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What are 3 quotes that show guilt from each Hamlet, Claudius and Gertrude in acts 1 to...

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iwannalearn | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted July 16, 2011 at 1:51 AM via web

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What are 3 quotes that show guilt from each Hamlet, Claudius and Gertrude in acts 1 to 3?

i need 2 or more significant quotations from act 1 to 3 and discuss the guilt that these individuals feel. I must discuss the nature of the guilt and comment on the connection between the three and i must talk about how effectively each seems to be dealing with the guilt.

please help, i am stumped and cant seem to find any of these answers:( thanks!

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bval | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Honors

Posted July 16, 2011 at 2:53 AM (Answer #1)

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Hamlet feels guilty because he has not done anything to avenge his father's death. In act II scene ii Hamlet reveals the fact that he is upset with himself because he has not taken action. Hamlet calls himself, "a peasant slave" and questions, "What's Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba, That he should weep for her? What would he do, Had he motive and cue for passion That I have?" (529, 538-541). The actor is able to cry on cue when telling the story of Hecuba to entertain the court, but Hamlet still has not done anything to avenge his father's death. He is incredibly upset with himself. At the end of the scene he comes up with a plan to use the play, The Mouse Trap, to "catch the conscious of the King" (II, ii, 586). He is going to use the king's reaction to the scene in the play that is similar to how Claudius killed King Hamlet to see if Claudius is guilty. At this point Hamlet is using the guilt to come up with a plan and find out if the ghost is really telling the truth.

Claudius expresses his guilt in act three scene three. In his soliloquy, while praying, Claudius admits to his crime, but doesn't have what it takes to come forward and ask for forgiveness because he is greedy. When he first begins to pray, he says, "O, my offence is rank, it smells to Heaven; It hath the primal eldest curse upon't, A brother's murder!" (III, iii, 39-41). He admits to killing his brother, and he seems to have guilt over the killing. However, later in the prayer he states, "O, what form of prayer Can serve my turn? 'Forgive me my foul murder?' That cannot be; since I am still possess'd Of those effects for which I did the murder --My crown, mine own ambition, and my queen" (III, iii, 55-58). Claudius is sorry, but he is not sorry enough to give back what he has been able to obtain after the murder -his wife/the queen, the crown and his power. The king is guilty, but his greed overcomes his guilt.

Finally, in act III scene iv Hamlet confronts his mother, the queen, and she expresses guilt over her quick decision to marry Claudius. At first the queen tells Hamlet, "Hamlet, thou hast thy father much offended" (father meaning Claudius). Hamlet replies, "Mother, you have my father much offended" (meaning King Hamlet) (III.iv. 9-10). After accidentallykilling Polonius, who he thinks is Claudius snooping behind the curtain, Hamlet yells at his mother and shows her a picture of his late father to make her feel guilty. After getting upset with Hamlet's words, Gertrude states, ""O Hamlet, speak no more! Thou tern'st mine eyes into my very soul, And there I see such black and grained spots" (III, iv. 95-97). This quote supports the fact that Hamlet's words have reached Gertrude and that she does feel guilty for marrying Claudius so quickly.

Claudius is the one who commits the first act, the murder of King Hamlet, and for the most part he seems to be okay with keeping his sin to himself. He expresses his guilt when he is alone and praying, but he is not willing to share his crime with anyone else. He wants to keep Hamlet close, so he can watch over him. He is also lying to Gertrude. Gertrude begins to feel some guilt for marrying so quickly and hurting her son, but she doesn't seem to know that Claudius is responsble for killing her late husband. Hamlet seems to want to avenge his father's death, but he feels guilty for not doing anything, and he seems to be looking for the perfect opportunity to get revenge. (perhaps his flaw). 

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