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Hamlet
Act 1, scene 5

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Characters in the Play

Entire Play

Events before the start of Hamlet set the stage for tragedy. When the king of Denmark, Prince Hamlet’s father, suddenly dies, Hamlet’s…

Act 1, scene 1

On the guards’ platform at Elsinore, Horatio waits with Barnardo and Marcellus to question a ghost that has twice before…

Act 1, scene 2

In an audience chamber in Elsinore, Claudius, the new king of Denmark, holds court. After thanking his courtiers for their…

Act 1, scene 3

In Polonius’s chambers, Laertes says good-bye to his sister, Ophelia, and tells her not to trust Hamlet’s promises of love….

Act 1, scene 4

While Claudius drinks away the night, Hamlet, Horatio, and Marcellus are visited by the Ghost. It signals to Hamlet. Hamlet’s…

Act 1, scene 5

The Ghost tells Hamlet a tale of horror. Saying that he is the spirit of Hamlet’s father, he demands that…

Act 2, scene 1

Polonius sends his servant Reynaldo to Paris to question Laertes’s acquaintances. Ophelia enters, deeply disturbed about a visit she has…

Act 2, scene 2

Claudius and Gertrude set Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, two boyhood friends of Hamlet, to spy on him. When Hamlet himself enters,…

Act 3, scene 1

After Rosencrantz and Guildenstern report their failure to find the cause of Hamlet’s madness, Polonius places Ophelia where he and…

Act 3, scene 2

Hamlet gives direction to the actors and asks Horatio to help him observe Claudius’s reaction to the play. When the…

Act 3, scene 3

Claudius orders Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to take Hamlet to England. Polonius tells Claudius of his plans to spy on Hamlet’s…

Act 3, scene 4

In Gertrude’s room, Polonius hides behind a tapestry. Hamlet’s entrance so alarms Gertrude that she cries out for help. Polonius…

Act 4, scene 1

Gertrude reports Polonius’s death to Claudius, who sends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to find Hamlet and recover the body.

Act 4, scene 2

Hamlet refuses to tell Rosencrantz and Guildenstern where he has put Polonius’s body.

Act 4, scene 3

Hamlet is brought to Claudius, who tells him that he is to leave immediately for England. Alone, Claudius reveals that…

Act 4, scene 4

Fortinbras and his army cross Hamlet’s path on their way to Poland. Hamlet finds in Fortinbras’s vigorous activity a model…

Act 4, scene 5

Reports reach Gertrude that Ophelia is mad. Ophelia enters singing about death and betrayal. After Ophelia has gone, Claudius agonizes…

Act 4, scene 6

Horatio is given a letter from Hamlet telling of the prince’s boarding of a pirate ship and his subsequent return…

Act 4, scene 7

Claudius gets a letter from Hamlet announcing the prince’s return. Claudius enlists Laertes’s willing help in devising another plot against…

Act 5, scene 1

Hamlet, returned from his journey, comes upon a gravedigger singing as he digs. Hamlet tries to find out who the…

Act 5, scene 2

In the hall of the castle, Hamlet tells Horatio how he discovered the king’s plot against him and how he…

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Scene 5
Enter Ghost and Hamlet.

HAMLET 
 Whither wilt thou lead me? Speak. I’ll go no
 further.
GHOST 
 Mark me.

57
Hamlet
ACT 1. SC. 5

HAMLET  I will.
GHOST 5 My hour is almost come
 When I to sulf’rous and tormenting flames
 Must render up myself.
HAMLET  Alas, poor ghost!
GHOST 
 Pity me not, but lend thy serious hearing
10 To what I shall unfold.
HAMLET Speak. I am bound to hear.
GHOST 
 So art thou to revenge, when thou shalt hear.
HAMLET What?
GHOST I am thy father’s spirit,
15 Doomed for a certain term to walk the night
 And for the day confined to fast in fires
 Till the foul crimes done in my days of nature
 Are burnt and purged away. But that I am forbid
 To tell the secrets of my prison house,
20 I could a tale unfold whose lightest word
 Would harrow up thy soul, freeze thy young blood,
 Make thy two eyes, like stars, start from their
 spheres,
 Thy knotted and combinèd locks to part,
25 And each particular hair to stand an end,
 Like quills upon the fearful porpentine.
 But this eternal blazon must not be
 To ears of flesh and blood. List, list, O list!
 If thou didst ever thy dear father love—
HAMLET 30O God!
GHOST 
 Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder.
HAMLET Murder?
GHOST 
 Murder most foul, as in the best it is,
 But this most foul, strange, and unnatural.
HAMLET 
35 Haste me to know ’t, that I, with wings as swift

59
Hamlet
ACT 1. SC. 5

 As meditation or the thoughts of love,
 May sweep to my revenge.
GHOST  I find thee apt;
 And duller shouldst thou be than the fat weed
40 That roots itself in ease on Lethe wharf,
 Wouldst thou not stir in this. Now, Hamlet, hear.
 ’Tis given out that, sleeping in my orchard,
 A serpent stung me. So the whole ear of Denmark
 Is by a forgèd process of my death
45 Rankly abused. But know, thou noble youth,
 The serpent that did sting thy father’s life
 Now wears his crown.
HAMLET O, my prophetic soul! My uncle!
GHOST 
 Ay, that incestuous, that adulterate beast,
50 With witchcraft of his wits, with traitorous gifts—
 O wicked wit and gifts, that have the power
 So to seduce!—won to his shameful lust
 The will of my most seeming-virtuous queen.
 O Hamlet, what a falling off was there!
55 From me, whose love was of that dignity
 That it went hand in hand even with the vow
 I made to her in marriage, and to decline
 Upon a wretch whose natural gifts were poor
 To those of mine.
60 But virtue, as it never will be moved,
 Though lewdness court it in a shape of heaven,
 So, lust, though to a radiant angel linked,
 Will sate itself in a celestial bed
 And prey on garbage.
65 But soft, methinks I scent the morning air.
 Brief let me be. Sleeping within my orchard,
 My custom always of the afternoon,
 Upon my secure hour thy uncle stole
 With juice of cursèd hebona in a vial
70 And in the porches of my ears did pour

61
Hamlet
ACT 1. SC. 5

 The leprous distilment, whose effect
 Holds such an enmity with blood of man
 That swift as quicksilver it courses through
 The natural gates and alleys of the body,
75 And with a sudden vigor it doth posset
 And curd, like eager droppings into milk,
 The thin and wholesome blood. So did it mine,
 And a most instant tetter barked about,
 Most lazar-like, with vile and loathsome crust
80 All my smooth body.
 Thus was I, sleeping, by a brother’s hand
 Of life, of crown, of queen at once dispatched,
 Cut off, even in the blossoms of my sin,
 Unhouseled, disappointed, unaneled,
85 No reck’ning made, but sent to my account
 With all my imperfections on my head.
 O horrible, O horrible, most horrible!
 If thou hast nature in thee, bear it not.
 Let not the royal bed of Denmark be
90 A couch for luxury and damnèd incest.
 But, howsomever thou pursues this act,
 Taint not thy mind, nor let thy soul contrive
 Against thy mother aught. Leave her to heaven
 And to those thorns that in her bosom lodge
95 To prick and sting her. Fare thee well at once.
 The glowworm shows the matin to be near
 And ’gins to pale his uneffectual fire.
 Adieu, adieu, adieu. Remember me.He exits.
HAMLET 
 O all you host of heaven! O Earth! What else?
100 And shall I couple hell? O fie! Hold, hold, my heart,
 And you, my sinews, grow not instant old,
 But bear me stiffly up. Remember thee?
 Ay, thou poor ghost, whiles memory holds a seat
 In this distracted globe. Remember thee?
105 Yea, from the table of my memory

63
Hamlet
ACT 1. SC. 5

 I’ll wipe away all trivial, fond records,
 All saws of books, all forms, all pressures past,
 That youth and observation copied there,
 And thy commandment all alone shall live
110 Within the book and volume of my brain,
 Unmixed with baser matter. Yes, by heaven!
 O most pernicious woman!
 O villain, villain, smiling, damnèd villain!
 My tables—meet it is I set it down
115 That one may smile and smile and be a villain.
 At least I am sure it may be so in Denmark.
He writes.
 So, uncle, there you are. Now to my word.
 It is “adieu, adieu, remember me.”
 I have sworn ’t.

Enter Horatio and Marcellus.

HORATIO 120My lord, my lord!
MARCELLUS Lord Hamlet.
HORATIO Heavens secure him!
HAMLET So be it.
MARCELLUS Illo, ho, ho, my lord!
HAMLET 125Hillo, ho, ho, boy! Come, bird, come!
MARCELLUS 
 How is ’t, my noble lord?
HORATIO  What news, my lord?
HAMLET O, wonderful!
HORATIO 
 Good my lord, tell it.
HAMLET 130 No, you will reveal it.
HORATIO 
 Not I, my lord, by heaven.
MARCELLUS  Nor I, my lord.
HAMLET 
 How say you, then? Would heart of man once think
 it?
135 But you’ll be secret?

65
Hamlet
ACT 1. SC. 5

HORATIO/MARCELLUS   Ay, by heaven, my lord.
HAMLET 
 There’s never a villain dwelling in all Denmark
 But he’s an arrant knave.
HORATIO 
 There needs no ghost, my lord, come from the grave
140 To tell us this.
HAMLET  Why, right, you are in the right.
 And so, without more circumstance at all,
 I hold it fit that we shake hands and part,
 You, as your business and desire shall point you
145 (For every man hath business and desire,
 Such as it is), and for my own poor part,
 I will go pray.
HORATIO 
 These are but wild and whirling words, my lord.
HAMLET 
 I am sorry they offend you, heartily;
150 Yes, faith, heartily.
HORATIO  There’s no offense, my lord.
HAMLET 
 Yes, by Saint Patrick, but there is, Horatio,
 And much offense, too. Touching this vision here,
 It is an honest ghost—that let me tell you.
155 For your desire to know what is between us,
 O’ermaster ’t as you may. And now, good friends,
 As you are friends, scholars, and soldiers,
 Give me one poor request.
HORATIO What is ’t, my lord? We will.
HAMLET 
160 Never make known what you have seen tonight.
HORATIO/MARCELLUS  My lord, we will not.
HAMLET Nay, but swear ’t.
HORATIO In faith, my lord, not I.
MARCELLUS Nor I, my lord, in faith.
HAMLET 
165 Upon my sword.

67
Hamlet
ACT 1. SC. 5

MARCELLUS  We have sworn, my lord, already.
HAMLET Indeed, upon my sword, indeed.
GHOST cries under the stage Swear.
HAMLET 
 Ha, ha, boy, sayst thou so? Art thou there,
170 truepenny?
 Come on, you hear this fellow in the cellarage.
 Consent to swear.
HORATIO  Propose the oath, my lord.
HAMLET 
 Never to speak of this that you have seen,
175 Swear by my sword.
GHOST, beneath Swear.
HAMLET 
 Hic et ubique? Then we’ll shift our ground.
 Come hither, gentlemen,
 And lay your hands again upon my sword.
180 Swear by my sword
 Never to speak of this that you have heard.
GHOST, beneath Swear by his sword.
HAMLET 
 Well said, old mole. Canst work i’ th’ earth so fast?—
 A worthy pioner! Once more remove, good friends.
HORATIO 
185 O day and night, but this is wondrous strange.
HAMLET 
 And therefore as a stranger give it welcome.
 There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
 Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. But come.
 Here, as before, never, so help you mercy,
190 How strange or odd some’er I bear myself
 (As I perchance hereafter shall think meet
 To put an antic disposition on)
 That you, at such times seeing me, never shall,
 With arms encumbered thus, or this headshake,
195 Or by pronouncing of some doubtful phrase,

69
Hamlet
ACT 1. SC. 5

 As “Well, well, we know,” or “We could an if we
 would,”
 Or “If we list to speak,” or “There be an if they
 might,”
200 Or such ambiguous giving-out, to note
 That you know aught of me—this do swear,
 So grace and mercy at your most need help you.
GHOST, beneath Swear.
HAMLET 
 Rest, rest, perturbèd spirit.—So, gentlemen,
205 With all my love I do commend me to you,
 And what so poor a man as Hamlet is
 May do t’ express his love and friending to you,
 God willing, shall not lack. Let us go in together,
 And still your fingers on your lips, I pray.
210 The time is out of joint. O cursèd spite
 That ever I was born to set it right!
 Nay, come, let’s go together.
They exit.