Search options

The following menus and text fields work individually or in any combination; a few kinds of information are available for every entry but not searchable.

If you are interested in a detailed description of the annotation policy, please contact us for a copy of the editor's manual.

Browse the electronic text of Hamlet on the left by scrolling or by selecting a particular act or scene (top left-hand corner of the page). Clicking on the little arrows (>) to the right of any line opens a window with text extracts that quote this line.

Search the database using the search options on the right. The menus and text fields explained below work individually or in any combination.

Text fields offer the following options:


This finds words in all the text fields below.


This menu indicates the quoting text's closeness to Hamlet. The core collection includes only entries which indicate an evident Hamlet reference through a high degree of linguistic overlap, explicit marking, thematic context or an author’s known propensity for quotation. This is the default search setting.

The complete corpus offers additional entries where a Hamlet phrase is so heavily modified or generally used that a reference may be considered doubtful; moreover, a selection of passages that antedate Hamlet is included and annotations offer more general information on certain lines.


Specify your search by typing a search word into the TEXT field:

The Hamlet phrases that may be based on a passage from the Bible: Search for Bible.
Hamlet phrases that are known to be based on Elizabethan or older commonplaces: Search for proverb, cliché or colloquialism.
Hamlet lines which represent the earliest entry for a phrase in the Oxford English Dictionary OED: Search for earliest.
Hamlet phrases that occur repeatedly in the play, such as "argal" or "mind's eye": Search for Further references.
Hamlet phrases which are similar to lines in other Shakespeare plays: Search for similar.


This menu lists persons who are considered (co-) responsible for a Hamlet reference.


This text field indicates the title of the text which quotes Hamlet, a book or a shorter item like a poem, essay or TV series episode. While the BIBLIO field may cite a historical edition, spelling is standardized here to make quick searches easier, as in The Duchess of Malfi instead of The Dutchesse of Malfy. Very brief original titles are extended to be more helpful as in Review of John Stuart Mill's Autobiography instead of Review, and for untitled poems, the first line is given.


This field gives the text passage which contains the Hamlet reference, with the words taken from Hamlet highlighted for convenience.

DATE [of composition]

This may coincide with the date of the first publication in letters, blogs, interviews and journalism or be very different indeed in posthumously published texts or works with an extended gestation period.


This menu classifies references to Hamlet elements that cannot be associated with a specific line or passage, i.e. mentions of the play which are not accompanied by a quotation, accounts of fictional Hamlet performances or allusions to a character from the play. Famous scenes and motifs such as the soliloquy "to be or not to be", the play-within-the-play or Ophelia's madness can also be searched for. References to the play are classified for the play being performed or read by fictional characters. Such performance references always concern fictional stagings, never historical Hamlet performances as described in diaries, letters or reviews.


This menu indicates the main language of the work (or of the AUTHOR, for nonverbal references). Entries in English, German and French are recorded in the original language only; for all other languages, translations are added or given instead of the original. Languages with very few entries are grouped together. English and German entries include texts in varieties such as Scots, Creoles, African American Vernacular or Swiss German.


This menu indicates who suggested the reference. This may be the first person to spot a particular Hamlet quotation in their private reading or by doing a systematic electronic search; but it may also involve going through public research and reporting another scholar’s find to the database. Those secondary sources are listed in the text field SECONDARY SOURCE and categorized by academic discipline in the menu RESEARCH FIELD.


This menu indicates the genre of the quoting text.


This menu indicates how the quoting text marks the concept that the Hamlet reference is a quotation (in the broadest sense), i.e. an element from a preceding text or utterance. This can happen explicitly through metalinguistic tags like "the well-known quotation" or through typographical signals signals such as quotation marks. Entries in quotation dictionaries are marked as such by the genre of the book they appear in, and further indirect signals come from archaisms and other anomalies (for example "2B or not 2B") or from a wider thematic context. The mention of names such as Shakespeare, Hamlet or Yorick points to the author or the work that is quoted.


This menu describes if and how William Shakespeare is indicated as responsible for the Hamlet element that is quoted. He may be mentioned by name or by an epithet like "The Bard" or "the Swan of Avon." A wider thematic context may also point to his authorship: as a rule, this concerns texts which mention Shakespeare outside the passage included in HyperHamlet.


This menu describes if and how the play Hamlet is given as the origin of the quoted passage. Apart from a mention of the title or characters, this can also indicated through a wider thematic context, while other references use a quotation as an anonymous saying or misattribute it as coming from the Bible or another Shakespeare play.

[Intertextual] RELATION

This menu classifies the relation between the Hamlet elements which appear in a later text and that text as a whole, in terms which are (partly) borrowed from Genette’s Palimpsests. Click here for details.

Local reference from any kind of text. The Hamlet element is a strictly local presence, with no overall relation between Hamlet and the complete later text, even if there are recurrent references as for example in text centered around a fictional Hamlet performance.
Citation in dictionaries, anthologies or academic texts which discuss or list Hamlet passages.
Adaptations rework the basic plot in a different style or setting, with the complete text mapping of the Hamlet plot or a part of it. This includes operas, ballets and film adaptations but also poems which imitate a famous passage or describe a particular character.
NOTE: Book-length rewritings of the complete play are represented by their title, while shorter texts may be given in their entirety.
Offshoots extend Shakespeare's plot chronologically or feature individual characters in a different fictional world. This includes sequels, prequels and extended character "biographies".
Shakespeare bio-fiction contains fictional accounts of Shakespeare speaking, hearing or writing Hamlet passages.
Passages from Hamlet have also been illustrated or set to music.

[Textual] FUNCTION

This menu indicates the textual function and/or location of the Hamlet element in the quoting text.

Multiple assignments are possible, for example for titles of poems or songs that are repeated in the body of the text. Adaptations and works of instrumental music or visual art are set to complete text as well as title; titles and epigraphs may head a book or an individual chapter, poem or episode.


This menu classifies entries attached to a particular Hamlet line. It describes the length of the quoted extract, ranging from short noun phrases through clauses and longer passages. Click here for details.

LINE references are classified for the syntactic extension of the original element, indicating whether the quoted text and the quoting text comprise a sentential constituent or an entire clause.

Clause is anything that has a subject and a verb in Hamlet (incl. "the memory be green" or "tis here") as well as in the quoting text. This includes also entries where the subject is changed in quotation, but still felt to be semantically close to the original (synonymy, hyponomy, hyperonomy, homophony), as in "Display's the thing". A subjectless imperative is considered as a clause as long as it is quoted as an imperative; otherwise it is classified as a verb phrase.
Verb phrase the predicate of a clause headed by a verb, including all complements such as objects, adverbials and/or complement clauses.
Noun phrase is a group of words headed by a noun (e.g. "mobled queen," "a custom more honour'd in the breach than the observance"), including prepositional phrases ("in my mind's eye) and some complex or elliptic constructions (e.g. "more in sorrow than in anger", "delight with dole").
NOTE The phrase level is not affected by subordinate phrases and clauses (e.g. "The serpent that did sting thy father's life" = NP)
Adjective or participle phrase - is a group of words whose main component is an adjective or a participle, usually characterised by its predicative position, i.e. as a complement of copular be.
NOTE If the adjective is strongly linked to a noun, it is usually counted as part of a Noun Phrase, unless the structure undergoes a change from attributive to predicative adjectival position (e.g. if "mobled queen" is transformed to "She is mobled").
Longer passage contains two or more clauses or is longer than 4 lines.
Other denotes sequences headed by adverbials, greetings, exclamations or verbless clauses (e.g. "argal;" "Good night, sweet ladies!" "Alas, poor Yorick!", "For this relief much thanks").
"To be or not to be" is singled out because of the structural idiosyncrasies of the phrase and because there are so many references. Complete parodies of the famous soliloquy are not LINE references but can be found under the motif "The Soliloquy".


This menu describes the linguistic features that render the quotation recognisable or, in other words, what remains identical in quotation. Click here for details.

Perfect match means total identity within the extent of the quotation, including articles and postmodifying attributes (i.e. "the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" vs. "slings and arrows": the latter is a partial match, modified by omission [see above]).
Partial match means either an identical string of two or more lexical words with modifications only at the margins of the quotation, or a longer string with only minor deictic adaptations.
Structural match is based on sound and syntactic structure (e.g. "Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio: a fellow of infinite jest" vs. "Alas poor Alan, I knew him Nurse. He was a wanker, an infinite pest.")
Keyword indicates quotations which are recognisable by salient words or word combinations, usually with a higher degree of modification (e.g. "method in madness", "cruel kindness") than that implied by partial match.
Antedating phrases occur in texts which were published before Hamlet.
NOTE Combinations are possible. If an entry contains references to several lines, a summary classification is given which may include the co-occurrence of "perfect match" and "partial match". If several references differ considerably in size and importance, only the most conspicuous reference is annotated.


This menu classifies LINE references for the changes which the Hamlet phrase undergoes in quotation. Words may be substituted, omitted, re-arranged or added; clauses and phrases may change their grammatical function or be paraphrased more loosely. Punctuation and spelling are disregarded unless they change the meaning. Click here for details.

Substitution mainly of lexical words, including modal verbs.
Addition mainly of lexical words, including modal verbs, possessive and demonstrative pronouns.
Omission any sort of missing word, including articles and left out complements, genitive objects etc. (e.g. "Though this be madness, yet there is method in it" vs. "method in one's madness.")
Deictic adaptation of pronouns, local and temporal adverbs, changes in verb tense and the addition or substitution of articles as syntactically required by the surrounding text.
Word order changed in lexical words (e.g. "though this be madness, yet there is method in it" vs. "method in madness")
Transformed syntactic function any deviation from the extent of the quoting phrase, e.g. if a clause is reduced to a noun phrase (e.g. "though this be madness, yet there is method in it" vs. "method in madness")
Other anything not mentioned above, esp. insertions, separations, and word class changes.
Paraphrase indicates numerous modifications which make phrase analysis no longer informative.
Not modified within the whole stretch of the classified extent. Counterpart to perfect match in OVERLAP.
Antedating phrases from texts published earlier than Hamlet.

The following text fields are not separately searchable, but their content is included in the fulltext "Quick search"

BIBLIO[-graphical reference]

This text field gives the bibliographical reference for the text extract that contains the Hamlet quotation. The format follows the MLA style manual, with some minor variants for consistency and rare genres.


This text field provides additional information that may concern the context of the given extract (information on speakers, topics or plotlines) and its author, composition and publication history as well as information on a book's overall relation to Hamlet or other literary references.


This menu indicates the field of research in which a particular Hamlet reference has been mentioned before. The text field SECONDARY SOURCE provides the bibliographical references. All other references have, to our knowledge, first been spotted by the HyperHamlet project team. They are coded as No source given or as Retrieved from fulltext database.

The following text field is not separately searchable


This search field gives the date when the text with the Hamlet quotation first becomes available to an audience and thus to re-quotation. This date may be earlier than the edition quoted on HyperHamlet, and it may be much later than the date of composition or even the death of the author. For genres like opera, drama, TV or radio plays, the date of the first performance/broadcast is given even if a first print edition came out later. For letters, which are considered 'published' to their addressee, the date of composition is given here.