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Hamlet, pt. 2 - the quoteskimming post

I have no real statistics or support for this statement, but I'm going to go right ahead and assert that Hamlet is probably the most-quoted play in the world. If you're truly interested in the story of Hamlet, but don't really have time to read the whole play, I hope you'll check out my post from earlier today. (There's even a 2-page cartoon version available; I mean, come on, you have time for that at the least!)

This post is going to do something a bit different, and run through the play via famous and/or oft-used quotes. Ready? Go!

Act I, sc. 2: A hall inside the castle

But now, my cousin Hamlet, and my son,-
[Aside] A little more than kin and less than kind.

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

Or that the Everlasting had not fix'd
His canon 'gainst self-slaughter! O God! God!
How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable,
Seem to me all the uses of this world!
Fie on't! ah fie! 'tis an unweeded garden,
That grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature
Possess it merely. That it should come to this!
But two months dead: nay, not so much, not two:
So excellent a king; that was, to this,
Hyperion to a satyr; so loving to my mother
That he might not beteem the winds of heaven
Visit her face too roughly. Heaven and earth!
Must I remember? why, she would hang on him,
As if increase of appetite had grown
By what it fed on: and yet, within a month--
Let me not think on't--Frailty, thy name is woman!--
A little month, or ere those shoes were old
With which she follow'd my poor father's body,
Like Niobe, all tears:--why she, even she--
O, God! a beast, that wants discourse of reason,
Would have mourn'd longer--married with my uncle,
My father's brother, but no more like my father
Than I to Hercules: within a month:
Ere yet the salt of most unrighteous tears
Had left the flushing in her galled eyes,
She married. O, most wicked speed, to post
With such dexterity to incestuous sheets!

My father!--methinks I see my father.
Where, my lord?
In my mind's eye, Horatio.
I saw him once. He was a goodly king.
He was a man. Take him for all in all,
I shall not look upon his like again.

Act I, sc. 3: A room in Polonius's house

Ophelia [to Laertes]
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.

Polonius [to Laertes]
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 ownself be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.

Act I, sc. 4: On the platform outside the castle
Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.

Act I, sc. 5: On a different portion of the platform
Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder.
Murder most foul, as in the best it is[.]

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[.]

These are but wild and whirling words, my lord.

O day and night, but this is wondrous strange.
And therefore as a stranger give it welcome.
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

The time is out of joint: O cursed spite,
That ever I was born to set it right!
Nay, come, let's go together.

Act II, sc. 2: A room in the castle
My liege, and madam, to expostulate
What majesty should be, what duty is,
Why day is day, night night, and time is time,
Were nothing but to waste night, day and time.
Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,
And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
I will be brief: your noble son is mad.

More matter with less art.

Polonius [reading Hamlet's letter to Ophelia]
Doubt thou the stars are fire,
  Doubt that the sun doth move,
  Doubt truth to be a liar,
  But never doubt I love.

Do you know me, my lord?
Excellent well; you are a fishmonger.
Not I, my lord.
Then I would you were so honest a man.
Honest, my lord!
Ay, sir; to be honest, as this world goes, is to be
one man picked out of ten thousand.

What do you read, my lord?
Words, words, words.
What is the matter, my lord?
Between who?
I mean the matter that you read, my lord.
Slanders, sir: for the satirical rogue says here
that old men have grey beards, that their faces are
wrinkled, their eyes purging thick amber and
plum-tree gum and that they have a plentiful lack of
wit, together with most weak hams: all which, sir,
though I most powerfully and potently believe, yet
I hold it not honesty to have it thus set down, for
yourself, sir, should be old as I am, if like a crab
you could go backward.
Though this be madness, yet there is method in 't.

What have you, my good friends, deserved at the hands
of Fortune that she sends you to prison hither?
Prison, my lord?
Denmark's a prison.
Then is the world one.
A goodly one; in which there are many confines,
wards and dungeons, Denmark being one o' the worst.
We think not so, my lord.
Why, then, 'tis none to you; for there is nothing
either good or bad, but thinking makes it so
: to me
it is a prison.
Why then, your ambition makes it one; 'tis too
narrow for your mind.
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.

What a piece of work is a man, how noble in reason,
how infinite in faculties, in form and 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?

[M]y uncle-father and aunt-mother are deceived.
In what, my dear lord?
I am but mad north-north-west: when the wind is
southerly I know a hawk from a handsaw.

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

Act III, sc. 1: A room in the palace
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,
Th' oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of th' 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 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.

Get thee to a nunnery.

Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.

Act III, sc. 2: A hall in the castle
Suit the action to the word, the word to the action,
with this special observance, that you o'erstep not
the modesty of nature.

Player King
This world is not for aye, nor 'tis not strange
That even our loves should with our fortunes change;
For 'tis a question left us yet to prove
Whether love lead fortune, or else fortune love.
The great man down, you mark his favorite flies;
The poor, advanced, makes friends of enemies.
And hitherto doth love on fortune tend,
For who not needs shall never lack a friend,
And who in want a hollow friend doth try
Directly seasons him his enemy.
But, orderly to end where I begun:
Our wills and fates do so contrary run
That our devices still are overthrown;
Our thoughts are ours, their ends none of our own.

Madam, how do you like the play?
The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

'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.

Act III, sc. 3: a room in the castle
My words fly up, my thoughts remain below;
Words without thoughts never to heaven go.

Act III, sc. 4: the queen's bedchamber
I must be cruel, only to be kind.
Thus bad begins and worse remains behind.

I must to England, you know that.

For 'tis the sport to have the enginer
Hoist with his own petard[.]

Act IV, sc. 5: A room in the castle
Good night, ladies, good night, sweet ladies,
good night, good night.

There's rosemary, that's for remembrance.
Pray you, love, remember. And there is pansies, that's for thoughts.

Act IV, sc. 7: Another room in the castle
That we would do
We should do when we would.

Act V, sc 1: In a churchyard
Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio.

Gertrude [to Ophelia's coffin]
Sweets to the sweet, farewell!

Hamlet [to Laertes]
Hear you, sir,
What is the reason that you use me thus?
I loved you ever. But it is no matter.
Let Hercules himself do what he may,
The cat will mew, and dog will have his day.

Act V, sc. 2: A hall in the castle
Our indiscretion sometimes serves us well,
When our deep plots do pall; and that should learn us
There's a divinity that shapes our ends,
Rough-hew them how we will--

We defy augury. There is 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: since no man has aught of what he
leaves, what is't to leave betimes? Let be.

A hit, a very palpable hit.

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

Ambassador from England
The sight is dismal;
And our affairs from England come too late.
The ears are senseless that should give us hearing,
To tell him his commandment is fulfilled,
That Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead.

Tomorrow: Discussion of some themes, tropes, motifs, and the like.

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( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 9th, 2009 05:54 am (UTC)
Seems safe to say
Hamlet's the most quoted literary work in English, next to the Bible, so probably it's the most quoted play in English anyway.
Jun. 9th, 2009 12:55 pm (UTC)
Very true. Although I find I quote Macbeth an awful lot, too.
Jun. 9th, 2009 01:03 pm (UTC)
Get thee to a nunnery was a favorite of my dad's when we were adolescents :)
Jun. 9th, 2009 01:40 pm (UTC)
Do you think he knew it had a double meaning, and that the alternate meaning to "convent" was "whorehouse"?
Jun. 9th, 2009 04:48 pm (UTC)
"convent" was "whorehouse"
Oh, those Sister of St.Joseph (of my early days at Immaculate Conception School), who knew?

Jun. 9th, 2009 09:47 pm (UTC)
Re: "convent" was "whorehouse"
I'm certain your nuns were mostly virtuous. In Shakespeare's day, a convent was a convent (virtuous) and a whorehouse was a whorehouse (not virtuous). Both, however, were sometimes called nunneries.
Jun. 16th, 2011 05:44 am (UTC)
Thanks alot - your answer solved all my problems after sveeral days struggling
Jun. 9th, 2009 01:43 pm (UTC)
Ever since doing Hair, whenever I see Hamlet performed, the song for "What a piece of work is a man" goes through my head. Come to think of it, Hair quoted Hamlet a lot!
Jun. 9th, 2009 02:39 pm (UTC)
I saw the excerpts from HAIR on the Tony's the other night and definitely want to go see it - the production had so much energy!!!
Jun. 9th, 2009 04:51 pm (UTC)
I'd rather go quoting Hamlet...
...than the Bible, any day. Better writer, imho.
Jun. 9th, 2009 05:31 pm (UTC)
Re: I'd rather go quoting Hamlet...
Hee. The Bible had any number of writers . . . Hamlet only the one (although it's possible that some of the lines were added or recrafted by the actors).
Jun. 9th, 2009 05:37 pm (UTC)
Here's a Shakespeare question (or three or 10)...
Any record to any commentary by the writer himself on "how" the plays translated?

Did writers "direct" or in any way get involved, back in the day?

We know from what you told us, Shakespeare was popular and made a good living from his work.

Did he have critics?

And what about "competition?"
Jun. 9th, 2009 05:56 pm (UTC)
Re: Here's a Shakespeare question (or three or 10)...
All that shall be revealed in the due course of time.

But the short answer is that Shakespeare not only wrote, he owned the company and was an actor as well. And boy, did he have critics and competition.
Jun. 9th, 2009 11:15 pm (UTC)
Tanita Says:
...it's like a long cold drink of water when you're parched and hot.
Hamlet. Shakespeare. The poetry of words, breathing...
Jun. 10th, 2009 12:29 am (UTC)
Re: Tanita Says:
Thanks, Tanita. Congrats on your book launch.
Jun. 10th, 2009 03:26 am (UTC)
I know this is sacrilege (sp?!), but I cannot read "Neither a borrower nor a lender be" without hearing Skipper being Polonius to Gilligan's Hamlet. :)
Jun. 10th, 2009 03:50 am (UTC)
That's just funny!
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )

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