Hamlet Act III Quotations

And can you by no drift of conferenceGet from him why he puts on this confusionGrafting so harshly all his days of quietWith turbulent and dangerous lunacy King Claudius to Guildenstern and Rosenkrantz.Meaning: He is asking about Hamlet. Can’t you guys figure out why Hamlet has been acting so oddly, with a dangerous lunacy that’s such a huge shift from his earlier calm and quiet behavior?
To be or not to be, that is the question,Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to sufferThe slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,And by opposing end them. Hamlet, to himselfMeaning: To live, or to die. That is the question. Is it nobler to suffer through all the terrible things fate throws at you, or to fight off your troubles, and, in doing so, end them completely (as in kill yourself)? The eternal question for Hamlet: Is it better to live or to die?
The undiscovered country, from whose bournNo traveler returns puzzles the will, And makes us rather bear those ills we haveThan fly to others we know not of,Thus conscience does make cowards of us all. Hamlet: same soliloquyMeaning: Death is the “undiscovered country” from which no visitor returns, which we wonder about and which makes us prefer the troubles we know rather than fly off to face the ones we don’t. Thus fear of death makes cowards of us all.
Get thee to a nunnery. Why woulds’t thou be a breeder of sinners? I am myself indifferent honest yet I could accuse me of such things, that it were better my mother had not borne me; I am very proud, revengeful, and ambitious. Hamlet to OpheliaMeaning: He has told her he does not love her and that he is a sinner. She should go to a nunnery (also slang for a whorehouse) and not have kids. “I’m as good as the next guy, and yet I could accuse myself of such horrible crimes that it would’ve been better if my mother had never given birth to me. I’m arrogant, vengeful, ambitious”
O what noble mind here is overthrown!O woe is meT’have to seen what I have seen, to see what I see. Ophelia, about HamletMeaning: Oh, what a once great mind has gone insane! … O, poor me, to have seen Hamlet as he was, and now to see him in this way! Man, that dude is crazy!
It out-herods Herod. Pray you avoid it. Hamlet to The PlayersMeaning: He is telling them not to overact their scenes. Herod is a character who rants and raves. He is telling them not to go over the top in their performance, to make it like real life.
Nay, do not think I flatterFor what advancement may I hope from thee, that not revenue has but thy good spiritsTo feed and clothe thee Hamlet to HoratioNo, don’t think I’m flattering you. What could I hope to get from you, who has nothing other than your good graces to support you? Why would anyone flatter a poor person?He asks Horatio to watch the King during the play.
Excellent I’faith of the Chameleon’s dish; I eat the air, promise-crammed, you cannot feed capons so. Hamlet to King Claudius, who has asked how Hamlet is doing. Hamlet is acting crazy.Excellent! In fact, I eat the air, full as it is of promise, just as chameleons do. That’s no way to feed a capon (a male chicken castrated in youth to result in tender meat).
I did enact Julius Caesar, I was killed i’the Capitol, Brutus killed me Polonius to Hamlet, who has asked if Polonius acted in college.”I played Julius Caesar. I was killed in the Capitol. Brutus killed me.”
In second husband let me be accurstNone wed the second, but who killed the first. The Queen in the Play to the King in the PlayMay I be cursed if I take a second husbandOnly a woman who killed her first husband would marry a second.
The lady doth protest too much methinks. Queen Gertrude to Hamlet, who has asked how she likes the play. The Queen in the play has just promised she will never marry another. “The lady’s promising a bit much, I think.” As in, the Play Queen doesn’t really mean what she is saying.
Your wisdom should show itself more richer to signify this to the doctor; for, for me to put him to his purgation, would perhaps plunge him into more choler. Hamlet to Guildenstern, who has told him that the King is in his chambers, very angry after stomping out of the play. “You’d be a lot smarter if you told this to a doctor. If I were to treat him he would only end up angrier.”
I your commission forthwith dispatch,And he to England shall along with you. King Claudius to Guildenstern and Rosenkrantz”I’m sending you to England on a diplomatic mission, and Hamlet will go with you”
O my offense is rank, it smells to heaven,It hath the primal eldest course upon’t, King Claudius to himselfOh, my crime is foul. It stinks all the way to heaven. It is the oldest, and worst, of all crimes: a brother’s murder. (like Cain murdering Abel in the Bible)
That has no relish of salvation in’t,Then trip him that his heels may kick at heavenAnd that his soul may be as damned and blackAs hell whereto it goes, my mother stays,This physic but prolongs the sickly days Hamlet to himself, about killing ClaudiusHe’s gonna wait to kill Claudius another time, when he is in the midst of something other than praying, so his soul will go to hell. He will wait to kill him when Claudius is doing some other thing that has no trace of heaven in it—then I’ll kill him, so that he his heels kick up toward heaven while his damned, black soul falls straight down to hell. My mother’s waiting. Claudius, this attempt to cure yourself through prayer is only going to prolong your sickly life a little longer.
My words fly up, my thoughts remain below; Words without thoughts never to heaven go. Claudius, to himselfClaudius is saying that his prayers are useless, as he still thinks about his evil deeds without repentance. Heaven will realize that his prayers are lying and realize he is not fully sorry. He didn’t mean his words.
Thou wretched rash intruding fool, farewellI took thee for they better, take thy fortuneThou finds’t to be too busy in some danger Hamlet to the dead Polonius, who he killed thinking he was killing King Claudius”You sad, silly, interfering fool, goodbye. I mistook you for your superior (the King). You’ve gotten what you deserve, and found that meddling can be dangerous.”
Do not forget; this visitationIs but to whet thy almost blunted purpose Ghost to HamletDon’t forget. I’ve come to sharpen your almost dulled mission for revenge.
Alas, how is’t with you,That you do bend your eye on vacancy,And with thi’incorporal air do hold discourse? Queen Gertrude to Hamlet, who has been speaking with the GhostMy poor boy, how are you doing, staring into empty space and talking to the air?
Not this by any means that I do bid you do; Let the bloat king tempt you again to bed. Hamlet to Queen Gertrude about the KingBy no means should you do this: let the bloated king seduce you into bed.

You Might Also Like