Hamlet Mortality Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Act.Scene.Line) according to the Norton edition
That skull had a tongue in it, and could sing
once. How the knave jowls it to the ground as if
'twere Cain's jawbone, that did the first murder!
This might be the pate of a politician which this ass
now o'erreaches, one that would circumvent God,
might it not?
Underneath our skin, we all look pretty much the same. (Unless you're this lady, apparently. If you get murdered, you definitely want her on your investigative team.)
No, faith, not a jot; but to follow him thither,
with modesty enough and likelihood to lead it, as
thus: Alexander died, Alexander was buried, Alexander
returneth into dust; the dust is earth; of earth
we make loam; and why of that loam, whereto he
was converted might they not stop a beer barrel?
Imperious Caesar, dead and turned to clay,
Might stop a hole to keep the wind away.
O, that that earth which kept the world in awe
Should patch a wall t' expel the winter's flaw!
Hamlet has been obsessed with the physical reality of death since Act 1, and here he finally seems to get the philosophical implications: even Alexander the Great "died," "was buried," and "returneth into dust." Is this a sadder and wiser Hamlet?
Not a whit, we defy augury. There is a
special providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be
now, 'tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be
now; if it be not now, yet it will come. The
readiness is all. Since no man of aught he leaves
knows, what is 't to leave betimes? Let be.
Okay, this is convoluted enough to be something about "known unknowns" and "known knowns," but it's actually a deeply philosophical acceptance of fate: whatever happens is going to happen when it happens—if not now, then later. Maybe this is why Hamlet has delayed so long.