My Favorite Quotes in Hamlet

The ones that affect me the most personally.
  1. 1.
    "Oh heat, dry up my brains."
    For some reason I wouldn't be able to trace or explain, I know in my bones that this is the exact, abstract translation of this feeling. Laertes realizes that his sister, who has been distraught for a while, has drowned herself, and this is what he blurts this out. So raw and spontaneous.
  2. 2.
    "And yet to me, what is this quintessence of dust?"
    Hamlet catalogs the majesty of the universe, in the monologue preceding this line, as skillfully as anyone ever has - literally, at the height of Shakespeare's powers - only in the service of saying it means nothing to him. What a devastating defense of depression.
  3. 3.
    "I was the more deceived."
    Hamlet, vicious to Ophelia, says that he loved her once; she concurs that he made her believe so; then he says no, not really, he didn't; she says this line in response. Impossibly graceful.
  4. 4.
    "There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so."
    Yup.
  5. 5.
    "To be or not to be: that is the question."
    Great, great line. No doubt. The monologue that follows is not the best in the play, in my opinion; it has aged badly in that the main argument against suicide is the certainty that it would lead to hell, which is no longer an argument with universal power to audiences of Hamlet. Then there are all the mixed metaphors, as any English teacher delights in pointing out; and lamely outdated language (fardels, bodkin).