Hamlet Quotes

“Taken to wife. Nor have we herein barredYour better wisdoms, which have freely goneWith this affair along.” – Claudius (to Cornelius and Voltemand)- You could have stopped us from getting married but you just went along with it.
“He hath not failed to pester us with messageImporting the surrender of those landsLost by his father,” – Claudius (to Cornelius and Voltemand about Fortinbras)- Talks about Fortinbras wanting to get back the land his father lost.
“To Norway, uncle of young Fortinbras — Who impotent and bedrid, scarcely hearsOf his nephew’s purpose…” – Claudius (to Cornelius and Voltemand about Fortinbras)- Claudius wrote to Fortinbras’ uncle to ask him to stop his nephew from building up an army to attack Denmark.
“The lists, and full proportions are all madeOut of his subject;” – Claudius (to Cornelius and Voltemand)- The King of Norway raised the army and the money to wage war on Denmark to get his land back.
“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.” – Claudius (to Laertes)- Laertes’ father is important to him.
“A little more than kin and less than kind.” – Hamlet (about Claudius)- Since Claudius married Gertrude, he and Hamlet and even more related than before, but they don’t treat each other like family.
“Oh, that this too, too sallied flesh would melt,Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew,Or that the Everlasting had not fixedHis canon ‘gainst self-slaughter!” – Hamlet (to and about himself)- Hamlet is suicidal because his father just died. He wishes that God had not made it a sin to commit suicide because he wants to die, but doesn’t want to go to Hell.
“But two months dead–nay, not so much, not two–“ – Hamlet (to himself, about his father)- He’s saying that his father hasn’t even been dead for two months and his mother already remarried.
“and yet, within a month…” – Hamlet (to himself, about Gertrude and Claudius’ marriage)- Hamlet still cannot wrap his mind around the fact that his mother married so soon after her husband died.
“Frailty, thy name is woman!” – Hamlet (to himself, about Gertrude)- Hamlet is calling his mother weak.
“…married with my uncle, My father’s brother, but no more like my fatherThan I to Hercules.” – Hamlet (to himself, about Gertrude and Claudius)- Hamlet is saying that Claudius is about as similar to his brother, Hamlet’s father, as Hamlet is to Hercules. (Not similar at all.)
“But break, my heart, for I must hold my tongue.” – Hamlet (to himself, about Gertrude and Claudius’ marriage)- It’s hurting Hamlet that he knows this about Gertrude and Claudius but he cannot say anything about it to anyone.
“My lord, I came to see your father’s funeral.” – Horatio (to Hamlet)- Horatio tells Hamlet why he’s there.
“I think it was to see my mother’s wedding.” – Hamlet (to Horatio)- Hamlet is making a joke that his mother’s wedding happened very soon after his father’s funeral.
“Indeed, my lord, it followed hard upon.” – Horatio (to Hamlet)- Horatio agrees with Hamlet that his mother got married too soon after his father’s death.
“Where, my lord?” – Horatio (to Hamlet)- Horatio wonders where Hamlet would see his dead father.
“In my mind’s eye, Horatio.” – Hamlet (to Horatio)- Hamlet is being smart, saying he sees his father in his mind.
“If it assume my noble father’s person,I’ll speak to it, though Hell itself should gapeAnd bid me hold my peace. I pray you all,If you have hitherto concealed this sight,Let it be tenable in your silence still.” – Hamlet (to Horatio, Marcellus and Barnardo)- Hamlet says he’ll talk to the ghost if it’s his father. He asks Horatio, Marcellus and Barnardo to keep it a secret.
“My father’s spirit in arms. All is not well.I doubt some foul play.” – Hamlet (to himself)- Hamlet is now certain that the ghost is his father and he feels that there’s something wrong.
“For Hamlet and the trifling of his favor,Hold it a fashion and a toy in blood,A violet in the youth of primy nature,Forward, not permanent, sweet, not lasting,” – Laertes (to Ophelia)- Laertes doesn’t want Ophelia to get her hopes up. He thinks that Hamlet’s love is just a passing phase and that it won’t last.
“Perhaps he loves you,And now no soil nor cautel doth besmirch The virtue of his will; but you must fear.His greatness weighed, his will is not his own.He may not, as unvalued persons do,Carve for himself, for on his choice dependsThe safety and health of this whole state,” – Laertes (to Ophelia)- Laertes says that perhaps Hamlet does love Ophelia, but even if he did, he can’t do anything about it (i.e. marry her) because he’s royal and cannot do what he wants.
“Then weigh what loss your honor may sustainIf with too credent ear you list his songs,Or lose your heart, or your chaste treasure openTo his unmastered importunity.” – Laertes (to Ophelia)- Laertes wants his sister to be careful with Hamlet and take their relationship slow. He doesn’t want her to do something she’ll end up regretting. He wants her to make her own choices and have enough willpower to not give in to Hamlet’s pleading.
“Do not, as some ungracious pastors do,Show me the steep and thorny way to HeavenWhiles, like a puffed and reckless libertine,Himself the primrose path of dalliance treadsAnd recks not his own rede.” – Ophelia (to Laertes)- Ophelia wants Laertes to follow his own advice.
“…but here my father comes. A double blessing is a double grace:Occasion smiles upon a second leave.” – Laertes (to Ophelia)- Laertes makes a reference to Polonius’ character: two faced.
“…give thy thoughts no tongue,” – Polonius (to Laertes)- Polonius tells Laertes to keep his thoughts to himself while in France.
“Give every man thy ear but few thy voice.Take each man’s censure but reserve thy judgment.Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy,” – Polonius (to Laertes)- Polonius tells Laertes to listen to everyone that speaks to him, but don’t talk back to them, to listen to their opinions and not tell them what he really thinks, and to dress as expensively as he can afford.
“Neither a borrower nor a lender be,” – Polonius (to Laertes)- Polonius tells Laertes to neither borrow money from anyone nor give money away.
“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)- Polonius tells Laertes to be himself, which contradicts everything that he told his son previously.
“He hath, my lord, of late made many tendersOf his affection to me.” – Ophelia (to Polonius)- Ophelia tells her father that Hamlet has indeed told her recently how he feels about her.
“‘Affection?’ Pooh, you speak like a green girl,” – Polonius (to Ophelia)- Polonius mocks Ophelia and basically tells her she doesn’t know what love is.
“Tender yourself more dearly,Or—not to crack the wind of the poor phrase,Running it thus—you’ll tender me a fool.” – Polonius (to Ophelia)- Polonius wants Ophelia to value herself more highly or else she’ll make either herself or her father look like a fool.
“Ay, springes to catch woodcocks. I do know,When the blood burns, how prodigal the soulLends the tongue vows.” – Polonius (to Ophelia)- Polonius is telling Ophelia to be careful because he knows that guys will do and say anything to get in a girl’s pants.
“For Lord Hamlet,Believe so much in him that he is youngAnd with a larger tether may he walkThan may be given you.” – Polonius (to Ophelia)- Polonius tells Ophelia that Hamlet can get away with more things than she can because a) he’s a man and b) he’s royal.
“I would not, in plain terms, from this time forth,Have you so slander any moment’s leisureAs to give words or talk with the Lord Hamlet.Look to’t, I charge you. Come your ways.” – Polonius (to Ophelia)- Polonius forbids his daughter from seeing or speaking to Hamlet.
“Angels and ministers of grace defend us!Be thou a spirit of health or goblin damned,Bring with thee airs from Heaven or blasts from Hell,Be thy intents wicked or charitable,Thou com’st in such a questionable shapeThat I will speak to thee.” – Hamlet (to Ghost)- Hamlet doesn’t know if the ghost is trying to help him or hurt him, but he will talk to him anyway because he’s curious.
“What if it tempt you toward the flood, my lord,Or to the dreadful summit of the cliffThat beetles o’er his base into the sea,And there assume some other horrible formWhich might deprive your sovereignty of reasonAnd draw you into madness?” – Horatio (to Hamlet)- Horatio worries that the Ghost will try to kill Hamlet or cause Hamlet to go insane. He’s worried that the Ghost is actually the Devil or some other evil spirit.
“My fate cries out…” – Hamlet (to Horatio)- Hamlet believes it’s his destiny to speak to the Ghost.
“Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.” – Marcellus (to Horatio)- Marcellus knows that something bad has happened in Denmark that not everyone knows.
“Doomed for a certain term to walk the nightAnd for the day confined to fast in firesTill the foul crimes done in my days of natureAre burned and purged away. But that I am forbidTo tell the secrets of my prison house,” – Ghost (to Hamlet)- The ghost is stuck on Earth as a ghost because he sinned. He must walk the Earth as a ghost for some time before entering Heaven or Hell.
“Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder.” – Ghost (to Hamlet)- The Ghost reveals that he was killed by Claudius, and he wants Hamlet to take revenge.
“Haste me to know’t, that I, with wings as swiftAs meditation or the thoughts of love,May sweep to my revenge.” – Hamlet (to Ghost)- Hamlet tells the Ghost he’s not going to seek revenge very quickly.
“‘Tis given out that, sleeping in my orchard,A serpent stung me.” – Ghost (to Hamlet)- The Ghost reveals that Denmark thinks the King died from a serpent sting while asleep in his garden.
“The serpent that did sting thy father’s lifeNow wears his crown.” – Ghost (to Hamlet)- The Ghost reveals that he was actually killed by the current king. (Claudius)
“The will of my most seeming-virtuous Queen.” – Ghost (to Hamlet)- The Ghost wonders what Gertrude knows about his murder.
“Sleeping within my orchard,My custom always of the afternoon,Upon my secure hour thy uncle stoleWith juice of cursed hebona in a vial,And in the porches of my ears did pour” – Ghost (to Hamlet)- The Ghost relays the details of his murder. Claudius poured poison in the King’s ears while he slept.
“Thus was I, sleeping, by a brother’s handOf life, of crown, of queen at once dispatched,” – Ghost (to Hamlet)- Claudius stole everything his brother had: his life, his crown, and his wife.
“Let not the royal bed of Denmark beA couch for luxury and damned incest.” – Ghost (to Hamlet)- The Ghost doesn’t want the rulers of Denmark to be incestuous, as it doesn’t set a good example for the country.
“Leave her to HeavenAnd to those thorns that in her bosom lodgeTo prick and sting her.” – Ghost (to Hamlet)- He doesn’t want Hamlet to hurt his mother. He tells Hamlet to let the guilt of what she did destroy her instead.
“Yea, from the table of my memoryI’ll wipe away all trivial, fond records,All saws of books, all forms, all pressures pastThat youth and observation copied there,And thy commandment all alone shall liveWithin the book and volume of my brain,” – Hamlet (to himself)- He’s going to erase the memories of his father in his mind and replace them with the one thing his father told him to do: seek revenge on Claudius.
“Hillo,ho, ho, boy. Come, bird, come.” – Hamlet (to Horatio and Marcellus)- He’s mocking Marcellus and beginning his plan to act crazy.
“Oh, wonderful!” – Hamlet (to Horatio)- He’s speaking sarcastically, saying the news he received from the Ghost was wonderful when it really wasn’t.
“There’s never a villain dwelling in all DenmarkBut he’s an arrant knave.” – Hamlet (to Horatio and Marcellus)- He’s calling Claudius evil.
“There needs no ghost, my lord, come from the graveTo tell us this.” – Horatio (to Hamlet)- He already knows that Claudius is a bad person.
“Never make known what you have seen tonight.” – Hamlet (to Horatio and Marcellus)- He asks them to keep the encounter with the ghost a secret.
“Here, as before: never, so help you mercy,How strange or odd some’er I bear myself(As I perchance hereafter shall think meetTo put an antic disposition on),” – Hamlet (to Horatio)- These lines mark the beginning of his scheme to act insane so no one will think he’s a threat.
“The time is out of joint. O cursed spite,That ever I was born to set it right!” – Hamlet (to Horatio and Marcellus)- Hamlet believes it’s his destiny to avenge his father’s death.
“…put on himWhat forgeries you please. Marry, none so rankAs may dishonor him–take heed of that–But, sir, such wanton, wild, and usual slipsAs are companions noted and most knownTo youth and liberty. “ – Polonius (to Reynaldo)- Polonius is asking Reynaldo to get information out of the Danes in Paris who may know what Laertes is up to.
“There was ‘a gaming, there o’ertook in ‘s rouse,There falling out at tennis”, or, perchance,”I saw him enter such a house of sale”—Videlicet, a brothel, or so forth. See you now,Your bait of falsehood take this carp of truth,” – Polonius (to Reynaldo)- Polonius is suggesting ways for Reynaldo to find information about Laertes. He suggests making accusations about Laertes to find out what he’s really doing.
“What, have you given him any hard words of late?” – Polonius (to Ophelia)- Polonius is asking Ophelia if she’s spoken to Hamlet recently.
“No, my good lord, but as you did commandI did repel his letters and deniedHis access to me.” – Ophelia (to Polonius)- Ophelia reassures Polonius that she did what he asked her to: ignored Hamlet.
“That hath made him mad.” – Polonius (to Ophelia)- Polonius thinks that Hamlet has gone insane because Ophelia is ignoring him.
“Heavens make our presence and our practicesPleasant and helpful to him!” – Guildenstern (to Gertrude)- Guildenstern hopes that he can help Claudius as he was asked, and that it doesn’t hurt Hamlet.
“He tells me, my dear Gertrude, he hath foundThe head and source of all your son’s distemper.” – Claudius (to Gertrude)- Claudius tells Gertrude that Polonius knows why Hamlet has gone mad.
“I doubt it is no other but the main:His father’s death and our hasty marriage.” – Gertrude (to Claudius)- This is the first time Gertrude realizes she got married too quickly.
“…he sent out to suppressHis nephew’s levies, which to him appearedTo be a preparation ‘gainst the Polack,” – Voltemand (to Claudius)- Fortinbras’ uncle is going to stop him from attacking Denmark.
“Fortinbras, which he, in brief, obeys,Receives rebuke from Norway, and, in fine, Makes vow before his uncle never moreTo give th’ assay of arms against your Majesty.Whereon old Norway, overcome with joy,Gives him three score thousand crowns in annual feeAnd his commission to employ those soldiers,So levied as before, against the Polack,” – Voltemand (to Claudius)- Fortinbras’ obeyed his uncle and will not attack Denmark. As a reward, his uncle will give him 60,000 crowns each year as payment. He is permitted to take his soldiers (that he built up to attack Denmark) to Poland to fight for land there.
“That it might please you give quiet passThrough your dominions for this enterprise,” – Voltemand (reading letter to Claudius)- Fortinbras asks Claudius if his army can pass through Denmark on the way to Poland.
“I will be brief: your noble son is mad.Mad call I it, for, to define true madness,What is ‘t but to be nothing else but mad?But let that go.” – Polonius (to Claudius and Gertrude)- Polonius tells the King and Queen that Hamlet has gone crazy.
“More matter, with less art.” – Gertrude (to Polonius)- She wants him to get to the point.
“Madam, I swear I use no art at all.That he’s mad, ’tis true. Tis true, ’tis pity,And pity ’tis ’tis true—a foolish figure,But farewell it, for I will use no art.Mad let us grant him then; and now remainsThat we find out the cause of this effect,Or rather say, the cause of this defect,For this effect defective comes by cause.Thus it remains, and the remainder thus.” – Polonius (to Gertrude)- He insists that he isn’t using “art”, but he keeps talking and never really gets to the point. He says that they should find out the reason why Hamlet is mad.
“At such a time I’ll loose my daughter to him.Be you and I behind an arras then;Mark the encounter. If he love her notAnd be not from his reason fall’n thereon,Let me be no assistant for a stateBut keep a farm and carters.” – Polonius (to Claudius and Gertrude)- Polonius suggests that he and Claudius hide and spy on Hamlet and Ophelia to discover if he’s really insane because of her.
“Ay, sir. To be honest, as this world goes, is to be oneman picked out of ten thousand.” – Hamlet (to Polonius)- Hamlet is saying that there are few honest people left in the world.
“Slanders, sir; for the satirical rogue says here that oldmen have gray beards, that their faces are wrinkled,their eyes purging thick amber and plum-tree gum,and that they have a plentiful lack of wit together withmost weak hams…” – Hamlet (to Polonius)- Hamlet is insulting Polonius.
“Though this be madness, yet there is methodin’t.” – Polonius (to himself)- He realizes that Hamlet is indeed mad, but he isn’t exactly sure yet what Hamlet is trying to accomplish.
“I will take my leave of you.” – Polonius (to Hamlet)- Polonius gives up on trying to talk to Hamlet.
“You cannot take from me anything that I will morewillingly part withal…” – Hamlet (to Polonius)- Polonius isn’t going to get anything out of Hamlet.
“These tedious old fools!” – Hamlet (to Polonius)- He’s saying that Polonius wasted his time.
“On Fortune’s capwe are not the very button.” – Guildenstern (to Hamlet)- He’s saying that he and Rosencrantz are doing okay.
“…what make you at Elsinore?” – Hamlet (to Rosencrantz)- Hamlet is giving his friends a chance to tell him the truth.
“Were you not sent for? Is it your owninclining? Is it a free visitation? Come, come, dealjustly with me. Come, come. Nay, speak.” – Hamlet (to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern)- Hamlet wants them to tell him the real reason they came to visit.
“Anything but to th’ purpose: you were sent for, andthere is a kind of confession in your looks which yourmodesties have not craft enough to color. I know thegood King and Queen have sent for you.” – Hamlet (to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern)- He wants them to tell him the truth.
“I have an eye of you. If you love me, holdnot off.” – Hamlet (to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern)- He doesn’t want them to keep information from him.
“I will tell you why. So shall my anticipation preventyour discovery, and your secrecy to the King and Queenmolt no feather. I have of late–but wherefore Iknow not–lost all my mirth, forgone all custom ofexercises,” – Hamlet (to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern)- He tells them what he knows so they don’t break their promise of secrecy to the King and Queen.
“What a piece of work is a man:how noble in reason, how infinite in faculties; inform and moving how express and admirable; inaction how like an angel; in apprehension how like agod—the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals!And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust?” – Hamlet (to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern)- Hamlet believes that spirit and soul are what matters most.
“Dost thou hear me, old friend? Can you play ‘The Murder of Gonzago?'” – Hamlet (to Player)- The seed of how to catch Claudius is planted into Hamlet’s head.
“We’ll ha ‘t tomorrow night. You could, for need,study a speech of some dozen or sixteen lines which I would set down and insert in ‘t, could you not?” – Hamlet (to Player)- Hamlet plans to have a play to reenact the murder of his father.
“Tears in his eyes, distraction in his aspect,A broken voice, and his whole function suitingWith forms to his conceit? And all for nothing…” – Hamlet (to himself)- He compares the Player to himself. He wonders why the actor is getting so into his character for no reason.
“What’s Hecuba to him, or he to herThat he should weep for her? What would he doHad he the motive and that for passionThat I have?” – Hamlet (to hiimself)- He wonders what it would be like if this emotional actor had the motive that he has.
“Yet I,A dull and muddy-mettled rascal, peakLike John-a-dreams, unpregnant of my cause,” – Hamlet (to himself)- Hamlet wishes that he could do something about Claudius.
“Am I a coward?Who calls me villain, breaks my pate across,Plucks off my beard and blows it in my face,Tweaks me by the nose, gives me the lie i’ th’ throatAs deep as to the lungs? Who does me this?…….I should take it, for it cannot beBut I am pigeon-livered and lack gall…” – Hamlet (to himself)- Hamlet questions whether he’s a coward or not. He’s upset that he’s being treated like a child.
“As he is very potent with such spirits,Abuses me to damn me. I’ll have groundsMore relative than this. The play’s the thingWherein I’ll catch the conscience of the King.” – Hamlet (to himself)- Hamlet wants to make sure he’s doing the right thing because he doesn’t want to go to Hell.
“He does confess he feels himself distracted,But from what cause ‘a will by no means speak.” – Rosencrantz (to Claudius)- Hamlet tells them he is disturbed, but won’t tell them why.
“For we have closely sent for Hamlet hither,That he, as ’twere by accident, may hereAffront Ophelia. Her father and myself,We’ll so bestow ourselves that, seeing unseen,We may of their encounter frankly judge,” – Claudius (to Gertrude)- Tells Gertrude that he and Polonius are going to spy on Ophelia and Hamlet.
“To be or not to be? That is the question….” – Hamlet (to himself)- In this soliloquy, Hamlet reveals that he’s feeling suicidal. He doesn’t know whether he should kill himself, or live and take revenge on Claudius. In the end, he decides not to kill himself or Claudius.
“Love? His affections do not that way tend;Nor what he spake, though it lacked form a little,Was not like madness.” – Claudius (to Polonius)- Claudius isn’t convinced Ophelia is the reason Hamlet has gone mad.
“Let his Queen mother all alone entreat himTo show his grief. Let her be round with him,And I’ll be placed, so please you, in the earOf all their conference.” – Polonius (to Claudius)- Polonius makes another plan to spy on Hamlet to find out what’s wrong.
“Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.” – Claudius (to Polonius)- Claudius realizes that Hamlet is dangerous.
“Give me that manThat is not passion’s slave, and I will wear himIn my heart’s core, ay, in my heart of heart,As I do thee.” – Hamlet (to Horatio)- Hamlet wants to be more like Horatio.
“I like him not, nor stands it safe with usTo let his madness range. Therefore prepare you.I your commission will forthwith dispatch,And he to England shall along with you.” – Claudius (to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern)- He realizes that Hamlet is dangerous, so he’s sending him to England.
“Oh, my offence is rank. It smells to Heaven.It hath the primal eldest curse upon ‘t,A brother’s murder.” – Claudius (to himself)- He finally confesses to killing his brother.
“Thou wretched, rash, intrudingfool, farewell.I took thee for thy better.” – Hamlet (to Polonius)- After he accidentally kills Polonius, he scolds him for being so nosy. If he hadn’t been so nosy, he wouldn’t have died.
“But so much was our love,We would not understand what was most fit,” – Claudius (to Gertrude)- They should have done something.
“I would giveyou some violets, but they withered all when myfather died.” – Ophelia (to Laertes)- Ophelia is saying that Hamlet changed. She thought she could trust Hamlet, but he killed her father, so she lost that trust.