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Hamlet

Act Two Scene Two Line 375
by

Gowtham Kanthan

on 26 April 2010

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Transcript of Hamlet

Double click anywhere & add an idea "I am but mad north-north-west: when the wind is southerly I know a hawk from a handsaw."

Context:

The players have just been ushered in
Hamlet is talking (in the previous line) about how he can tell his mother and uncle are being deceptive
Asking them to greet him


375. I am but mad north-north-west: i.e., I am only a mad under rare conditions. "North-north-west" is a point of the compass halfway between NW and N.
I know a hawk from a handsaw: "Hawk" is the name of both a bird and a mattock. Also, it's possible that "handsaw" is a pun on "hernshaw," a heron. In any case, Hamlet is wittily warning Rosencrantz and Guildenstern (and via them, the King and Queen) that he is not easily deceived.



Ultimately, this line could be an arguement that Hamlet really isn't insane: he's just a drama Queen.
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