Hamlet: Ears, Hearing, Discovery

Wait Till You Hear This


Hamlet tends to use the motif of ears, and hearing throughout the play when speaking of revenge or when taking part of a killing in order to avenge his father. Also all other times that hearing is brought up in the play, you can see the truth of some of the situations that are taking place. Some things in the play may not be seen clearly, but the truth can be heard, and that is what Shakespeare is trying to show in the play.

Quote 1: Act 1, Scene 5, Line 11

"And you’ll be obliged to take revenge, once you’ve heard it"


This really starts Hamlet's decent into his madness and his obsession with getting and following out with his revenge plot against Claudius for killing his father, King Hamlet. This quote appears when the ghost of King Hamlet is about to tell Hamlet about how Claudius, King Hamlets brother, put poison in his ear and killed him. After telling Hamlet this story, the ghost of King Hamlet tells Hamlet to go out and seek revenge against Claudius. Any parts of hearing symbolize the truth, and also some parts of revenge seeking tendencies which Hamlet often has.

Quote 2: Act 1, Scene 5, Line 68-69

"And in the porches of my ears did pour / The leperous distilment"


This is when Hamlet hears the truth about his father's death, rather than seeing the lies that have been taking place. The King's ghost explains how Claudius murdered him by pouring poison into his ear. Upon learning this information Hamlet is also told he must kill Claudius to avenge his father's death. This creates the theme of revenge within Hamlet that will be present throughout the entire play.

Quote 3: Act 3, Scene 4, Line 26

"What’s this- do I hear a rat? I’ll bet a dollar that I kill it”


This is an important quote because this is when Hamlet is killing Polonius. In relation to the thesis, Hamlet hears the truth and recognizes that King Claudius is using Polonius to help him discover whether or not Hamlet knows the truth about his fathers death. This then creates a theme of truth, through the hearing of Polonius hiding in the curtains, spying on Hamlet.

Quote 4: Act 5, Scene 2, Line 379

"The ears are senseless that should give us hearing"


In this scene Fortinbras and his army come to over run Denmark only to find everyone dead. He realizes that the only person that should be hearing and seeing what is going on is dead and that is Hamlet, along with the rest of the royal family and close friends. Hamlet realizes close to his death that the truth comes from the spoken word, and what you hear, not what he saw. This includes almost everything Claudius has done, and his relationship to his mother.

Literary Criticism

In the literary criticism we read the author states that Hamlet is having trouble finding a difference between the truth and what is false. He also mentions that his sight is what leads him to believe things that are false while what he hears tend to be the things that are the truth. Further proving that this is a constant concept througout the play.