While, to my shame, I see The imminent death of twenty thousand men, That for a fantasy and trick of fame, Go to their graves like beds, fight for a plot Whereon the numbers cannot try the cause, Which is not tomb enough and continent To hide the slain?

I’ve seen this passage used as a critique of war, of militaristic thinking, but it’s ironic because – Hamlet’s not really saying twenty thousand men dying for no reason is wrong, he’s saying 20 thousand men dying for no reason shame him for his failure to commit a murder. It’s like the men dying for no reason are inevitable and just exist to make Hamlet feel bad for sending one more man to his grave. Hamlet wouldn’t necessarily do anything differently than Fortinbras here. He’s clearly convinced that Fortinbras is honorable and this dumb troop killing battle is somehow honorable as well.

It just points out, for him, that people dying for no reason are somehow more honorable than him.

But in any case the twenty thousand are definitely going to their graves like beds. It’s just a question of whether the numbered dead might have included Claudius, making the dead Twenty Thousand and One. Twenty thousand for no reason. One for a good reason.

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