I need help with a quote from Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 1.
Explain the meaning of the quote in as much detail as possible.
This quote fromHamletis a use of personification. The morning sky, atmosphere, or mist walks (floats) over the dew of the east hill. Having no feet to actually "walk," this is personification.
This quote from Horatio comes after they have seen the old king's ghost a second time. The king disappears with the rooster's morning crowing. After multiple attempts to get the king's ghost to speak, Marcellus and Horatio decide that it will speak to Hamlet. Before they make this decision, Marcellus suggests that the upcoming Christmas season will scare away all apparitions and therefore thinks the ghost will not return. Horatio knows of this legend, but he thinks the ominous sign of the ghost combined with the red (russet) atmosphere of the morning is a bad omen and therefore suspects the ghost's appearance means something more.
This first scene is dominated by the presence of the old king's ghost. The ghost is therefore a sign for Marcellus, Horatio, and Bernardo to decipher. Since they can't get the ghost to speak, they speculate on whether it is a good or a bad sign. Horatio thinks it is bad. The old phrase "Red sky at night, sailor's delight; Red sky at morning, sailors take warning" has its origins prior to the writing of this play. Red sky may indicate foul weather ahead or, metaphorically, foul events ahead.
Earlier in this scene, Horatio describes similar signs (ghosts and atmospheric anomalies) that foretold the death of Julius Caesar. This echoes the old King Hamlet's death and announces a possible foreshadowing of the death of the current King Claudius.
A little ere the mightiest Julius fell,
The graves stood tenantless, and the sheeted dead
Did squeak and gibber in the Roman streets;(130)
As stars with trains of fire and dews of blood,
Disasters in the sun; and the moist star,
Upon whose influence Neptune's empire stands
Was sick almost to doomsday with eclipse. (I.i.128-134)