What does this quotation from William Shakespeare's "Hamlet"  have to say about human nature?  “Alexander was burried, Alexander Returrneth to Dust; the dust is earth; of earth we   make...


What does this quotation from William Shakespeare's "Hamlet"  have to say about human nature?

 

“Alexander was burried, Alexander Returrneth to Dust; the dust is earth; of earth we   make loam; and why of that loam whereto he was converted might they not stop a          beer-barrel? Imperious Caesar, dead and turned to clay, Might stop a hole to keep     the wind away. Oh, that that earth, which kept the world in awe, Should patch a           wall t' expel the winter’s flaw!”- Hamlet (5:1:198-206)

 

 

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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This quotation from William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet is a meditation on the transitory nature of human nature, echoing the phrasing of the Book of Common Prayer, “Remember thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return.” Another way this theme is expressed in literary contexts is “sic transit gloria mundi” (so pass away the glories of the world). No matter how glorious and famous people’s deeds, all people, even Alexander the Great or Julius Caesar, eventually die and become part of the same soil.  Thus it is both a commentary on human pride, reflecting both on our tendency to overestimate our own importance, and the ultimate futility of worldly things in face of death. Most revenge tragedies contain at least one long speech of this sort.

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