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Famous Quotations from Hamlet

Please click on the highlighted quotes for commentary.

You come most carefully upon your hour. (1.1.6)

For this relief much thanks; 'tis bitter cold
And I am sick at heart. (1.1.10)

Not a mouse stirring. (1.1.12)

Look, where it comes again! (1.1.41)

In the most high and palmy state of Rome,
A little ere the mightiest Julius fell,
The graves stood tenantless and the sheeted dead
Did squeak and gibber in the Roman streets. (1.1.125)

And then it started like a guilty thing
Upon a fearful summons. (1.1.148)

The memory be green. (1.2.2)

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

Not so, my lord; I am too much i' the sun. (1.2.67)

Good Hamlet, cast thy nighted colour off,
And let thine eye look like a friend on Denmark. (1.2.68)

All that live must die,
Passing through nature to eternity. (1.2.72)

Seems, madam! Nay, it is; I know not 'seems'. (1.2.77)

O! that this too too solid flesh would melt,
Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew; (1.2.129)

A truant disposition, good my lord. (1.2.169)

We'll teach you to drink deep ere you depart. (1.2.175)

He was a man, take him for all in all,
I shall not look upon his like again. (1.2.187)

In the dead vast and middle of the night. (1.2.198)

A countenance more in sorrow than in anger. (1.2.231)

While one with moderate haste might tell a hundred. (1.2.240)

Give it an understanding, but no tongue. (1.2.249)

All is not well;
I doubt some foul play. (1.2.254)

Foul deeds will rise,
Though all the earth o'erwhelm them, to men's eyes. (1.2.256)

Do not, as some ungracious pastors do,
Show me the steep and thorny way to heaven,
Whiles, like a puffed and reckless libertine,
Himself the primrose path of dalliance treads,
And recks not his own rede. (1.3.48)

Give every man thine ear, but few thy voice;
Take each man's censure, but reserve thy judgment.
Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy,
But not expressed in fancy; rich, not gaudy;
For the apparel oft proclaims the man. (1.3.68)

Neither a borrower, nor a lender be;
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry,
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. (1.3.69)

You speak like a green girl,
Unsifted in such perilous circumstance. (1.3.101)

When the blood burns, how prodigal the soul
Lends the tongue vows. (1.3.116)

I do not set my life at a pin's fee. (1.4.65)

Unhand me, gentlemen,
By heaven! I'll make a ghost of him that lets me. (1.4.85)

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. (1.4.90)

Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder. (1.5.25)

Murder most foul, as in the best it is;
But this most foul, strange, and unnatural. (1.5.27)

O most pernicious woman!
O villain, villain, smiling, damn'd villain!
My tables, - meet it is I set it down,
That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain;
At least I'm sure it may be so in Denmark. (1.5.105)

Hamlet. There's never a villain dwelling in all Denmark
But he 's an arrant knave.
Horatio. There needs no ghost, my lord, come from the grave
To tell us this. (1.5.123)

Every man has business and desire,
Such as it is. (1.5.130)

These are but wild and whirling words, my lord. (1.5.133)

O day and night, but this is wondrous strange! (1.5.164)

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. (1.5.166)

To put an antic disposition on. (1.5.172)

Rest, rest, perturbed spirit! (1.5.182)

The time is out of joint; O curs'd spite,
That ever I was born to set it right! (1.5.188)

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)

More Quotations from Hamlet


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 Queen Elizabeth: Shakespeare's Patron

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 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