Explanatory Notes for Act 4, Scene 6
From Hamlet, prince of Denmark. Ed. K. Deighton. London: Macmillan.
1. What are they, what manner of men; What, less definite
5. I should be greeted, I am likely to receive a greeting.
7. Let him, may he.
9. bound, on his way for.
10. let to know, informed; we still say 'let me know,' i.e. tell
12. overlooked, read.
13. some ... king, some means of access to, etc.
14. Ere we ... sea, before we had been two days at sea.
15. of ... appointment, fitted out in most warlike fashion, i.e.
16. we put on ... valour, we made a virtue of necessity and
assumed a warlike bearing.
16, 7. in the grapple, as we grappled, i.e. threw out our
grappling-irons in order to hold their vessel fast to ours: boarded,
leaped on board: on the instant, just as I did so.
19. thieves of mercy, merciful thieves; see note on i. 2. 4.
19, 20. but they ... them, but their mercy was due to politic
reasons, for they wanted me in return to do them a service with
21. repair, make your way; in this sense from Lat. repatriare,
to return to one's own country.
22. as thou, as that with which you.
23. will make, i.e. which will make; for the omission of the
relative, see Abb. § 244.
23, 4. yet are ... matter, yet no words would describe the
matter in sufficiently strong language; the metaphor is that of
shot not heavy enough for the calibre of a gun.
28. I will ... letters, I will give you the means, opportunity, of
delivering these letters.
29. And do 't ... me, and do it all the more quickly that by my
doing so, etc.; the, ablative of demonstration, see Abb. § 94.
How to cite the explanatory notes:
Shakespeare, William. Hamlet, prince of Denmark. Ed. K. Deighton. London: Macmillan, 1919. Shakespeare Online. 20 Feb. 2010. < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/hamlet_4_6.html >.
How to cite the scene review questions:
Mabillard, Amanda. Hamlet: Scene Questions for Review. Shakespeare Online. 27 Dec. 2013. < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/hamlet_4_6.html >.
Scene Questions for Review
1. Was Hamlet's capture truly a coincidence? Is it plausible that this encounter with the pirate ship was part of the counter plot Hamlet alludes to earlier when talking with Gertrude in her closet? There he says of Claudius' plan to send him to England,
Let it work;
For 'tis the sport to have the engineer
Hoist with his own petar: and 't shall go hard
But I will delve one yard below their mines,
And blow them at the moon: O, 'tis most sweet,
When in one line two crafts directly meet. (3.4.198-203)
2. If Hamlet did have a counter plot ready, why would he not reveal it to Horatio? Is it possible Hamlet believed the letters would fall into the wrong hands?
3. If we discount the counter plot theory and assume the events at sea are completely unforeseen to Hamlet, then Divine Providence becomes a very significant component of the drama. If we place such importance on Divine Will, as Hamlet does later in the play when he says, "There's a Divinity that shapes our ends" (5.2.10), how does it change our modern conception of the play? How would an Elizabethan audience view this aspect of the play? For more on Divine Providence in Hamlet, please click here.
4. We have noticed a change in Hamlet since his pivotal soliloquy, "How all occasions do inform against me" (4.4.33-66). Do Hamlet's actions on the pirate ship highlight this change?
On Elizabethan Drama ... "The student, after getting the story of the tragedy quite clear, should concentrate first on the character of the hero. Ask yourself whether his creator considered him ideally perfect -- in which case the appeal probably lies in the spectacle of a single human soul defying the universe; or flawed -- in which case the defect will bring about the catastrophe. It is true that in the Revenge Play type we have frequently the villain-hero, but the interest there depends rather on his courage and independence of man and God than on his villainy. This is particularly true of pre-Shakespearean plays. It is remarkable that the post-Shakespearean drama was apt to combine plots involving unnatural crimes and vicious passions with a somewhat shallow conventional morality." Janet Spens. Read on...
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