In Hamlet Act 3, scene 2 Hamlet says "for some must watch while some must sleep, so runs the world away." What does Hamlet mean by this? I am doing research on the Lincoln assassination...

In Hamlet Act 3, scene 2 Hamlet says "for some must watch while some must sleep, so runs the world away." What does Hamlet mean by this?

I am doing research on the Lincoln assassination and in her book about her brother John Wilkes Booth, sister Asia ends the book with the line - "So runs the world away."

Asked on by smythrs

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malibrarian | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

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Hamlet's plan for "catching the conscience of the king" has worked. He has had his play performed, Claudius has freaked out, and everyone has left except Hamlet and his best friend, Horatio. 

Hamlet is saying that the way the world works is that some people must be ever vigilant, on guard against danger and evil, while some get to just "sleep" their way through life, never paying any attention to what's happening around them. He is confident now in what the ghost told him about his father's murder, and thinks he is ready now to be on guard - to right the wronged - to seek revenge on his father's murderer.

Perhaps Asia Booth was saying that she should have been like Hamlet concerning her brother - that she should have been vigilant while the world slept around him.

Good luck!

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