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|GR: Food and drink
Written by Cheryl
(5/29/2003 12:36 a.m.)
He is contemptuous of drink: he abhors Claudius' overconsumption of Rhenish; after the play when Guildenstern says that Claudius "Is in his retirement marvellous distempered." Hamlet smaps back, "With drink, sir?"; though when Horatio first appears, Hamlet says "We'll teach you to drink deep ere you depart." Which seems a very cynical and bitter statement, ie What is going on here in Elsinore is bad enough to drive one to drink; but, when Hamlet is sure of Claudius' guilt and ready to act he says "now could I drink hot blood."
Hamlet uses food analogies in bitter tones as well: "Thrift, thrift, Horatio! the funeral baked meats Did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables."; he asks his mother "Could you on this fair mountain leave to feed, And batten on this moor?"; and there is of course, Hamlet's great line that Polonius is "At supper ... Not where he eats, but where he is eaten." yikes!
Hamlet's anger and bitterness comes through very clearly in these statements - taking common, everyday experiences - eating and drinking - and putting his own cynical twist on them. But then he also was so eloquent in his assertion that man is much more: "What is a man, If his chief good and market of his time Be but to sleep and feed? a beast, no more." Hamlet, through all this turmoil, is ever searching for the higher meaning, for his place in the world, for that which raises him above a mere beast eating and drinking.
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