Hamlet by William Shakespeare

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23 ‘Horatio says ’tis but our fantasy’ – typical of Horatio’s scepticism.

36-8 ‘When yond same star...now it burns’ – that is, at exactly this time – and the Ghost appears on cue.

61 ‘ambitious Norway’ – this could not be Old Hamlet’s combat with Old Fortinbras since this would make Horatio considerably older than Hamlet.

69 ‘some strange eruption to our state’ – Horatio initially considers the Ghost to be a sign of some threat to the state, because it is armed. The game of trying to interpret and explain begins.

96 ‘unimproved mettle hot and full’ – Young Fortinbras, full of spirit and ardour, has as yet had no opportunity to improve himself by experience.

109-11 ‘Well may it sort...these wars’ – Barnardo epitomises Horatio’s argument and accepts it.

121-5 Horatio informs the audience of strange omens, indicative of some coming disaster. These are more obscure clues for the characters to interpret.

131 ‘That may to thee do ease’ – Ghosts walked for such reasons as their bodies remaining unburied; they had been murdered etc. Line 137 gives a further suggestion: ghosts cannot abandon the ill-gotten gains they have buried in the earth when alive.

148-9 ‘a guilty thing/Upon a fearful summons’ – This clearly implies that the Ghost’s presence on earth is dubious. He is an ‘extravagant and erring spirit’ acting outside his proper bounds, unable to withstand the light of day.

159 ‘our Saviour’s birth’ – This makes the audience see the Ghost as outside the realm of what is sacred and holy.

165 ‘and do in part believe it’ – Horatio’s scepticism has been, understandably, shaken!

170 ‘young Hamlet’ – first mention of the main character.

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William Shakespeare

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