act 3 scene 1-Hamlet: That patient merit of the unworthy takes (81) - is "of" here means "from", so "patient merit" doesn't belong to "the unworthy"?the "of" in the line makes me think it's the...

act 3 scene 1-Hamlet: That patient merit of the unworthy takes (81)

- is "of" here means "from", so "patient merit" doesn't belong to "the unworthy"?

the "of" in the line makes me think it's the patient merit of the humble people, so the "unworthy" means "humble" and the line says:

the insults ('spurns' in line 80) that the humble people suffer.

Asked on by nianian

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William Delaney | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

The full clause is "the spurns that patient merit of the unworthy takes." The unworthy are not humble in this context but just the opposite. For example, a gifted artist might be criticized by other artists who are far less talented but more successful. The gifted artist might have to be "patient" just because he is spurned by established artists who don't want him as a competitor. I think a good example might be Vincent Van Gogh who was turning out masterpieces daily and only sold one painting in his entire life. All the original French Impressionist painters were subjected to endless ridicule and hostile criticism by established artists and tasteless art critics who were decidedly "unworthy" to judge artists like Monet and Renoir, whose paintings now sell for mega-millions while many of their contemporaries are forgotten. But this is common in many other fields of endeavor. I believe that Roark, the architect portrayed by Ayn Rand in The Fountainhead, is an example of a man of patient merit who was spurned for years by grossly inferior people who were too blind to appreciate his genius. Shakespeare himself probably suffered from the spurns of unworthy men who despised and reviled him because he lacked a university education. He probably also experienced "the proud man's contumely" and some of the other wrongs itemized in Hamlet's famous soliloquy.

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nianian | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted on

Thank you billdelaney for such detailed explanation. so the re-arrangement of this "the spurns that patient merit of the unworthy takes." clause should be: (1) the spurns OF the unworthy that patient merit TAKES. or (2) the spurns that patient merit TAKES OF the unworthy. ? I'd vote for (2) if it's TAKES FROM instead of TAKES OF. I am really puzzled by this "OF".

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