Can you comment or analyze the following quote from Act IV, scene 3 of Hamlet?What does Hamlet want to reveal when he says (dear mother)? what is  christian opinion here? HAMLET I see a cherub...

Can you comment or analyze the following quote from Act IV, scene 3 of Hamlet?

What does Hamlet want to reveal when he says (dear mother)? what is  christian opinion here?


I see a cherub that sees them. But, come; for
England! Farewell, dear mother.


Thy loving father, Hamlet.


My mother: father and mother is man and wife; man
and wife is one flesh; and so, my mother. Come, for England!

Asked on by so11

3 Answers

mstultz72's profile pic

mstultz72 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Hamlet is being satirical here.  He says he knows an angel that can read Claudius' mind.  Though a soul trapped in Purgatory, and not an angel, Hamlet's supernatural source is, of course, his father.  The Ghost told Hamlet of the murderous, adulterous, and incestuous marriage in Act I.  Now, Hamlet is mocking it, pretending to ordain it using traditionally Christian vows:

Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female...and the two shall become one flesh.'? So they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate." [Matt 19:4-6]

According to the Christian "One-flesh Union," Hamlet practices metonymy here, calling Claudius his mother.  Rather Freudian, wouldn't you say?  Obviously he's joking, and Claudius also plays along.

The other joke in the exchange is the England references.  Hamlet knows Claudius wants to send him to his death, and so he invites him along for the ride.  Foreshadowing Act V.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

The context for this quote is that Hamlet has killed Polonius and Claudius has had Hamlet brought before him.  He wants to punish him, but doesn't want to be too harsh.  So he decides to send him to England.  That's when your quotes are spoken.

Hamlet, here, is still pretending to be crazy.  That's why he says this stuff about Claudius being his mother.  He's also implying that he knows why Claudius is really sending him to England (to be killed).

As far as the Christian view, I'm not sure what you mean.  Christians would believe that God's angels would know what Claudius meant to do.  They, of course, do not believe that a man and wife become the same person...   Sorry, I'm not sure what you mean here.

jessica-w's profile pic

jessica-w | Student, College Freshman | (Level 2) eNoter

Posted on

I think the last bit is a joke but also expresses hate towards his uncle aswell. He avoids saying goodbye "father" by just using the word mother and saying basically "yes yes mother and father is the same thing but im not going to call you my father, so ill just say goodbye mother and mean im saying bye to both of you"  ;) This is a reflection of how he cant accept that Claudius be his father figure in Act 1 or 2 when he says "I am too much in the sun" i believe that then he meant he is still the son of his true father and wont accept the pretence of being a son of his new father/uncle.

As for the bits abut England, i agree with the other answers about the fact that Hamlet knows what England holds for him so plays on Claudius and presents himself as fearless and happy to go to England. We respect and admire Hamlet for this because he shows he's not affraid and is basically holding two fingers up to Claudius.