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Hamlet Allusion

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I would have such a fellow whipped for o’erdoing Termagant (II,ii,14) It out herods Herod (III,ii,14) I would whip a guy for making a tyrant sound too tyrannical. That’s as bad as those old plays in which King Herod ranted. Please avoid doing that. In this allusion to a Moslem god

(Termagant) and to Herod, the Biblical King that beheaded John the Baptist. Hamlet is talking to the troupe of players and advising them not to overdo their acting, not to be more like Herod than Herod

“For O, For O, the hobbyhorse is forgot”
“Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, the hobby-horse is forgotten
Hamlet is talking to Ophelia right before the play is to be performed. He looks at his mother and Claudius and complains that they have forgotten all about his father, who has only died two hours ago. Ophelia tells him it has been four months. Hamlet’s response continues his pretext of being mad because he replies that his father has been dead two months, trying to convince Ophelia further that he is mad, but if a man is to be remembered after six months, he must build churches, otherwise he will not be remembered any more than a prostitute. The hobby horse allusion refers to a player in the pagan May-Day festivals and is sometimes associated with prostitutes. This is an obvious insult to Ophelia and we see that later, she kills herself because of Hamlet’s ill treatment of her.

O heart, lose not thy nature, let not ever The soul of Nero enter this firm bosom. Let me be cruel, not unnatural Oh, heart, don’t grow weak, like Nero(Nero was a Roman emperor known for his extreme cruelty.) Nero Let me be cruel, but not inhuman

Hamlet refers to Nero, who killed his mother, right before he goes to visit Gertrude in her chamber. He is hoping that he will not be tempted to kill Gertrude

“I did enact Julius Caesar. I was killed i’ the’ Capitol; Brutus killed me”

I played Julius Caesar. I was killed in the Capitol. Brutus killed me. This allusion refers to Caesar’s assassination by his friend Brutus. It is especially significant because it reminds us of Claudius’ murder of King Hamlet as well as Hamlet’s mission to avenge his father’s death. It is also significant because Polonius is referring to his role as an actor. Acting, playing a part, is a major motif in the play. Further it foreshadows Polonius’ death. In this one allusion, Shakespeare is able to tie in several themes in the play: betrayal, revenge, acting.

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