I need to paraphrase Hamlet's soliloquy in Act 4, Scene 4, lines 31 to 65, of Hamlet.

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amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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The Act 4, Scene 4 soliloquy inHamletillustrates Hamlet's frustration with himself at his hesitancy to exact his revenge. After sending Rosencrantz and the others ahead of him, Hamlet reasons that God gave humans the power of thought to be used.

Sure, he that made us with such large discourse,

Looking before and after, gave us not

That capability and godlike reason

To fust in us unused. (IV.iv.38-41)

Hamlet then thinks that his contemplation has been one part wisdom and three parts coward. Although he believes it is right to carefully consider all the implications of seeking revenge, he criticizes himself for being so hesitant, especially considering he has the will and just cause for seeking this revenge.

Hamlet then compares his situation to Fortinbras. He thinks that if Fortinbras, "a delicate and tender prince," is bold enough to take action for little reward ("worthless land"), then Hamlet should be bold as well. Hamlet tries to spur himself toward revenge by explaining how his motivation ("a father kill'd, a mother stain'd") is much more significant than that of Fortinbras and his men. Hamlet makes the point that many of Fortinbras' men will die and the land they fight for is not large enough to hold all of their graves.

The imminent death of twenty thousand men

That for a fantasy and trick of fame

Go to their graves like beds, fight for a plot

Whereon the numbers cannot try the cause,

Which is not tomb enough and continent

To hide the slain. (IV.iv.62-67)

Hamlet concludes the soliloquy with the resolution that his thoughts must be violent from this point on or they mean nothing.


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