Hamlet Quotes

“For this relief much thanks.” Francisco 1.1Relieved of the night shift, right before they see the ghost
“…prologue to the omen coming on” Horatio 1.1Bad omen is coming, foreshadowing, referring to the ghost and Denmark, because the kingdom of Denmark is preparing for war with Norway, Horatio’s number one concern is that a dead man walking about in ghost form might be a sign that Denmark is going to lose
“…the morn in russet mantle clad” Horatio 1.1Sun is coming up, foreshadowing, need to tell Hamlet, Horatio thinks the ominous sign of the ghost combined with the red (russet) atmosphere of the morning is a bad omen and therefore suspects the ghost’s appearance means something more
“A little more than kin and less than kind.” Hamlet 1.2Uncle/nephew, “father”/”son”Incestuous relationship, Hamlet means to say that since Claudius has married his mother, Claudius is now more than a relative – “kin” – to him because he is now his step father, but he expresses his disapproval of Claudius marrying his mother hastily by saying that it was not a civilized – “kind” – thing to do
“O, that this too, too sullied flesh would melt” Hamlet 1.2First soliloquyFirst suicidal thoughts, responding to King and Queen, He wishes that his body would just melt, turn to water and become like the dew, or that God hadn’t made a law forbidding suicide
“…frailty, thy name is woman!” Hamlet 1.2Upset with Gertrude’s marriage, sees all woman as lesser and dishonest
“In my mind’s eye” Hamlet 1.2Horatio comes to tell Hamlet of the ghost, Hamlet tells Horatio he still thinks about his father
“A countenance more in sorrow than in anger.” Horatio 1.2Horatio is refering to the ghost, that he looked more sad than angry, parallels Hamlet
“…the primrose path of dalliance” Ophelia 1.3Laertes is telling Ophelia she must be virtuous, Ophelia says he isn’t even doing that, double standard for women
“This above all: to thine own self be true” Polonius 1.3Polonius tells Laertes he must be true, dramatic irony of Claudius, by “false” Polonius seems to mean “disadvantageous” or “detrimental to your image”; by “true” he means “loyal to your own best interests,” take care of yourself first, he counsels, and that way you’ll be in a position to take care of others
“Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.” Marcellus 1.4Sensing something wrong, foreshadowing downfall of Denmark
“Murder most foul, as in the best it is” Ghost 1.5Ghost tells Hamlet he was murdered, Claudius’ murder was foul but well thought and planned
“Leave her to heaven” Ghost 1.5Ghost tells Hamlet to leave Gertrude out, love/hate action, leave her to her punishment by fate
“…one may smile and smile and be a villain.” Hamlet 1.5Referring to Claudius, he may seem good, but he’s guilty of a villainous deed
“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” Hamlet 1.5The emphasis here should be on “dreamt of”, as Hamlet is pointing out how little even the most educated people can explain, one can imagine happier times when Hamlet and Horatio, studying together at Wittenberg, engaged in heated philosophical debates
“The time is out of joint.” Hamlet 1.5End of the scene, Hamlet decides he must set right what was done to his father by Claudius
“…brevity is the soul of wit.” Polonius 2.2Polonius is talking to the King and Queen, he thinks he knows why Hamlet is acting mad, wants to be brief, but then rants
“More matter with less art.” Gertrude 2.2Gertrude tells Polonius to stop ranting about pointless things and to tell them why he thinks Hamlet is mad
“Though this be madness, yet there is method in ‘t.” Polonius 2.2Polonius confronts Hamlet while he was reading and Polonius can tell there is a method to his madness meaning that there is a reason to his craziness, which is right, but Polonius is wrong by thinking that it is his love for Ophelia
“…there is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.” Hamlet 2.2Hamlet tells Rosencrantz and Guildenstern that Denmark is a prison, they don’t think so, Hamlet thinks so mentally, making him seem mad, to him it is a prison, it isn’t one to R and G, since nothing is really good or bad in itself—it’s all what a person thinks about it, and to Hamlet, Denmark is a prison
“What a piece of work is a man…” Hamlet 2.2Hamlet answers his question and tells R and G why they were sent for, sarcastic tone of man’s greatness
“I am but mad north-north-west…I know a hawk from a handsaw.” Hamlet 2.2Hamlet talks about how the players are welcome and his parents will be deceived, makes R and G believe his madness, the imagery involves bad weather and hunting birds, beyond the chaos, Hamlet is saying that he knows a hunting hawk from a hunted “handsaw” or heron, Hamlet means that he is able to distinguish his enemies and friends, this pointed comment is meant for his “friends” Rosencrantz and Guildenstern
“…caviary to the general.” Hamlet 2.2Players and the quality of the play Hamlet once saw, says how smart he is, other people didn’t get to see the play, a delicacy appreciated by the general , rather than the public
“Use every man after his desert and who shall ‘scape whipping?” Hamlet 2.2After hearing the player’s monologue, Hamlet tells Polonius he must treat the players very well and better than they deserve
“O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I!” Hamlet 2.2After R and G exit and the player gave his speech, Hamlet compares himself to a slave because he is upset the player can have more emotion while acting than Hamlet can have in his own life
“What’s Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba” Hamlet 2.2In the same speech about the player’s monologue, Hamlet asks himself the relation of the player to Hecuba and why he would weep for her, parallels between Gertrude and Hecuba
“…the devil hath powerT’ assume a pleasing shape” Hamlet 2.2In the same speech about the player’s monologue, Hamlet decides he’ll see if Claudius is guilty at the play, Hamlet is not sure if he can believe the ghost or if it is a form of the devil
“The play’s the thing” Hamlet 2.2Hamlet decides that at the play he will be able to tell if the King is guilty of murdering his brother and if the ghost is really his father and telling the truth
“To be or not to be-that is the question” Hamlet 3.1Hamlet’s most famous soliloquy, he asks himself if it’s better to put up with life here or to just kill himself and die, Hamlet’s dilemma is that although he is dissatisfied with life and lists its many torments, he is unsure what death may bring, he can’t be sure what death has in store; it may perhaps be an experience worse than life
“The glass of fashion and the mold of form,Th’ observed if all observers” Ophelia 3.1After Hamlet exits from their strange. plotted interaction, Ophelia says Hamlet used to be a perfect role model that all people looked up to and admired, but he is no longer that way
“It out-Herods Herod.” Hamlet 3.2Hamlet is speaking to the player asking him to recite the speech in the play exactly so, without too many gestures or being too loud, Hamlet asks the player to avoid the way in which King Herod ranted and was extreme, Herod was the tyrant who ruled Palestine and ordered all babies in Bethlehem to be slaughtered because of the prophecy that was made about the birth of Jesus as the King of Kings, thus to “out-herod Herod” is to literally out-do in wickedness or violence. The way in which Hamlet applies such a description to a bad actor who can’t deliver his lines properly indicates the extent of the hyperbole
“Suit the action to the word, the word to the action.” Hamlet 3.2Hamlet is still speaking to the player about how to perform the speech, he tells him not to be too tame and to use his best discretion, Hamlet tells the player to fit his actions and words so they correspond
“The lady doth protest too much, me thinks.” Gertrude 3.2Hamlet asks how Gertrude likes the play so far and she thinks the lady playing the Queen is overacting the part, Hamlet responds that it doesn’t matter because that Queen will keep her word unlike Gertrude did
“A king of shreds and patches” Hamlet 4.4After Polonius is killed by Hamlet he insults Claudius to Gertrude, shreds, clownlike, seems less noble than his father, trying to be someone else, patches taken from other things create holes
“…’tis the sport to have the engineer Hoist with his own petard” Hamlet 4.4Hamlet is talking to Gertrude about how Claudius is going to destroy himself and Hamlet hopes Claudius is destroyed, literally means to be blown up with his own mine, Hamlet intends to do this by sending R and G into his fate of death in England rather than himself, thus the King’s plan of death for Hamlet would backfire
“How all occasions do inform against me” Hamlet 4.5Hamlet just found out that Norway is fighting a war with Poland and a battle for a small area of land, but will grow into a large war, Elizabethan order- Hamlet feels he’s getting signs that he’s wrong for not getting revenge on Claudius
“There’s such divinity doth hedge a king” Claudius 4.5Claudius says he is protected as Laertes attacks out of anger for his father’s death, dramatic irony because he says God protects the King from traitors, but he betrayed his brother
“Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio” Hamlet 5.1In the graveyard with Horatio holding the old jester’s skull, Hamlet used to be humorous, but now he’s crazy, also shows that the King did not care for Hamlet as a child and that the jester may have had a part in raising him
“Imperious Caesar, dead and turned to clay” Hamlet 5.1Hamlet explains that all men become nothing after death, loses thought of afterlife, focusing only on the physicality of death, obsession with the physical reality of death, and here he finally seems to get the philosophical implications: even the most famous “die,” “get buried,” and “returneth into dust”
“Sweets to the sweet” Gertrude 5.1Gertrude brings flowers to Ophelia’s grave, wanted her to marry Hamlet, used flowers/song to express things about herself/others while crazy
“There’s a divinity that shapes our ends” Hamlet 5.2Hamlet tells Horatio that God is always guiding us, but we mess up, Hamlet’s religious views despite being crazy, Here is a “divinity” (a fate of a religious quality) that makes it so circumstances overpower our individual choices causing events to work out in unforeseen and perhaps negative ways, this creates the paradox and conflict that is felt and observed between what is envisioned and what comes to be, between will and fate
“There is a special providence in the fall of a sparrow.” Hamlet 5.2Hamlet tells Horatio not to pray if he doesn’t want to, but God will determine all and it will all work out, ironic with all the deaths that occur, Hamlet believes there is a guiding hand behind his own fall, whenever it comes, now or in the future, here, Hamlet echoes the Gospel according to Matthew, Chapter 10

You Might Also Like