Famous Quotes from Hamlet, Act I
Use these famous quotes from Hamlet, Act I to help you understand, discuss, and write about the play.
Quote: Marcellus: "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark" (I, iv, 90).
Analysis: If by rotten you mean the dead king's ghost showing up to inform his son that he was murdered by his brother and that he wants revenge, then, indeed, something is rotten in the state of Denmark. The rottenness goes beyond the murder of the king: it emanates from the queen who marries so quickly after the king's death. It also infects Prince Hamlet who has gone mad at the death of his father and quick marriage of his mother. Hamlet's dithering and lack of strong leadership during the crisis does little to heal the rot. Because the rottenness exists at the head of government, the entire state must suffer unless a stronger leader (Fortinbras, for example) arrives.
Quote: Polonius: Give thy thoughts no tongue, / Nor any unproportion’d thought his act... Beware / Of entrance to a quarrel; but, being in, / Bear’t that the opposed may beware of thee. / Give every man thine ear, but few thy voice: / Take each man’s censure, but reserve thy judgment... / Neither a borrower nor a lender be: / For loan oft loses both itself and friend; / And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry. / This above all,—to thine own self be true; / And it must follow, as the night the day, / Thou canst not then be false to any man (Act I, scene iii).
Analysis: Shakespeare often gives his most profound lines to the plays biggest fools. Polonius offers sound advice...which he doesn't follow. He warns his son Laertes to hold his tongue, not act rashly, and to not enter quarrels that are not his. Polonius death ironically results from speaking too much, acting rashly, and entering the quarrel between Hamlet and his father. Polonius is not true to himself and dies because of it. Polonius' contradictory/conniving nature is further demonstrated by his profession of love and trust to Laertes, followed by sending Reynaldo to spy on him.