Hamlet Mortality Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Act.Scene.Line) according to the Norton edition
Now, Hamlet, where's Polonius?
At supper! where?
Not where he eats, but where he is eaten: a certain
convocation of politic worms are e'en at him. Your
worm is your only emperor for diet: we fat all
creatures else to fat us, and we fat ourselves for
maggots: your fat king and your lean beggar is but
variable service, two dishes, but to one table:
that's the end. (4.3.16-24)
Hamlet tells Claudius that Polonius is "at supper," but what he really means is that Polonius is being eaten for supper. (There goes our appetite.) Is this part of his "antic disposition" or is this really how Hamlet sees things?
There, on the pendent boughs her coronet weeds
Clambering to hang, an envious sliver broke;
When down her weedy trophies and herself
Fell in the weeping brook. Her clothes spread wide;
And, mermaid-like, awhile they bore her up:
Which time she chanted snatches of old tunes;
As one incapable of her own distress,
Or like a creature native and indued
Unto that element: but long it could not be
Till that her garments, heavy with their drink,
Pull'd the poor wretch from her melodious lay
To muddy death.
Sure, all this detail makes us wonder if Gertrude didn't actually witness Ophelia's death—and, if so, why didn't she pull the poor girl out? But, we're a little more interested in the way she describes the death, all peaceful and lovely and honestly a little erotic. Is Ophelia sexier in death than she was in life?
Is she to be buried in Christian burial that
wilfully seeks her own salvation?
I tell thee she is: and therefore make her grave
straight: the crowner hath sat on her, and finds it
Will you ha' the truth on't? If this had not been
a gentlewoman, she should have been buried out o'
According to the two gravediggers or "Clowns," Ophelia has committed suicide—not cool with Christians, and usually means that you don't get a proper burial. Luckily, money talks, and Ophelia's family pulled some strings to get her a religious burial. Hamlet thinks that death affects everyone the same, but maybe it doesn't: rich people even get to die differently.