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More Famous Quotations from Hamlet

The flash and outbreak of a fiery mind,
A savageness in unreclaimed blood. (2.1.32)

Lord Hamlet, with his doublet all unbraced;
No hat upon his head; his stockings fouled,
Ungartered, and down-gyved to his ancle. (2.1.78)

This is the very ecstasy of love. (2.1.101)

Brevity is the soul of wit. (2.2.90)

To define true madness,
What is't but to be nothing else but mad? (2.2.93)

More matter, with less art. (2.2.95)

That he is mad, ’t is true: ’t is true ’t is pity;
And pity ’t is ’t is true. (2.2.97)

Doubt thou the stars are fire;
Doubt that the sun doth move;
Doubt truth to be a liar;
But never doubt I love. (2.2.116)

Lord Hamlet is a prince, out of thy star. (2.2.141)

Pol. Do you know me, my lord?
Ham. Excellent well; you are a fishmonger. (2.2.173)

Ay, sir; to be honest, as this world goes,
is to be one man picked out of ten thousand. (2.2.179)

Still harping on my daughter. (2.2.190)

Pol. What do you read, my lord?
Ham. Words, words, words. (2.2.195)

They have a plentiful lack of wit. (2.2.200)

Though this be madness, yet there is method in't. (2.2.211)

Pol. My honourable lord, I will most humbly take my leave of you.
Ham. You cannot, sir, take from me any thing that
I will more willingly part withal; except my life,
except my life, except my life. (2.2.222)

There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. (2.2.259)

A dream itself is but a shadow. (2.2.261)

O God! I could be bounded in a nut-shell,
and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams. (2.2.263)

This goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a sterile promontory; this most excellent canopy, the air, look you, this brave o’erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire, why, it appears no other thing to me than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours. What a piece of work is a man! how noble in reason! how infinite in faculty! in form and moving how express and admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehension how like a god! (2.2.316)

He that plays the king shall be welcome; his majesty shall have tribute of me. (2.2.341)

There is something in this more than natural, if philosophy could find it out. (2.2.392)

I am but mad north-north-west; when the wind is southerly, I know a hawk from a handsaw. (2.2.405)

One fair daughter and no more,
The which he loved passing well. (2.2.435)

Come, give us a taste of your quality. (2.2.460)

The play, I remember, pleased not the million; 'twas caviare to the general. (2.2.465)

Will you see the players well bestowed? Do you hear, let them be well used; for they are the abstracts and brief chronicles of the time: after your death you were better have a bad epitaph than their ill report while you live. (2.2.553)

Use every man after his desert, and who should 'scape whipping? (2.2.561)

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
That from her working all his visage wanned,
Tears in his eyes, distraction in 's aspect,
A broken voice, and his whole function suiting
With forms to his conceit? and all for nothing!
For Hecuba!
What's Hecuba to him or he to Hecuba
That he should weep for her? (2.2.584)

I, A dull and muddy-mettled rascal, peak,
Like John-a-dreams, unpregnant of my cause,
And can say nothing. (2.2.601)

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' the throat,
As deep as to the lungs? (2.2.606)

But I am pigeon-livered, and lack gall
To make oppression bitter, or ere this
I should have fatted all the region kites
With this slave's offal. Bloody, bawdy villain!
Remorseless, treacherous, lecherous, kindless villain! (2.2.613)

For murder, though it have no tongue, will speak
With most miraculous organ. (2.2.622)

The devil hath power
To assume a pleasing shape. (2.2.640)

The play's the thing
Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king. (2.2.641)

'Tis too much proved--that with devotion's visage
And pious action, we do sugar o'er
The devil himself. (3.1.47)

To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and, by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause. There's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of disprized love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have,
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience doth make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action. (3.1.56)

Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remembered. (3.1.89)

Rich gifts wax poor when givers prove unkind. (3.1.101)

I am myself indifferent honest. (3.1.122)

Be thou as chaste as ice, as pure as snow, thou shalt not escape calumny. Get thee to a nunnery, go. (3.1.142)

I have heard of your paintings too, well enough. God hath given you one face and you make yourselves another. (3.1.150)

I say, we will have no more marriages. (3.1.156)

Now see that noble and most sovereign reason,
Like sweet bells jangled, out of tune and harsh. (3.1.158)

O! what a noble mind is here o'erthrown:
The courtier's, soldier's, scholar's, eye, tongue, sword;
The expectancy and rose of the fair state,
The glass of fashion, and the mould of form,
The observed of all observers, quite, quite, down! (3.1.160)

Do not saw the air too much with your hand, thus, but use all gently; for in the very torrent, tempest, and, as I may say, the whirlwind of passion, you must acquire and beget a temperance that may give it smoothness. Oh, it offends me to the soul to hear a robustious periwig-pated fellow tear a passion to tatters, to very rags, to split the ears of the groundlings, who for the most part are capable of nothing but inexplicable dumb-shows and noise. I would have such a fellow whipped for o’erdoing Termagant; it out-herods Herod. (3.2.4)

I have thought some of Nature’s journeymen had made men and not made them well, they imitated humanity so abominably. (3.2.34)

No, let the candied tongue lick absurd pomp,
And crook the pregnant hinges of the knee
Where thrift may follow fawning. (3.2.63)

A man that fortune’s buffets and rewards
Hast ta’en with equal thanks. (3.2.69)

Give me that man
That is not passion's slave, and I will wear him
In my heart's core, ay, in my heart of heart,
As I do thee. (3.2.76)

It is a damn'd ghost we have seen,
And my imaginations are as foul
As Vulcan's stithy. (3.2.87)

Here ’s metal more attractive. (3.2.117)

That's a fair thought to lie between maids' legs. (3.2.127)

Nay, then, let the devil wear black, for I ’ll have a suit of sables. (3.2.129)

For, O, for, O, the hobby-horse is forgot. (3.2.135)

Oph. 'Tis brief, my lord.
Ham. As woman's love. (3.2.151)

The lady doth protest too much, methinks. (3.2.242)

We that have free souls, it touches us not:
let the galled jade wince, our withers are unwrung. (3.2.256)

What! frighted with false fire? (3.2.282)

The proverb is something musty. (3.2.366)

You would play upon me; you would seem to know my stops; you would pluck out the heart of my mystery; you would sound me from my lowest note to the top of my compass. (3.2.387)

By and by is easily said. (3.2.380)

Do you think I am easier to be played on than a pipe? Call me what instrument you will, though you can fret me, you cannot play upon me. (3.2.393)

They fool me to the top of my bent. (3.2.409)

’T is now the very witching time of night,
When churchyards yawn and hell itself breathes out
Contagion to this world. (3.2.413)

Let me be cruel, not unnatural;
I will speak daggers to her, but use none. (3.2.420)

O, my offence is rank, it smells to heaven;
It hath the primal eldest curse upon ’t,
A brother’s murder. (3.3.37)

O limed soul, that, struggling to be free,
Art more engag’d! Help, angels! Make assay!
Bow, stubborn knees; and, heart with strings of steel,
Be soft as sinews of the new-born babe! (3.3.70)

Now might I do it pat, now he is praying. (3.3.73)

He took my father grossly, full of bread,
With all his crimes broad blown, as flush as May;
And how his audit stands who knows save heaven? (3.3.80)

My words fly up, my thoughts remain below:
Words without thoughts never to heaven go. (3.3.97)

How now! a rat? Dead, for a ducat, dead! (3.4.24)

A bloody deed! almost as bad, good mother,
As kill a king, and marry with his brother. (3.4.29)

Look here, upon this picture, and on this,
The counterfeit presentment of two brothers.
See, what a grace was seated on this brow:
Hyperion’s curls; the front of Jove himself;
An eye like Mars, to threaten and command;
A station like the herald Mercury
New-lighted on a heaven-kissing hill, —-
A combination and a form indeed,
Where every god did seem to set his seal,
To give the world assurance of a man. (3.4.53)

At your age
The hey-day in the blood is tame, it ’s humble. (3.4.68)

Speak no more;
Thou turn'st mine eyes into my very soul. (3.4.89)

Nay, but to live
In the rank sweat of an enseam'd bed,
Stewed in corruption, honeying and making love
Over the nasty sty. (3.4.91)

A cut-purse of the empire and the rule,
That from a shelf the precious diadem stole,
And put it in his pocket! (3.4.100)

A king of shreds and patches. (3.4.103)

For in the fatness of these pursy times,
Virtue itself of vice must pardon beg. (3.4.154)

I must be cruel, only to be kind:
Thus bad begins, and worse remains behind. (3.4.179)

For 'tis the sport to have the enginer
Hoist with his own petar. (3.4.206)

Diseases desperate grown,
By desperate appliances are relieved,
Or not at all. (4.2.9)

A certain convocation of politic worms are e'en at him. Your worm is your only emperor for diet. (4.2.22)

A man may fish with the worm that hath eat of a king, and eat of the fish that hath fed of that worm. (4.2.29)

We go to gain a little patch of ground,
That hath in it no profit but the name. (4.4.18)

How all occasions do inform against me,
And spur my dull revenge! What is a man,
If his chief good and market of his time
Be but to sleep and feed? a beast, no more.
Sure he that made us with such large discourse,
Looking before and after, gave us not
That capability and god-like reason
To fust in us unused. (4.4.33)

Rightly to be great
Is not to stir without great argument,
But greatly to find quarrel in a straw
When honour's at the stake. (4.4.53)

To-morrow is Saint Valentine’s day,
All in the morning betime. (4.5.46)

Lord! we know what we are, but know not what we may be. (4.5.43)

Come, my coach! Good-night, ladies; good-night, sweet ladies; good-night, good-night. (4.5.72)

When sorrows come, they come not single spies,
But in battalions. (4.5.78)

We have done but greenly
In hugger-mugger to inter him. (4.5.83)

There's such divinity doth hedge a king,
That treason can but peep to what it would. (4.5.123)

They bore him barefaced on the bier;
Hey non nonny, nonny, hey nonny;
And in his grave rained many a tear. (4.5.164)

There's rosemary, that's for remembrance. (4.5.174)

You must wear your rue with a difference.
There ’s a daisy; I would give you some violets, but they withered. (4.5.170)

And where the offence is let the great axe fall. (4.5.219)

A very riband in the cap of youth. (4.7.78)

That we would do
We should do when we would. (4.7.119)

No place, indeed should murder sanctuarize. (4.7.128)

Too much of water hast thou, poor Ophelia,
And therefore I forbid my tears; but yet
It is our trick, nature her custom holds,
Let shame say what it will. (4.7.186)

Is she to be buried in Christian burial that wilfully seeks her own salvation? (5.1.1)

There is no ancient gentlemen but gardeners, ditchers and grave-makers; they hold up Adam's profession. (5.1.32)

Cudgel thy brains no more about it, for your dull ass will not mend his pace with beating. (5.1.62)

The houses that he makes last till doomsday. (5.1.64)

Why may not that be the skull of a lawyer? Where be his quiddities now, his quillets, his cases, his tenures, and his tricks? (5.1.98)

How absolute the knave is! we must speak by the card, or equivocation will undo us. (5.1.147)

The age is grown so picked that the toe of the peasant comes so near the heel of the courtier, he galls his kibe. (5.1.150)

Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio: a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy. He hath borne me on his back a thousand times; and now, how abhorred in my imagination it is! my gorge rises at it. Here hung those lips that I have kissed I know not how oft. Where be your gibes now; your gambols, your songs? your flashes of merriment, that were wont to set the table on a roar? Not one now, to mock your own grinning? Quite chap-fallen? Now get you to my lady’s chamber, and tell her, let her paint an inch thick, to this favour she must come. (5.1.201)

To what base uses we may return, Horatio! Why may not imagination trace the noble dust of Alexander, till we find it stopping a bung-hole? (5.1.222)

Imperious Caesar, dead, and turn'd to clay,
Might stop a hole to keep the wind away. (5.1.235)

Lay her i’ the earth:
And from her fair and unpolluted flesh
May violets spring! (5.1.261)

Sweets to the sweet: farewell! (5.1.265)

I thought thy bride-bed to have decked, sweet maid,
And not have strewed thy grave. (5.1.268)

I loved Ophelia: forty thousand brothers
Could not, with all their quantity of love,
Make up my sum. (5.1.292)

There's a divinity that shapes our ends,
Rough-hew them how we will. (5.2.10)

I once did hold it, as our statists do,
A baseness to write fair. (5.2.33)

The bravery of his grief did put me
Into a towering passion. (5.2.85)

Not a whit, we defy augury; there's a special providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be now, 'tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come: the readiness is all. (5.2.209)

I have shot mine arrow o'er the house,
And hurt my brother. (5.2.233)

A hit, a very palpable hit. (5.2.271)

Why, as a woodcock to mine own springe, Osric;
I am justly killed with my own treachery. (5.2.296)

The point envenomed too!-
Then, venom, to thy work. (5.2.311)

This fell sergeant, death,
Is swift in his arrest. (5.2.326)

Report me and my cause aright
To the unsatisfied. (5.2.328)

I am more an antique Roman than a Dane. (5.2.331)

If thou didst ever hold me in thy heart,
Absent thee from felicity awhile,
And in this harsh world draw thy breath in pain,
To tell my story. (5.2.335)

The rest is silence. (5.2.348)

Now cracks a noble heart. Good-night, sweet prince,
And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest! (5.2.349)

The ears are senseless that should give us hearing,
To tell him his commandment is fulfilled,
That Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead. (5.2.359)

Quotations from Hamlet, Page 1


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 Clothing in Elizabethan England
 Queen Elizabeth: Shakespeare's Patron

 King James I of England: Shakespeare's Patron
 The Earl of Southampton: Shakespeare's Patron
 Going to a Play in Elizabethan London

 Ben Jonson and the Decline of the Drama
 Publishing in Elizabethan England
 Shakespeare's Audience
 Religion in Shakespeare's England

 Alchemy and Astrology in Shakespeare's Day
 The First Critical Editions of the Plays
 Entertainment in Elizabethan England
 London's First Public Playhouse
 Shakespeare Hits the Big Time

Quick Fact

A little more than kin, and less than kind.
- Hamlet (1.2.65), aside

The First Folio does not have the line marked as an aside; the direction first was added by Warburton, and almost every editor since has adopted it. There are good arguments, however, to support that Hamlet speaks these words directly to Claudius. Read on...

More to Explore

 Hamlet: The Complete Play with Explanatory Notes
 Introduction to Hamlet
 The Hamlet and Ophelia Subplot
 The Norway Subplot in Hamlet

 Hamlet Detailed Plot Summary
 Deception in Hamlet
 Hamlet: Problem Play and Revenge Tragedy
 Philological Examination Questions on Hamlet

 The Purpose of The Murder of Gonzago
 The Dumb-Show: Why Hamlet Reveals his Knowledge to Claudius
 The Elder Hamlet: The Kingship of Hamlet's Father
 How Old is Hamlet?


Did You Know? ... Modern editors reference three texts of Hamlet: the Bad Quarto (Q1), the Good Quarto (Q2) and the First Folio. The Good Quarto is probably closest to Shakespeare's own manuscript. The editors of the First Folio removed hundreds of lines from Q2, while actually making some additions. The text of modern editions of the play is based on Q2. For more please click here.


 Hamlet Study Quiz (with detailed answers)
 Hamlet's Humor
 Hamlet's Melancholy: The Transformation of the Prince
 Hamlet's Antic Disposition: Is Hamlet's Madness Real?
 Divine Providence in Hamlet
 Hamlet: Q & A

 Soliloquy Analysis: O this too too... (1.2)
 Soliloquy Analysis: O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I!... (2.2)
 Soliloquy Analysis: To be, or not to be... (3.1)
 Soliloquy Analysis: Tis now the very witching time of night... (3.2)
 Soliloquy Analysis: Now might I do it pat... (3.3)
 Soliloquy Analysis: How all occasions do inform against me... (4.4)

 Ophelia's Burial and Christian Rituals
 The Baker's Daughter: Ophelia's Nursery Rhymes
 Does Hamlet Love Ophelia?

 The Significance of Ophelia's Flowers
 Sewing in my closet: Ophelia's Meeting with Hamlet
 Ophelia and Laertes
 Mistrusted Love: Ophelia and Polonius

 In Secret Conference: The Meeting Between Claudius and Laertes
 O Jephthah! Toying with Polonius
 The Death of Polonius and its Impact on Hamlet's Character
 Blank Verse and Diction in Shakespeare's Hamlet

 Hamlet's Silence
 An Excuse for Doing Nothing: Hamlet's Delay
 Foul Deeds Will Rise: Hamlet and Divine Justice
 Defending Claudius: The Charges Against the King
 Claudius and the Condition of Denmark


Points to Ponder ... "The death of Polonius has given great difficulty, and even offense; its object should be fully comprehended, for it not only illustrates the character of Hamlet, but also is one of the leading motives of the play. No other incident shows so deep a design, or is so appropriate for its purpose. Hamlet, acting blindly through impulse, slays the wrong one; the result is — guilt. This warning, therefore, speaks from the rash act: Let no rational being give up control to impulse which cannot see, cannot distinguish, the nature of a deed." Denton Jaques Snider. Read on...



Hamlet History Richard BurbageKing Claudius. Our son shall win.
Queen Gertrude. He's fat, and scant of breath.
                                                     Hamlet (5.2)

Gertrude's startling description of her son is not quite what we modern readers have in mind when envisioning the brooding young Prince Hamlet. But how can we explain the Queen's frank words? There is evidence to believe that Shakespeare had to work around the rotund stature of his good friend Richard Burbage, the first actor to play Hamlet. "As he was a portly man of large physique, it was natural that the strenuous exertion bring out the fact that he was fat or out of training, as well as scant of breath....He was the first and the last fat Hamlet" (Blackmore, Riddles of Hamlet). An elegy written upon Burbage's death in 1619 convincingly ties "King Dick", as he was affectionately called by his fellow actors, to the line in question:
No more young Hamlet, though but scant of breath, Shall cry Revenge! for his dear father's death.
                                            (A Funeral Elegy)
It is natural to wonder why the death of Burbage was a national tragedy, while the passing of Shakespeare himself just three years earlier received such little attention. There seems, however, to be a simple answer. Read on...


 Where is Hamlet During the Murder of his Father?
 A Note on Hamlet Killing Polonius
 The Ghost of Hamlet's Father

 The Grave-Diggers
 Characteristics of Elizabethan Tragedy
 Why Shakespeare is so Important

 Hamlet's Relationship with the Ghost
 The Significance of the Ghost in Armor
 Why is the Ghost in the Cellar?
 Hamlet as National Hero

 What is Tragic Irony?
 Seneca's Tragedies and the Elizabethan Drama
 Shakespeare's Sources for Hamlet