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In act 1, scene 4, what does Hamlet mean by saying, "I do not set...immortal as...

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eemanay | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted September 1, 2007 at 1:04 PM via web

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In act 1, scene 4, what does Hamlet mean by saying, "I do not set...immortal as itself"?

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malibrarian | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted November 6, 2007 at 8:10 AM (Answer #2)

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This is Hamlet's response to Horatio, who is begging Hamlet not to follow the ghost of his father (Horatio fears for Hamlet's safety and sanity, in case this is an evil spirit).  Hamlet's response is as follows:

"Why, what should be the fear?/I do not set my life in a pin's fee;/And for my soul, what can it do to that,/Being a thing immortal as itself?/It waves me forth again: I'll follow it."

Hamlet is saying that he has no reason to fear - right now, his life doesn't feel like it's worth much, since he's so broken up over his father's death and mother's remarriage, so why worry about this ghost?  And since the ghost is immortal, like his soul, it couldn't possibly do his soul any harm.

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