Hamlet Quotes -

Win Any Argument With Hamlet Quotes!

Feeling like a wordsmith lightweight when the dinner table debates begin? 

Way out of your depth when the topics of discussion take a difficult turn? 

You need to brush up on your famous quotations!  Throwing out a timely quotation from a William Shakespeare play that really nails your point will make you seem briefly on par with the bard; your peers’ eyebrows will raise in admiration and new found respect as you show your in-depth knowledge of classical English literature.

Of course, apart from that distant memory of a stuffy summer in school sweating over Hamlet and other incomprehensible works of Shakespeare, you may not actually have read Hamlet, let alone poured over it enough to be able to recite Shakespeare quotes from memory. 

But that’s the trick; people believe that you must know so much more about this classic literature and the life lessons behind it simply because you can pull a relevant quote from thin air.

A word of warning – don’t pull this gambit in a room of literature buffs, it could blow up in your face.  Hamlet and quotes from Hamlet are the most recognized of Shakespeare’s plays, so there is a good chance that someone will be able to one-up you by pulling out a more obscure Hamlet quote from a different act, or even worse, begin to try and analyze the quote you used in terms of the play’s context.  Your best defense for this is to know the Hamlet quotes you use to a tee – who said them and why, and what the point of the quote is.

Ensure that your choices are relevant to the conversation, or risk looking like a buffoon simply quoting Shakespeare for the sake of it.  Our culture also has a dislike for tired-out expressions; you’re going to look much smarter if you can pull an obscure quote from Hamlet rather than one of the many phrases that has made their way into common speech.  The Chinese actually use this trick all the time and it is more accepted; their thousands of years of classical literature is boiled down into four-character mini-stories called chengyu that to us sound like simple words, but to the Chinese can convey complex and intricate meanings.  To them, brevity is indeed the soul of wit.

Your other problem can be that the Hamlet quote you use to exemplify or explain your point is too obscure, and baffles all who are listening.  The best option in this case is to retell some of the context behind the quote.  Barristers and politicians use this tactic to subtly condescend their opponent.  “Surely we can all remember when Horatio said to Hamlet that the apparition he saw was ‘a countenance more in sorrow than in anger’?”  In most cases, we are actually hoping or expecting our opponent to be completely unaware of the quote or at least be fuzzy on the details.  It gives us the ability to show that we somehow have more knowledge about the subject that our opponent, even though under close inspection we simply know more about the play Hamlet!

So, boning up on Hamlet and other Shakespeare plays, particularly focusing on quotes that can be used to illustrate points or show reasoning behind a point of view, can help you in every area of debate and argument, and allow you to crush your opponent verbally!  The best place to start is Hamlet; it is chock full of quotes ripe for use, and they are as poignant in the modern day as they were when they were first penned.

Some of my favourites:

Hamlet Quotes

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

Hamlet, scene ii

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

Hamlet, scene ii

But break, my heart, for I must hold my tongue.

Hamlet, scene ii

A countenance more in sorrow than in anger.

Horatio, scene ii


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

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


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


Hamlet Quotes


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.


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


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




Hamlet Quotes


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
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


The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

Gertrude, scene ii


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

Hamlet, scene ii


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



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