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Hamlet

Written: c. 1600; Texts: Quartos 1603 (Q1 bad quarto), 1604 or 1605 (Q2 variously dated), First Folio 1623 (Tragedy)
Source: Thomas Kyd (1558-94). Ur-Hamlet (c. 1589); Francois de Belleforest (1530-83). Histories Tragiques Book 5 (1570)
Characters: Hamlet, Claudius, Polonius, Horatio, Laertes, Gertrude, Ophelia, Ghost of Hamlet’s Father; Rosencrantz and Guildenstern
Setting: Elsinor Castle, Denmark
Time: c. 9th Century

The soliloquy reaches a new level of importance within this play. In no other play by Shakespeare does the dramatic conflict become more central within a single character than it does in Hamlet himself. And so this part becomes an actor’s great challenge – acting against himself, alone on stage. The part is made more difficult since literary critics don’t agree on exactly what Hamlet’s problem is. Is he struggling to bring himself to avenge his father’s death out of fear or from genuine uncertainty about the veracity of what may or may not be his father’s ghost? Is spectral evidence enough to commit murder or does he need corroboration? Is he procrastinating or searching for genuine proof of his uncle’s purported crime?

Where is the beauteous Majesty of Denmark?

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Ophelia
Where is the beauteous Majesty of Denmark?
Queen
How now, Ophelia?
Ophelia sings

How should I your true love know
From another one?
By his cockle hat and staff
And his sandal shoon.

Queen
Alas,
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In the most high and palmy state of Rome

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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.
As stars with trains of fire, and dews of blood,
Disasters in the sun; and the moist star
Upon whose influence Neptune’s empire stands
Was sick almost to doomsday with eclipse.
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Act 1
Scene 1
Line 124

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But soft, behold! Lo where it comes again!

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But soft, behold! Lo where it comes again!
It spreads his arms.
I’ll cross it though it blast me. Stay, illusion!
If thou hast any sound or use of voice,
Speak to me.
If there be any good thing to be done
That may to thee do ease, and grace to me,
Speak to me.
If thou art privy to thy country’s fate,

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Act 1
Scene 1
Line 138

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,

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,

It was about to speak when the cock crew

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Barnardo
It was about to speak when the cock crew.
Horatio
And then it started like a guilty thing
Upon a fearful summons. I have heard
The cock, that is the trumpet to the mornMetaphor,
Doth with his lofty and shrill-sounding throat
Awake the god of day, and at his warning,
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Act 1
Scene 1
Line 162

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Connected Notes:
Seasons, Elements and Humors, Birds — Martial and Marital

But look, the morn in russet mantle clad

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But look, the morn in russet mantle clad
Walks o’er the dew of yon high eastward hillPersonification
.
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Act 1
Scene 1
Line 181

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A little more than kin, and less than kind

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A little more than kin, and less than kindParonomasia.
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Act 1
Scene 2
Line 67

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Hamlet’s First Words

O that this too too solid flesh would melt

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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,

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Act 1
Scene 2
Line 133

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Connected Notes:
Hamlet’s First Soliloguy

I shall the effect of this good lesson keep

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I shall the effect of this good lesson keep
As watchman to my heart. But, good my brother,

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.
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Act 1
Scene 3
Line 49

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The wind sits in the shoulder of your sail

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The wind sits in the shoulder of your sail,
And you are stayed for. There, my
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 blessing with thee!
And these few precepts in thy memory
Look thou character. Give thy thoughts no tongue,
Nor any unproportion’d thought his act.
Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar:
Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,

Act 1
Scene 3
Line 61

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But to my mind, though I am native here

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But to my mind, though I am native here
And to the manner born, it is a custom
More honor’d in the breach than the observance.
This heavy-headed revel east and west
Makes us traduc’d and tax’d of other nations.
They clip us drunkards, and with swinish phrase
Soil our addition, and indeed it takes
From our achievements,
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Act 1
Scene 4
Line 16

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