Must a short quotation from a play be set off as an extract?

Note: This post relates to content in the eighth edition of the MLA Handbook. For up-to-date guidance, see the ninth edition of the MLA Handbook.

No. When the dialogue incorporated is very brief or partial, you may elect to run the quotation into your text, as shown in the example below:

When Regan asks Lear, “What need one?,” he responds in exasperation, “O, reason not the need!” (Shakespeare 2.4.263-64).

Work Cited

Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of King LearThe Riverside Shakespeare, edited by G. Blakemore Evans, Houghton Mifflin, 1974, pp. 1249-1305.