William Shakespeare's Famous Quote

"Brevity is the soul of wit."


In William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Polonius, right-hand man of King Claudius, has been asked to spy on the Prince and report his behavior. In Act II, Scene II when the characters are in a room in the castle, Polonius begins to confidently discuss his observations of his investigation. While doing so, he begins to ramble. “Brevity is the soul of wit" has become a standard English proverb meaning that intelligent conversation should use few wisely chosen words. Polonius’s speech turns out to be self-contradictory; he wastes plenty of time by repeating his words. This quote is very ironic in the context of the play, as Polonius is anything but brief in his speeches. The quote describes that points are able to be made with careful word selection; quality over quantity.