© 2014 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.

Revenge Quotes Page 1

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #1

HORATIO
Now, sir, young Fortinbras,
Of unimproved mettle hot and full,
Hath in the skirts of Norway here and there
Shark'd up a list of lawless resolutes,
For food and diet, to some enterprise
That hath a stomach in't; which is no other—
As it doth well appear unto our state—
But to recover of us, by strong hand
And terms compulsatory, those foresaid lands
So by his father lost
(1.1.11)

Unlike Hamlet, Fortinbras has "mettle hot and full," and his actions have "stomach," i.e. guts. Hm. Is it just us, or does Horatio sound awfully interested in Mr. Fortinbras?

Quote #2

GHOST
Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder.

HAMLET
Murder!

GHOST
Murder most foul, as in the best it is;
But this most foul, strange and unnatural.

HAMLET
Haste me to know't, that I, with wings as swift
As meditation or the thoughts of love,
May sweep to my revenge.
(1.5.7)

Okay, Hamlet sure seems eager enough for revenge here—but this is before he knows who he has to kill (Claudius). Is there something about Claudius that makes Hamlet hesitate? Is he reluctant to kill a king?

Quote #3

GHOST
I am thy father's spirit,
Doom'd for a certain term to walk the night,
And for the day confined to fast in fires,
Till the foul crimes done in my days of nature
Are burnt and purged away. But that I am forbid
To tell the secrets of my prison-house,
I could a tale unfold whose lightest word
Would harrow up thy soul, freeze thy young blood,
Make thy two eyes, like stars, start from their spheres,
Thy knotted and combined locks to part
And each particular hair to stand on end,
Like quills upon the fretful porpentine:
But this eternal blazon must not be
To ears of flesh and blood.
(1.5.5)

Here, the Ghost claims that he's doomed to suffer in Purgatory (often imagined as a fiery place where souls had to "purge" their sins before they could move on to heaven), until young Hamlet avenges his "foul and most unnatural murder" by killing Claudius. Uh-oh. Major problem alert: First, the doctrine of Purgatory doesn't say anything about murder helping Purgatorial souls get to heaven —prayers, sure, but not vengeance. Second, after the Reformation, Protestants rejected the idea of Purgatory as a "Catholic superstition." You can check out our discussion of "Religion" for more on the play's religious crisis, but here's the point: as a Protestant, Hamlet might see the ghost as just a wee bit suspicious.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement