Hamlet

How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable
Seem to me all the uses of this world.

The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark is a revenge tragedy by William Shakespeare, and is one of his most well-known and oft-quoted plays. It is uncertain exactly when it was written, but scholars tend to place its composition between 1600 and the summer of 1602.

Act IEdit

I'll speak to it though Hell itself should gape
And bid me hold my peace.
  • You come most carefully upon your hour.
    • Francisco, scene i


  • Not a mouse stirring.
    • Francisco, scene i


  • Our sometime sister, now our Queen.
    • Claudius, scene ii


  • Claudius: ...But now, my cousin Hamlet, and my son —
    Hamlet: A little more than kin, and less than kind.
    Claudius: How is it that the clouds still hang on you?
    Hamlet: Not so my lord; I am too much i' the sun.
    • scene ii


  • Seems, madam! Nay, it is; I know not "seems."
    • Hamlet, scene ii


  • O, that this too too solid flesh would melt,
    Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew.
    • Hamlet, scene ii
    • Note: "Solid" is the word found in the First Folio edition of the plays (1623). Earlier versions (the First and Second Quartos), had used the word "sallied." In some later editions, the word was "sullied."


  • How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable
    Seem to me all the uses of this world.
    • Hamlet, scene ii


  • Frailty, thy name is woman!
    • Hamlet, scene ii


  • But break, my heart, for I must hold my tongue.
    • Hamlet, scene ii


  • Thrift, thrift, Horatio! The funeral bak'd meats
    Did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables.
    • Hamlet, scene ii


  • A countenance more in sorrow than in anger.
    • Horatio, scene ii


  • I'll speak to it though Hell itself should gape
    And bid me hold my peace.
    • Hamlet, scene ii


  • For Hamlet, and the trifling of his favours,
    Hold it a fashion and a toy in blood;
    A violet in the youth of primy nature,
    Forward, not permanent, sweet, not lasting,
    The perfume and suppliance of a minute —
    No more.
    • Laertes, scene iii


  • Do not, as some ungracious pastors do,
    Show me the steep and thorny way to heaven,
    Whiles, like a puff'd and reckless libertine,
    Himself the primrose path of dalliance treads.
    And recks not his own rede.
    • Ophelia, scene iii


  • Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar.
    • Polonius, scene iii


  • Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice;
    Take each man's censure, but reserve thy judgment.
    • Polonius, scene iii


  • Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy,
    But not express'd in fancy; rich, not gaudy;
    For the apparel oft proclaims the man.
    • Polonius, scene iii


  • Neither a borrower nor a lender be:
    For loan oft loses both itself and friend.
    • Polonius, scene iii


  • 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.
    • Polonius, scene iii


  • But to my mind, — though I am native here
    And to the manner born, — it is a custom
    More honour'd in the breach than the observance.
    • Hamlet, scene iv


  • Why, what should be the fear?
    I do not set my life at a pin's fee,
    And for my soul, what can it do to that,
    Being a thing immortal as itself?
    • Hamlet, scene iv


  • Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.
    • Marcellus, scene iv


  • My hour is almost come
    When I to sulphrous and tormenting flames
    Must render up myself.
    • Ghost, scene v


  • Murder most foul, as in the best it is;
    But this most foul, strange, and unnatural.
    • Ghost, scene v


  • The serpent that did sting thy father's life
    Now wears his crown.
    • Ghost, scene v


  • Cut off even in the blossoms of my sin.
    • Ghost, scene v


  • O horrible, O horrible, most horrible!
    • Ghost, scene v


  • And each particular hair to stand on end,
    Like quills upon the fretful porpentine.
    • Ghost, scene v
    • Variant: Most modern publications modernize this phrase to "Like quills upon the fretful porcupine."


  • O most pernicious woman!
    O, villain, villain, smiling, damned villain!
    My tables, — meet it is I set it down,
    That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain.
    • Hamlet, scene v


  • There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
    Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
    • Hamlet, scene v


  • How strange or odd soe'er I bear myself —
    As I perchance hereafter shall think meet
    To put an antic disposition on.
    • Hamlet, scene v


  • The time is out of joint; O cursed spite,
    That ever I was born to set it right!
    • Hamlet, scene v

Act IIEdit

The play's the thing,
Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king.


  • Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,
    And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
    I will be brief.
    • Polonius, scene ii.


  • More matter with less art.
    • Gertrude, scene ii.


  • That he is mad, 'tis true; 'tis true 'tis pity;
    And pity 'tis 'tis true: a foolish figure;
    But farewell it, for I will use no art.
    • Polonius, scene ii


  • Doubt thou the stars are fire;
    Doubt that the sun doth move;
    Doubt truth to be a liar;
    But never doubt I love.
    • Hamlet, from a letter read by Polonius, scene ii


  • Polonius: Do you know me, my lord?
    Hamlet: Excellent well; you're a fishmonger.
    Polonius: Not I, my lord.
    Hamlet Then I would you were so honest a man.
    Polonius: Honest, my lord!
    Hamlet: Ay, sir; to be honest, as this world goes, is to be one man picked out of ten thousand.
    Polonius: That's very true, my lord.
    Hamlet: [Reads] For if the sun breed maggots in a dead dog, being a god kissing carrion, — Have you a daughter?
    Polonius: I have, my lord.
    Hamlet: Let her not walk i' the sun: conception is a blessing: but not as your daughter may conceive; — friend, look to 't.
    Polonius: [Aside] How say you by that? Still harping on my daughter: — yet he knew me not at first; he said I was a fishmonger: he is far gone, far gone: and truly in my youth I suffered much extremity for love; very near this.
    • scene ii


  • Polonius: What do you read, my lord?
    Hamlet: Words, words, words.
    • scene ii


  • Polonius: [Aside] Though this be madness, yet there is method in 't. — Will you walk out of the air, my lord?
    Hamlet: Into my grave.
    • scene ii


  • Polonius: My honored lord, I will most humbly take my leave of you.
    Hamlet: You cannot, sir, take from me anything that I will more willingly part withal — except my life — except my life — except my life.
    • scene ii


  • Hamlet: My excellent good friends! How dost thou Guildenstern? Ah, Rosencrantz! Good lads, how do you both?
    Rosencrantz: As indifferent as children of the earth.
    Guildenstern: Happy in that we are not overhappy; on Fortune's cap we are not the very button.
    Hamlet: Nor the soles of her shoe?
    Rosencrantz: Neither, my lord.
    Hamlet: Then you live about her waist, or in the middle of her favours?
    Guildenstern: Faith, her privates we.
    Hamlet: In the secret parts of Fortune? O, most true! She is a strumpet. What's the news?
    Rosencrantz: None, my lord, but that the world's grown honest.
    Hamlet: Then is doomsday near.
    • scene ii


  • There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.
    • Hamlet, scene ii


  • I could be bounded in a nutshell, and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams.
    • Hamlet, scene ii


  • Beggar that I am, I am even poor in thanks.
    • Hamlet, scene ii


  • I have of late, but wherefore I know not, lost all my mirth, forgone all custom of exercises, and indeed it goes so heavily with my disposition that 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 then 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, in moving, how express and admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the world! the paragon of animals! And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust? man delights not me; no, nor woman neither, though, by your smiling, you seem to say so.
    • Hamlet, scene ii


  • Use every man after his desert, and who should 'scape whipping?
    • Hamlet, scene ii


  • O! what a rogue and peasant slave am I!
    • Hamlet, scene ii


  • What's Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba,
    That he should weep for her?
    • Hamlet, scene ii


  • That I, the son of a dear father murdered,
    Prompted to my revenge by heaven and hell,
    Must like a whore unpack my heart with words,
    and fall a-cursing like a very drab
    • Hamlet, scene ii


  • The play's the thing,
    Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king.
    • Hamlet, scene ii

Act IIIEdit

To be, or not to be, — that is the question…
Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remembered.
Get thee to a nunnery: why wouldst thou be a breeder of sinners?
  • We are oft to blame in this, —
    'Tis too much prov'd, — that with devotion's visage,
    And pious action, we do sugar o'er
    The devil himself.
    • Polonius, scene i


  • 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 wish'd. 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 despis'd 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 these fardels bear,
    To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
    But that the dread of something after death, —
    The undiscover'd 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 naught of?
    Thus conscience does 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.
    • Hamlet, scene i


  • Soft you now!
    The fair Ophelia! — Nymph, in thy orisons
    Be all my sins remember'd.
    • Hamlet, scene i


  • Get thee to a nunnery: why wouldst thou be a breeder of sinners? I am myself indifferent honest; but yet I could accuse me of such things that it were better my mother had not borne me. I am very proud, revengeful, ambitious; with more offences at my beck than I have thoughts to put them in, imagination to give them shape, or time to act them in. What should such fellows as I do crawling between earth and heaven? We are arrant knaves all; believe none of us.
    • Hamlet, scene i


  • Rich gifts wax poor when givers prove unkind.
    • Ophelia, scene i


  • I say, we will have no more marriages: those that are married already, — all but one, — shall live; the rest shall keep as they are.
    • Hamlet, scene i


  • O! what a noble mind is here o'erthrown!
    • Ophelia, scene i


  • O, woe is me
    To have seen what I have seen, see what I see!
    • Ophelia, scene i


  • Gertrude: Come hither, my dear Hamlet, sit by me.
    Hamlet: No, good mother, here's metal more attractive. [Hamlet takes a place near Ophelia.]
    • scene ii


  • Hamlet: Lady, shall I lie in your lap?
    Ophelia: No, my lord.
    Hamlet: I mean, my head upon your lap?
    Ophelia: Ay, my lord.
    Hamlet: Do you think I meant country matters?
    • scene ii


  • So long? Nay, then, let the devil wear black, for I'll have a suit of sables. Oh heavens! die two months ago, and not forgotten yet? Then there's hope a great man's memory may outlive his life half a year.
    • Hamlet, scene ii


  • The lady doth protest too much, methinks.
    • Gertrude, scene ii


  • Why, look you now, how unworthy a thing you make of me. 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; and there is much music, excellent voice, in this little organ, yet cannot you make it speak. 'Sblood, 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.
    • Hamlet, scene ii


  • Hamlet: Do you see yonder cloud that's almost in shape of a camel?
    Polonius: By th' Mass, and 'tis like a camel, indeed.
    Hamlet: Methinks it is like a weasel.
    Polonius: It is backed like a weasel.
    Hamlet: Or like a whale.
    Polonius: Very like a whale.
    • scene ii


  • Tis now the very witching time of night,
    When churchyards yawn and hell itself breathes out
    Contagion to this world: now could I drink hot blood,
    And do such bitter business, as the day
    Would quake to look on.
    • Hamlet, scene ii


  • Let me be cruel, not unnatural;
    I will speak daggers to her, but use none.
    • Hamlet, scene ii


  • O! my offence is rank, it smells to heaven.
    • Claudius, scene iii


  • What if this cursed hand
    Were thicker than itself with brother's blood, —
    Is there not rain enough in the sweet heavens
    To wash it white as snow?
    • Claudius, scene iii


  • Now might I do it pat, now he is praying;
    And now I'll do 't: and so he goes to heaven;
    And so am I reveng'd.
    • Hamlet, scene iii


  • My words fly up, my thoughts remain below;
    Words without thoughts never to heaven go.
    • Claudius, scene iii


  • Hamlet: How now! a rat? Dead, for a ducat, dead!
    Polonius: Oh, I am slain!
    • scene iv


  • Thou wretched, rash, intruding fool, farewell!
    I took thee for thy better.
    • Hamlet, scene iv


  • Nay, but to live
    In the rank sweat of an enseamed bed,
    Stew'd in corruption, honeying and making love
    Over the nasty sty.
    • Hamlet, scene iv


  • I must be cruel, only to be kind: Thus bad begins and worse remains behind.
    • Hamlet, scene iv


  • Be thou assur'd, if words be made of breath,
    And breath of life, I have no life to breathe
    What thou hast said to me.
    • Gertrude, scene iv

Act IVEdit

Good-night, ladies; good-night, sweet ladies; good-night, good-night.
  • So, haply, slander —
    Whose whisper o'er the world's diameter,
    As level as the cannon to his blank,
    Transports his poisoned shot — may miss our name
    And hit the woundless air. — O, come away!
    My soul is full of discord and dismay.
    • Claudius, scene i


  • Rosencrantz: I understand you not, my lord.
    Hamlet: I am glad of it: a knavish speech sleeps in a foolish ear.
    Rosencrantz: My lord, you must tell us where the body is, and go with us to the king.
    Hamlet: The body is with the king, but the king is not with the body. The king is a thing —
    Guildenstern: A thing, my lord?
    Hamlet: Of nothing.
    • scene ii


  • Hamlet: A man may fish with the worm that hath eat of a king, and eat of the fish that hath fed of that worm.
    Claudius: What dost thou mean by this?
    Hamlet: Nothing but to show you how a king may go a progress through the guts of a beggar.
    • scene iii


  • Claudius: Where is Polonius?
    Hamlet: In heaven; send thither to see. If your messenger find him not there, seek him i' the other place yourself. But, indeed, if you find him not within this month, you shall nose him as you go up the stairs into the lobby.
    • scene iii


  • How all occasions do inform against me,
    And spur my dull revenge!
    • Hamlet, scene iv


  • O! from this time forth,
    My thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth!
    • Hamlet, scene iv


  • We know what we are, but know not what we may be.
    • Ophelia, scene v


  • Good-night, ladies; good-night, sweet ladies; good-night, good-night.
    • Ophelia, scene v


  • When sorrows come, they come not single spies,
    But in battalions.
    • Claudius, scene v


  • I'm lost in it, my lord. But let him come;
    It warms the very sickness in my heart,
    That I shall live and tell him to his teeth,
    'Thus diest thou.'
    • Laertes, scene vii


  • Too much of water hast thou, poor Ophelia,
    And therefore I forbid my tears.
    • Laertes, scene vii

Act VEdit

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!
There's a divinity that shapes our ends,
Rough-hew them how we will.
The rest is silence.
  • 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; make her laugh at that.
    • Hamlet, scene i


  • Lay her i' the earth:
    And from her fair and unpolluted flesh
    May violets spring!
    • Laertes, scene i


  • This is I,
    Hamlet the Dane!
    • Hamlet, scene i


  • I lov'd Ophelia: forty thousand brothers
    Could not, with all their quantity of love,
    Make up my sum.
    • Hamlet, scene i


  • Hear you sir;
    What is the reason that you use me thus?
    I lov'd you ever: but it is no matter.
    Let Hercules himself do what he may,
    The cat will mew, and dog will have his day.
    • Hamlet, scene i


  • There's a divinity that shapes our ends,
    Rough-hew them how we will.
    • Hamlet, scene ii


  • 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.
    • Hamlet, scene ii


  • O, I die, Horatio;
    The potent poison quite o'er-crows my spirit:
    I cannot live to hear the news from England;
    But I do prophesy the election lights
    On Fortinbras: he has my dying voice;
    So tell him, with the occurrents, more and less,
    Which have solicited. The rest is silence.
    • Hamlet, scene ii; variant, from the First Folio: The rest is silence. O, o, o, o. [Dies]


  • 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.
    • Hamlet, scene ii


  • Now cracks a noble heart. Good-night, sweet prince;
    And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.
    • Horatio, scene ii


  • Bear Hamlet, like a soldier, to the stage.
    • Fortinbras, scene ii


  • Go, bid the soldiers shoot.
    • Fortinbras, scene ii

External linksEdit

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Last modified on 13 April 2014, at 06:16