Hamlet Act I Quotes

“Seems, madam? Nay, it is. I know not ‘Seems.”Tis not alone my inky cloak, good mother,Nor customary suits of solemn black,Nor windy suspiration of forced breath,No, nor the fruitful river in the eye,Nor the dejected havior of the visage,Together with all forms, moods, shapes of grief,That can denote me truly. These indeed seem,For they are actions that a man might play,But I have that within me which passes show;These but the trappings and the suits of woe” Speaker: HamletTalking to Whom: his mother and uncle/stepfatherMeaning: Hamlet is speaking about why he is sad and talks about his sadness, mourning, and grief.
“‘Tis unmanly grief.It shows a will most incorrect to heaven,A heart unfortified, a mind impatient,An understanding simple and unschooled.For what we know must be and is as commonAs any the most vulgar thing to sense” Speaker: ClaudiusTalking to Whom: HamletMeaning: Claudius is saying that Hamlet is holding on too much and needs to let his father’s death go and stop being so sad.
“O that this too too sullied flesh would melt,Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew,Or that the Everlasting had not fixedHis canon ‘gainst self-slaughter. O God, God,How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitableSeem to me all the uses of this world!Fie on’t, ah, fie, ’tis an unweeded gardenThat grows to seed. Things rank and gross in naturePossess it merely” Speaker: HamletTalking to Whom: HimselfMeaning: Hamlet is talking to himself about how pointless life feels, and he wishes that he could commit suicide. He compares life to a garden that no one is taking care of, with only weeds left in it.
“… she would hang on himAs if increase of appetite had grownBy what it fed on; and yet within a month—Let me not think on’t; fraility, thy name is woman—A little month, or ere those shoes were oldWith which she followed my poor father’s bodyLike Niobe, all tears …” Speaker: HamletTalking to Whom: speaking to himselfMeaning: Hamlet is speaking about how his mother used to want to be around his father because she couldn’t get enough of him, but now a month after he has died she is already marrying Hamlet’s uncle before she has finished mourning her husband’s death
“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” Speaker: PoloniusTalking to Whom: His son LaertesMeaning: Polonius is talking to Laertes and instructing him how he must be in France by telling him to stay true to himself so he won’t be false to anybody else
“But, good my brother,Do not, as some ungracious pastors do,Show me the steep and thorny way to heaven,Whilst, life a puff’d and reckless libertine,Himself the primrose path of dalliance treadsAnd recks not his own rede. Speaker: OpheliaTalking to Whom: Her brother LaertesMeaning: Ophelia is calling Laertes a hypocrite, and telling him to practice what he preaches. Says he is showing her a steep path to heaven but he himself is following a pleasant path of sin.
“It beckons you to go away with it,As if it some impartment did desireTo you alone.” Speaker: HoratioTalking to Whom: HamletMeaning: The ghost wants Hamlet to follow him because it looks like the ghost wants to tell Hamlet something alone
“Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder” Speaker: Ghost of Hamlet’s fatherTalking to Whom: HamletMeaning: The ghost of Hamlet’s father is telling Hamlet to take revenge for his murder.
“Tis given out that, sleeping in mine orchard,A serpent stung me. So the whole ear of DenmarkIs by a forged process of my deathRankly abused. But know, thou noble youth,The serpent that did sting thy father’s lifeNow wears his crown” Speaker: Ghost of Hamlet’s Father (King Hamlet)Talking to Whom: HamletMeaning: His father is telling Hamlet how he died. People thought that a poisonous snake bit him while he was sleeping in a garden, but he was actually murdered by Hamlet’s uncle.
“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,Than are dreamt of in your philosophy” Speaker: HamletTalking to Whom: Horatio and Marcellus Meaning: Hamlet acknowledges that there are things at work that are bigger than the others. The men will all by acting strangely, but shouldn’t let anyone else around them know why.

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