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Hamlet Mortality Quotes

How we cite our quotes: (Act.Scene.Line) according to the Norton edition

Quote #4

O, that this too too sullied flesh would melt,
Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew,
Or that the Everlasting had not fixed
His canon 'gainst self-slaughter! O God, God,
How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable
Seem to me all the uses of this world!
Fie on 't! ah fie! 'Tis an unweeded garden
That grows to seed. Things rank and gross in nature
Possess it merely.

When the play starts, Hamlet is clearly suicidal; the world he sees is so totally corrupted that he wishes his "flesh would melt." But there's a problem: suicide ("self-slaughter") is a sin. That's a lot of internal conflict for one tortured adolescent.

Quote #5

I am thy father's spirit,
Doomed for a certain term to walk the night
And for the day confined to fast in fires
Till the foul crimes done in my days of nature
Are burnt and purged away. But that I am forbid
To tell the secrets of my prison house,
I could a tale unfold whose lightest word
Would harrow up thy soul, freeze thy young blood,
Make thy two eyes, like stars, start from their
Thy knotted and combinèd locks to part,
And each particular hair to stand on end,
Like quills upon the fretful porpentine.
But this eternal blazon must not be
To ears of flesh and blood.

What's worse: dying, or being completely forgotten after death? In Hamlet in Purgatory, literary critic Stephen Greenblatt argues that the Ghost represents a common fear (among the living) of being completely forgotten after death.

Quote #6

To be or not to be—that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And, by opposing, end them (3.1.64-68)

Sure, you could say that Hamlet is starting to sound like a broken record with the whole suicide thing. But in this later soliloquy, he just might be moving on. Instead of obsessing about whether or not to kill himself, he's exploring the reasons why people in general don't commit suicide—which might be one reason he doesn't use the word "I" or "me" in this whole soliloquy.

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