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by William Shakespeare

Hamlet Mortality Quotes

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

Quote #7

Now, Hamlet, where's Polonius?

At supper.

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. (4.3.19-28)

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?

Quote #8

There on the pendent boughs her coronet weeds
Clamb'ring 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 lauds,
As one incapable of her own distress
Or like a creature native and endued
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?

Quote #9

Is she to be buried in Christian burial,
when she willfully seeks her own salvation?
I tell thee she is. Therefore make her grave
straight. The crowner hath sat on her and finds it
Christian burial.
Will you ha' the truth on 't? If this had not been
a gentlewoman, she should have been buried out o'
Christian burial.
(5.1.1-5; 24-26)

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.

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