From Hamlet, prince of Denmark. Ed. K. Deighton. London: Macmillan.
1. matter, something of importance, something material; profound, drawn from the depths of your heart, and so deep in significance.
2. translate, explain the meaning of; 'tis fit, it is only right.
4. Bestow ... while, be good enough to leave us alone for a short
6. How does Hamlet? what is the state of Hamlet's mind?
8. which, as to which; on the question which.
10. Whips out, he hastily draws; for the ellipsis of the nominative, see Abb. 399.
11. brainish apprehension, mad-brained fancy; the suffix -ish,
having, as often, a contemptuous signification.
13. It had ... there, I myself should have fared as Polonius has,
if I had been in his place. The king's first thought is a selfish
14. His liberty, the fact of his being allowed to go at large;
threats, risk, danger.
16. how shall ... answer'd, what excuse shall we be able to
make for ourselves in regard to this deed?
17-9. It will man, the blame of the deed will be laid upon us
for not having used the precaution of keeping this madman under
restraint where he could not have come in contact with anyone;
short, "opposed to loose, iv. 3. 2" (Cl. Pr. Kdd.).
20. We ... understand, we deliberately refused to perceive: we
purposely shut our eyes to; the king cannot help being a hypocrite even to himself and his queen.
21. owner, one subject to.
22. To keep ... divulging, rather than let it be known.
23. pith of life, the vital parts.
24. To draw apart, to put out of the way so that no harm may
come to it.
25-7. O'er whom ... done, over which he shed tears of repentance, his very madness showing in this a touch of soundness, like a vein of pure ore in the midst of mines of base metal; ore, probably used for the finest of ores, gold; for mineral, = mine,
Steevens compares Hall's Satires, "Shall it not be a wild-fig in a
wall, Or fired brimstone in a minerall?" Staunton takes the word
for metallic vein, lode.
29. shall ... touch, gild the mountains with its first rays.
30. But, than.
31, 2. We must, ... excuse, we must use all our authority as
king to put a good face upon, and all our skill in special pleading
to excuse, the deed; cp. Macb. iii. 1. 118-20, "Though I could
With barefaced power sweep him from my sight, And bid my
will avouch it, yet I must not For certain friends that are both
his and mine," i.e. because of motives of policy.
33. join you ... aid, take others to help you.
36. speak fair, use gentle language to him.
38. call up, summon to our assistance.
40. so, haply, slander, in that way if we take those measures,
perhaps slander; the quartos and folios here mark a hiatus;
Theobald conjectured 'for, haply, slander,' which, with Capell's
substitution of 'so' for 'for,' has been accepted by most modern
41-4. Whose whisper ... air, whose poisonous whisper flies from
end to end of the world as unerringly and as fatally as the cannonball to its mark, may pass by us and only hit the air which feels no wound; blank, the white disc, now the 'gold,' in a target,
from F. blanc, white; for woundless air, cp. Macb. v. 8. 9,
"the intrenchant air."
45. discord, in not knowing what course to take, one moment suggesting one, another moment suggesting another; dismay, in anticipating what others may do in consequence of
How to cite the explanatory notes:
Shakespeare, William. Hamlet, prince of Denmark. Ed. K. Deighton. London: Macmillan, 1919. Shakespeare Online. 20 Feb. 2010. (date when you accessed the information) < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/hamlet_4_1.html >.