In Shakespeare's Hamlet, if you were to compare the following characters to fruit, what fruit would you consider them?
The characters are: Hamlet, Gertrude, Claudius, Polonius, Ophelia. What quote in Hamlet would describe these individuals based on the fruit?
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Great question! In Shakespeare's Hamlet, I would assign the following fruits to the main characters.
Hamlet is a green banana—not yet ripe. In Act Two, scene two, when the players agree to perform, Hamlet curses his inability to avenge his father's death. Actors can produce tears that mean nothing. How is it, Hamlet wonders, that he cannot do the same for the father that he dearly loved?
What would he do,
Had he the motive and the cue for passion
That I have? He would drown the stage with tears (555)
And cleave the general ear with horrid speech...
...can say nothing! No, not for a king,
Upon whose property and most dear life
A damn'd defeat was made. Am I a coward?
I would compare Gertrude to a peach—lovely on the outside, but rotting within. In Act III, scene iv, when Hamlet confronts her regarding her hasty marriage to Claudius after the death of her husband, Gertrude realizes she has turned her back on the memory of her husband; she looks within her soul and sees black spots.
O Hamlet, speak no more!(95)
Thou turn'st mine eyes into my very soul,
And there I see such black and grained spots
As will not leave their tinct.
Claudius is a tomato. Often believed to be a vegetable, a tomato is really a fruit. The reason I select this fruit is because it is a part of the deadly nightshade family—which is poisonous (though the tomato is not). And there is poison in Claudius' soul. We see this when he manipulates Laertes, who is grieving for his father, to kill Hamlet—for Claudius' sake, not Laertes'. In Act Four, scene seven, Claudius instructs Laertes to engage in swordplay with Hamlet, using a poisoned sword tip, to avenge Polonius' death.
He, being weak,
Most generous, and free from all trickery,
Will not think about swords, so that easily,
Or with a little mix up, you may choose
A sword that’s not poisoned, and, in a pass during
Practice, kill him in revenge for your father.
Polonius must be a pomegranate because it is filled with so many seeds that it is difficult to get to the pulp: the edible fruit. Polonius is like this: he is so full of stuff and nonsense, talking without saying anything meaningful, that it is hard to take him seriously when he does deliver meaningful advice. It's hard to find any substance in this man who is so pompous in his speech. When Polonius tries to explain what is wrong with Hamlet, he talks in circles.
My liege, and madam, to expostulate
What majesty should be, what duty is,
Why day is day, night night, and time is time.
Were nothing but to waste night, day, and time.(95)
Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit
And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
I will be brief...
Madam, I swear I use no art at all.
That he is mad, 'tis true: 'tis true 'tis pity;
And pity 'tis 'tis true—a foolish figure! (105)
But farewell it, for I will use no art.
Mad let us grant him then. And now remains
That we find out the cause of this effect
Or rather say, the cause of this defect,
For this effect defective comes by cause
Ophelia is an apricot: a beautiful pale orange color, and as soft as velvet, but easily bruised. Used as she is at the hands of the men in the play, Ophelia eventually goes mad, and ultimately drowns. She is an innocent, but no match for this royal intrigue. Her father's death is her undoing.
In Act Four, scene five, Ophelia sings:
He is dead and gone, lady,
He is dead and gone;
At his head a grass-green turf, (35)
At his heels a stone.
(She sighs.) O, ho!
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