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Please explain Hamlet's statement, "(T)he time is out of joint. O cursed spite, that...

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oribel | Student, College Freshman | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 16, 2008 at 4:31 AM via web

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Please explain Hamlet's statement, "(T)he time is out of joint. O cursed spite, that ever I was born to set it right."

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ms-mcgregor | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted November 16, 2008 at 5:19 AM (Answer #1)

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Hamlet has just finished talking to the ghost and finding out that his father was murdered by his uncle. The ghost has left and Hamlet swears Marcellus and Horatio to an oath not to reveal what they have seen. At first, the two men see no reason for swearing an oath but both Hamlet and the ghost insist. The ghost shouts "SWEAR!

So Hamlet gets his oath from the men and then realizes the enormity of what he has been asked to do. Hamlet then complains that he is alive during this time (" O time is out of joint). It's the time in which his father was murdered and, being the kings' son, he is the logical person to try to "set things right". But he is not happy about it and he curses the circumstances of the entire situation.

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frizzyperm | College Teacher | Valedictorian

Posted November 17, 2008 at 7:42 PM (Answer #3)

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"Time is out of joint." In other words, time is dislocated. Time is not in the right place. Time is wrong. Time is broken.

Instead of Hamlet's dad being king and everything being 'straight', Hamlet's uncle has broken the true path of time and history by murdering The King and stealing his crown. Claudius has broken history and Hamlet must fix it.

"O cursed spite, that ever I was born to set it right"

Oh Dammit, why me?

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liakeyes | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 8, 2013 at 7:39 PM (Answer #4)

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Hamlet has just finished talking to the ghost and finding out that his father was murdered by his uncle. The ghost has left and Hamlet swears Marcellus and Horatio to an oath not to reveal what they have seen. At first, the two men see no reason for swearing an oath but both Hamlet and the ghost insist. The ghost shouts "SWEAR!

So Hamlet gets his oath from the men and then realizes the enormity of what he has been asked to do. Hamlet then complains that he is alive during this time (" O time is out of joint). It's the time in which his father was murdered and, being the kings' son, he is the logical person to try to "set things right". But he is not happy about it and he curses the circumstances of the entire situation.

 

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liakeyes | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 8, 2013 at 7:40 PM (Answer #5)

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Time is out of joint because the normal royal succession from father to son has been disrupted by Hamlet's uncle usurping the throne.

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