Hamlet 's character is the prevalence of the abstracting and generalizing habit over the practical. He does not want courage, skill, will, or opportunity; but every incident sets him thinking; and it is curious, and at the same time strictly natural, that Hamlet, who all the play seems reason itself, should he impelled, at last, by mere accident to effect his object. I have a smack of Hamlet myself, if I may say so.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
HAMLET I will receive it sir with all diligence of spirit. Put your bonnet to his right use, 'tis for the head. OSRIC I thank you lordship, it is very hot. HAMLET No believe me, 'tis very cold, the wind is northerly. OSRIC It is indifferent cold my lord, indeed. HAMLET But yet methinks it is very sultry and hot for my complexion. OSRIC Exceedingly my lord, it is very sultry, as 'twere - I cannot tell how. But my lord, his majesty bade me signify to you that a has laid a great wager on your head. Sir, this is the matter - HAMLET I beseech you remember. (Hamlet moves him to put on his hat)
Words are Hamlet's constant companions, his weapons, and his defenses... And yet, words also serve as Hamlet's prison. He analyzes and examines every nuance of his situation until he has exhausted every angle. They cause him to be indecisive. He dallies in his own wit, intoxicated by the mix of words he can concoct; he frustrates his own burning desire to be more like his father, the Hyperion. When he says that Claudius is "... no more like my father than I to Hercules" he recognizes his enslavement to words, his inability to thrust home his sword of truth. No mythic character is Hamlet. He is stuck, unable to avenge his father's death because words control him.
Carla Lynn Stockton
I got into this thing called the National Youth Theatre, and to me, that was all about the status quo. It seemed to me like 'Downton Abbey' - all the working-class and black people were playing servants, or the gravedigger in 'Hamlet,' and the boys from Eton and posh private schools got Hamlet, all the big roles.
The character and the play of Hamlet are central to any discussion of Shakespeare's work. Hamlet has been described as melancholic and neurotic, as having an Oedipus complex, as being a failure and indecisive, as well as being a hero, and a perfect Renaissance prince. These judgements serve perhaps only to show how many interpretations of one character may be put forward. 'To be or not to be' is the centre of Hamlet's questioning. Reasons not to go on living outnumber reasons for living. But he goes on living, until he completes his revenge for his father's murder, and becomes 'most royal', the true 'Prince of Denmark' (which is the play's subtitle), in many ways the perfection of Renaissance man. Hamlet's progress is a 'struggle of becoming' - of coming to terms with life, and learning to accept it, with all its drawbacks and challenges. He discusses the problems he faces directly with the audience, in a series of seven soliloquies - of which 'To be or not to be' is the fourth and central one. These seven steps, from the zero-point of a desire not to live, to complete awareness and acceptance (as he says, 'the readiness is all'), give a structure to the play, making the progress all the more tragic, as Hamlet reaches his aim, the perfection of his life, only to die.
The instructor has to teach history, cosmogony, psychology, ethics, the laws of nations. How can he do it without saying anything favorable or unfavorable about the beliefs of evangelical Christians, Catholics, Socinians, Deists, pantheists, materialists, or fetish worshipers, who all claim equal rights under American institutions? His teaching will indeed be "the play of Hamlet, with the part of Hamlet omitted."
HAMLET [...] we fat all creatures else to fat us, and we fat ourselves for maggots. Your fat king and your lean beggar is but variable service, two dishes, but to one table; that's the end. CLAUDIUS Alas, alas. HAMLET A man may fish with the worm that hath eat of a king, and eat of the fish that hath fed of that worm. CLAUDIUS What dost thou mean by this? HAMLET Nothing but to show you how a king may go a progress through the guts of a beggar.
Imagine the same scene in HAMLET if Pullman had written it. Hamlet, using a mystic pearl, places the poison in the cup to kill Claudius. We are all told Claudius will die by drinking the cup. Then Claudius dies choking on a chicken bone at lunch. Then the Queen dies when Horatio shows her the magical Mirror of Death. This mirror appears in no previous scene, nor is it explained why it exists. Then Ophelia summons up the Ghost from Act One and kills it, while she makes a speech denouncing the evils of religion. Ophelia and Hamlet are parted, as it is revealed in the last act that a curse will befall them if they do not part ways.
John C. Wright
Relax, it only hurts a little, ' she murmured in Edwin's ear as she stroked his head and shoulders from behind. 'What you feel later more than makes up for it.''But will I... will I have to drink blood after I am... initiated?' 'Don't worry, Edwin. I promise it will be many years before either you or Ophelia will need to seek your sustenance in such a manner.' Hamlet kissed his cheek. 'Are you ready?' Edwin nodded. Closing his eyes, he turned his head slightly to give Hamlet easier access. He felt a momentary pinch and then... Ecstasy! Overwhelming warmth flooded his veins as colors exploded in his mind and a feeling of euphoria lifted him from the bed to the skies. He was flying free from the confines of his body. He soared above the clouds... heading into the stars. 'Wonderful, isn't it?' Ophelia giggled and clapped her hands. 'I wish I could experience it more often, but Hamlet says it's even better once you're on the receiving end.' He opened his eyes slowly. Still light-headed, Edwin observed the gaze of mutual pleasure in Hamlet's dark eyes. His sensual lips glistened with tint of red. Instead of horror or aversion, Edwin felt complete peace and contentment. 'Thank you.' Without hesitation Edwin pulled Hamlet's lips to his and kissed him.
Do you take me for a sponge, my lord? hamlet: Ay, sir; that soaks up the king's countenance, his rewards, his authorities. But such officers do the king best service in the end: he keeps them, like an ape, in the corner of his jaw; first mouthed, to be last swallowed: when he needs what you have gleaned, it is but squeezing you, and, sponge, you shall be dry again. rosencrantz: I understand you not, my lord. hamlet: I am glad of it: a knavish speech sleeps in a foolish ear.
Hamlet is to Macbeth somewhat as the Ghost is to the Witches. Revenge, or ambition, in its inception may have a lofty, even a majestic countenance, but when it has "coupled hell" and become crime, it grows increasingly foul and sordid. We love and admire Hamlet so much at the beginning that we tend to forget that he is as hot-blooded as the earlier Macbeth when he kills Polonius and the King, cold-blooded as the later Macbeth or Iago when he sends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to death.
Harold Clarke Goddard
I know that David Tennant's Hamlet isn't till July. And lots of people are going to be doing Dr Who in Hamlet jokes, so this is just me getting it out of the way early, to avoid the rush... "To be, or not to be, that is the question. Weeelll... More of A question really. Not THE question. Because, well, I mean, there are billions and billions of questions out there, and well, when I say billions, I mean, when you add in the answers, not just the questions, weeelll, you're looking at numbers that are positively astronomical and... for that matter the other question is what you lot are doing on this planet in the first place, and er, did anyone try just pushing this little red button?
My first book, 'To Be or Not To Be,' took 'Hamlet' and converted it to the choose-your-own-path format. It was a great fit for a book where you control what happens - a book as game - because the plot of 'Hamlet' is very game-like: get a mission from a ghost to kill the final boss, kill the final boss, and game over. You win.
When Rosencrantz asks Hamlet, "Good my lord, what is your cause of distemper? You do surely bar the door upon your own liberty, if you deny your grief to your friends"(III, ii, 844-846), Hamlet responds, "Why, look you now, how unworthy a thing you make of me! You would play upon me; you would seem to know my stops; you would pluck from my lowest note to the top of my compass; and there is much music, excellent voice, in this little organ, yet cannot you make it speak. 'Sblood, do you think I am easier to be played on than a pipe? Call me what instrument you will, though you can fret me, you cannot play upon me." (III, ii, 371-380)
Someone once said that if you sat a million monkeys at a million typewriters for a million years, one of them would eventually type out all of Hamlet by chance. But when we find the text of Hamlet, we don't wonder whether it came from chance and monkeys. Why then does the atheist use that incredibly improbable explanation for the universe? Clearly, because it is his only chance of remaining an atheist. At this point we need a psychological explanation of the atheist rather than a logical explanation of the universe.
Ivanov: No, my clever young thing, it's not a question of romance. I say as before God that I will endure everything - depression and mental illness and ruin and the loss of my wife and premature old age and loneliness - but I cannot tolerate, cannot endure being ridiculous in my own eyes. I'm dying of shame at the thought that I, a healthy, strong man, have turned into some sort of Hamlet or Manfred, some sort of 'superfluous man'... devil knows precisely what! There are pitiful people who are flattered by being called Hamlet or superfluous men, but for me it's a disgrace! It stirs up my pride, I'm overcome by shame and I suffer...
As soon as we arrived home, I told Bliss I was going to take a shower. Sundays were a two-show day, so I certainly needed it. I let her go in first to brush her teeth. I waited for the water to turn on, then leapt into action. I found Hamlet's feathered cat toy (the only reason she would ever willingly get close to Bliss), and hid it underneath the bed. Then I went to the closet and found the suit coat pocket where I'd hidden the ring. I popped open the box to look at it one more time. It wasn't much. I was only an actor, after all. But Bliss wasn't one to wear much jewelry any way. It was simple and sparkling, and I hoped she would love it as much as I loved her. A popping sensation filled my gut like those silly candy rocks that Bliss loved. What if I was pushing her too fast? No. No, I'd thought this out. It was the best way. I opened the top drawer of the nightstand, and slid the ring box toward the back. The water in the bathroom shut off, and I went back to the closet, shucking my shirt. I tossed it in the hamper at the same time Bliss walked in the room. She came up behind me and placed a hand on my bare back. She pressed a small kiss on my shoulder and asked, 'Get Hamlet for me before you shower?' I smiled, and nodded. Bliss was so determined to make Hamlet like her that she played with the cat for at least half an hour before bed every night. Hamlet would stick around for as long as Bliss waved that feathered toy in the air, but the minute Bliss tried to touch her, she was gone. I found Hamlet in the kitchen, hiding underneath the kitchen table. I reached a hand down, and she butted her head against my fingers, purring. I picked her up at the same time that Bliss asked, 'Babe, have you seen the cat toy?' I walked into the room, and deposited Hamlet on the bed. She hunkered down and eyed Bliss with distrust. 'Where did you see it last?' I asked her. 'I thought I'd left it on the dresser, but I can't find it. ' I petted Hamlet once to keep her calm, then placed a quick kiss on Bliss's cheek. 'I don't know, honey. Are you sure you didn't leave it somewhere else?' She sighed, and started looking in other spots around the room. I turned and hid my smile as I left. I nipped into the bathroom and turned the shower on. I waited a few seconds, went back in the hallway.