Hamlet Mortality Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Act.Scene.Line) according to the Norton edition
Though yet of Hamlet our dear brother's death
The memory be green, and that it us befitted
To bear our hearts in grief, and our whole kingdom
To be contracted in one brow of woe,
Yet so far hath discretion fought with nature
That we with wisest sorrow think on him
Together with remembrance of ourselves.
King Claudius begins by acknowledging Old King Hamlet's death and says it "befitted" the "whole kingdom" to mourn Old Hamlet's loss (emphasis on the past tense.) But, he also asserts that it is "wise" for the "whole kingdom" to move on quickly. Self-interest ("remembrance of ourselves") and self-preservation are both far more important. But why? Well, Claudius, as we will soon learn, is responsible for murdering Old King Hamlet so it's no wonder he wants to sweep the guy's life under the rug. Claudius has also helped himself to Old Hamlet's wife and crown so it's in his best interest if the kingdom moves on and forgets Old Hamlet. Pretty crafty, King Claudius.
What, has this thing appeared again tonight?
Hm. The Ghost keeps appearing on the castle battlements—almost as if the "whole kingdom" hasn't really been able to move on after Old Hamlet's death.
Good Hamlet, cast thy nighted color off,
And let thine eye look like a friend on Denmark.
Do not for ever with thy vailèd lids
Seek for thy noble father in the dust.
Thou know'st 'tis common; all that lives must die,
Passing through nature to eternity.
Even Hamlet's mother, Queen Gertrude, tells Hamlet to stop grieving for his father. Death, she argues, is "common." But, when you think about it, losing a father isn't common. Sure, everyone's parents die—but your particular parents only die once.