Difficult Hamlet Quotes

“I am but mad north-north-west. When the wind is southerly, I know a hawk from a handsaw.” Hamlet speaking to his friends that Claudius sent to spy on him. He tells them that he knows the king thinks he is mad, but Hamlet tells him he is only insane at certain times.(II, ii, 402)
“but look, the morn in russet mantle clad” Horatio speaking to Hamlet that the sun is raising from the hills. Now that Horatio has seen the ghost he shall tell Hamlet. This marks the beginning of the foreboding message from the ghost. (I, i, 181)
“caviary to the general” A phrase used by Hamlet to describe why some in the audience didn’t appreciate the play. A literal translation would be to say ‘giving caviar to a barbarian who wouldn’t appreciate such a treat’ (II, ii, 461)
“Use every man after his desert and who shall ‘scape whipping?” Hamlet criticizing Polonius for saying “My lord, I will use them according to their desert.” Hamlet says if you judge everyone according to what they’ve done then how can anyone escape punishment. People require mercy and the more you give when they deserve less the more your generosity is valued. (II, ii, 555-557)
” ’tis the sport to have the enginer Hoist with his own petard” Hamlet using a metaphor comparing himself to an engineer. The quote is meant to say that it is natural to show off your own skills. (III, iv, 229-230)
“The glass of fashion and the mold of form, Th’ observed of all observers” Ophelia is describing Hamlet as the model of behavior and attractiveness. She speaks of him as a gentlemen though in this scene he is actually quite different. (III, i, 167-68)
“O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I!” Hamlet exlaims this statement after seeing that he has less passion than the actor. This line starting the soliloquy sets the mood of the speech by declaring himself ashamed that he has done so little to avenge his father’s death. (II, ii, 577)
“O villain, villain, smiling damn├Ęd villain! …one may smile and smile and be a villain.” After learning from the ghost that Claudius is the killer of Hamlet’s father. Hamlet says these lines as he now knows of the deceit. He is thinking specifically of how happy his uncle has been and now knows the truth behind the smile.(I, v, 113-115)
“In my mind’s eye” (I, ii,247] Hamlet speaks this phrase telling Horatio that he can see his dead father only in his head. This is before Hamlet has seen the Ghost. Shortly after this line Horatio tells Hamlet about the ghost of his father walking the grounds. This phrase was coined by Shakespeare.
“Do not, as some ungracious pastors do, Show me the steep and thorny way to heaven, Whiles, like a puffed and reckless libertine, Himself the primrose path of dalliance treads, And recks not his own rede.” Ophelia remarking the hypocritical advice he has given her. Saying that though he expects this of her he may yet break his own advice while in college. (I, iii, 51-54)