I am looking for some quotations in Shakespeare's play, Hamlet.  Can you provide quotations in Hamlet that describes the following? 1. An example where Hamlet is loyal and passive 2. An example...

I am looking for some quotations in Shakespeare's play, Hamlet.


Can you provide quotations in Hamlet that describes the following?

1. An example where Hamlet is loyal and passive

2. An example where Claudius shows that he is ready to kill someone

3. An example of Gertrude being naive and innocent

4. An example of when Polonius is being deceitful and hypocritical

5. An example of Ophelia being a simple minded woman

Expert Answers
booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Shakespeare's characters in Hamlet are well-rounded and interesting.

Hamlet is seen as loyal and passive when he promises to avenge his father's death, but fails to do so. We see this when he wants to kill Claudius, but does not do so because Claudius is praying and Hamlet does not want him to die without sins on his soul—Hamlet's own father never had the chance to confess his sins before he died.

Now might I do it pat, now he is praying;
And now I'll do't. And so he goes to heaven,
And so am I revenged. That would be scann'd.
A villain kills my father; and for that,
I, his sole son, do this same villain send
To heaven. (III.iii.75-80)

We see Claudius ready to kill when he conspires with Laertes to bring about Hamlet's death, ostensibly to avenge Hamlet's accidental murder of Polonius:

If he be now return'd   (65)
As checking at his voyage, and that he means
No more to undertake it, I will work him
To an exploit, now ripe in my device,
Under the which he shall not choose but fall...  (IV.vii.65-69)

We see Gertrude as naive and innocent when Hamlet confronts her for the wrongs she has committed against the memory of her husband, particularly in marrying Claudius. At first she is confused that he is so put out with her. Gertrude says to Hamlet:

What have I done, that thou darest wag thy tongue
In noise so rude against me? (III.iv.43-44)

Hamlet describes her behavior, not sparing her feelings. He compares the worthiness of Old Hamlet to her current husband, a "mildew'd ear." In other words, how could she love an angel only to consort with a devil upon her husband's death? He makes her ashamed for having married and slept with Claudius. Her eyes are opened and she is no longer innocent: looking within she sees a blackness on her soul:

O Hamlet, speak no more!  (95)
Thou turn'st mine eyes into my very soul,
And there I see such black and grained spots
As will not leave their tinct.  (III.iv.95-98)

I believe that Polonius is being hypocritical and deceitful when giving Laertes advice before his son departs for school. Polonius, among other things, tells his son to be honest with himself, and that in doing so, he will never be false to anyone else either. Polonius is anything but honest. He uses his daughter to spy on Hamlet, and tries to trick Hamlet in their discussions, simply to forward his own position with the King.

This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man. (I.iii.82-84)

Finding a quotation where Ophelia is being simple-minded can only be in the scene where she goes insane. Prior to that, she is sharp-witted with her brother, gracious in the face of Hamlet's sexual innuendos, and obedient with her father. However, after Polonius dies, Ophelia (tragically) becomes simple-minded: mentally destroyed. In Act Four, scene five, Gertrude is devastated by the change in the innocent Ophelia. Then the King enters and asks Ophelia how she is. Her answer is nonsensical, including something about an owl being a baker's daughter (based on an old folktale):

Well, God 'eild you! They say the owl was a baker's
Lord, we know what we are, but know not what we may be.
God be at your table!  (50)