Hamlet’s Tears

  • Dympna CallaghanEmail author
Part of the Palgrave Shakespeare Studies book series (PASHST)


This essay begins by asking whether the grieving Hamlet weeps when he makes his wish ‘that this too, too sullied flesh would melt / Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew’ (1.2.133–134). Cognizant of the fact that critics are more often concerned with whether Hamlet actually says ‘sullied’, ‘sallied’, ‘solid’, or ‘grieved and sallied’ than whether or not he sheds tears as he says it, this essay argues nonetheless that Hamlet expresses not just a death wish in the first soliloquy—a temptation to suicide—, but also that he actively seeks Ovidian transformation in the form of a watery metamorphosis. Indeed, the desire to weep becomes a powerful engine of tragic catharsis despite the period’s profound reservations about mourning.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Syracuse UniversitySyracuseUSA

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