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Shakespeare Quick Quotes

"Seems," madam? Nay, it is; I know not "seems."

- Hamlet (1.2.77), Hamlet to his mother, Gertrude

Hamlet has just arrived at Claudius's court. The sullen and grieving Hamlet appears dressed in all black, much to the annoyance of Claudius and Gertrude, who have exchanged their mourning clothes for lavish court costumes.

Although initially reserved, Hamlet lashes out at his mother when she asks him why he should still be so upset when everyone else has come to terms with the death of his father:

Gertrude. Why seems it so particular with thee?
Hamlet. "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 which passeth show;
These but the trappings and the suits of woe. (75-90)


How to cite this article:

Mabillard, Amanda. Quick Quote: "Seems," madam? Nay, it is; I know not "seems." Shakespeare Online. 20 Aug. 2000. (date when you accessed the information) < >.

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