Significant Quotes in Hamlet

Hamlet to the king and queen Speaker and listener of “A little more kin, and less than kind”.
Hamlet refers to Claudius as ” A little more kin”, because he is now Hamlet’s uncle and stepfather. Then he goes on to say that Claudius isn’t a nice person and is involved in unnatural relationships. Significance of “A little more kin, and less than kind.”
Hamlet to Horatio or Osric Speaker and listener of “He hath much land, and fertile. Let a beast be lord of beasts, and his crib shall stand at the King’s mess.”
It can be reasonably assumed that King Hamlet before Claudius did not serve lords simply out of wealth or possession, at least by Hamlet’s account, so the royal house of Denmark has been tainted by the literal corruption of Claudius and the pursuit of personal goals. Much of it has fallen from glory, most because of the new leadership, where the “distracted masses” still favor Prince Hamlet. Significance of “He hath much land, and fertile. Let a beast be lord of beasts, and his crib shall stand at the King’s mess.”
Hamlet to himself (with Ophelia listening) Speaker and listener of “Thus conscience does make cowards of us all.”
This quote states his own conclusion as to why he has doubts, that being that having a conscience prevents people (including himself) from putting rash ideas into fruition. Hamlet fears what would come next if he killed himself (or Claudius). This also foreshadows to Hamlet choosing not to take his revenge at the prime opportunity. Through Hamlet’s own conscience, he thought of a reason to not kill Claudius at that moment. Significance of “Thus conscience does make cowards of us all.”
Hamlet to himself in a soliloquy in the first act Speaker and listener of “O all you host of heaven! O earth! What else? And shall I couple hell?”
The self-debate of bringing “heaven” and “earth” into his arsenal of justification for acting on his revenge is significant because we see Hamlet attempting to find reason for avenging his father’s death. That with the addition of coupling hell, which can be taken as a desperate resolution, gives the reader one of his first impressions of Hamlet as mad, and as knowing he cannot justify his desired action. Significance of “O all you host of heaven! O earth! What else? And shall I couple hell?
Hamlet speaks cruelly to his mother, but he does not break his promise to his father and himself not to harm her. Significance of “O, speak to me no more;These words like daggers enter in my ears.No more, sweet Hamlet!”
The queen to Hamlet Speaker and listener of “O, speak to me no more;These words like daggers enter in my ears.No more, sweet Hamlet!”
The ghost to Hamlet Speaker and listener of “Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder.” Act 1 Scene 5 in lines 25-26
This quote is essential because this is when Hamlet learns that his father was murdered and this sets up Hamlet finding out that it was his uncle who murdered his father. This is significant because it reveals the main conflict in the play as Hamlet vows to avenge his father by murdering his uncle who has become the new king of Denmark. Significance of “Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder.” in Act 1 Scene 5 in lines 25-26
Hamlet to Claudius Speaker and listener of “In heaven; send thither to see: if your messenger find him not there, seek him I’ the other place yourself.”
This quote is significant because Hamlet openly admits to Claudius how much he hates him. Significance of “In heaven; send thither to see: if your messenger find him not there, seek him I’ the other place yourself.”
Claudius to himself Speaker and listener of “My fault is past. But oh, what form of prayerCan serve my turn? ‘Forgive me my foul murder’?That cannot be, since I am still possessedOf those effects for which I did the murder:My crown, mine own ambition, and my queen.May one be pardoned and retain th’ offense?”
The above quotation is from King Claudius when he is praying by himself before Hamlet enters. In this moment of isolation it is revealed to the audience that the King does understand that what he has done is shameful. It could be inferred that the King does have some slight bit of guilt, but it is not enough guilt to publicly admit his wrongdoing and give up the crown. Instead, he decides that his best move is to pray for God to forgive him and keep all that he has taken thus far. It is clear that the King thrives on power and will stop at nothing to give it up. This quote develops deeper themes such as those about appearance vs reality because the audience sees the King act noble in the public eye, but behind the facade even the King knows his corruption and does not plan on sacrificing the crown for the betterment everyone around him, which ultimately lead to his own death as well as the death of eight others. Significance of”My fault is past. But oh, what form of prayerCan serve my turn? ‘Forgive me my foul murder’?That cannot be, since I am still possessedOf those effects for which I did the murder:My crown, mine own ambition, and my queen.May one be pardoned and retain th’ offense?”
Hamlet to himself (after the player’s performance) Speaker and listener of “What a rogue and peasant slave am I!”
Hamlet says the line to open a long soliloquy about how an actor in a monologue is able to bring up such deep human emotions or a work of mere fiction. He wonders what the actor would be capable of with the drive and motivations he has toward avenging his father. The speech shows Hamlet’s own feelings of inadequacy towards his inaction. This indecisiveness will continue to occur throughout the play and ultimate leads to Hamlet’s downfall. It’s ironic when considering that the emotions of the actor he praises are still part of a play and therefore not genuine. Finally, the play itself offers a bit of foreshadowing as the play was about the fall of Troy and could be hinting at Denmark’s own eventual collapse. Significance of “What a rogue and peasant slave am I!”
Hamlet to Horatio and Marcellus Speaker and listener of “As I perchance hereafter shall think meet to put an antic disposition on — that you, at such times seeing me, never shall,With arms encumbered thus, or this headshake,Or by pronouncing of some doubtful phraseAs “Well, we know,” or “We could. An if they might.”
This is the first time that we hear of Hamlet’s plan to determine whether Claudius killed his father or not. It also gives us a first glimpse at Hamlet’s largest character flaw: He’s so focused on devising plans to find out whether Claudius killed his father or not, that he ends up not having enough time to exact that revenge, at least not in the manner that he would have hoped. Significance of “As I perchance hereafter shall think meet to put an antic disposition on — that you, at such times seeing me, never shall,With arms encumbered thus, or this headshake,Or by pronouncing of some doubtful phraseAs “Well, we know,” or “We could. An if they might.”
Hamlet to himself (when thinking of his mother) Speaker and listener of “Frailty, thy name is woman!”
This quote is significant because it indicates how his mother’s actions have affected Hamlet and his view of the world. Because of his mother’s “frailty”, Hamlet feels that all women must be like Gertrude, which lends to characterize Hamlet as someone who is quick to generalize, a trait likely due to his youth and immaturity. This line introduces tension in the play, that being between Hamlet and Gertrude, and also reveals a part of Hamlet’s character. Significance of “Frailty, thy name is woman!”
Marcellus to Horatio Speaker and listener of “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.”
This line is both a reference to the idea that the ghost is a bad omen for the state of Denmark following Claudius’ murder and a foreshadow of the tragedies to follow in subsequent acts. It also signals the introduction of the theme on decay and corruption. Significance of “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.”
Hamlet is ready to kill Claudius when he sees him praying. He decides against killing him there for fear of sending him to Heaven. Hamlet then decides that he will kill Claudius in the act of sinning so that he may surely spend the afterlife in punishment. Significance of “When he is drunk asleep, or in his rage, or in th’incestuous pleasure of his bed, at game, a-swearing, or about some act that has no relish of salvation in’t- Then trip him, that his heels may kick at Heaven, and that his soul may be as damned and black as hell, whereto it goes. My mother stays. This physic but prolongs thy sickly days.”
Fortinbras to the kingdom of Denmark Speaker and listener of “Let four captains bear Hamlet, like a soldier, to the stage, for he was likely had he been put on, to proved most royal; and for his passage, the soldiers’ music and rite of war speak loudly of him.”
Fortinbras says how he wants Hamlet to be remembered because he had a good heart when trying to get revenge for his father, but he did not have the right plans to achieve his revenge. Significance of “Let four captains bear Hamlet, like a soldier, to the stage, for he was likely had he been put on, to proved most royal; and for his passage, the soldiers’ music and rite of war speak loudly of him.”
The ghost of King Hamlet acknowledges the depth of Claudius’s coup of the throne and charges Hamlet to seek revenge. Significance of “Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder.”
Hamlet to Laertes Speaker and listener of “I loved Ophelia. Forty-thousand brothers could not with all their quantity of love make up my sum.”
Hamlet reveals in this quote and with his actions either that his claims not to love Ophelia were false and part of his act of insanity or that he has lost grip of reality and can no longer remember his own feelings. Significance of “I loved Ophelia. Forty-thousand brothers could not with all their quantity of love make up my sum.”
Laertes to Hamlet Speaker and listener of “I am justly killed with my own treachery.”
This quote helps illuminate the theme surrounding revenge. It shows that Laertes’s path of anger and quick revenge is less effective than Hamlet’s slow, thoughtful approach. Significance of “I am justly killed with my own treachery.”
Polonius (aside) Speaker and listener of “How pregnant sometimes his replies are! A happiness that often madness hits on, which reason and sanity could not so prosperously be delivered of.”
The speaker acknowledges that despite the understanding that Hamlet is mad, much of his statements hint at truths. This recognition helps further the question of whether Hamlet has succumbed to his act or not. Significance of “How pregnant sometimes his replies are! A happiness that often madness hits on, which reason and sanity could not so prosperously be delivered of.”
Polonius to Laertes Speaker and listener of “This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man. Farewell. My blessing season this in thee!”
This quote is very important to underlying themes throughout Hamlet. Hamlet’s sanity is widely debated and whether or not he is truly mad himself or if it is just an act; thus, he is not sticking to his true self when putting up that act (initially, if you’d like to argue that he is still sane). I feel like this quote is an early foreshadowing of that debate of sanity vs insanity. It could also be an elbow in the King’s side, given that he seems to take the face of many different personalities throughout the play. Overall, though, I think this speaks heavily on Hamlet’s character and how he’s viewed by readers and characters of the play alike for the majority of the latter half of the play. Because he isn’t sticking to his true self and personality his sanity is slowly slipping and he’s becoming something he’s not. Significance of “This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man. Farewell. My blessing season this in thee!”
Hamlet to himself after the player’s initial performance Speaker and listener of “Yet I,/ A dull and muddy-mettled rascal, peak/ Like John-A-Dreams, unpregnant of my cause,/ and can say nothing- no, not for a king/ upon whose property and most dear life/ A damned defeat was made. Am I a coward?” (2.2 565-571).
Hamlet debates on how an actor can pretend to be passionate about one’s cause. Throughout this soliloquy, Hamlet not only contemplates his choices but who he is as a man. Significance of “Yet I,/ A dull and muddy-mettled rascal, peak/ Like John-A-Dreams, unpregnant of my cause,/ and can say nothing- no, not for a king/ upon whose property and most dear life/ A damned defeat was made. Am I a coward?” (2.2 565-571).
Hamlet to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Speaker and listener of “Why then ’tis none to you, for there is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes so. To me it is a prison.” – Hamlet, Act 2, Scene 2 lines 250-253
This quote is significant because it helps characterize Hamlet. Hamlet knows that what he is doing is risky- he is the Prince of Denmark, after all. But by saying this, even while pretending to be crazy, Hamlet is revealing a deep personal philosophy. He believes that things are shaped into what people think them to be. People have the right to their own perception of things. This could explain why he feels the need to pretend to be crazy. No one else in the castle perceives the death of the king and the rise of Claudius to be suspicious, yet Hamlet does. So that is why he must create this act. This quotes gives the audience a better understanding of Hamlet and his thought process. Significance of “Why then ’tis none to you, for there is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes so. To me it is a prison.” – Hamlet, Act 2, Scene 2 lines 250-253
Hamlet is creating a plan for revenge in by putting on a play similar to his father’s death to get the King to react. He says that if the King reacts, he will know for sure that he killed his father and will set out on his plan of revenge. Significance of “For murder, though it have no tongue, will speak With most miraculous organ. I’ll have these players Play something like the murder of my father Before mine uncle. I’ll observe his looks; I’ll tent him to the quick. If ‘a do blench, I know my course.”
This is the scene where the Queen confronts Hamlet while Polonius spies on them. It’s at this very moment where we see a change in Hamlet’s demeanor, from his more hesitant, time-biding self to a much more rash decision maker. Significance of “How now, a rat? Dead for a ducat, dead.” Act 3.4, Line 29
Hamlet to Polonius (or the Queen) Speaker and listener of “How now, a rat? Dead for a ducat, dead.” Act 3.4, Line 29
Hamlet to Gertrude Speaker and listener of “A bloody deed. Almost as bad, good mother, as kill a king and marry with his brother.”
Hamlet finally decides to confront his mother about his father’s death. Here, he allowed for some of his bottled up anger to be thrown towards his mother. He accuses her of being in on the murder of his father. This is the first time that Hamlet reveals that he knows that Claudius had killed the King, and Gertrude is caught surprised by this and is angry about how she is pulled into the drama of the death. Significance of “A bloody deed. Almost as bad, good mother, as kill a king and marry with his brother.”

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