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Hamlet Soliloquy Glossary: How all occasions do inform against me (4.4.35-69)

Rightly to be great...stake (56-9)

i.e., Truly great men refrain from fighting over insignificant things, but they will fight without hesitation over something trivial when their honour is at risk.

"True nobility of soul is to restrain one's self unless there is a great cause for resentment, but nobly to recognize even a trifle as such as cause when honour is involved" (Kittredge 121).

"Hamlet never learns from the Captain or attempts to clarify what the specific issue of honor is that motivates the Prince of Norway. In fact, there is none, for the play has made it clear that Fortinbras's uncle, after discovering and stopping his nephew's secret and illegal revenge campaign against Claudius, encouraged him to use newly levied forces to fight in Poland...Since no issue of honor is to be found in Fortinbras's cause, Hamlet, through his excessive desire to emulate the Norwegian leader, ironically calls into question whether there is any honour in his own cause" (Newell 143).
Back to Soliloquy Annotations

How to cite this article:
Mabillard, Amanda. Hamlet Soliloquy Glossary. Shakespeare Online. 15 Aug. 2008. < > .

Newell, Alex. The soliloquies in Hamlet. Rutherford, N.J.: Associated University Presses, 1991.
Shakespeare, William. The tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Ed. George Lyman Kittredge. Boston: Ginn, 1939.


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