Analyze the above soliloquy by Hamlet in scene ii. What do you think his intentions are now as the play is coming to an end? Why is Hamlet apologizing to Laertes? Hamlet's mother urges him to do so, but is Hamlet sincere?

SCENE: At his mother's urging, Hamlet apologizes to Laertes prior to their fencing match.

HAMLET: Give me your pardon, sir. I've done you wrong,

But pardon't, as you are a gentleman...... until That I have shot mine arrow o'er the house

And hurt my brother.

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In this final Act, Hamlet seems no longer to curse this tendency of his to become distracted by thought in favor of action, as he does for instance in his soliloquies on Hecuba and on Fortinbras’ army, but to celebrate it. He says to Horatio, for instance, when his friend seems concerned that he is walking into the trap set by Claudius and Laertes, “[W]e defy augury. [...] If it be now, ’tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come. The readiness is all.” Hamlet rejects “augury” – that is, he rejects any predictive phenomena, or any future-oriented thinking at all. In a way, he rejects the ghost’s order to fulfill a set goal. (By the way, we might ask what Hamlet means by “it” in the above sentence. Does “it” refer to his plan to kill Claudius? – “If I will kill him now, so be it.” Does “it” rather refer to death itself? – “If I am to die now, so be it.” Or is “it” a placeholder for anything, any event?) At any rate, Hamlet has achieved a point of philosophical “quietus,” an acceptance of the world with all of its flaws and absurdities, which he has made not with “a bare bodkin” but with his own mental powers. His gaze is focused on some spiritual realm beyond the pettiness of Danish political intrigue.



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