Monday June 11

Hi folks,

Your Hamlet essays/reports are due today, but remember you can take until Friday to get them in (on Google classroom please) without penalty.

The following assignment is due at the end of the period. It will be posted on Google classroom and paper copies will also be available.

Analyzing Quotations

First, consider the definition of the word “analyze”: to examine methodically and in detail the constitution or structure of (something, especially information), typically for purposes of explanation and interpretation.

Using the example below as a model, choose one of the quotations provided to prepare an analysis of. You may use your phones/devices to look up the context of the quotation, and you may discuss ideas with each other but I want the analysis to be your own. You will have questions like this on the exam so this important to practice.




Original quotation:

Fie on ’t, ah fie! ’Tis an unweeded garden

That grows to seed. Things rank and gross in nature

Possess it merely.



In Act 1 Scene 2, Hamlet reflects on the state of Denmark following the death of his father and marriage of his mother to his Uncle Claudius. He says that Denmark is “…an unweeded garden / That grows to seed. Things rank and gross in nature / Possess it merely” (1.2.139-141). The metaphor of a garden is an interesting one to describe Denmark because a garden conjures up the allusion of the biblical Garden of Eden. This implies that at one point, for Hamlet, Denmark was a paradise–a paradise ruined by knowledge, but what knowledge cast Hamlet out of Eden? There are two possibilities: one, Hamlet’s understanding of his own mortality because of the death of his father; and two, Hamlet’s understanding of his mother as a sexual being. Both of these ideas are supported by Hamlet’s use of the word “rank” and the phrase “grows to seed.” Rank is a pun referring both to the idea of corruption and hierarchy, suggesting that Claudius’s new rank is a corruption of his father’s kingship, while the phrase “grows to seed” suggests a kind of unchecked sexuality that exists at the expense of the other people in the kingdom.


If you want to edit down the quotation to focus on a few key ideas as I did in the exemplar above, that’s fine but I wanted to give you a big enough chunk to work with. You could also break up the quotation to deal with some ideas separately.


Quotation #1


O, that this too too sullied flesh would melt,

Thaw and resolve itself into a dew,

Or that the Everlasting had not fixed

His canon ‘gainst self-slaughter! O God, God,

How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable

Seem to me all the uses of this world!



Quotation #2


Though yet of Hamlet our dear brother’s death

The memory be green, and that it us befitted

To bear our hearts in grief, and our whole kingdom

To be contracted in one brow of woe,

Yet so far hath discretion fought with nature

That we with wisest sorrow think on him

Together with remembrance of ourselves.



Quotation #3


Good Hamlet, cast thy nighted color off,

And let thine eye look like a friend on Denmark.

Do not for ever with thy vailèd lids

Seek for thy noble father in the dust.

Thou know’st ’tis common; all that lives must die,

Passing through nature to eternity.



Quotation #4


‘Seems,’ madam? Nay it is. I know not ‘seems.’

‘Tis not alone my inky cloak, good mother,

Nor customary suits of solemn black,

Nor windy suspiration of forced breath,

No, nor the fruitful river in the eye,

Nor the dejected havior of the visage,

Together with all forms, moods, shapes of grief,

That can denote me truly. These indeed ‘seem,’

For they are actions that a man might play:

But I have that within which passes show,

These but the trappings and the suits of woe.




Before submitting, make sure you’ve reviewed the following checklist:

  • I have introduced the quotation with some context.
  • I have integrated the quotation into my own writing.
  • I have used correct punctuation in and around the quotation
  • I have used line breaks if I am quoting fewer than four lines.
  • I have used block quotation format if I am quoting more than four lines.
  • I have considered alternative meanings of certain words.
  • I have considered the connotation of certain words.
  • I have considered images suggested by word choice.
  • I have identified literary devices such as imagery, symbolism, metaphor, simile, repetition where relevant, and explained how they help create meaning.
  • I have considered the larger context of this quotation and discussed any big ideas or themes revealed in this quotation.
  • I have made connections to other ideas/ events/ characters in the text where relevant.
  • I have attempted to think beyond the simple and literal interpretation of the quotation.