Hamlet Act I Quotes

“But in the gross and scope of mine opinion / This bodes some strange eruption to our state.” Horatio to Marcellus; he is foreshadowing
“Why this same strict and most observant watch / So nightly toils the subject of the land, / And why such daily cast of brazen cannon / And foreign mart for implements of war, / Why such impress of shipwrights, whose sore task / Does not divide the Sunday from the week. / What might be toward that this sweaty haste / Doth make the night joint laborer with the day?” Marcellus to Horatio; he is asking why they are making all these military weapons and working day and night all week long
“In the most high and palmy state of Rome, / A little ere the mightiest Julius fell, The graves stood tenantless, and the sheeted dead / Did squeak and gibber in the Roman streets” Horatio to Barnardo; he is making a comparison to Caesar, thus creating dramatic irony
“We do it wrong, being so majestical, / To offer it the show of violence, / For it is as the air, invulnerable, / And our vain blows malicious mockery.” Marcellus to Horatio/Barnardo; he is saying that we were dumb in thinking we could hurt a ghost
” … our sometime sister, now our queen” King Claudius to the court; he is saying that his sister is now his wife (incest)
“(With an auspicious and a dropping eye, / With mirth in funeral and with dirge in marriage, / In equal scale weighing delight and dole) / Taken to wife.” King Claudius to the court; he is explaining that though he is sad about King Hamlet’s death he is also happy about his marriage to Queen Gertrude and is thus feeling conflicting emotions
“The head is not more native to the heart, / The hand more instrumental to the mouth, / Than is the throne of Denmark to thy father.” King Claudius to Laertes; he is explaining how he trusts Laertes’ father Polonius greatly
“Hath, my lord, wrung from me my slow leave / By laborsome petition, and at last / Upon his will I sealed my hard consent.” Polonius to King Claudius; he is saying that basically Laertes begged and pleaded until Polonius was fed up with him and just agreed to get him to stop
“A little more than kin and less than kind.” Hamlet to himself (aside); he is saying that even though he and Claudius are now more closely related, they are nothing alike
“Good Hamlet, cast thy nighted color off, / And let thine eye look like a friend on Denmark.” Queen Gertrude to Hamlet; she is asking Hamlet to take off his black clothes of mourning and to look at Claudius as a friend
” ‘Seems,’ madam? Nay, it is. I know not ‘seems.’ “ Hamlet to Queen Gertrude; he is saying that his grief is real, not fake
“O, that this too, too sullied flesh would melt, / Thaw, and resolves itself into a dew, / Or that the Everlasting had not fixed / His cannon ‘gainst self-slaughter! O God, God, / How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable / Seem to me all the uses of this world!” Hamlet to himself (soliloquy); his saying that he wishes he could disappear, or that God hadn’t made suicide a sin, and that all the material things around him now seem meaningless
“Frailty, thy name is woman!” Hamlet to himself (soliloquy); he is saying that his mother is weak mentally and emotionally
“It is not, nor it cannot come to good. / But break, my heart, for I must hold my tongue.” Hamlet to himself (soliloquy); he is saying that even though he knows nothing good will come of this mother’s marriage, he will keep silent about his opinions
“The funeral baked meats / Did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables.” Hamlet to Horatio; he is using a hyperbole by saying that the funeral and the wedding were so close together that the meat served at the funeral was used as cold cuts at the wedding
“If you have hitherto concealed this sight, / Let it be tenable in your silence still; / And whatsomever else shall hap tonight, / Give it an understanding but no tongue.” Hamlet to Horatio/Marcellus/Barnardo; he is saying to keep everything a secret and don’t tell anyone
“Foul deeds will rise, / Though all the earth o’erwhelm them, to men’s eyes.” Hamlet to himself (soliloquy); he is foreshadowing
“Hold it a fashion and a toy in blood, / A violet in the youth of primy nature” Laertes to Ophelia; he is saying to be careful because Hamlet’s love won’t last long
“He may not, as unvalued persons do, / Carve for himself, for on his choice depends / The safety and the health of this whole state. / And therefore must his choice be circumscribed / Unto the voice and yielding of that body / Whereof he is the head.” Laertes to Ophelia; he is saying that since Hamlet is a prince and next in line to the throne he might not get to choose who he wants to marry
“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 to Laertes; she is saying he needs to not be a hypocrite and follow his own advice
“Give thy thoughts no tongue, / Nor any unproportioned thought his act.” Polonius to Laertes; he is telling him to think before he speaks
“Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar.” Polonius to Laertes; he is saying don’t have sex
“Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried, / Grapple them unto thy soul with hoops of steel, / But do not dull thy palm with entertainment / Of each new-hatched, unfledged courage.” Polonius to Laertes; he is saying that he needs to hold onto his tried and true friends
“Beware / Of entrance to a quarrel, but, being in, / Bear ‘t that th’ opposèd may beware of thee.” Polonius to Laertes; he is saying don’t get into fights, but if you’re in one you’d better win
“Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice.” Polonius to Laertes; he is telling him to listen more than he talks
“Take each man’s censure, but reserve thy judgement.” Polonius to Laertes; he is saying to listen to people’s opinions but keep his own
“Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy, / But not expressed in fancy (rich, not gaudy), / For the apparel oft proclaims the man” Polonius to Laertes; he is saying to dress appropriately but not to spend too much
“Neither a borrower nor a lender be, / For loan oft loses both itself and friend, / And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.” Polonius to Laertes; his is telling him not to borrow or lend money because he’ll end up losing both the friend and the money
“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.” Polonius to Laertes; he is saying that most importantly don’t lie to yourself, that way you won’t lie to everyone else
“Marry, well bethought. / ‘Tis told me he hath very oft of late / Given private time to you, and you yourself / Have of your audience been most free and bounteous.” Polonius to Ophelia; he is accusing her of sleeping with Hanlet
“But, to my mind, though I am native here / And to the manner born, it is a custom / More honored in the breach than the observance.” Hamlet to Horatio; he is saying that while it is a custom to party, Claudius is partying too hard
“Why, what should be the fear? / I do not set my life at a pin’s fee. / And for my soul, what can it do to that, / Being a thing immortal as itself?” Hamlet to Horatio; he is asking why he should be afraid since it’s only a ghost
“Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.” Marcellus to Horatio; he is foreshadowing
“My hour is almost come / When I to sulf’rous and tormenting flames / Must render up myself.” Ghost to Hamlet; he is saying that it’s almost time for him to return to purgatory/hell
“The serpent that did sting thy father’s life / Now wears his crown.” Ghost to Hamlet; he is saying that the dude who killed him is now king (aka Claudius)
“But, howsomever thou pursues this act, / Taint not thy mind, nor let thy soul contrive / Against thy mother aught. Leave her to heaven / And to those thorns that in her bosom lodge / To prick and sting her.” Ghost to Hamlet; he is saying that he should not punish his mother and instead leave her to her guilt
“Remember thee? / Yea, from the table of my memory / I’ll wipe away all trivial, fond records, / All saws of books, all forms, all pressures past, / That youth and observation copied there, / And thy commandment all alone shall live / Within the book and volume of my brain” Hamlet to himself (soliloquy); he is saying that he will clear his mind of literally everything except avenging his father
“O villain, villain, smiling, damnèd villain! / My tables – meet it is I set it down / That one may smile and smile and be a villain.” Hamlet to himself (soliloquy); he is explaining how Claudius is putting on a front, that he is smiling and pretending everything is okay when in reality he is the murderer
“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, / Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” Hamlet to Horatio; he is saying that there far more and stranger things than he could ever imagine
“O cursèd spite / That I ever was born to set it right!” Hamlet to Horatio/Barnardo; he is saying he wishes he didn’t have to be the one to fix everything