Who do you think has the best lines in Hamlet? Despite my affection for the Danish prince, I think I'm going to have to go with Polonius:
Brevity is the soul of wit (act 2, scene 2)
How not to love such words from someone so completely and so comically "self-unaware"?
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Seems, madam? Nay, it is. I know not “seems” (act 1 scene 2)
the whole passage is great as well.
It's amazing how much of Shakespeare has entered our everyday speech. From Hamlet, "The lady doth protest too much." (3.2.29)
one of my favorite lines is " lord we know what we are, but not what we may be."- hamlet
That is a wonderful line, spoken appropriately by Ophelia in Act IV Scene 5.
My favorite is probably "To thine own self be true" (Act I, Scene 3).
"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy." Act I, scene 5
I agree with Jamie - This play is full of lines that are used commonly and alluded to regularly...and half the time people don't even know where they came from!
probably has to be "...let be" simple yet son definite
"What a piece of work is man!" (2.2)
Pithy remarks like these two are among my favorites:
"...one may smile and smile and be a villain" (1.5.109) and "Madness in great ones must not unwatched go" (3.1.104)
The one I quote most to my students and my children is tishmel's quote - "To thine own self be true", but really there are so many to quote and learn from I think we are spoilt for choice. This quote to me captures the essence of what it is to be human and how we should live.
My favorite : "Thus conscience makes cowards of us all, / And thus the native hue of resolution is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought."
We have all been there! That is what makes Shakespeare stand the test of time -- that ability to capture truth in two short lines never fails to make me smile!
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