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Hamlet Mortality Quotes

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Quote #1

KING CLAUDIUSNow, Hamlet, where's Polonius?HAMLETAt supper.KING CLAUDIUSAt supper! where?HAMLETNot where he eats, but where he is eaten: a certainconvocation of politic worms are e'en at him. Yourworm is your only emperor for diet: we fat allcreatures else to fat us, and we fat ourselves formaggots: your fat king and your lean beggar is butvariable service, two dishes, but to one table:that's the end.


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 #2

QUEEN GERTRUDEThere, on the pendent boughs her coronet weedsClambering to hang, an envious sliver broke;When down her weedy trophies and herselfFell 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 induedUnto that element: but long it could not beTill that her garments, heavy with their drink,Pull'd the poor wretch from her melodious layTo muddy death.(4.7.2)


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 #3

FIRST CLOWNIs she to be buried in Christian burial thatwilfully seeks her own salvation?SECOND CLOWNI tell thee she is: and therefore make her gravestraight: the crowner hath sat on her, and finds itChristian burial.[…] SECOND CLOWNWill you ha' the truth on't? If this had not beena gentlewoman, she should have been buried out o'Christian burial.(5.1.1)


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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