Hamlet Themes and Quotes

Guilt/Remorse “Sir in my heart there was a kind of fighting that would not let me sleep.” – Hamlet”My words fly up, my thoughts remain below. Words without thoughts never to heaven go.” – Claudius”‘Forgive me my foul murder’? That cannot be, since I am still possessed of those effects for which I did the murder.” – Claudius”O my offence is rank, it smells to heaven” – Claudius”Be thou assured, if words be made of breath, and breath of life, I have no life to breathe, what thou hast said to me.” – Gertrude”O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I! Is it not monstrous that this player here, but in a fiction, in a dream of passion, could force his soul so to his own conceit” – Hamlet
Madness “Villain, villain, smiling damned villain” – Hamlet”Lord Hamlet with his doublet all unbraced, no hat upon his head, his stockings fouled” – Ophelia”Your noble sun is mad” – Polonius”Madness in great ones must not unwatched go” – Claudius”It is a damned ghost that we have seen, and my imaginations are as foul as Vulcan’s stithy.” – Hamlet”Conceit in weakest bodies strongest works” – Ghost”This is the very coinage of your brain” – Gertrude”Mad as the sea and wind, when both contend which is mightier” – Gertrude
Mortality “I would give you some violets, but they withered all when my father died” – Ophelia”I am killed by mine own treachery” – Laertes”To be, or not to be, that is the question” – Hamlet”O that this too too solid flesh would melt” – Hamlet”To die, to sleep – perchance to dream” – Hamlet”Clamb’ring to hang, an envious sliver broke, when down her weedy trophies and herself fell in the weeping brook.” – Gertrude
Revenge “I with wings as swift as meditation or the thoughts of love may sweep to my revenge” – Hamlet”Leave her to heaven and to those thorns that in her bosom lodge to prick and sting her.” – Ghost”And now I could drink hot blood” – Hamlet”Let me be cruel, not unnatural: I will speak daggers to her but use none.” – Hamlet”Why, this is hire and salary, not revenge” – Hamlet”Then trip him that his heels may kick at heaven, and that his soul may be as damned and black as hell whereto it goes” – Hamlet
Conflict “Had he the motive and the cue for passion that I have?” – Hamlet”Am I a coward?” – Hamlet”I am pigeon-livered and lack gall” – Hamlet”And am I then revenged when he is fit and seasoned for his passage? No.” – Hamlet”Since frost itself as actively doth burn, and reason panders will.” – Hamlet”Thus conscience does make cowards of us all.” – Hamlet
Corruption “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark” – Marcellus”’tis an unweeded garden that grows to seed, things rank and gross in nature” – Hamlet”That incestuous, that adulterous beast” – Ghost”Let not the royal bed of Denmark be a couch for luxury and damned incest” – Ghost”In the corrupted currents of this world offence’s gilded hand may shove be justices” – Claudius”And do not spread the compost on the weeds to make them ranker.” – Hamlet”Throw away the worser part of it and live the purer with the other half.” – Hamlet”A father killed, a mother stained.” – Hamlet”To hell allegiance, vows to the blackest devil, conscience and grace to the profoundest pit!” – Laertes
Appearance v Reality “In my minds eye Horatio.” – Hamlet”Denmark’s a prison.” – Hamlet”I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams.” – Hamlet”The spirit that I have seen may be a devil – and the devil hath power to assume a pleasing shape.” – Hamlet”With devotions visage, and pious action, we sugar over the devil himself.” – Polonius”I was the more deceived.” – Ophelia”The king rises.” “”What, frightened with false fire?” – Ophelia and Hamlet”Assume a virtue if you have it not.” – Hamlet”See what grace was seated on this brow; Hyperion’s curls, the front of Jove himself, An eye like Mars to threaten and command.” – Hamlet”Whom I trust as I will adders fanged.” – Hamlet”What is a man, a beast no more.” – Hamlet”They say the owl was a baker’s daughter. Lord, we know what we are, but know not what we may be.” – Ophelia