What are the main character's first words in Hamlet? What do they tell us about him?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The first words that the titular character speaks in Shakespeare's Hamlet are spoken as an aside (a character's thoughts spoken aloud), which the audience hears but the other characters on stage do not hear. In Shakespeare's plays, characters speak the truth in asides and soliloquies for the simple reason that they're speaking to themselves and therefore there's no reason to lie.

With Hamlet's first words, "A little more than kin, and less than kind" (1.2.67), Shakespeare takes the audience directly into Hamlet's confidence and into his life. Shakespeare puts Hamlet in the forefront of the audience's collective mind. From that moment, Hamlet is the primary focus of the audience's attention. Everything that occurs in the play is seen through Hamlet's eyes and is filtered through what the audience believes are Hamlet's sensibilities. It's truly remarkable that Shakespeare accomplishes all of that with a single line of iambic pentameter.

It's important to look at Hamlet's first line in the...

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 1157 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team