Heart of hearts Introduction
I'm Hamlet. I'm a smart aleck with a penchant for delivering long speeches about the meaning of life. Truth be told, I'm pretty depressed since my dad died and my mom married my uncle. And you know what I think?
Nay, do not think I flatter;
For what advancement may I hope from thee
That no revenue hast but thy good spirits,
To feed and clothe thee? Why should the poor be flatter'd?
No, let the candied tongue lick absurd pomp,
And crook the pregnant hinges of the knee
Where thrift may follow fawning. Dost thou hear?
Since my dear soul was mistress of her choice
And could of men distinguish, her election
Hath seal'd thee for herself; for thou hast been
As one, in suffering all, that suffers nothing,
A man that fortune's buffets and rewards
Hast ta'en with equal thanks: and blest are those
Whose blood and judgment are so well commingled,
That they are not a pipe for fortune's finger
To sound what stop she please. Give me that man
That is not passion's slave, and I will wear him
In my heart's core, ay, in my heart of heart,
As I do thee.--Something too much of this.--
There is a play to-night before the king;
One scene of it comes near the circumstance
Which I have told thee of my father's death:
I prithee, when thou seest that act afoot,
Even with the very comment of thy soul
Observe mine uncle: if his occulted guilt
Do not itself unkennel in one speech,
It is a damned ghost that we have seen,
And my imaginations are as foul
As Vulcan's stithy. Give him heedful note;
For I mine eyes will rivet to his face,
And after we will both our judgments join
In censure of his seeming. (3.2.66-97)
Who Said It and Where
Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. For one thing, a ghost is lurking about. He's the old king, and he's come back to give his son (Hamlet) the inside scoop on what happened to him. As it turns out, he didn't just die unexpectedly. He was murdered. Dun dun dunnnn.
But wait. It gets worse. The ghost's own brother—who is now king—poisoned him. And with that news, Hamlet's entire world was turned upside-down. On the one hand, he wants to help his dad by accusing his murderer and stripping him of the crown. On the other hand, he's not really sure if the ghost is telling the truth, or what he should do about it.
So he hatches a plan to find the truth. He asks some actors to put on a play exactly like what his uncle Claudius supposedly did to his dad. Then Claudius will have to watch a guy poison his own brother and take the crown for himself. And Hamlet will see what his uncle has to say about that. Clever plan, no?
As everyone gets settled to watch the play, Hamlet pulls his buddy Horatio aside and tells him how great he is. He wishes there were more people around who weren't ruled by their hearts. Horatio is so logical. Hamlet hearts that. But the real point of all this flattery is that he needs a favor: he needs Horatio to watch Claudius' reactions to the play, especially during the scene that reenacts the killing of the King.
Sure, Horatio says. No problem. Anything for a friend.