How we cite our quotes:
Nay, but to live
In the rank sweat of an enseamed bed,
Stew'd in corruption, honeying and making love
Over the nasty sty,—
Wait, Hamlet, tell us again how you think sex is pretty much the most disgusting thing ever. We didn't catch it the first time. Or the second time. Or the… well, you get the point. Hamlet thinks sex is gross.
Lady, shall I lie in your lap?
No, my lord.
I mean, my head upon your lap?
Ay, my lord.
Do you think I meant country matters?
I think nothing, my lord.
That's a fair thought to lie between maids' legs.
What is, my lord?
Hamlet's dirty talk (which we translate into modern lingo in "Steaminess Rating") puts Ophelia in an impossible situation. When Hamlet makes lewd innuendos, Ophelia can't respond in a way that suggests she knows what he's talking about. If she does, then it would suggest that she knows a little too much about sex. This could be as damaging to her reputation as, say, losing her virginity before marriage. Our point? Hamlet gets the power to control Ophelia's conversation, just like Polonius and Laertes have the power to control her body.
Mother, for love of grace,
Lay not that mattering unction to your soul,
That not your trespass, but my madness speaks:
It will but skin and film the ulcerous place,
Whilst rank corruption, mining all within,
Infects unseen. Confess yourself to heaven;
Repent what's past; avoid what is to come;
And do not spread the compost on the weeds,
To make them ranker. Forgive me this my virtue;
For in the fatness of these pursy times
Virtue itself of vice must pardon beg,
Yea, curb and woo for leave to do him good.
O Hamlet, thou hast cleft my heart in twain.
There's that word "rank" again. This time, Hamlet warns Gertrude to stop spreading "compost on the weeds" (sleeping with Claudius), which will make her sins (incest) even "ranker" than they already are. What's more, Hamlet's talk of "ulcers," "infection," and "corruption" seems to allude to venereal disease. It's as though Hamlet thinks women are contagious. Given contemporary standards of hygiene, we're thinking both men and women were running around contagious most of the time.