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Shakespeare Quick Quotes

A little more than kin, and less than kind.
- Hamlet (1.2.65), aside
These are the first words Hamlet speaks in the play. He refers to Claudius as "more than kin" because he is now his uncle and step father, and I would take "less than kind" at face value, although some interpret "kind" as "natural" because of Shakespeare's use of the word elsewhere.

The First Folio does not have the line marked as an aside; the direction first was added by Warburton, and almost every editor since has adopted it. There are good arguments, however, to support that Hamlet speaks these words directly to Claudius. The Shakespearean scholar M. Moltke explains:
There is no other instance in Shakespeare's plays where the hero is first introduced with such a very brief soliloquy; secondly, no one plays upon words when speaking to one's self; thirdly, Sh[akespeare] invariably strikes the keynote of his dramas at the very outset. In this instance, after having in the first scene made us take sides with Hamlet against the King, and after having still further fostered this feeling of sympathy for the one and dislike for the other by the King's hypocritical speech from the throne, it is of the utmost importance that this opposition between the two should be emphasized, and that Hamlet himself should be shown, not only as perfectly aware of it himself, but as equally determined that the King himself should be aware of it. All these objects fail if the speech be spoken aside. (As quoted in A New Variorum Edition of Shakespeare. Vol III. Hamlet, Ed. Horace Howard Furness. Philadelphia: Lippincott & Co., 1877. p. 33)

How to cite this article:
Mabillard, Amanda. Shakespeare Quick Quotes. Shakespeare Online. 20 Nov. 2009. < > .


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