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(1) "My father's brother, but no more like my father than I to Hercules" (actually a simile rather than a metaphor).

Hamlet later says "My fate cries out, and makes each petty artery in this body as hardy as the Nemean lion's nerve." Hercules killed the Nemean lion and fashioned his famous tunic from its hide. So Hamlet WAS like Hercules. Unknown to Hamlet, Shakespeare was using this wordplay to hint to the audience that Hamlet's father and uncle were actually alike (they both valued their land more than their souls). (2) "'This world...an unweeded garden, that grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature possess it merely." The weed was Claudius. Later, when Hamlet was trying to persuade Gertrude to split from Claudius so she wouldn't be dragged with him to Hell, Hamlet said, "do not spread the compost on the weeds, to make them ranker." St Gertrude is the patron saint of gardeners. Garden can also refer to Denmark. And the weed may refer to the rot that is infecting Denmark.

(3) The most important metaphor is the cannon-fire accompanying the king's toasts, representing the union between the king and his kingdom. Hamlet's "or that the Everlasting had not fix'd his CANON 'gainst self-slaughter!" echoes Claudius' "the great CANNON to the clouds shall tell." Hamlet was wishing that, metaphorically, Claudius (Cloud-ius) would melt into an actual cloud so that when he fired his cannon (pun on canon) at the clouds, he would be slaughtering himself. If Claudius killed himself, then Hamlet would be spared the chore of "weeding the garden" (killing the king). In the end, Claudius did kill himself, in a way. Once again, he was drinking to the union between kings and kingdom, accompanied by cannon fire. A few minutes later, Hamlet forced him to drink the poison "tempered by himself." - Ray Eston Smith Jr

Claudius' cannon 'gainst self-slaughter


Act I, Scene 2

Claudius But the great cannon to the clouds shall tell, And the king's rouse the heavens all bruit again, Re-speaking earthly thunder. Come away. Exeunt all but HAMLET

Hamlet O, that this too too solid flesh would melt Thaw and resolve itself into a dew! Or that the Everlasting had not fix'd His canon 'gainst self-slaughter! O God! God!

CLAUDius (sounds like CLOUD) had just said he would aim his CANNON to the CLOUDS. Hamlet turned that into a pun. He wished that CLAUDius would melt into a metaphorical cloud and fix (aim) his CANNON against himself (CLOUDius). But that would violate the CANON against self-slaughter. Hamlet isn't comtemplating his own suicide (at least not at this point). Instead he is wishing that Claudius, that rank weed, would kill himself, thus relieving Hamlet of the unprofitable (and probably self-destructive) duty to weed the garden himself.

St Gertrude
St Gertrude of Nevelles is the patron saint of gardeners. "! 'tis an unweeded garden, That grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature Possess it merely." "do not spread the compost on the weeds, To make them ranker." "St. Gertrude of Nivelles d. 655 virgin, abbess Symbol: mouse Saint Gertrude was a very popular saint in England, the Lowlands, and neighboring countries. She had a great devotion to the souls in Purgatory which have been represented in the past by mice. As late as 1822, offerings of gold and silver mice were still being left at her shrine in Cologne." Hamlet's father's ghost may have been in purgatory. Francisco: Not a mouse stirring. King Claudius What do you call the play? Hamlet The Mouse-trap. Hamlet Drawing How now! a rat? Dead, for a ducat, dead! St Gertrude's Feast Day is March 17, the same as St Patrick's, who is also a "keeper of purgatory Horatio There's no offence, my lord. Hamlet Yes, by Saint Patrick, but there is, Horatio, And much offence too. Touching this vision here,

The Cause of Hamlet's Lunacy

Polonius: "I have found the very cause of Hamlet's LUNACY." The word "lunacy" is derived from "luna," Latin for moon, because of an old belief that insanity was caused by the moon (or, I believe, in this play's metaphor, being like the moon). When Polonius finally states the cause of Hamlet's "lunacy," a small part of his babbling is "What majesty should be, what duty is," which unknown to Polonius, really is precisely the cause. Hamlet is mad because duty demands that he become what majesty should be - a king. Yet Hamlet by nature is a man of reason, while kings are by nature "the question of these wars." Filial duty demands that Hamlet reflect the values of his father, but that way lies madness. Selene = titan god of moon =daughter of hyperion Hamlet compared his father to Hyperion. Hyperion was the Greek Titan god of the sun. Laertes compared Hamlet to the moon: "nature, crescent...waxes...If she unmask her beauty to the moon." In the "Mousetrap," Hamlet is implicitly related to the moon by "And thirty dozen moons with borrow'd sheen." The "thirty" relates to Hamlet's age. "Borrow'd sheen" is a hint that Hamlet is reflecting his father's values rather than shining with his own true self and that is indeed lunacy. Polonius: Neither a borrower nor a lender be; .... This above all: to thine ownself be true

How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable Seem to me all the uses of this world! Fie on't, ah fie! "Tis an unweeded garden That grows to seed. Things rank and gross in nature Possess it merely.

1.2.137

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Hamlet compares the world to a garden in line 139. A garden is a plot of earth that needs tending and constant care, but this garden has been neglected. It is "unweeded" (139), suggesting that the gardener is either absent or unable to complete his duties. Due to his neglect or incapacity, "things rank and gross in nature / Possess it merely" (140-141). The

adjectives "rank" and "gross" connote both vivid, dramatic size and decadent, offensive corruption. This world to Hamlet is spectacular but tacky, ponderous yet shallow, attractive but deadly. This is Hamlet's assessment of the whole world, but this garden is also a metaphor for Denmark, whose dead gardener-king- brave, beloved, and revered- has been replaced with "stale" rhetoric, "flat" promises, and the tacky pomp of Claudius's court. Ironically, the gardencould also be a metaphor of Hamlet himself, without a father to tend his soul, threatened daily with being engulfed by the rank grossness of Claudius's decadent court.