Hamlet quoteswhat are a number of quotes from 'Hamlet' that support the relevance of learning 'Hamlet'?

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enotechris's profile pic

enotechris | College Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted on

Some of the quotes found in Hamlet are book titles, some are song lyrics, some are quoted at parties when people are attempting to impress each other.  Although other Shakespearean works have contributed well known quotes to the language, I'm guessing Hamlet takes the cake -- maybe because this play was performed more often than the others?

It's not important to learn the quotes; it's important to appreciate them within the context of the play, and understand how he deals with the situation presented to him.

 

accessteacher's profile pic

accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I always think that there are so many quotes from this play that have entered common parlance and have shown how universal this play is. I think any teenager can identify with Hamlet's thoughts in Act I scene 2:

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

The idea of self-pity and the world being all too much for us is reflected in this quote together with the futility of existence and a nihilistic approach to life.

vangoghfan's profile pic

vangoghfan | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

At one point early in Act 5, scene 2, Hamlet actually uses the word "learning" when describing the usefulness of having very clear handwriting.  Here is what he says (speaking to Horatio):

I once did hold it, as our statists do,
A baseness to write fair, and labour'd much
How to forget that learning; but, sir, now
It did me yeoman's service.

In other words, he once considered it petty to write clearly and therefore actually made an effort to make his writing unclear, even though he had learned earlier to write clearly. However, he recently found it helpful (in disposing of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern) to write very legibly.

This is a trivial reference to learning, but it seems to be the only time in the play when the word "learning" is actually used.

Hamlet shows a more serious interest in learning when instructing the players about proper ways of acting.

litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Are you looking for a quote that demonstrates the importance of Hamlet? Everyone knows the famous "to be or not to be" speech, but if you have not studied the play you may not really understand its significance. It is important to the play, but also says something to us as a human.
lmetcalf's profile pic

lmetcalf | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

One of my favorite quotes in the play comes in Act 5 when Hamlet tells Horatio that he finally understands that there is "a divinity that shapes our ends rough hew them how we will." I think that is the kind of quote that makes Shakespeare and Hamlet stand the test of time. No one is going to be asked by a ghost to avenge his father's death, but everyone will have a time in his life when he must realize that while he can make choices that will give his life its general shape, but there is a fate, Providence, karma or whatever, that also plays a part, and there is nothing he can do about that except to deal with it when it comes.

quentin1's profile pic

quentin1 | (Level 2) Honors

Posted on

I swear I have no political agenda in writing this. I'm just dealing with facts, and it is something that simply keeps smacking me in the face every time I think of this one politician who is currently running for president, Newt Gingrich. You may be aware, this is a guy who excoriated Bill Clinton for his lapse of "family values" over the Monica Lewinsky affair. It was later revealed that at the very time of this happening, Gingrich, a married man, was having an affair with a Congressinal aide 23 years younger than himself. In subsequent years he has spurned criticism and insisted he is fit to lead because he repented and reformed (and divorced his wife and married Callista!).

I keep hearing Claudius's words:

My fault is past. But oh, what form of prayer

Can serve my turn, “Forgive me my foul murder”?

That cannot be, since I am still possessed

Of those effects for which I did the murder:

My crown, mine own ambition, and my queen.

May one be pardoned and retain th' offense?

Gingrich didn't commit a murder, but he killed some measure of integrity.

Yes, I agree. In the character of Claudius, Shakespeare gives us a man who is a lousy human being but who is also an effective politician and a skilled diplomat. Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich are only two examples of intelligent, successful leaders with checkered pasts (to say the least). Hamlet resents Claudius, but the truth is, Hamlet could never be successful in a political leadership position--unlike Claudius, he could never say one thing and do another, or give different people different answers to the same question. To survive and prosper in politics, Hamlet would need to do such things. Claudius is just as relevant to our own time as he was to Shakespeare's.

missplum's profile pic

missplum | College Teacher | (Level 3) eNoter

Posted on

I swear I have no political agenda in writing this. I'm just dealing with facts, and it is something that simply keeps smacking me in the face every time I think of this one politician who is currently running for president, Newt Gingrich. You may be aware, this is a guy who excoriated Bill Clinton for his lapse of "family values" over the Monica Lewinsky affair. It was later revealed that at the very time of this happening, Gingrich, a married man, was having an affair with a Congressinal aide 23 years younger than himself. In subsequent years he has spurned criticism and insisted he is fit to lead because he repented and reformed (and divorced his wife and married Callista!).

I keep hearing Claudius's words:

My fault is past. But oh, what form of prayer

Can serve my turn, “Forgive me my foul murder”?

That cannot be, since I am still possessed

Of those effects for which I did the murder:

My crown, mine own ambition, and my queen.

May one be pardoned and retain th' offense?

Gingrich didn't commit a murder, but he killed some measure of integrity.

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