Shakespeare Quotes

To sleep, perchance to dream

Hamlet:
"To sleep, perchance to dream-
ay, there's the rub."

Hamlet (III, i, 65-68)

This is part of Hamlet's famous soliloquy which begins "To be or not to be", and it reveals his thoughts of suicide. He has learned that his uncle killed his father, the late King, and married the king's wife, his mother. This foul deed has driven Hamlet nearly mad, and he seeks both revenge and the escape of death. He has been disconsolate since learning of the murder, from the ghost of his dead father. In this scene, he ponders suicide, "To die, to sleep-/No more." But he is tortured with the fear that there might not be peace even in death. "For in that sleep of death what dreams may come, /When we have shuffled off this mortal coil, /Must give us pause." Hamlet's moral and mental anguish is at its height in this soliloquy, which is the emotional centerpiece of the play.

Themes: death and sickness, suicide, dreams

Speakers: Hamlet