Line by Line: Act 1, Scene 1, Line 43

HORATIO: Most like: it harrows me with fear and wonder. I love this line. It’s not one of those bottomless Shakespearean mystery lines, like “Life’s but a walking shadow” or “Our revels now are ended,” but it conveys a wonderful image while also revealing something about the character who speaks it. Modern ears will be…

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Line by Line: Act 1, Scene 1, Line 42

BARNARDO: Looks it not like the king? Mark it, Horatio. Here we go again: two lines ago, Barnardo pointed out to Horatio (or, more importantly, to the audience) that the Ghost resembles “the King that’s dead.” And a whopping one line ago, Marcellus urged, “speak to it, Horatio.” The latter is not quite the same…

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Line by Line: Act 1, Scene 1, Line 41

MARCELLUS:Thou art a scholar; speak to it, Horatio. At this point, your humble author reveals how rusty his research skills have become. Although I read Hamlet on my own in Grade 10, I didn’t study it until Grade 11. My teacher, Robin Carson, was enormously knowledgeable and articulate, to the point that I can still…

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Line by Line: Act 1, Scene 1, Line 40

BARNARDO: In the same figure like the King that’s dead. When taken in isolation, this line sounds very awkward. Although modern ears should have no trouble understanding the meaning, it does sound a bit strange that Barnardo should say “like” instead of “as.” And adding “that’s dead” — presumably to distinguish this King from the…

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Line by Line: Act 1, Scene 1, Line 39

Enter GHOST. MARCELLUS: Peace, break thee off, look where it comes again. Although from my perspective, it’s been a month and a half since the line-by-line analysis of Hamlet began, only 38 lines have been spoken on stage prior to the entrance of the main attraction, ie. Hamlet, Sr. (deceased). In Q1, the number of…

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Line by Line: Act 1, Scene 1, Lines 30-34

BERNARDO:                                   Sit down awhile, And let us once again assail your ears That are so fortified against our story What we have two nights seen. HORATIO:                               Well, sit we down, And let us hear Bernardo speak of this. The two words most likely to confuse modern audiences are “assail” and “fortified,” are also the first…

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Line by Line: Act 1, Scene 1, Lines 25-28

MARCELLUS: Therefore I have entreated him along With us to watch the minutes of this night; That if again this apparition come, He may approve our eyes and speak to it. There are lots of textual details to explore here — the presence or absence of a comma after “With us,” for instance, which could…

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Line by Line: Act 1, Scene 1, Lines 22-24

MARCELLUS: Horatio says ’tis but our fantasy, And will not let belief take hold of him Touching this dreaded sight, twice seen of us: These are the first three lines of a seven-line verse speech — the longest single bit of dialogue thus far in Hamlet. Go, Marcellus! It’s also the point at which Shakespeare…

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Line by Line: Act 1, Scene 1, Lines 17-18

MARCELLUS: Holla! Bernardo! BARNARDO: Say, what, is Horatio there? HORATIO:                                                  A piece of him. This terse exchange serves as a real introduction to Horatio, distinguishing him instantly from the soldiers — who are, let’s face it, fairly flat and interchangeable characters. His acerbic reply falls into the “ask a stupid question” category, since Barnardo was,…

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