TRANSLATION for ACT 4 Scene 4 "How all ocasions do inform against me...My thoughts be bloody or be nothing worth" : LUSENET : Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet : One Thread

hey im currently studying Hamlet and i was just wondering wat does this solioquy meant ACT 4 Scene 4 "How all ocasions do inform against me...My thoughts be bloody or be nothing worth" thankz


-- peter (, May 24, 2004


Did this a while ago. Hope I still agree with it.

32-39: Man has the ability to reason, which animals do not. God created man and gave him reason, thus placing man above the beasts and just below the angels. Through the exercise of the intellect, and the subjection to it of gross, bestial appetites, man could become more like God. (A commonplace Renaissance premis.)

39-46: Hamlet wonders whether he has not yet killed Claudius because he has been thinking about it too little (with ‘Bestial oblivion’, ie. forgetfulness and lack of reason), or too much (with ‘some craven scruple/ Of thinking too precisely on th’event ...”. Compare explanatory footnote to “To be, or not to be ...”, lines 83- 88, for Hamlet’s view on how this is “craven”: thinking about doing something momentous stops one from doing it because one fears the outcome.).

46-56: Considering the example of Fortinbras’ campaign against the Poles, Hamlet decides that it is not great to fight over nothing (‘to stir without great argument’); but it is great to pick a fight, even over nothing material, for the defence of one’s honour.

56-65: Fortinbras is fighting momentously over something which will bring him no material reward, just for honour. Yet honour is really only an illusiory thing (‘a fantasy’) compared to the very concrete reasons Hamlet has, as well as ability, to take his revenge. Yet Hamlet has not done it.

-- catherine england (, May 25, 2004.

I have finally come to the conclusion that it was Shakespeare that removed this soliloquy from the final version of Hamlet as printed in the First Folio (this soliloquy can be found in neither the Second Quarto, nor the First Quarto). It comes at an awkward moment in the play and it dramatically inconsistent with the plot and more so, completely inconsistent with the arc of Hamlet's emotional and mental journey. Yes, it is a great speech - I could even argue that it is Hamlet's greatest speech, but it comes at the wrong point in the play - he is basically arguing the point he has argued in To Be Or Not To Be ("what is a man if his chief good and market of his time be but to sleep and feed? A beast, no more"). The speech takes Hamlet back ten spaces - back to where he was somewhere between To Be Or Not To Be and 'Tis Now The Very Witching Time Of Night. By the time Hamlet leaves for England he has already assumed the role of revenger, he has already decided to act - that to take violent action is a nobler persuit than an existence of submissive passivity and contemplation. The last time we see Hamlet should be in the previous scene to this, ("Come, for England!"). Not only does this speech take Hamlet back to previous dilemmas and resolutions, but the resolution of the soliloquy (the last rhyming couplet) gives Hamlet (and thus the audience) a false kick start and a pointer in the wrong direction, because the next time we see Hamlet is in the graveyard and this scene is the one which brings about the last change in his character.

I strongly believe that Shakespeare removed this solilolquy in his final draft of the play, and it was never used in any of Shakespeare's Company's performances of Hamlet. He probably wrote it as one of the first things he penned for Hamlet and then struggled to find somewhere to place it in the play giving in contextual relevence, so he removed it. A shame, but I think this is the case.

-- Patrick Von Stroheim (, November 03, 2004.

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