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Hamlet
Act 4, 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 Horatio, Queen, and a Gentleman.

QUEEN I will not speak with her.
GENTLEMAN She is importunate,
 Indeed distract; her mood will needs be pitied.
QUEEN What would she have?
GENTLEMAN 
5 She speaks much of her father, says she hears
 There’s tricks i’ th’ world, and hems, and beats her
 heart,
 Spurns enviously at straws, speaks things in doubt
 That carry but half sense. Her speech is nothing,
10 Yet the unshapèd use of it doth move
 The hearers to collection. They aim at it
 And botch the words up fit to their own thoughts;
 Which, as her winks and nods and gestures yield
 them,
15 Indeed would make one think there might be
 thought,
 Though nothing sure, yet much unhappily.
HORATIO 
 ’Twere good she were spoken with, for she may
 strew
20 Dangerous conjectures in ill-breeding minds.
QUEEN Let her come in.Gentleman exits.
 Aside. To my sick soul (as sin’s true nature is),
 Each toy seems prologue to some great amiss.
 So full of artless jealousy is guilt,
25 It spills itself in fearing to be spilt.

207
Hamlet
ACT 4. SC. 5

Enter Ophelia distracted.

OPHELIA 
 Where is the beauteous Majesty of Denmark?
QUEEN How now, Ophelia?
OPHELIA sings 
 How should I your true love know
  From another one?
30 By his cockle hat and staff
  And his sandal shoon.

QUEEN 
 Alas, sweet lady, what imports this song?
OPHELIA Say you? Nay, pray you, mark.
Sings. He is dead and gone, lady,
35  He is dead and gone;
 At his head a grass-green turf,
  At his heels a stone.

 Oh, ho!
QUEEN Nay, but Ophelia—
OPHELIA 40Pray you, mark.
Sings. White his shroud as the mountain snow—

Enter King.

QUEEN Alas, look here, my lord.
OPHELIA sings 
  Larded all with sweet flowers;
 Which bewept to the ground did not go
45  With true-love showers.

KING How do you, pretty lady?
OPHELIA Well, God dild you. They say the owl was a
 baker’s daughter. Lord, we know what we are but
 know not what we may be. God be at your table.
KING 50Conceit upon her father.
OPHELIA Pray let’s have no words of this, but when
 they ask you what it means, say you this:

209
Hamlet
ACT 4. SC. 5

Sings. Tomorrow is Saint Valentine’s day,
  All in the morning betime,
55 And I a maid at your window,
  To be your Valentine.
 Then up he rose and donned his clothes
  And dupped the chamber door,
 Let in the maid, that out a maid
60  Never departed more.

KING Pretty Ophelia—
OPHELIA 
 Indeed, without an oath, I’ll make an end on ’t:
Sings. By Gis and by Saint Charity,
  Alack and fie for shame,
65 Young men will do ’t, if they come to ’t;
  By Cock, they are to blame.
 Quoth she “Before you tumbled me,
  You promised me to wed.”

 He answers:
70 “So would I ’a done, by yonder sun,
  An thou hadst not come to my bed.”

KING How long hath she been thus?
OPHELIA I hope all will be well. We must be patient,
 but I cannot choose but weep to think they would
75 lay him i’ th’ cold ground. My brother shall know of
 it. And so I thank you for your good counsel. Come,
 my coach! Good night, ladies, good night, sweet
 ladies, good night, good night.She exits.
KING 
 Follow her close; give her good watch, I pray you.
Horatio exits.
80 O, this is the poison of deep grief. It springs
 All from her father’s death, and now behold!
 O Gertrude, Gertrude,
 When sorrows come, they come not single spies,
 But in battalions: first, her father slain;
85 Next, your son gone, and he most violent author
 Of his own just remove; the people muddied,

211
Hamlet
ACT 4. SC. 5

 Thick, and unwholesome in their thoughts and
 whispers
 For good Polonius’ death, and we have done but
90 greenly
 In hugger-mugger to inter him; poor Ophelia
 Divided from herself and her fair judgment,
 Without the which we are pictures or mere beasts;
 Last, and as much containing as all these,
95 Her brother is in secret come from France,
 Feeds on his wonder, keeps himself in clouds,
 And wants not buzzers to infect his ear
 With pestilent speeches of his father’s death,
 Wherein necessity, of matter beggared,
100 Will nothing stick our person to arraign
 In ear and ear. O, my dear Gertrude, this,
 Like to a murd’ring piece, in many places
 Gives me superfluous death.
A noise within.
QUEEN Alack, what noise is this?
KING 105Attend!
 Where is my Switzers? Let them guard the door.

Enter a Messenger.

 What is the matter?
MESSENGER  Save yourself, my lord.
 The ocean, overpeering of his list,
110 Eats not the flats with more impiteous haste
 Than young Laertes, in a riotous head,
 O’erbears your officers. The rabble call him “lord,”
 And, as the world were now but to begin,
 Antiquity forgot, custom not known,
115 The ratifiers and props of every word,
 They cry “Choose we, Laertes shall be king!”
 Caps, hands, and tongues applaud it to the clouds,
 “Laertes shall be king! Laertes king!”
A noise within.

213
Hamlet
ACT 4. SC. 5

QUEEN 
 How cheerfully on the false trail they cry.
120 O, this is counter, you false Danish dogs!
KING The doors are broke.

Enter Laertes with others.

LAERTES 
 Where is this king?—Sirs, stand you all without.
ALL No, let’s come in!
LAERTES I pray you, give me leave.
ALL 125We will, we will.
LAERTES 
 I thank you. Keep the door. Followers exit. O, thou
 vile king,
 Give me my father!
QUEEN  Calmly, good Laertes.
LAERTES 
130 That drop of blood that’s calm proclaims me
 bastard,
 Cries “cuckold” to my father, brands the harlot
 Even here between the chaste unsmirchèd brow
 Of my true mother.
KING 135 What is the cause, Laertes,
 That thy rebellion looks so giant-like?—
 Let him go, Gertrude. Do not fear our person.
 There’s such divinity doth hedge a king
 That treason can but peep to what it would,
140 Acts little of his will.—Tell me, Laertes,
 Why thou art thus incensed.—Let him go,
 Gertrude.—
 Speak, man.
LAERTES Where is my father?
KING 145Dead.
QUEEN 
 But not by him.
KING  Let him demand his fill.

215
Hamlet
ACT 4. SC. 5

LAERTES 
 How came he dead? I’ll not be juggled with.
 To hell, allegiance! Vows, to the blackest devil!
150 Conscience and grace, to the profoundest pit!
 I dare damnation. To this point I stand,
 That both the worlds I give to negligence,
 Let come what comes, only I’ll be revenged
 Most throughly for my father.
KING 155Who shall stay you?
LAERTES My will, not all the world.
 And for my means, I’ll husband them so well
 They shall go far with little.
KING  Good Laertes,
160 If you desire to know the certainty
 Of your dear father, is ’t writ in your revenge
 That, swoopstake, you will draw both friend and
 foe,
 Winner and loser?
LAERTES 165None but his enemies.
KING Will you know them, then?
LAERTES 
 To his good friends thus wide I’ll ope my arms
 And, like the kind life-rend’ring pelican,
 Repast them with my blood.
KING 170 Why, now you speak
 Like a good child and a true gentleman.
 That I am guiltless of your father’s death
 And am most sensibly in grief for it,
 It shall as level to your judgment ’pear
175 As day does to your eye.
 A noise within: “Let her come in!”
LAERTES How now, what noise is that?

Enter Ophelia.

 O heat, dry up my brains! Tears seven times salt
 Burn out the sense and virtue of mine eye!

217
Hamlet
ACT 4. SC. 5

180 By heaven, thy madness shall be paid with weight
 Till our scale turn the beam! O rose of May,
 Dear maid, kind sister, sweet Ophelia!
 O heavens, is ’t possible a young maid’s wits
 Should be as mortal as an old man’s life?
185 Nature is fine in love, and, where ’tis fine,
 It sends some precious instance of itself
 After the thing it loves.
OPHELIA sings 
 They bore him barefaced on the bier,
 Hey non nonny, nonny, hey nonny,
190 And in his grave rained many a tear.

 Fare you well, my dove.
LAERTES 
 Hadst thou thy wits and didst persuade revenge,
 It could not move thus.
OPHELIA You must sing “A-down a-down”—and you
195 “Call him a-down-a.”—O, how the wheel becomes
 it! It is the false steward that stole his master’s
 daughter.
LAERTES This nothing’s more than matter.
OPHELIA There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance.
200 Pray you, love, remember. And there is pansies,
 that’s for thoughts.
LAERTES A document in madness: thoughts and remembrance
 fitted.
OPHELIA There’s fennel for you, and columbines.
205 There’s rue for you, and here’s some for me; we
 may call it herb of grace o’ Sundays. You must wear
 your rue with a difference. There’s a daisy. I would
 give you some violets, but they withered all when
 my father died. They say he made a good end.
210 Sings. For bonny sweet Robin is all my joy.
LAERTES 
 Thought and afflictions, passion, hell itself
 She turns to favor and to prettiness.

219
Hamlet
ACT 4. SC. 5

OPHELIA sings 
 And will he not come again?
 And will he not come again?
215  No, no, he is dead.
  Go to thy deathbed.
 He never will come again.

 His beard was as white as snow,
 All flaxen was his poll.
220  He is gone, he is gone,
  And we cast away moan.
 God ’a mercy on his soul.

 And of all Christians’ souls, I pray God. God be wi’
 you.She exits.
LAERTES 225Do you see this, O God?
KING 
 Laertes, I must commune with your grief,
 Or you deny me right. Go but apart,
 Make choice of whom your wisest friends you will,
 And they shall hear and judge ’twixt you and me.
230 If by direct or by collateral hand
 They find us touched, we will our kingdom give,
 Our crown, our life, and all that we call ours,
 To you in satisfaction; but if not,
 Be you content to lend your patience to us,
235 And we shall jointly labor with your soul
 To give it due content.
LAERTES  Let this be so.
 His means of death, his obscure funeral
 (No trophy, sword, nor hatchment o’er his bones,
240 No noble rite nor formal ostentation)
 Cry to be heard, as ’twere from heaven to earth,
 That I must call ’t in question.
KING  So you shall,
 And where th’ offense is, let the great ax fall.
245 I pray you, go with me.
They exit.