In Act 1, Scene 5 of Hamlet, what does Hamlet mean by "wings as swift as meditation"?

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teachersage's profile pic

teachersage | (Level 2) Educator

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In this part of the scene, Hamlet has just met his father's ghost. This is a fearful and emotionally wrought moment for our hero. The ghost of his father says that he could tell Hamlet stories that would make the hairs on his head stand up on end like porcupine quills. When Hamlet presses him, the ghost says his subject is "murder most foul ... strange and unnatural." At this point, Hamlet, very anxious to know what is going on, urges the ghost to tell him about it quickly—"haste me to know't." He then gives the ghost an incentive to tell him, saying that the faster he knows what happened, the faster he can take revenge. In the phrase "wings as swift as meditation," he is picturing himself as a bird who will swoop in and avenge his father's death as fast he can think: there will be no gap, in other words, between thought and deed.

This is one of literature's great ironic utterances because there is hardly a character in the annals of drama who meditates longer on his actions than Hamlet does. He will be anything but "swift" in avenging his father's death.

arjun's profile pic

arjun | College Teacher | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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Hamlet describes this dialogue where in he uses simile and metaphor and urges the ghost to be swift, when the ghost is going to disclose the secret of his father’s murder. In it, wings are used. It is symbolized for bird and he wishes to reach the murderer quickly before thought or meditation in order to take revenge.
As that hamlet is a noble prince and possesses quite discriminated qualities, he is afraid of his tendency to love or his thought of love may extinguish his feelings of revenge:
Haste me to know`t that I with wings as swift
As meditation or the thought of love
My sweep to my revenge.
He wants to perform his job speedily as that love or any thought may not interfere. It will bring resistance between me and my revenge.

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