i need examples of similes from hamlet with line numbers please

Expert Answers
davmor1973 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are lots of similes in Hamlet. As I'm sure you already know, a simile is a figure of speech in which two things unalike are compared using the words "as" or "like." Simple examples would include "As American as apple pie" or "As stubborn as a mule." In both cases, the person or thing being compared is neither an apple pie nor a mule, but we understand the comparison straight away.

"O wretched state! O bosom black as death!" (act 3, scene 3, line 68).

This is Claudius, down on his knees, praying, seeking forgiveness from the Almighty for his murder of Hamlet's father. Hamlet sees this and, spying an opportunity for revenge, draws his sword, ready to send Claudius straight to hell. But Hamlet holds back; as Claudius is confessing his sins to God, then there's a danger that killing him there and then might send him to heaven instead. And Hamlet doesn't want that. He'll bide his time and wait until Claudius is doing something bad, like swearing at the gaming table, or something really foul and depraved, like sleeping with Gertrude.

"O, speak to me no more;
These words, like daggers, enter in mine ears;
No more, sweet Hamlet!" (act 3, scene 4, lines 93–95).

Poor old Gertrude's in the middle of an almighty great tongue-lashing from her errant son. He's just chewed her out something dreadful for sleeping with Claudius, their dirty sheets "stewed in corruption." Hamlet's unhinged rant confirms Gertrude in her suspicion that her son's taken leave of his senses.

"Pale as his shirt . . ." (act 2, scene 1, line 81).

Ophelia also thinks that Hamlet's completely mad. He came to her room one night in a right old state. He wasn't wearing a hat and his clothes were all disheveled. Not only were his knees knocking; he was as pale as his nightshirt and looked like he'd just come back from hell.

But let's leave the last word (and similes) to Hamlet himself. In act 2, scene 2 he delivers one of his legendary monologues. This particular speech beautifully encapsulates the myriad paradoxes both within Hamlet's tortured soul and in the play itself:

"What a piece of work is a man! how noble in reason!
how infinite in faculty! in form and moving how
express and admirable! in action how like an angel!
in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the
world! the paragon of animals! And yet, to me,
what is this quintessence of dust? man delights not
me: no, nor woman neither . . ."  (lines 285–91).

qejtzuk eNotes educator| Certified Educator

You can find answers pretty quickly by going to an online full-text version and using your browser's 'Find' feature (under the 'Edit' menu, or Alt + E, then F). Type in ' as ' or ' like ' and browse the results.

Here's one good version with act, scene, and line numbers: http://www.opensourceshakespeare.org/views/plays/play_view.php?WorkID=hamlet&Scope=entire&pleasewait=1&msg=pl#a1,s1.

And here's some of what you'll find:

"As thou art to thyself."  I.i.75 (The ghost is as much like the dead king as Marcellus is like Marcellus himself.)

"For it is as the air, invulnerable" I.i.168  (The ghost can't be hurt by weapons; it's like the air.)

if, like a crab, you could go backward..." II.ii.1306  (Hamlet is intentionally confusing Polonius; he says Polonius would grow younger if he could reverse time. Don't worry, it's not supposed to make much sense.)

Make sure to check the line numbers in the copy of the play you're reading; it should be fairly close to what you find online, but might not be identical.

William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

To get you started:

The Ghost uses similes in his interview with Hamlet in Act 1, Scene 5.

"Make thy two eyes, like stars, start from their spheres"   (17)

"Like quills upon the fretful porpentine [porcupine]"          (20)

Hamlet's soliloquy in Act 2, Scene 2:

"Must like a whore unpack my heart with words,

And fall a-cursing like a very drab"                                (571-572)


Line numbers are different in different editions. Check yours.