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Hamlet
Act 3, scene 1

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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 1
Enter King, Queen, Polonius, Ophelia, Rosencrantz,
Guildenstern, and Lords.


KING 
 And can you by no drift of conference
 Get from him why he puts on this confusion,
 Grating so harshly all his days of quiet
 With turbulent and dangerous lunacy?
ROSENCRANTZ 
5 He does confess he feels himself distracted,
 But from what cause he will by no means speak.
GUILDENSTERN 
 Nor do we find him forward to be sounded,
 But with a crafty madness keeps aloof
 When we would bring him on to some confession
10 Of his true state.
QUEEN  Did he receive you well?
ROSENCRANTZ Most like a gentleman.
GUILDENSTERN 
 But with much forcing of his disposition.
ROSENCRANTZ 
 Niggard of question, but of our demands
15 Most free in his reply.
QUEEN Did you assay him to any pastime?
ROSENCRANTZ 
 Madam, it so fell out that certain players
123

125
Hamlet
ACT 3. SC. 1

 We o’erraught on the way. Of these we told him,
 And there did seem in him a kind of joy
20 To hear of it. They are here about the court,
 And, as I think, they have already order
 This night to play before him.
POLONIUS  ’Tis most true,
 And he beseeched me to entreat your Majesties
25 To hear and see the matter.
KING 
 With all my heart, and it doth much content me
 To hear him so inclined.
 Good gentlemen, give him a further edge
 And drive his purpose into these delights.
ROSENCRANTZ 
30 We shall, my lord.Rosencrantz and Guildenstern
and Lords exit.

KING  Sweet Gertrude, leave us too,
 For we have closely sent for Hamlet hither,
 That he, as ’twere by accident, may here
 Affront Ophelia.
35 Her father and myself, lawful espials,
 Will so bestow ourselves that, seeing unseen,
 We may of their encounter frankly judge
 And gather by him, as he is behaved,
 If ’t be th’ affliction of his love or no
40 That thus he suffers for.
QUEEN  I shall obey you.
 And for your part, Ophelia, I do wish
 That your good beauties be the happy cause
 Of Hamlet’s wildness. So shall I hope your virtues
45 Will bring him to his wonted way again,
 To both your honors.
OPHELIA  Madam, I wish it may.
Queen exits.
POLONIUS 
 Ophelia, walk you here.—Gracious, so please you,

127
Hamlet
ACT 3. SC. 1

 We will bestow ourselves. To Ophelia. Read on this
50 book,
 That show of such an exercise may color
 Your loneliness.—We are oft to blame in this
 (’Tis too much proved), that with devotion’s visage
 And pious action we do sugar o’er
55 The devil himself.
KING, aside O, ’tis too true!
 How smart a lash that speech doth give my
 conscience.
 The harlot’s cheek beautied with plast’ring art
60 Is not more ugly to the thing that helps it
 Than is my deed to my most painted word.
 O heavy burden!
POLONIUS 
 I hear him coming. Let’s withdraw, my lord.
They withdraw.

Enter Hamlet.

HAMLET 
 To be or not to be—that is the question:
65 Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
 The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
 Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
 And, by opposing, end them. To die, to sleep—
 No more—and by a sleep to say we end
70 The heartache and the thousand natural shocks
 That flesh is heir to—’tis a consummation
 Devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep—
 To sleep, perchance to dream. Ay, there’s the rub,
 For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
75 When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
 Must give us pause. There’s the respect
 That makes calamity of so long life.
 For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
 Th’ oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,

129
Hamlet
ACT 3. SC. 1

80 The pangs of despised love, the law’s delay,
 The insolence of office, and the spurns
 That patient merit of th’ unworthy takes,
 When he himself might his quietus make
 With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear,
85 To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
 But that the dread of something after death,
 The undiscovered country from whose bourn
 No traveler returns, puzzles the will
 And makes us rather bear those ills we have
90 Than fly to others that we know not of?
 Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
 And thus the native hue of resolution
 Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,
 And enterprises of great pitch and moment
95 With this regard their currents turn awry
 And lose the name of action.—Soft you now,
 The fair Ophelia.—Nymph, in thy orisons
 Be all my sins remembered.
OPHELIA  Good my lord,
100 How does your Honor for this many a day?
HAMLET I humbly thank you, well.
OPHELIA 
 My lord, I have remembrances of yours
 That I have longèd long to redeliver.
 I pray you now receive them.
HAMLET 
105 No, not I. I never gave you aught.
OPHELIA 
 My honored lord, you know right well you did,
 And with them words of so sweet breath composed
 As made the things more rich. Their perfume
 lost,
110 Take these again, for to the noble mind
 Rich gifts wax poor when givers prove unkind.
 There, my lord.

131
Hamlet
ACT 3. SC. 1

HAMLET Ha, ha, are you honest?
OPHELIA My lord?
HAMLET 115Are you fair?
OPHELIA What means your Lordship?
HAMLET That if you be honest and fair, your honesty
 should admit no discourse to your beauty.
OPHELIA Could beauty, my lord, have better commerce
120 than with honesty?
HAMLET Ay, truly, for the power of beauty will sooner
 transform honesty from what it is to a bawd than
 the force of honesty can translate beauty into his
 likeness. This was sometime a paradox, but now
125 the time gives it proof. I did love you once.
OPHELIA Indeed, my lord, you made me believe so.
HAMLET You should not have believed me, for virtue
 cannot so inoculate our old stock but we shall
 relish of it. I loved you not.
OPHELIA 130I was the more deceived.
HAMLET Get thee to a nunnery. Why wouldst thou be
 a breeder of sinners? I am myself indifferent honest,
 but yet I could accuse me of such things that it
 were better my mother had not borne me: I am
135 very proud, revengeful, ambitious, with more offenses
 at my beck than I have thoughts to put them
 in, imagination to give them shape, or time to act
 them in. What should such fellows as I do crawling
 between earth and heaven? We are arrant knaves
140 all; believe none of us. Go thy ways to a nunnery.
 Where’s your father?
OPHELIA At home, my lord.
HAMLET Let the doors be shut upon him that he may
 play the fool nowhere but in ’s own house. Farewell.
OPHELIA 145O, help him, you sweet heavens!
HAMLET If thou dost marry, I’ll give thee this plague
 for thy dowry: be thou as chaste as ice, as pure as
 snow, thou shalt not escape calumny. Get thee to a

133
Hamlet
ACT 3. SC. 1

 nunnery, farewell. Or if thou wilt needs marry,
150 marry a fool, for wise men know well enough what
 monsters you make of them. To a nunnery, go, and
 quickly too. Farewell.
OPHELIA Heavenly powers, restore him!
HAMLET I have heard of your paintings too, well
155 enough. God hath given you one face, and you
 make yourselves another. You jig and amble, and
 you lisp; you nickname God’s creatures and make
 your wantonness your ignorance. Go to, I’ll no
 more on ’t. It hath made me mad. I say we will have
160 no more marriage. Those that are married already,
 all but one, shall live. The rest shall keep as they are.
 To a nunnery, go.He exits.
OPHELIA 
 O, what a noble mind is here o’erthrown!
 The courtier’s, soldier’s, scholar’s, eye, tongue,
165 sword,
 Th’ expectancy and rose of the fair state,
 The glass of fashion and the mold of form,
 Th’ observed of all observers, quite, quite down!
 And I, of ladies most deject and wretched,
170 That sucked the honey of his musicked vows,
 Now see that noble and most sovereign reason,
 Like sweet bells jangled, out of time and harsh;
 That unmatched form and stature of blown youth
 Blasted with ecstasy. O, woe is me
175 T’ have seen what I have seen, see what I see!
KING, advancing with Polonius 
 Love? His affections do not that way tend;
 Nor what he spake, though it lacked form a little,
 Was not like madness. There’s something in his soul
 O’er which his melancholy sits on brood,
180 And I do doubt the hatch and the disclose
 Will be some danger; which for to prevent,
 I have in quick determination

135
Hamlet
ACT 3. SC. 2

 Thus set it down: he shall with speed to England
 For the demand of our neglected tribute.
185 Haply the seas, and countries different,
 With variable objects, shall expel
 This something-settled matter in his heart,
 Whereon his brains still beating puts him thus
 From fashion of himself. What think you on ’t?
POLONIUS 
190 It shall do well. But yet do I believe
 The origin and commencement of his grief
 Sprung from neglected love.—How now, Ophelia?
 You need not tell us what Lord Hamlet said;
 We heard it all.—My lord, do as you please,
195 But, if you hold it fit, after the play
 Let his queen-mother all alone entreat him
 To show his grief. Let her be round with him;
 And I’ll be placed, so please you, in the ear
 Of all their conference. If she find him not,
200 To England send him, or confine him where
 Your wisdom best shall think.
KING  It shall be so.
 Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.
They exit.