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Mortality Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #10

HAMLET
That skull had a tongue in it, and could sing once:
how the knave jowls it to the ground, as if it were
Cain's jaw-bone, that did the first murder! It
might be the pate of a politician, which this ass
now o'er-reaches; one that would circumvent God,
might it not?
(5.1.4)

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.)

Quote #11

HAMLET
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 turn'd 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 to expel the winter flaw!
(5.1.30)

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?

Quote #12

HAMLET
Not a whit, we defy augury: there's 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 has aught of what he
leaves, what is't to leave betimes? Let be.
(5.2.37)

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.

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