Act 1 Hamlet, Line By Line Paraphrasing

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Some of the language in act 1 of Hamlet is easily recognizable by modern audiences, and other parts benefit from paraphrasing. For example, the first line of the play is “Who are you?” This line is spoken by a character named Barnardo.

This is just like the modern way of speaking English, but the next line is a little trickier. It is spoken by a character named Francisco, and it reads, “Nay, answer me. Stand, and unfold yourself.”

It’s possible to paraphrase this in a few different ways, but one way would be, “No, wait, who is that? Freeze and tell me who you are.”

Some phrases in Shakespeare aren’t used as much now as they used to be. The phrase “unfold yourself” is an older way of asking for identification.

At this point, both Barnardo and Francisco say, “Long live the king!,” and then Francisco just says, “Barnardo?”

Francisco responds with, “He,” which is just an older way of saying, “Yes, that’s right, it’s me.”

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