Hamlet Quotes of Purgatory

For this relief much thanks. [Francisco-I.i.8] Context: Francisco meets with Bernardo while on watch at Elsinore Castle. It is around midnight, and Francisco is about to end his watch. Francisco thanks Bernardo for taking watch with him and for replacing him. Importance: Encourages friendly relations among Francisco and Bernardo.
… prologue to the omen coming on [Horatio-I.i.136] Context: Horatio, Bernardo, and Marcellus are waiting for the ghost to reappear. Bernardo and Marcellus wanted to show that a ghost does appear during their shift. Importance: Shows that the ghost has significance.
… the morn, in russet mantle clad [Horatio-I.i.181] Context: Horatio, Marcellus, and Bernardo discuss how the crow of a cock can repel a ghost similar to daylight. At the time, the sun is rising, and the morning is described as having a piece of clothing that is reddish-brown-gray. Importance: An example of imagery within the play.
A little more than kin and less than kind! [Hamlet-I.ii.68-9] Context: The King is speaking to his audience in Elsinore Castle. Hamlet speaks to King Claudius after Laertes gains permission to leave for France. King Claudius addresses Hamlet as “my cousin Hamlet, and my son-” (I. ii. 66-68). Hamlet does not support the King’s actions, but acknowledges that they are related in more ways than one despite their rocky relationship. Importance: Demonstrates the tense relationship between Hamlet and King Claudius.
O that this too too solid flesh would melt [Hamlet-I.ii.135] Context: After the King and Gertrude come in and check on Hamlet, they both leave and Hamlet begins his soliloquy with this first statement. Importance: Shows how much the remarriage and death of King Hamlet had affected him.
Frailty, thy name is woman! [Hamlet-I.ii.152] Context: Hamlet has a soliloquy that expresses his emotions about life. He mentions how his mother has married another man a little over a month after her past husband’s death. He calls Queen Gertrude frail because he believes her willpower to be frail and loose. Importance: Demonstrates Hamlet’s feelings towards Queen Gertrude and his opinion on her remarriage.
In my mind’s eye [Hamlet-I.ii.195] Context: Horatio, Bernardo, and Marcellus enter to come with their intentions to tell Hamlet about the ghost they had been seeing. In this specific time frame, they are discussing the remarriage of Gertrude and such. Importance: Shows how much Hamlet had idolized his father.
A countenance more in sorrow than in anger [Horatio-I.ii.249] Context: Horatio, Marcellus, and Bernardo are telling Hamlet about the ghost. They are describing his appearance to prove that the ghost did exist. Importance: He is sad that he was not able to redeem himself before death. This is important because it shows remorse in sins that were committed. This is essential to the idea of religious context.
… the primrose path of dalliance [Ophelia-I.iii.53] Context: At the end of Laertes’ lecture on how Ophelia should not pursue Hamlet, Ophelia tells him that he should not lecture her, when he does not follow his own advice. Importance: Ophelia is showing loyalty to Hamlet, and defining her as different character than that who just relies on a male character. While Ophelia continues to be dependent on male roles, she stood up to her brother.
This above all: to thine own self be true [Polonius-I.iii.82] Context: Polonius and Ophelia are saying their goodbyes to Laertes before he leaves for France. A piece of advice that Polonius offers to Laertes is to stay true to himself above all things. Importance: A general piece of advice no matter who you are. Could demonstrate how Polonius’ shallow advice reflected his personality.
Something is rotten in the state of Denmark [Marcellus-I.iv.100] Context: Hamlet has just left with the ghost. Horatio and Marcellus consider following them, and Marcellus foreshadows that something has gone wrong and is about to be unearthed. Importance: Foreshadowing of events that will later be revealed.
Murder most foul, as in the best it is [Ghost-I.v.32] Context: The ghost is revealing how late King Hamlet had an unjust death. His murder was not natural, and it was wrong because it was his own brother. Importance: Claudius was supposed to be his brother, however, King was killed by him because of greed and lust. This showed that blood was not thicker than water. Superficiality.
Leaver her to heaven [Ghost-I.v.93] Context: The ghost is telling Hamlet what to do with Gertrude. Importance: Showing that Hamlet should only focus on killing Claudius
… one may smile, and smile, and be a villain [Hamlet-I.v.115] Context: After the ghost leaves, Hamlet begins a short soliloquy about what he had learned about. Importance: Shows that Hamlet has had a realization/certification that Claudius is as evil as he had dreamed.
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy. [Hamlet-I. V. 191-92] Context: Horatio and Marcellus are vowing to stay silent on seeing the ghost interact with Hamlet and to not reveal why Hamlet will act odd in the future. The ghost is swearing along the two men, and Hamlet is talking to the ghost, but the other two cannot hear the ghost. Hamlet explains that there are things in the world that are unexplainable and incomprehensible to some. Importance: Emphasizes how Hamlet was able to hear the ghost, but the other two weren’t. This quote makes Hamlet seem egotistic towards Horatio because he appears to understand more of his surroundings rather than Horatio, which may be a reflection of his ego.
The time is out of joint… [Hamlet-I. V. 215] Context: After Horatio and Marcellus swear on the sword to not exploit the encounter of the ghost, Hamlet ends the scene by saying that Denmark is in disarray. The king is bad and Denmark needs to be brought back to unity. Importance: hamlet foreshadows his intentions to fix the problems that he sees in Denmark by murdering the king.
… brevity is the soul of wit [Polonius-II. Ii. 96] Context: Polonius is explaining to the King and Queen why their son is mad, but is going on a tangent. He is saying that concise language contributes to knowledge. Importance: An example of irony because Polonius is going on a tangent despite saying that he will keep his speech short. His quote possibly implies that he lacks wit because he is inconcise with language, which is a reflection on his overall character.
More matter, with less art. [Queen-II. Ii. 102] Context: Gertrude is talking with Polonius about why their son is going mad, however he goes on a tangent. Importance: Shows how Polonius never gets to the point
Though this be madness, yet there is method in’t. [Polonius-II. Ii. 222-23] Context: Polonius is having a conversation with Hamlet. Previous to the quote, Hamlet tells Polonius that he is a fishmonger, asks her if he has a daughter, to not let his daughter walk in the sun as she could become pregnant, and that he is reading a book about a silly old man. Polonius disregards Hamlet’s random comments because he is mad, but believes there is a method to his madness. Importance: Demonstrates how Polonius believes everything that Hamlet tells him, inferring naivety on the party of Polonius.
…there is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so. [Hamlet-II. Ii. 265-66] Context: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern told Hamlet that Denmark was a good place to live. How can you say that this castle is prison, when you have the entire kingdom at your feet? The actual excerpt is stating that to you, Denmark may not seem bad or good, but thinking it makes it so. To Hamlet, Denmark’s a prison. Importance: Hamlet is showing Rosen. And Guild. his dismay for the country.
What a piece of work is a man! [Hamlet-II. Ii. 319] Context: Hamlet is telling Rosen. and Guild. That Claudius is a piece of work. He may fool the two who were sent there to “look after Hamlet,” but he knows that it is to be malicious. Importance: Hamlet is telling Rose and Guild that Claudius is not a good man. This quote also foreshadows how the two will still follow Claudius and ultimately lead to their death.
I am but mad north-north-west… I know a hawk from a handsaw. [Hamlet-II. Ii. 388-89] Context: Hamlet is welcoming the actors that are arriving. This is right after Rose and Guild confess that they are working for the King. Importance: Shows that there is a method to Hamlet’s madness.
…caviary to the general [Hamlet-II. Ii. 444-45] Context: Hamlet is asking the actors to perform a specific speech that he heard before. He remembers that the play did not please everyone because it did not appeal to the commoners. Its taste/appeal was too complex for the general public. Importance: To emphasize how the higher class had refined tastes in comparison to the lower class.
Use every man after his desert, and who should scape whipping? [Hamlet-II. Ii. 536-37] Context: During the performance, Hamlet is talking to Polonius about the meaning of the show and such. Importance: Explains the theme of justice and if people got what they deserved. However, Hamlet looks at it in a negative perspective saying that anything we do will result in a punishment.
O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I! [Hamlet-II. Ii. 556] Context: After asking the actors to perform a specific play, Hamlet asks them to perform the Murder of Gonzago but with a few additional lines. After the players exit, Hamlet belittles himself because the actors were able to get him concerned about a fictional character whereas Hamlet himself hasn’t taken action on his father’s behalf. Importance: Hamlet is contemplating suicide. He is complaining about how God had made a rule against suicide
What’s Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba [ Hamlet-II. Ii. 565] Context: This is Hamlet’s soliloquy after Rose and Guild leave. He is bagging on the Queen and the King. Prior to that, an actor had just wept for Hecuba, and Hamlet is wondering how he was able to conjure such strong emotions for a stranger. Importance: He compares how his mother and Hecuba, describing how her mother moved from man to man while Hecuba stayed loyal. Demonstrates why Hamlet feels guilty.
…the devil hath power t’ assume a pleasing shape [Hamlet-II. Ii. 607-8] Context: Hamlet has confirmed his plans for the play within a play. Hamlet mentions that the ghost may be a devil to shape shift into something/someone else, and that is why he is not as credible. Importance: Provides one reason why Hamlet has not taken revenge yet he is unsure if the messenger was credible source
The play’s the thing [Hamlet-II.ii.612] Context: Hamlet is using the play to prove that King Claudius is the true murderer of late King hamlet. The play is acting as a trap for the king. Importance: Clarifies why Hamlet asked the actors to perform a specific play with additional lines. Shows that Hamlet wants to incriminate Claudius so that he has proof, before he kills him. This is also testing the theory of whether the ghost was actually his father.
To be, or not to be, that is the question [Hamlet-III.i.64] Context: Hamlet is considering suicide. Importance: A well known line in the play. If he takes no action, then he will continue to live, but if he takes action, then he will die. He compares death to sleep, but then mentions that bad dreams could take place.
The glass of fashion and the mould of form, The observed of all observers. [Ophelia-III.i.163-64] Context: Before the play, there is a conversation between Ophelia and Hamlet. They are talking about their love life at the moment. Hamlet tells Ophelia that he is done with her and that she should just go to the nunnery because she is a *****. “People are basic, made from transparent clothes (no meaning) and moulded with construct. I am not. I have seen what other people have not.” Importance: Shows the divide between the high and low class.
It out-herods Herod. [Hamlet – III.ii.13] Context: Hamlet is directing the actors on how they should act. They should not be too melodramatic like Herod. If they act poorly, then they would out-herod Herod. Importance: Reference to another literary work. Demonstrates how Hamlet was a bit of a control freak. Maybe alludes to Shakespeare’s opinion on acting.
Suit the action to the word, the word to the action [Hamlet – III.ii.17-8] Context: Hamlet is directing the actors on how to act. He is telling them to have actions that are appropriate to the lines, and to ensure that the lines are appropriate to their actions. Importance: Could allude to how Shakespeare thinks some actors should act.
The lady doth protest too much, methinks [Queen – III.ii.243] Context: Gertrude watches the play. She comments on how the Queen in the play protests too much about how she will never find another lover. The Queen complained about how if she were to remarry, it would be as if she is killing her old husband. Importance: This line is import because the Queen mirrors the life of Gertrude. However, with Gertrude’s comments, it is clear that Gertrude does not feel the same way about her husband.
A king of shreds and patches! [Hamlet III.iv.117] Context: Hamlet sees the ghost while in Gertrude’s room. Gertrude and Hamlet were arguing. This is the second time that the ghost has appeared. Importance: This is a reflection of the ghost and his torture through purgatory. Hamlet states that the king is in “shreds and patches” because the King has suffered a lot.
…’tis the sport to have the enginerHoist with his own petar [Hamlet – III.iv.229-30] Context: Hamlet had just switched the letters with the condemning message. He is going to kill the messenger with the message.Importance: Explains how Rose and Guild were murdered, as well as provided foreshadowing to how Laertes and Claudius will fall into their own trap.
How all occasions do inform against me [Hamlet – IV.iv.34] Context: Fortinbras was moving his troops across Denmark on the way to Poland. The Captain just finished talking to Hamlet and telling him of Fortinbras efforts. In his soliloquy, he expresses his feelings to himself. Importance: Hamlet is angered and upset by the news of Fortinbras moving through to conquest Poland. He expressed that everything is working against him at the moment, and he it has been fueling his revenge. This is significant because it shows that Hamlet is aware and affected by the events around him. He is becoming angrier and angrier, which continues to fuel his need for revenge.
There’s such divinity doth hedge a king [King – IV.v.132] Context: Laertes is meeting with Claudius. It is in the line where Claudius asks Laertes why he has come. He tells Gertrude to let him go, because he won’t get hurt from traitors. God looks out for King. Importance: At the time, Kings were given “divine” rule. In this context, Claudius was given protection. However, it is ironic because Hamlet is a traitor that kills him. In addition, Claudius is a traitor that killed the King. Therefore, his mentally is flawed.
Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio! [Hamlet – V.i.177-78] Context: Horatio and Hamlet are in the graveyard, watching the gravedigger do his job. When the skull comes up, he realizes that the remains were for Yorick. Importance: Shows importance because Hamlet sees his deceased mentor. He expresses great sorrow for his life. This is important to the plot because it shows that whether you’re rich or poor, once you are dead, you will have no selection of your class. All worms feed on the dead.
Sweets to the sweet! [Gertrude – V.i.239] Context: Ophelia is being buried, and Gertrude, Laertes, and Claudius are attending. They are mourning for her burial. Gertrude throws flowers on top of the grave. Importance: Gertrude is showing how much she liked Ophelia. Ophelia was a sweet girl. This can also be seen as a symbolism for Ophelia’s mind. Ophelia had lost her “flowers” when she went mad. However, in death, Gertrude is giving them back to her.
There’s a divinity that shapes our ends [Hamlet – V.ii.11] Context: Hamlet and Horatio are walking down the Castle’s hallways. Hamlet has just returned, and it is after Ophelia’s burial. He is confessing to Horatio that he has not slept because there is a battle going on in his heart. Importance: Hamlet is confessing to Horatio that no matter how much you seek revenge or how much you wish not to yearn for something, a power outside of a human determines the destiny and end of a human.
…there’s a special providence in the fall of a sparrow. [Hamlet – V.ii.218-19] Context: Hamlet is talking to Horatio. Horatio tells Hamlet that he doesn’t have to fight Laertes. He can make excuses for him, however, Hamlet does not want to back out of the fight. Importance: With the fall of a sparrow, it is imminent. This is important to the foreshadowing of the upcoming events because although Hamlet may not have fallen by the first method, the drink, he will eventually fall due to the poison on the sword. Much like the sparrow, if it does not fall now, it will fall later. If it will not fall later, it will fall now.
Imperious Caesar, dead and turned to clay [Hamlet – V.i.205] Context: Hamlet is speaking to the gravedigger and he is considering the meaning of life as he looks into the face of death (Yorick’s skull). Importance: Same burial as for the rich as for the poor.