wicked world, criminals often take the money they stole and use it to buy off the law, shoving justice aside. But not in heaven
III iv 125-126 Do not fo forget. This visitation//Is but to whet thy almost blunted purpose. Ghost to HamletContext: Hamlet has just killed Polonius and sees the ghost. Gertrude can’t see the ghostMeaning: Don’t forget. I’ve come to sharpen your somewhat dull appetite for revenge
IV iii 3-7 Yet must not we put the strong law on him.//He’s loved of the distracted multitude,//Who like not in their judgment, but their eyes;//And where ’tis so, the offender’s scourge is weighed,//But never the offense. To bear all smooth and even, King to himselfContext: Gertrude told the king that Hamlet killed PoloniusMeaning: But we can’t throw him in jail. The people love him, because they judge based on appearance rather than reason. They’ll pay attention to the severity of the punishment, not the severity of the crime.
IV iii 35-36In heaven. Send thither to see. If your messenger//find him not there, seek him i’ the other place yourself. Hamlet to ClaudiusContext: Claudius is trying to find out where Hamlet hid the body of PoloniusMeaning: In heaven. Send a messager there if you want to be sure. If your messenger can’t find him, you can check hell yourself.
IV iv 61-64And let all sleep, while to my shame I see//The imminent death of twenty thousand men//That for a fantasy and trick of fame//Go to their graves like beds, fight for a plot Hamlet to himselfContext: On his way to the boat, Hamlet enocounters a captain sent by Fortinbras to ask the king for permission to pass through Denmark to attack Poland.Meaning: Meanwhile, to my shame, I watch twenty thousand men go marching to their deaths for an illusion and a little bit of fame, fighting for a tiny piece of land not even big enough to bury them all
IV vii 132-137Dies in his own too-much. That we would do,//We should do when we would; for this “would” changes,//And hath abatements and delays as many//As there are tongues, are hands, are accidents;//And then this “should” is like a spendthrift sigh,//That hurts by easing. But to the quick o’ the ulcer! Claudius to LaertesTALKS LIKE POLONIUS (persuasion)Context: Claudius is about to propose a plan to kill HamletMeaning: We should do what we intend to do right when we intend it, since our intentions are subject to as many weakenings and delays as there are words in the dictionary and accidents in life. And then all our “woulds” and “shoulds” are nothing but hot air. But back to my point
V ii 246-252I am satisfied in nature,//Whose motive in this case should stir me most//To my revenge. But in my terms of honor//I stand aloof, and will no reconcilement//Till by some elder masters of known honor//I have a voice and precedent of peace//To keep my name ungored. But till that time Laertes to HamletContext: Hamlet says a half-hearted apology and excuses his actions with mental illnessMeaning: I accept your apology but I don’t forgive you