Please explain Hamlet's statement, "(T)he time is out of joint. O cursed spite, that ever I was born to set it right."

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Jennings Williamson eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Hamlet is upset because quite a lot of things seem to be going wrong.  First, his father dies.  Then, his mother remarries incredibly quickly, and, still worse, she marries Hamlet’s uncle, her own brother (by biblical precedent), making him Hamlet’s new stepfather.  This new stepfather, Claudius, allows Laertes to return to the continent, but he refuses Hamlet’s request to return to school in Wittenberg— a request which seems perfectly reasonable—all while insulting Hamlet’s masculinity.  Now, Hamlet has learned that his uncle/stepfather actually murdered his father, the old king,...

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liakeyes | Student

Time is out of joint because the normal royal succession from father to son has been disrupted by Hamlet's uncle usurping the throne.

frizzyperm | Student

"Time is out of joint." In other words, time is dislocated. Time is not in the right place. Time is wrong. Time is broken.

Instead of Hamlet's dad being king and everything being 'straight', Hamlet's uncle has broken the true path of time and history by murdering The King and stealing his crown. Claudius has broken history and Hamlet was born at the time that requires he must fix it, whether he would or not.

"O cursed spite, that ever I was born to set it right"

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