Die Heuning Pot Literature Guide
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Quotes

Quote #4

O, horrible! O, horrible! most horrible!
If thou hast nature in thee, bear it not;
Let not the royal bed of Denmark be
A couch for luxury and damned incest.
But, howsoever thou pursuest this act,
Taint not thy mind, nor let thy soul contrive
Against thy mother aught: leave her to heaven
And to those thorns that in her bosom lodge,
To prick and sting her.
(1.5.9)

Like Hamlet, the ghost focuses on Gertrude's sexuality as he urges Hamlet not to let "Denmark be / A couch for luxury and damned incest." Translation: kill Claudius so Gertrude can't sleep with him anymore. Oh, but leave her out of it. (Yeah, right.)

Quote #5

HAMLET
For if the sun breed maggots in a dead dog, being a
god kissing carrion, —Have you a daughter?

LORD POLONIUS
I have, my lord.

HAMLET
Let her not walk i' the sun: conception is a
blessing: but not as your daughter may conceive.
Friend, look to 't.
(2.2.5)

To Hamlet, pregnancy is less the miracle of life than the miracle of death: given that Hamlet has just said "dead dogs" and "breed maggots" in the sun, it's obvious that Hamlet is equating Ophelia's body with "carrion" (another word for road kill). This suggests that women's bodies are putrid and rotten: they give birth to dead things. Gross? Yeah. But in a way, Hamlet's right: everything born dies. (Oh, he's also punning on the word "sun," which alludes to the big shiny thing in the sky and also to Hamlet, the "son" of the dead king and the guy who would impregnate Ophelia with "maggots.")

Quote #6

Get thee to a nunnery: why wouldst thou be a
breeder of sinners? I am myself indifferent honest;
but yet I could accuse me of such things that it
were better my mother had not borne me: I am very
proud, revengeful, ambitious, with more offences at
my beck than I have thoughts to put them in,
imagination to give them shape, or time to act them
in. What should such fellows as I do crawling
between earth and heaven? We are arrant knaves,
all; believe none of us. Go thy ways to a nunnery.
(3.1.9)

Since Hamlet thinks all women are "breeders of sinners," he obviously doesn't think much of women. But, it also suggests that he doesn't think much of himself either, being one of those "sinners" that's been "bred" by a woman. In fact, Hamlet says it would be better if his "mother had not borne" him at all. Bonus: that would mean she'd never had sex. Double win!

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