How does the Queen’s line (about line10) echo a “rodent” theme introduced earlier in the play? Mad as the sea and wind, when both contend Which is the mightier: in his lawless fit, Behind the...

How does the Queen’s line (about line10) echo a “rodent” theme introduced earlier in the play?

Mad as the sea and wind, when both contend
Which is the mightier: in his lawless fit,
Behind the arras hearing something stir,
Whips out his rapier, cries, 'A rat, a rat!'
And, in this brainish apprehension, kills
The unseen good old man.

Act 4 Scene 1

 

Expert Answers
sullymonster eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Here is a "rodent" quote from Act I:

Hamlet:
Then saw you not his face.

Horatio:
O yes, my lord, he wore his beaver up.

The beaver refers to the visor of his helmet.  However, the repeated use of rodent associated words helps to demonstrate the themes of Shakespeare.  Through Hamlet, the purpose of life and death and the position of humans in the world at large is contemplated.  At the end, Hamlet comes to understand that humans, like all animals, are mortal, and that we are a part of nature and circle of life.  Using animal imagery echoes this.  Using rodent imagery helps to downplay human superiority.

malibrarian eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Another example of a rodent reference is the title Hamlet gives for the play being performed at court - "The Mousetrap".  This was given in reply to Claudius asking Hamlet for the title of the play - pretty ironic considering that the play is Hamlet's own trap for the rat, Claudius!

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Hamlet

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