Hamlet Quote ID

“A little more than kin and less than kind.” Hamletb. Too many family ties there for me.c. At the beginning of the play, before Hamlet knows Claudius killed his father, he is still resentful of his family’s ability to recover so quickly and return to daily life after his father’s death. This is the first of many events that make Hamlet more isolated from his family, slowly turning them into the enemies and unknowns they are at the end of the play.
“For Hamlet, and the trifling on his favor, hold it a fashion and a toy in blood, a violet in the youth of primy nature, …not permanent… not lasting, the perfume and suppliance of a minute, no more.” Laertesb. As for Hamlet and his attentions to you, just consider it a big flirtation, the temporary phase of a hot-blooded youth. It won’t last. It’s sweet, but his affection will fade after a minute. Not a second more.c. Laertes tells his sister Ophelia that Hamlet’s advances will be short lived and should be received as such. Because of this, he doesn’t want her to take Hamlet seriously or get to involved, so that she doesn’t get hurt by either the relationship or by Hamlet’s potential instability following his father’s death.
“Neither a borrower nor a lender (be), for loan often loses both itself and friend, and borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry. This above all; to thine own self be true.” Poloniusb. Don’t borrow money and don’t lend it, since when you lend to a friend, you often lose the friendship as well as the money, and borrowing turns a person into a spendthrift [a person who spends money in an extravagant, irresponsible way]. And, above all, be true to yourself.c. Before Laertes leaves to return to France, Polonius gives him fatherly advice on what to do and what not to do. He warns Laertes against borrowing and lending money, because it can ruin even the best relationships if it goes badly. His final piece of advice for Laertes is to remain true to himself. Polonius’ advice to his son shows just how much he cares about his children and that he wishes the best for them.
“Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.” Marcellusb. It means that something is rotten in the state of Denmark. [the antecedent’s part of the previous sentence, but this’s an odd quote to translate because it’s basically the exact same]c. After releasing Hamlet so he can follow his father’s ghost, Marcellus and Horatio follow him. Marcellus expresses concern for Hamlet and suspects something other than the obvious occurred during the events surrounding the king’s death.
“Let not the royal bed of Denmark be a couch for luxury and damned incest.” King Hamlet’s Ghostb. Don’t let the Danish king’s bed be a nest of incestc. The King’s ghost uses this as another way to convince Hamlet to enact his revenge upon his uncle Claudius. The late King doesn’t want the queen to be with his brother.
“But beshrew my jealousy! By heaven, it is as proper to our age to cast beyond ourselves in our opinions as it is common for the younger sort to lack discretion.” Poloniusb. Damn my suspicious thoughts! It’s as common for us old people to assume we know more than we do as for young people to be too wild and crazy.c. After Ophelia tells Polonius about how Hamlet came into her room, grabbed her, stared at her, and left, Polonius feels that it is partially his fault. He regrets trying to keep Hamlet away from Ophelia (“Damn my suspicious thoughts” referring to his thinking that Hamlet was just toying with Ophelia or trying to ruin her reputation) and wishes he’d handled the situation better. Polonius comments on how old people can’t assume they understand everything that goes on in young people’s lives.
“The play’s the things wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the King.” Hamletb. The play’s the thing to uncover the conscience of the king.c. Hamlet’s using the play as a way to test the reaction of his uncle and new king, Claudius. If he shows any recognition of the events covered in the play, Hamlet will believe him to be guilty and enact his revenge on behalf of his father. Hamlet’s hesitation to rashly act against Claudius could indicate lack of complete trust in his father’s words or just a starting point from which his insanity spirals downwards. At this point in the play, Hamlet is still cautious and relatively normal in comparison to his later actions.
“To be or not to be- that is the question: whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune , or to take arms against a sea of troubles and, by opposing, end them. To die, to sleep no more..” Hamletb. The question is: is it better to be alive or dead? Is it nobler to put up with all the nasty things that luck throws your way, or to fight against all those troubles by simply putting an end to them once and for all? Dying, sleeping—that’s all dying isc. Hamlet begins to appear mad while contemplating the ease of death in comparison to trying to struggle through all the problems life throws at you. Ophelia’s in room while Hamlet has this monologue, showing the deterioration of his relationship with her because he doesn’t care as much what she hears anymore.
“Thus conscience does make cowards of us all. And thus the native hue and resolution is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought, and enterprises of great pitch and moment with this regard their currents turn awry and lose the name of action.” Hamletb. Fear of death makes us all cowards, and our natural boldness becomes weak with too much thinking. Actions that should be carried out at once get misdirected, and stop being actions at allc. Hamlet explains to Ophelia his struggle to act on his already decided intentions to avenge his father, as well as his hesitancy to believe his father’s apparition. Hamlet is frustrated with his own fear of death, which will probably occur if he tries to take revenge on Claudius, even though that was something he’d already accepted.
“Get thee to a nunnery. Why wouldst thou be a breeder of sinners?” Hamletb. Get yourself to a convent [Nunnery could mean either convent or brothel] at once. Why would you want to give birth to more sinners? c. While speaking of virtue with Ophelia, Hamlet accuses her of being overly innocent or naive, saying that if she feels so deceived, she should go live in a convent, because it is the only way she could escape creating sinners, for we are all sinners.
“Suit the action to the word, the word to the action, with this special observance, that you o’erstep not the modesty of nature. For anything so o’erdone is from the purpose of playing, whose end, both at the first and now, was and is to hold… the mirror up to nature, to show virtue her own feature, scorn her own image..” Hamletb. Fit the action to the word and the word to the action. Act natural at all costs. Exaggeration has no place in the theater, where the purpose is to represent reality, holding a mirror up to virtue, to vice, and to the spirit of the times. c. Hamlet wants to make sure the players preform the play correctly. He warns them not to exaggerate their actions or make it too unbelievable because it has to match Claudius’ actions enough to provoke a response from him. Hamlet’s warnings to the players shows his nervousness in anticipation of proving his uncle’s guilt in the murder of his father.
“My words fly up, my thoughts remain below; words without thoughts never to heaven go.” Claudiusb. My words fly up toward heaven, but my thoughts stay down here on earth. Words without thoughts behind them will never make it to heaven.c. Claudius verbally repents for his sins and asks heaven for forgiveness, but expects no forgiveness in return because he has no intention of doing anything differently. This passage of the play shows Claudius’s regrets in killing his brother but now that he has done so, is fully committed to his original plans of seizing power and staying with his brother’s wife.
“I must be cruel only to be kind. This bad begins, and worse remains behind.” Hamletb. God wanted to punish me with this murder, and this man with me, so I’m both Heaven’s executioner and its minister of justice. This is bad, but it’ll get worse soon. [this takes a bit from the previous sentence to put it in context]c. Hamlet’s referring to how he shot Polonius when saying “this murder.” He tells Gertrude how he regrets killing Polonius, but that is both a punishment for him and a punishment for Polonius for his part in the late King’s murder. Hamlet warns his mother that the worst is yet to come, which could show he still cares about her even though she married his father’s killer because she was unknowing.
“O, from this time forth my thoughts be bloody or be nothing worth!’ Hamletb. From now on, if my thoughts aren’t violent I’ll consider them worthless.c. Hamlet is ashamed of himself and his inability to act. His “father has been murdered and mother defiled,” and he has yet to have done anything about it. Hamlet choses to ignore any of his thoughts if they aren’t violent ones from now on.
“To my sick soul… each toy seems prologue to some great amiss. So full of artless jealousy is guilt, it (guilt) spills itself in fearing to be split.” Gertrudeb. To my sick soul (since sin is always a sickness), every detail looks like an omen of disaster to come. Guilt makes you so full of stupid suspicions that you give yourself away because you’re trying so hard not to.c. Gertrude says this to herself before Ophelia enters, insane upon hearing the news of her father’s death. Gertrude feels incredibly guilty about it since she was there when Hamlet shot him and has said nothing since. Gertrude comments on how when guilty, every little suspicion makes it harder and harder to not give away your secret.
“Lord, we know what we are but know not what we may be.” Opheliab. My lord, we know what we are now, but not what we may become. c. Ophelia speaks to Claudius. She comments on how temporary things are and the suddenness of change such as her father’s death.
“Strengthen your patience in our last night’s speech. We’ll put the matter to the present push.” Claudiusb. Don’t forget our talk last night, and try to be patient. We’ll take care of this problem soon.c. Claudius warns Laertes to be patient while dealing with Hamlet. He reminds him that they have a plan (to kill Hamlet with either the fencing blade’s poison or the poison in the cup) and that it will all be over soon. This is just another example of how well Claudius can manipulate people for his own gain.
“Our indiscretion sometimes serves us well when our deep plots do pall; and that should learn us there’s a divinity that shapes our ends, rough-hewn them how we will…” Hamletb. Sometimes it’s good to be rash—sometimes it works out well to act impulsively when our careful plans lose steam. This should show us that there’s a God in heaven who’s always guiding us in the right direction, however often we screw upc. Hamlet tells Horatio about how sometimes it’s better to be impulsive rather encounter the previous issue (see quote 9) and that that impulsiveness renews our faith that God is there for us. This is the complete opposite of the hesitancy Hamlet experienced earlier in the play, and shows just how much his mental state has changed over the 5 acts. Hamlet is eager to take revenge for his father’s murder.
“There is a special providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be now, ’tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now, if it be not now, yet it will come. The readiness is all.” Hamletb. God controls everything—even something as trivial as a sparrow’s death. Everything will work out as it is destined. If something is supposed to happen now, it will. If it’s supposed to happen later, it won’t happen now. What’s important is to be prepared. c. When Horatio tries to get Hamlet not to compete in fencing against Laertes, Hamlet refuses to back down. He says that God and fate will make what is supposed to happen, happen when it is destined to. This shows a Hamlet’s resignation to his fate and his complete faith that everything will turn out correctly.
“Let my disclaiming from a purposed evil free me so far in your most generous thoughts that I have shot my arrow o’er the house and hurt my brother.” Hamletb. And if that’s true, then Hamlet [speaking in third person] is the victim of his own illness—his illness is his enemy. Sir, with this audience as witness, let me declare that I’m as innocent of premeditated evil against you as I would be if I had happened to shoot an arrow over my house and accidentally hit my brother.c. Hamlet speaks to Claudius and Laertes, separating himself from his own mental illness, making them two different beings, and taking the blame away form himself. He says that he is a victim of his own illness and is completely innocent of any evil, so he could not possibly be plotting against anyone. This is the final stage of Hamlet’s illness, where he completely recognizes that he is insane but accept that fact, because it doesn’t hinder him from taking revenge on Claudius.

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