Line by Line: Act 1, Scene 1, Lines 9-11

BARNARDO: Well, goodnight. If you do meet Horatio and Marcellus, The rivals of my watch, bid them make haste. Barnardo wraps up a very modern-feeling exchange with Francisco by offering the most modern of all farewells: “goodnight,” a phrase so understated in this heavily fraught context that it might almost draw a laugh from the…

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Line by Line: Act 1, Scene 1, Lines 6-8

FRANCISCO: For this relief much thanks: ’tis bitter cold, And I am sick at heart. BERNARDO: Have you had quiet guard? FRANCISCO:                                          Not a mouse stirring. One of the things I love most about Shakespeare is his instinct for when to use flowering, grandiose imagery, and when to keep things arrestingly ordinary. These lines, which…

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Line by Line: Act 1, Scene 1, Lines 4-5

FRANCISCO: You come most carefully upon your hour. BARNARDO: ‘Tis now struck twelve. Get thee to bed, Francisco. With the intensified confusion and fear of the first 3 lines diffused, Francisco speaks the first line which could be considered casual, or at least professional. It is also Shakespeare’s first expository line, unless we feel that…

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Line by Line: Act 1, Scene 1, Lines 1-2

BERNARDO: Who’s there? FRANCISCO: Nay, answer me: stand, and unfold yourself. While nowhere near as famous as the first lines of Romeo & Juliet (“Two houses, both alike in dignity…”), Henry V (“O for a muse of fire”), or Richard III (“Now is the winter of our discontent”), the first line of Hamlet has a…

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