List iconHamlet:
Act 3, scene 2
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Act 3, scene 2



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 2
Enter Hamlet and three of the Players.

HAMLET Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced
 it to you, trippingly on the tongue; but if you mouth
 it, as many of our players do, I had as lief the
 town-crier spoke my lines. Nor do not saw the air
5 too much with your hand, thus, but use all gently;
 for in the very torrent, tempest, and, as I may say,
 whirlwind of your passion, you must acquire and
 beget a temperance that may give it smoothness. O,

ACT 3. SC. 2

 it offends me to the soul to hear a robustious,
10 periwig-pated fellow tear a passion to tatters, to very
 rags, to split the ears of the groundlings, who for the
 most part are capable of nothing but inexplicable
 dumb shows and noise. I would have such a fellow
 whipped for o’erdoing Termagant. It out-Herods
15 Herod. Pray you, avoid it.
PLAYER I warrant your Honor.
HAMLET Be not too tame neither, but let your own
 discretion be your tutor. Suit the action to the
 word, the word to the action, with this special
20 observance, that you o’erstep not the modesty of
 nature. For anything so o’erdone is from the purpose
 of playing, whose end, both at the first and
 now, was and is to hold, as ’twere, the mirror up to
 nature, to show virtue her own feature, scorn her
25 own image, and the very age and body of the time
 his form and pressure. Now this overdone or come
 tardy off, though it makes the unskillful laugh,
 cannot but make the judicious grieve, the censure
 of the which one must in your allowance o’erweigh
30 a whole theater of others. O, there be players that I
 have seen play and heard others praise (and that
 highly), not to speak it profanely, that, neither
 having th’ accent of Christians nor the gait of
 Christian, pagan, nor man, have so strutted and
35 bellowed that I have thought some of nature’s
 journeymen had made men, and not made them
 well, they imitated humanity so abominably.
PLAYER I hope we have reformed that indifferently
 with us, sir.
HAMLET 40O, reform it altogether. And let those that play
 your clowns speak no more than is set down for
 them, for there be of them that will themselves
 laugh, to set on some quantity of barren spectators
 to laugh too, though in the meantime some necessary

ACT 3. SC. 2

45 question of the play be then to be considered.
 That’s villainous and shows a most pitiful ambition
 in the fool that uses it. Go make you ready.
Players exit.

Enter Polonius, Guildenstern, and Rosencrantz.

 How now, my lord, will the King hear this piece of
POLONIUS 50And the Queen too, and that presently.
HAMLET Bid the players make haste.Polonius exits.
 Will you two help to hasten them?
ROSENCRANTZ Ay, my lord.They exit.
HAMLET What ho, Horatio!

Enter Horatio.

HORATIO 55Here, sweet lord, at your service.
 Horatio, thou art e’en as just a man
 As e’er my conversation coped withal.
 O, my dear lord—
HAMLET  Nay, do not think I flatter,
60 For what advancement may I hope from thee
 That no revenue hast but thy good spirits
 To feed and clothe thee? Why should the poor be
 No, let the candied tongue lick absurd pomp
65 And crook the pregnant hinges of the knee
 Where thrift may follow fawning. Dost thou hear?
 Since my dear soul was mistress of her choice
 And could of men distinguish, her election
 Hath sealed thee for herself. For thou hast been
70 As one in suffering all that suffers nothing,
 A man that Fortune’s buffets and rewards
 Hast ta’en with equal thanks; and blessed are those
 Whose blood and judgment are so well

ACT 3. SC. 2

75 That they are not a pipe for Fortune’s finger
 To sound what stop she please. Give me that man
 That is not passion’s slave, and I will wear him
 In my heart’s core, ay, in my heart of heart,
 As I do thee.—Something too much of this.—
80 There is a play tonight before the King.
 One scene of it comes near the circumstance
 Which I have told thee of my father’s death.
 I prithee, when thou seest that act afoot,
 Even with the very comment of thy soul
85 Observe my uncle. If his occulted guilt
 Do not itself unkennel in one speech,
 It is a damnèd ghost that we have seen,
 And my imaginations are as foul
 As Vulcan’s stithy. Give him heedful note,
90 For I mine eyes will rivet to his face,
 And, after, we will both our judgments join
 In censure of his seeming.
HORATIO  Well, my lord.
 If he steal aught the whilst this play is playing
95 And ’scape detecting, I will pay the theft.
Sound a flourish.
HAMLET They are coming to the play. I must be idle.
 Get you a place.

Enter Trumpets and Kettle Drums. Enter King, Queen,
Polonius, Ophelia, Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, and other
Lords attendant with the King’s guard carrying

KING How fares our cousin Hamlet?
HAMLET Excellent, i’ faith, of the chameleon’s dish. I
100 eat the air, promise-crammed. You cannot feed
 capons so.
KING I have nothing with this answer, Hamlet. These
 words are not mine.
HAMLET No, nor mine now. To Polonius. My lord, you
105 played once i’ th’ university, you say?

ACT 3. SC. 2

POLONIUS That did I, my lord, and was accounted a
 good actor.
HAMLET What did you enact?
POLONIUS I did enact Julius Caesar. I was killed i’ th’
110 Capitol. Brutus killed me.
HAMLET It was a brute part of him to kill so capital a
 calf there.—Be the players ready?
ROSENCRANTZ Ay, my lord. They stay upon your
QUEEN 115Come hither, my dear Hamlet, sit by me.
HAMLET No, good mother. Here’s metal more
 attractive.Hamlet takes a place near Ophelia.
POLONIUS, to the King Oh, ho! Do you mark that?
HAMLET Lady, shall I lie in your lap?
OPHELIA 120No, my lord.
HAMLET I mean, my head upon your lap?
OPHELIA Ay, my lord.
HAMLET Do you think I meant country matters?
OPHELIA I think nothing, my lord.
HAMLET 125That’s a fair thought to lie between maids’
OPHELIA What is, my lord?
HAMLET Nothing.
OPHELIA You are merry, my lord.
HAMLET 130Who, I?
OPHELIA Ay, my lord.
HAMLET O God, your only jig-maker. What should a
 man do but be merry? For look you how cheerfully
 my mother looks, and my father died within ’s two
135 hours.
OPHELIA Nay, ’tis twice two months, my lord.
HAMLET So long? Nay, then, let the devil wear black,
 for I’ll have a suit of sables. O heavens, die two
 months ago, and not forgotten yet? Then there’s
140 hope a great man’s memory may outlive his life half
 a year. But, by ’r Lady, he must build churches, then,

ACT 3. SC. 2

 or else shall he suffer not thinking on, with the
 hobby-horse, whose epitaph is “For oh, for oh, the
 hobby-horse is forgot.”
The trumpets sounds. Dumb show follows.

145Enter a King and a Queen, very lovingly, the Queen
embracing him and he her. She kneels and makes show of
protestation unto him. He takes her up and declines his
head upon her neck. He lies him down upon a bank of
flowers. She, seeing him asleep, leaves him. Anon
150comes in another man, takes off his crown, kisses it, pours
poison in the sleeper’s ears, and leaves him. The Queen
returns, finds the King dead, makes passionate action. The
poisoner with some three or four come in again, seem to
condole with her. The dead body is carried away. The
155poisoner woos the Queen with gifts. She seems harsh
awhile but in the end accepts his love.

Players exit.
OPHELIA What means this, my lord?
HAMLET Marry, this is miching mallecho. It means
OPHELIA 160Belike this show imports the argument of the

Enter Prologue.

HAMLET We shall know by this fellow. The players
 cannot keep counsel; they’ll tell all.
OPHELIA Will he tell us what this show meant?
HAMLET 165Ay, or any show that you will show him. Be
 not you ashamed to show, he’ll not shame to tell you
 what it means.
OPHELIA You are naught, you are naught. I’ll mark the
170 For us and for our tragedy,
 Here stooping to your clemency,
 We beg your hearing patiently.
He exits.

ACT 3. SC. 2

HAMLET Is this a prologue or the posy of a ring?
OPHELIA ’Tis brief, my lord.
HAMLET 175As woman’s love.

Enter the Player King and Queen.

 Full thirty times hath Phoebus’ cart gone round
 Neptune’s salt wash and Tellus’ orbèd ground,
 And thirty dozen moons with borrowed sheen
 About the world have times twelve thirties been
180 Since love our hearts and Hymen did our hands
 Unite commutual in most sacred bands.

 So many journeys may the sun and moon
 Make us again count o’er ere love be done!
 But woe is me! You are so sick of late,
185 So far from cheer and from your former state,
 That I distrust you. Yet, though I distrust,
 Discomfort you, my lord, it nothing must.
 [For women fear too much, even as they love,]
 And women’s fear and love hold quantity,
190 In neither aught, or in extremity.
 Now what my love is, proof hath made you know,
 And, as my love is sized, my fear is so:
 [Where love is great, the littlest doubts are fear;
 Where little fears grow great, great love grows there.]

195 Faith, I must leave thee, love, and shortly too.
 My operant powers their functions leave to do.
 And thou shalt live in this fair world behind,
 Honored, beloved; and haply one as kind
 For husband shalt thou—

PLAYER QUEEN 200 O, confound the rest!
 Such love must needs be treason in my breast.
 In second husband let me be accurst.
 None wed the second but who killed the first.

ACT 3. SC. 2

HAMLET That’s wormwood!
205 The instances that second marriage move
 Are base respects of thrift, but none of love.
 A second time I kill my husband dead
 When second husband kisses me in bed.

 I do believe you think what now you speak,
210 But what we do determine oft we break.
 Purpose is but the slave to memory,
 Of violent birth, but poor validity,
 Which now, the fruit unripe, sticks on the tree
 But fall unshaken when they mellow be.
215 Most necessary ’tis that we forget
 To pay ourselves what to ourselves is debt.
 What to ourselves in passion we propose,
 The passion ending, doth the purpose lose.
 The violence of either grief or joy
220 Their own enactures with themselves destroy.
 Where joy most revels, grief doth most lament;
 Grief joys, joy grieves, on slender accident.
 This world is not for aye, nor ’tis not strange
 That even our loves should with our fortunes change;
225 For ’tis a question left us yet to prove
 Whether love lead fortune or else fortune love.
 The great man down, you mark his favorite flies;
 The poor, advanced, makes friends of enemies.
 And hitherto doth love on fortune tend,
230 For who not needs shall never lack a friend,
 And who in want a hollow friend doth try
 Directly seasons him his enemy.
 But, orderly to end where I begun:
 Our wills and fates do so contrary run
235 That our devices still are overthrown;
 Our thoughts are ours, their ends none of our own.
 So think thou wilt no second husband wed,
 But die thy thoughts when thy first lord is dead.

ACT 3. SC. 2

 Nor Earth to me give food, nor heaven light,
240 Sport and repose lock from me day and night,
 [To desperation turn my trust and hope,
 An anchor’s cheer in prison be my scope.]
 Each opposite that blanks the face of joy
 Meet what I would have well and it destroy.
245 Both here and hence pursue me lasting strife,
 If, once a widow, ever I be wife.

HAMLET If she should break it now!
 ’Tis deeply sworn. Sweet, leave me here awhile.
 My spirits grow dull, and fain I would beguile
250 The tedious day with sleep.
PLAYER QUEEN  Sleep rock thy brain,
 And never come mischance between us twain.

Player Queen exits.
HAMLET Madam, how like you this play?
QUEEN The lady doth protest too much, methinks.
HAMLET 255O, but she’ll keep her word.
KING Have you heard the argument? Is there no
 offense in ’t?
HAMLET No, no, they do but jest, poison in jest. No
 offense i’ th’ world.
KING 260What do you call the play?
HAMLET The Mousetrap. Marry, how? Tropically.
 This play is the image of a murder done in Vienna.
 Gonzago is the duke’s name, his wife Baptista. You
 shall see anon. ’Tis a knavish piece of work, but
265 what of that? Your Majesty and we that have free
 souls, it touches us not. Let the galled jade wince;
 our withers are unwrung.

Enter Lucianus.

 This is one Lucianus, nephew to the king.
OPHELIA You are as good as a chorus, my lord.

ACT 3. SC. 2

HAMLET 270I could interpret between you and your love,
 if I could see the puppets dallying.
OPHELIA You are keen, my lord, you are keen.
HAMLET It would cost you a groaning to take off mine
OPHELIA 275Still better and worse.
HAMLET So you mis-take your husbands.—Begin,
 murderer. Pox, leave thy damnable faces and
 begin. Come, the croaking raven doth bellow for
280 Thoughts black, hands apt, drugs fit, and time
 Confederate season, else no creature seeing,
 Thou mixture rank, of midnight weeds collected,
 With Hecate’s ban thrice blasted, thrice infected,
285 Thy natural magic and dire property
 On wholesome life usurp immediately.

Pours the poison in his ears.
HAMLET He poisons him i’ th’ garden for his estate. His
 name’s Gonzago. The story is extant and written in
 very choice Italian. You shall see anon how the
290 murderer gets the love of Gonzago’s wife.
Claudius rises.
OPHELIA The King rises.
HAMLET What, frighted with false fire?
QUEEN How fares my lord?
POLONIUS Give o’er the play.
KING 295Give me some light. Away!
POLONIUS Lights, lights, lights!
All but Hamlet and Horatio exit.
 Why, let the strucken deer go weep,
  The hart ungallèd play.
 For some must watch, while some must sleep:
300  Thus runs the world away.

ACT 3. SC. 2

 Would not this, sir, and a forest of feathers (if the
 rest of my fortunes turn Turk with me) with two
 Provincial roses on my razed shoes, get me a
 fellowship in a cry of players?
HORATIO 305Half a share.
HAMLET A whole one, I.
 For thou dost know, O Damon dear,
  This realm dismantled was
 Of Jove himself, and now reigns here
310  A very very—pajock.

HORATIO You might have rhymed.
HAMLET O good Horatio, I’ll take the ghost’s word for
 a thousand pound. Didst perceive?
HORATIO Very well, my lord.
HAMLET 315Upon the talk of the poisoning?
HORATIO I did very well note him.
HAMLET Ah ha! Come, some music! Come, the
 For if the King like not the comedy,
320 Why, then, belike he likes it not, perdy.

 Come, some music!

Enter Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.

GUILDENSTERN Good my lord, vouchsafe me a word
 with you.
HAMLET Sir, a whole history.
GUILDENSTERN 325The King, sir—
HAMLET Ay, sir, what of him?
GUILDENSTERN Is in his retirement marvelous
HAMLET With drink, sir?
GUILDENSTERN 330No, my lord, with choler.
HAMLET Your wisdom should show itself more richer
 to signify this to the doctor, for for me to put him to
 his purgation would perhaps plunge him into more

ACT 3. SC. 2

GUILDENSTERN 335Good my lord, put your discourse into
 some frame and start not so wildly from my
HAMLET I am tame, sir. Pronounce.
GUILDENSTERN The Queen your mother, in most great
340 affliction of spirit, hath sent me to you.
HAMLET You are welcome.
GUILDENSTERN Nay, good my lord, this courtesy is not
 of the right breed. If it shall please you to make me
 a wholesome answer, I will do your mother’s
345 commandment. If not, your pardon and my return
 shall be the end of my business.
HAMLET Sir, I cannot.
ROSENCRANTZ What, my lord?
HAMLET Make you a wholesome answer. My wit’s
350 diseased. But, sir, such answer as I can make, you
 shall command—or, rather, as you say, my mother.
 Therefore no more but to the matter. My mother,
 you say—
ROSENCRANTZ Then thus she says: your behavior hath
355 struck her into amazement and admiration.
HAMLET O wonderful son that can so ’stonish a mother!
 But is there no sequel at the heels of this
 mother’s admiration? Impart.
ROSENCRANTZ She desires to speak with you in her
360 closet ere you go to bed.
HAMLET We shall obey, were she ten times our mother.
 Have you any further trade with us?
ROSENCRANTZ My lord, you once did love me.
HAMLET And do still, by these pickers and stealers.
ROSENCRANTZ 365Good my lord, what is your cause of
 distemper? You do surely bar the door upon your
 own liberty if you deny your griefs to your friend.
HAMLET Sir, I lack advancement.
ROSENCRANTZ How can that be, when you have the
370 voice of the King himself for your succession in

ACT 3. SC. 2

HAMLET Ay, sir, but “While the grass grows”—the
 proverb is something musty.

Enter the Players with recorders.

 O, the recorders! Let me see one. He takes a
 recorder and turns to Guildenstern. 
375To withdraw
 with you: why do you go about to recover the wind
 of me, as if you would drive me into a toil?
GUILDENSTERN O, my lord, if my duty be too bold, my
 love is too unmannerly.
HAMLET 380I do not well understand that. Will you play
 upon this pipe?
GUILDENSTERN My lord, I cannot.
HAMLET I pray you.
GUILDENSTERN Believe me, I cannot.
HAMLET 385I do beseech you.
GUILDENSTERN I know no touch of it, my lord.
HAMLET It is as easy as lying. Govern these ventages
 with your fingers and thumb, give it breath with
 your mouth, and it will discourse most eloquent
390 music. Look you, these are the stops.
GUILDENSTERN But these cannot I command to any
 utt’rance of harmony. I have not the skill.
HAMLET Why, look you now, how unworthy a thing
 you make of me! You would play upon me, you
395 would seem to know my stops, you would pluck
 out the heart of my mystery, you would sound me
 from my lowest note to the top of my compass;
 and there is much music, excellent voice, in this
 little organ, yet cannot you make it speak. ’Sblood,
400 do you think I am easier to be played on than a pipe?
 Call me what instrument you will, though you can
 fret me, you cannot play upon me.

Enter Polonius.

 God bless you, sir.

ACT 3. SC. 2

POLONIUS My lord, the Queen would speak with you,
405 and presently.
HAMLET Do you see yonder cloud that’s almost in
 shape of a camel?
POLONIUS By th’ Mass, and ’tis like a camel indeed.
HAMLET Methinks it is like a weasel.
POLONIUS 410It is backed like a weasel.
HAMLET Or like a whale.
POLONIUS Very like a whale.
HAMLET Then I will come to my mother by and by.
 Aside. They fool me to the top of my bent.—I will
415 come by and by.
POLONIUS I will say so.
HAMLET “By and by” is easily said. Leave me,
All but Hamlet exit.
 ’Tis now the very witching time of night,
420 When churchyards yawn and hell itself breathes
 Contagion to this world. Now could I drink hot
 And do such bitter business as the day
425 Would quake to look on. Soft, now to my mother.
 O heart, lose not thy nature; let not ever
 The soul of Nero enter this firm bosom.
 Let me be cruel, not unnatural.
 I will speak daggers to her, but use none.
430 My tongue and soul in this be hypocrites:
 How in my words somever she be shent,
 To give them seals never, my soul, consent.
He exits.