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Hamlet
Act 5, scene 2

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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 2
Enter Hamlet and Horatio.

HAMLET 
 So much for this, sir. Now shall you see the other.
 You do remember all the circumstance?
HORATIO Remember it, my lord!
HAMLET 
 Sir, in my heart there was a kind of fighting
5 That would not let me sleep. Methought I lay
 Worse than the mutines in the bilboes. Rashly—
 And praised be rashness for it; let us know,
 Our indiscretion sometime serves us well
 When our deep plots do pall; and that should learn
10 us
 There’s a divinity that shapes our ends,
 Rough-hew them how we will—
HORATIO  That is most
 certain.
HAMLET 15Up from my cabin,
 My sea-gown scarfed about me, in the dark
 Groped I to find out them; had my desire,
 Fingered their packet, and in fine withdrew
 To mine own room again, making so bold
20 (My fears forgetting manners) to unfold
 Their grand commission; where I found, Horatio,
 A royal knavery—an exact command,
 Larded with many several sorts of reasons
 Importing Denmark’s health and England’s too,
25 With—ho!—such bugs and goblins in my life,
 That on the supervise, no leisure bated,
 No, not to stay the grinding of the ax,
 My head should be struck off.
HORATIO  Is ’t possible?
HAMLET 
30 Here’s the commission. Read it at more leisure.
Handing him a paper.

261
Hamlet
ACT 5. SC. 2

 But wilt thou hear now how I did proceed?
HORATIO I beseech you.
HAMLET 
 Being thus benetted round with villainies,
 Or I could make a prologue to my brains,
35 They had begun the play. I sat me down,
 Devised a new commission, wrote it fair—
 I once did hold it, as our statists do,
 A baseness to write fair, and labored much
 How to forget that learning; but, sir, now
40 It did me yeoman’s service. Wilt thou know
 Th’ effect of what I wrote?
HORATIO  Ay, good my lord.
HAMLET 
 An earnest conjuration from the King,
 As England was his faithful tributary,
45 As love between them like the palm might flourish,
 As peace should still her wheaten garland wear
 And stand a comma ’tween their amities,
 And many suchlike ases of great charge,
 That, on the view and knowing of these contents,
50 Without debatement further, more or less,
 He should those bearers put to sudden death,
 Not shriving time allowed.
HORATIO  How was this sealed?
HAMLET 
 Why, even in that was heaven ordinant.
55 I had my father’s signet in my purse,
 Which was the model of that Danish seal;
 Folded the writ up in the form of th’ other,
 Subscribed it, gave ’t th’ impression, placed it
 safely,
60 The changeling never known. Now, the next day
 Was our sea-fight; and what to this was sequent
 Thou knowest already.
HORATIO 
 So Guildenstern and Rosencrantz go to ’t.

263
Hamlet
ACT 5. SC. 2

HAMLET 
 Why, man, they did make love to this employment.
65 They are not near my conscience. Their defeat
 Does by their own insinuation grow.
 ’Tis dangerous when the baser nature comes
 Between the pass and fell incensèd points
 Of mighty opposites.
HORATIO 70Why, what a king is this!
HAMLET 
 Does it not, think thee, stand me now upon—
 He that hath killed my king and whored my mother,
 Popped in between th’ election and my hopes,
 Thrown out his angle for my proper life,
75 And with such cozenage—is ’t not perfect
 conscience
 To quit him with this arm? And is ’t not to be
 damned
 To let this canker of our nature come
80 In further evil?
HORATIO 
 It must be shortly known to him from England
 What is the issue of the business there.
HAMLET 
 It will be short. The interim’s mine,
 And a man’s life’s no more than to say “one.”
85 But I am very sorry, good Horatio,
 That to Laertes I forgot myself,
 For by the image of my cause I see
 The portraiture of his. I’ll court his favors.
 But, sure, the bravery of his grief did put me
90 Into a tow’ring passion.
HORATIO  Peace, who comes here?

Enter Osric, a courtier.

OSRIC Your Lordship is right welcome back to
 Denmark.

265
Hamlet
ACT 5. SC. 2

HAMLET I humbly thank you, sir. Aside to Horatio.
95 Dost know this waterfly?
HORATIO, aside to Hamlet No, my good lord.
HAMLET, aside to Horatio Thy state is the more gracious,
 for ’tis a vice to know him. He hath much
 land, and fertile. Let a beast be lord of beasts and his
100 crib shall stand at the king’s mess. ’Tis a chough,
 but, as I say, spacious in the possession of dirt.
OSRIC Sweet lord, if your Lordship were at leisure, I
 should impart a thing to you from his Majesty.
HAMLET I will receive it, sir, with all diligence of
105 spirit. Put your bonnet to his right use: ’tis for the
 head.
OSRIC I thank your Lordship; it is very hot.
HAMLET No, believe me, ’tis very cold; the wind is
 northerly.
OSRIC 110It is indifferent cold, my lord, indeed.
HAMLET But yet methinks it is very sultry and hot for
 my complexion.
OSRIC Exceedingly, my lord; it is very sultry, as
 ’twere—I cannot tell how. My lord, his Majesty
115 bade me signify to you that he has laid a great wager
 on your head. Sir, this is the matter—
HAMLET I beseech you, remember. He motions to
 Osric to put on his hat.

OSRIC Nay, good my lord, for my ease, in good faith.
 [Sir, here is newly come to court Laertes—believe
120 me, an absolute gentleman, full of most excellent
 differences, of very soft society and great showing.
 Indeed, to speak feelingly of him, he is the card or
 calendar of gentry, for you shall find in him the
 continent of what part a gentleman would see.
HAMLET 125Sir, his definement suffers no perdition in
 you, though I know to divide him inventorially
 would dozy th’ arithmetic of memory, and yet but
 yaw neither, in respect of his quick sail. But, in the

267
Hamlet
ACT 5. SC. 2

 verity of extolment, I take him to be a soul of great
130 article, and his infusion of such dearth and rareness
 as, to make true diction of him, his semblable is his
 mirror, and who else would trace him, his umbrage,
 nothing more.
OSRIC Your Lordship speaks most infallibly of him.
HAMLET 135The concernancy, sir? Why do we wrap the
 gentleman in our more rawer breath?
OSRIC Sir?
HORATIO Is ’t not possible to understand in another
 tongue? You will to ’t, sir, really.
HAMLET, to Osric 140What imports the nomination of
 this gentleman?
OSRIC Of Laertes?
HORATIO His purse is empty already; all ’s golden words
 are spent.
HAMLET 145Of him, sir.
OSRIC I know you are not ignorant—
HAMLET I would you did, sir. Yet, in faith, if you did, it
 would not much approve me. Well, sir?]
OSRIC You are not ignorant of what excellence Laertes
150 is—
[HAMLET I dare not confess that, lest I should compare
 with him in excellence. But to know a man well
 were to know himself.
OSRIC I mean, sir, for his weapon. But in the imputation
155 laid on him by them, in his meed he’s
 unfellowed.]
HAMLET What’s his weapon?
OSRIC Rapier and dagger.
HAMLET That’s two of his weapons. But, well—
OSRIC 160The King, sir, hath wagered with him six Barbary
 horses, against the which he has impawned, as I
 take it, six French rapiers and poniards, with their
 assigns, as girdle, hangers, and so. Three of the
 carriages, in faith, are very dear to fancy, very

269
Hamlet
ACT 5. SC. 2

165 responsive to the hilts, most delicate carriages, and
 of very liberal conceit.
HAMLET What call you the “carriages”?
[HORATIO I knew you must be edified by the margent
 ere you had done.]
OSRIC 170The carriages, sir, are the hangers.
HAMLET The phrase would be more germane to the
 matter if we could carry a cannon by our sides. I
 would it might be “hangers” till then. But on. Six
 Barbary horses against six French swords, their
175 assigns, and three liberal-conceited carriages—
 that’s the French bet against the Danish. Why is this
 all “impawned,” as you call it?
OSRIC The King, sir, hath laid, sir, that in a dozen
 passes between yourself and him, he shall not
180 exceed you three hits. He hath laid on twelve for
 nine, and it would come to immediate trial if your
 Lordship would vouchsafe the answer.
HAMLET How if I answer no?
OSRIC I mean, my lord, the opposition of your person
185 in trial.
HAMLET Sir, I will walk here in the hall. If it please his
 Majesty, it is the breathing time of day with me. Let
 the foils be brought, the gentleman willing, and the
 King hold his purpose, I will win for him, an I can.
190 If not, I will gain nothing but my shame and the odd
 hits.
OSRIC Shall I deliver you e’en so?
HAMLET To this effect, sir, after what flourish your
 nature will.
OSRIC 195I commend my duty to your Lordship.
HAMLET Yours. Osric exits. He does well to commend
 it himself. There are no tongues else for ’s
 turn.
HORATIO This lapwing runs away with the shell on his
200 head.

271
Hamlet
ACT 5. SC. 2

HAMLET He did comply, sir, with his dug before he
 sucked it. Thus has he (and many more of the same
 breed that I know the drossy age dotes on) only got
 the tune of the time, and, out of an habit of
205 encounter, a kind of yeasty collection, which carries
 them through and through the most fanned
 and winnowed opinions; and do but blow them to
 their trial, the bubbles are out.

[Enter a Lord.

LORD My lord, his Majesty commended him to you by
210 young Osric, who brings back to him that you
 attend him in the hall. He sends to know if your
 pleasure hold to play with Laertes, or that you will
 take longer time.
HAMLET I am constant to my purposes. They follow
215 the King’s pleasure. If his fitness speaks, mine is
 ready now or whensoever, provided I be so able as
 now.
LORD The King and Queen and all are coming down.
HAMLET In happy time.
LORD 220The Queen desires you to use some gentle
 entertainment to Laertes before you fall to play.
HAMLET She well instructs me.Lord exits.]
HORATIO You will lose, my lord.
HAMLET I do not think so. Since he went into France, I
225 have been in continual practice. I shall win at the
 odds; but thou wouldst not think how ill all’s here
 about my heart. But it is no matter.
HORATIO Nay, good my lord—
HAMLET It is but foolery, but it is such a kind of
230 gaingiving as would perhaps trouble a woman.
HORATIO If your mind dislike anything, obey it. I will
 forestall their repair hither and say you are not fit.
HAMLET Not a whit. We defy augury. There is a
 special providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be
235 now, ’tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be

273
Hamlet
ACT 5. SC. 2

 now; if it be not now, yet it will come. The
 readiness is all. Since no man of aught he leaves
 knows, what is ’t to leave betimes? Let be.

A table prepared. Enter Trumpets, Drums, and Officers
with cushions, King, Queen, Osric, and all the state,
foils, daggers, flagons of wine, and Laertes.


KING 
 Come, Hamlet, come and take this hand from me.
He puts Laertes’ hand into Hamlet’s.
HAMLET, to Laertes 
240 Give me your pardon, sir. I have done you wrong;
 But pardon ’t as you are a gentleman. This presence
 knows,
 And you must needs have heard, how I am punished
 With a sore distraction. What I have done
245 That might your nature, honor, and exception
 Roughly awake, I here proclaim was madness.
 Was ’t Hamlet wronged Laertes? Never Hamlet.
 If Hamlet from himself be ta’en away,
 And when he’s not himself does wrong Laertes,
250 Then Hamlet does it not; Hamlet denies it.
 Who does it, then? His madness. If ’t be so,
 Hamlet is of the faction that is wronged;
 His madness is poor Hamlet’s enemy.
 Sir, in this audience
255 Let my disclaiming from a purposed evil
 Free me so far in your most generous thoughts
 That I have shot my arrow o’er the house
 And hurt my brother.
LAERTES I am satisfied in nature,
260 Whose motive in this case should stir me most
 To my revenge; but in my terms of honor
 I stand aloof and will no reconcilement
 Till by some elder masters of known honor
 I have a voice and precedent of peace
265 To keep my name ungored. But till that time

275
Hamlet
ACT 5. SC. 2

 I do receive your offered love like love
 And will not wrong it.
HAMLET  I embrace it freely
 And will this brothers’ wager frankly play.—
270 Give us the foils. Come on.
LAERTES  Come, one for me.
HAMLET 
 I’ll be your foil, Laertes; in mine ignorance
 Your skill shall, like a star i’ th’ darkest night,
 Stick fiery off indeed.
LAERTES 275 You mock me, sir.
HAMLET No, by this hand.
KING 
 Give them the foils, young Osric. Cousin Hamlet,
 You know the wager?
HAMLET  Very well, my lord.
280 Your Grace has laid the odds o’ th’ weaker side.
KING 
 I do not fear it; I have seen you both.
 But, since he is better, we have therefore odds.
LAERTES 
 This is too heavy. Let me see another.
HAMLET 
 This likes me well. These foils have all a length?
OSRIC 285Ay, my good lord.
Prepare to play.
KING 
 Set me the stoups of wine upon that table.—
 If Hamlet give the first or second hit
 Or quit in answer of the third exchange,
 Let all the battlements their ordnance fire.
290 The King shall drink to Hamlet’s better breath,
 And in the cup an union shall he throw,
 Richer than that which four successive kings
 In Denmark’s crown have worn. Give me the cups,

277
Hamlet
ACT 5. SC. 2

 And let the kettle to the trumpet speak,
295 The trumpet to the cannoneer without,
 The cannons to the heavens, the heaven to earth,
 “Now the King drinks to Hamlet.” Come, begin.
 And you, the judges, bear a wary eye.
Trumpets the while.
HAMLET Come on, sir.
LAERTES 300Come, my lord.They play.
HAMLET One.
LAERTES No.
HAMLET Judgment!
OSRIC A hit, a very palpable hit.
LAERTES 305Well, again.
KING 
 Stay, give me drink.—Hamlet, this pearl is thine.
 Here’s to thy health.
He drinks and then drops the pearl in the cup.
Drum, trumpets, and shot.
 Give him the cup.
HAMLET 
 I’ll play this bout first. Set it by awhile.
310 Come. They play. Another hit. What say you?
LAERTES 
 A touch, a touch. I do confess ’t.
KING 
 Our son shall win.
QUEEN  He’s fat and scant of breath.—
 Here, Hamlet, take my napkin; rub thy brows.
315 The Queen carouses to thy fortune, Hamlet.
She lifts the cup.
HAMLET Good madam.
KING Gertrude, do not drink.
QUEEN 
 I will, my lord; I pray you pardon me.She drinks.
KING, aside 
 It is the poisoned cup. It is too late.

279
Hamlet
ACT 5. SC. 2

HAMLET 
320 I dare not drink yet, madam—by and by.
QUEEN Come, let me wipe thy face.
LAERTES, to Claudius 
 My lord, I’ll hit him now.
KING  I do not think ’t.
LAERTES, aside 
 And yet it is almost against my conscience.
HAMLET 
325 Come, for the third, Laertes. You do but dally.
 I pray you pass with your best violence.
 I am afeard you make a wanton of me.
LAERTES Say you so? Come on.Play.
OSRIC Nothing neither way.
LAERTES 330Have at you now!
Laertes wounds Hamlet. Then in scuffling they change
rapiers, and Hamlet wounds Laertes.

KING Part them. They are incensed.
HAMLET Nay, come again.
The Queen falls.
OSRIC Look to the Queen there, ho!
HORATIO 
 They bleed on both sides.—How is it, my lord?
OSRIC 335How is ’t, Laertes?
LAERTES 
 Why as a woodcock to mine own springe, Osric.
He falls.
 I am justly killed with mine own treachery.
HAMLET 
 How does the Queen?
KING  She swoons to see them bleed.
QUEEN 
340 No, no, the drink, the drink! O, my dear Hamlet!
 The drink, the drink! I am poisoned.She dies.
HAMLET 
 O villainy! Ho! Let the door be locked.Osric exits.
 Treachery! Seek it out.

281
Hamlet
ACT 5. SC. 2

LAERTES 
 It is here, Hamlet. Hamlet, thou art slain.
345 No med’cine in the world can do thee good.
 In thee there is not half an hour’s life.
 The treacherous instrument is in thy hand,
 Unbated and envenomed. The foul practice
 Hath turned itself on me. Lo, here I lie,
350 Never to rise again. Thy mother’s poisoned.
 I can no more. The King, the King’s to blame.
HAMLET 
 The point envenomed too! Then, venom, to thy
 work.Hurts the King.
ALL Treason, treason!
KING 
355 O, yet defend me, friends! I am but hurt.
HAMLET 
 Here, thou incestuous, murd’rous, damnèd Dane,
 Drink off this potion. Is thy union here?
Forcing him to drink the poison.
 Follow my mother.King dies.
LAERTES  He is justly served.
360 It is a poison tempered by himself.
 Exchange forgiveness with me, noble Hamlet.
 Mine and my father’s death come not upon thee,
 Nor thine on me.Dies.
HAMLET 
 Heaven make thee free of it. I follow thee.—
365 I am dead, Horatio.—Wretched queen, adieu.—
 You that look pale and tremble at this chance,
 That are but mutes or audience to this act,
 Had I but time (as this fell sergeant, Death,
 Is strict in his arrest), O, I could tell you—
370 But let it be.—Horatio, I am dead.
 Thou livest; report me and my cause aright
 To the unsatisfied.
HORATIO  Never believe it.

283
Hamlet
ACT 5. SC. 2

 I am more an antique Roman than a Dane.
375 Here’s yet some liquor left.He picks up the cup.
HAMLET  As thou ’rt a man,
 Give me the cup. Let go! By heaven, I’ll ha ’t.
 O God, Horatio, what a wounded name,
 Things standing thus unknown, shall I leave behind
380 me!
 If thou didst ever hold me in thy heart,
 Absent thee from felicity awhile
 And in this harsh world draw thy breath in pain
 To tell my story.
A march afar off and shot within.
385 What warlike noise is this?

Enter Osric.

OSRIC 
 Young Fortinbras, with conquest come from Poland,
 To th’ ambassadors of England gives
 This warlike volley.
HAMLET  O, I die, Horatio!
390 The potent poison quite o’ercrows my spirit.
 I cannot live to hear the news from England.
 But I do prophesy th’ election lights
 On Fortinbras; he has my dying voice.
 So tell him, with th’ occurrents, more and less,
395 Which have solicited—the rest is silence.
 O, O, O, O!Dies.
HORATIO 
 Now cracks a noble heart. Good night, sweet prince,
 And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.
March within.
 Why does the drum come hither?

Enter Fortinbras with the English Ambassadors with
Drum, Colors, and Attendants.


FORTINBRAS 400Where is this sight?

285
Hamlet
ACT 5. SC. 2

HORATIO What is it you would see?
 If aught of woe or wonder, cease your search.
FORTINBRAS 
 This quarry cries on havoc. O proud Death,
 What feast is toward in thine eternal cell
405 That thou so many princes at a shot
 So bloodily hast struck?
AMBASSADOR  The sight is dismal,
 And our affairs from England come too late.
 The ears are senseless that should give us hearing
410 To tell him his commandment is fulfilled,
 That Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead.
 Where should we have our thanks?
HORATIO  Not from his
 mouth,
415 Had it th’ ability of life to thank you.
 He never gave commandment for their death.
 But since, so jump upon this bloody question,
 You from the Polack wars, and you from England,
 Are here arrived, give order that these bodies
420 High on a stage be placed to the view,
 And let me speak to th’ yet unknowing world
 How these things came about. So shall you hear
 Of carnal, bloody, and unnatural acts,
 Of accidental judgments, casual slaughters,
425 Of deaths put on by cunning and forced cause,
 And, in this upshot, purposes mistook
 Fall’n on th’ inventors’ heads. All this can I
 Truly deliver.
FORTINBRAS Let us haste to hear it
430 And call the noblest to the audience.
 For me, with sorrow I embrace my fortune.
 I have some rights of memory in this kingdom,
 Which now to claim my vantage doth invite me.
HORATIO 
 Of that I shall have also cause to speak,

287
Hamlet
ACT 5. SC. 2

435 And from his mouth whose voice will draw on
 more.
 But let this same be presently performed
 Even while men’s minds are wild, lest more
 mischance
440 On plots and errors happen.
FORTINBRAS  Let four captains
 Bear Hamlet like a soldier to the stage,
 For he was likely, had he been put on,
 To have proved most royal; and for his passage,
445 The soldier’s music and the rite of war
 Speak loudly for him.
 Take up the bodies. Such a sight as this
 Becomes the field but here shows much amiss.
 Go, bid the soldiers shoot.
They exit, marching, after the which, a peal of
ordnance are shot off.