What is a summary of this passage from Hamlet? I have of late—but wherefore I know not—lost all my mirth, forgone all custom of exercises, and indeed it goes so heavily with my disposition...

What is a summary of this passage from Hamlet?

I have of late—but wherefore I know not—lost all my mirth, forgone all custom of exercises, and indeed it goes so heavily with my disposition that this goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a sterile promontory; this most excellent canopy, the air—look you, this brave o'erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire—why, it appears no other thing to me than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapors.

 

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In this passage from Act II, Scene 2, Hamlet speaks to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. He tells them of his despondency and his lack of interest in his usual activities; in other words, he finds nothing to excite or inspire him.

After getting his former classmates and friends to admit that they have been sent for, Hamlet admits to them that he has changed. However, he does not reveal what has really caused this change in him. Instead, having already led Polonius to believe he is "mad," Hamlet now launches into a speech characterized by a deep melancholy so that his former friends will think he is greatly depressed. Here is a summary of what he says,

  • Although I do not know the reason, I am deeply depressed, having lost all happiness ("sense of mirth"). My usual activities are of absolutely no interest to me. In fact, as I see it, the entire world seems sterile and empty. Even the sky filled with lovely golden sunlight does not move me to joy; instead, it seems no more than foul and disease-filled fumes to breathe. 

 

 

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Hamlet

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