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Thread: About Shakespeare's Hamlet

  1. #1
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    About Shakespeare's Hamlet

    Who would like to help paraphrase this soliloquy? Thanks a million.

    I hope I could understand it sentence by sentence. Please help me.

    To be, or not to be -- that is the question;
    Whether' tis nobler in the mind to suffer
    The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
    Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
    And by opposing end them? To die, to sleep --
    No more; -- and by a sleep to say we end
    The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks
    That flesh is heir to; 'Tis a consumation
    Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
    To sleep, perchance to dream. Ay, there's the rub;
    For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
    When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
    Must give us pause. There's the respect
    That makes calamity of so long life;
    For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
    Th' oppressor's wrong, the poor man's contumely,
    The pangs of disprized love, the law's delay,
    The insolence of office, and the spurns
    That patient merit of th' unworthy takes,
    When he himself might his quietus make
    With a bare bodkin? Who would these fardels bear,
    The grunt and sweat under a weary life,
    But that the dread of something after death --
    The undiscover'd country, from whose bourn
    No traveller returns -- puzzles the will,
    And makes us rather bear those ills we have
    Than fly to others that we know not of?
    Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
    And thus the native hue of resolution
    Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
    And enterprises of great pitch and moment
    With this regard their currents turn awry
    And lose the name of action.

  2. #2
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    I hope I don't embarass myself by posting something incorrect, but this is my understanding of the passage:

    To be, or not to be -- that is the question;
    To live or die? that is the question
    Whether' tis nobler in the mind to suffer
    Is it nobler to suffer existence?
    The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
    The ups and downs of fate?
    Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
    Or is it nobler to end it all?
    And by opposing end them? To die, to sleep --
    And to die and
    No more; -- and by a sleep to say we end
    The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks
    That flesh is heir to; 'Tis a consumation

    end all of the heartache of life?
    Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
    To die is to sleep and in sleep
    To sleep, perchance to dream. Ay, there's the rub;
    We may dream. Ah! that's the problem
    For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
    Who knows what happens after death
    When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
    After we've left earth
    Must give us pause. There's the respect
    The fear of death makes us doubt if suicide is the answer
    That makes calamity of so long life;
    For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,

    For if we knew death was easy, who would suffer existence?
    Th' oppressor's wrong, the poor man's contumely,
    Who would suffer the oppressor's wrong? The poor man's insolence
    The pangs of disprized love, the law's delay,
    The pains of scorned love, the delay of law
    The insolence of office, and the spurns
    The insolence of officials, etc
    That patient merit of th' unworthy takes,
    When he himself might his quietus make

    When we could just easily exit the world
    With a bare bodkin? Who would these fardels bear,
    With a bare blade? Who would bear the load of life
    The grunt and sweat under a weary life,
    The grunting and sweating of a weary life
    But that the dread of something after death --
    But becase of that something we fear after death
    The undiscover'd country, from whose bourn
    Death, the undiscovered country, from where
    No traveller returns -- puzzles the will,
    no one returns -- it puzzles us
    And makes us rather bear those ills we have
    and makes us more willing to bear the wrongs of life that we know of
    Than fly to others that we know not of?
    than to rush towards those we don't.
    Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
    And so, thinking makes us cowards
    And thus the native hue of resolution
    And so, the resolution to die
    Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
    Becomes weak with thinking
    And enterprises of great pitch and moment
    And one's will and determination
    With this regard their currents turn awry
    Are turned away with these thoughts
    And lose the name of action.
    And action is left undone.

  3. #3
    Katie
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    I think it's more difficult if you try to break it down line by line, it's easier in meaningful chunks. First of all, I don't think he is here contemplating suicide - he is a student and a philosopher, pondering an eternal question.

    Whether' tis nobler in the mind to suffer
    The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
    Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
    And by opposing end them?

    -Is it more honourable to suffer what fate throws at you, or to fight against it, even if it kills you.

    To die, to sleep --
    No more; -- and by a sleep to say we end
    The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks
    That flesh is heir to; 'Tis a consumation
    Devoutly to be wish'd.

    - death is like a sleep. Sleep gives nothingness, a good blank in which you aren't hurt anymore.

    To die, to sleep;
    To sleep, perchance to dream. Ay, there's the rub;
    For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
    When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
    Must give us pause.

    - if death is a sleep then there could be dreams and you don't know what they would be - could be bad - so earth might be better.

    There's the respect
    That makes calamity of so long life;

    - that's what make life bad (I think this is referring to worried anticipation of the possibly painful afterlife)

    For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
    Th' oppressor's wrong, the poor man's contumely,
    The pangs of disprized love, the law's delay,
    The insolence of office, and the spurns
    That patient merit of th' unworthy takes,
    When he himself might his quietus make
    With a bare bodkin?

    - who would let himself suffer being oppressed, or poor, despised in love, or unable to win justice, suffer the contempt of others and allow himself to be spurned while someone unworthy claims his prize, when he could end it with a bodkin. (A bodkin is a small sharp instrument, I think, used for pushing holes in leather)

    Who would these fardels bear,
    The grunt and sweat under a weary life,
    But that the dread of something after death --
    The undiscover'd country, from whose bourn
    No traveller returns -- puzzles the will,
    And makes us rather bear those ills we have
    Than fly to others that we know not of?

    - Who would bear these burdens if they weren't scared of something after death - that undiscovered country noone returns from - which makes you stay and suffer what you know rather than go on to unknown ills.

    Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
    And thus the native hue of resolution
    Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
    And enterprises of great pitch and moment
    With this regard their currents turn awry
    And lose the name of action.[/QUOTE]

    - thinking makes us cowards, and causes us to lose resolution (NOTE - another quote from Hamlet - "nothing is good or bad but thinking makes it so"). People think too much about the consequences of their actions, and change their minds because of it, leaving great deeds undone.
    This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with force.

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