What does Claudius say about Hamlet's sorrow in Act I, Scene 2?

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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Claudius says that Hamlet's grief is verging on becoming "unmanly." Displays of sorrow after an extended period of time, in fact, speak to a defect of character:

It shows a will most incorrect to heaven, 
A heart unfortified, a mind impatient, 
An understanding simple and unschool'd.

So while it was appropriate for Hamlet to mourn his father's death after it happened, it is now, "within a month," as Hamlet will later observe in his soliloquy, time for him to get on with his life. To do so, of course, requires that Hamlet "think of us (meaning Claudius) as a father." As a prince and the heir to the throne, Hamlet should accept the new reality. At this point, Hamlet does not know that Claudius has murdered his father, but as he reveals in his soliloquy later in the scene, he is not simply sad about his father's death, but also about his mother's hasty marriage to Claudius, who he holds in low esteem.


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