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Hamlet
Entire Play

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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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ACT 1
Scene 1
Enter Barnardo and Francisco, two sentinels.

BARNARDO Who’s there?
FRANCISCO 
 Nay, answer me. Stand and unfold yourself.
BARNARDO Long live the King!
FRANCISCO Barnardo?
BARNARDO 5He.
FRANCISCO 
 You come most carefully upon your hour.
BARNARDO 
 ’Tis now struck twelve. Get thee to bed, Francisco.
FRANCISCO 
 For this relief much thanks. ’Tis bitter cold,
 And I am sick at heart.
BARNARDO 10Have you had quiet guard?
FRANCISCO Not a mouse stirring.
BARNARDO Well, good night.
 If you do meet Horatio and Marcellus,
 The rivals of my watch, bid them make haste.

Enter Horatio and Marcellus.

FRANCISCO 
15 I think I hear them.—Stand ho! Who is there?
HORATIO Friends to this ground.
7

9
Hamlet
ACT 1. SC. 1

MARCELLUS And liegemen to the Dane.
FRANCISCO Give you good night.
MARCELLUS 
 O farewell, honest soldier. Who hath relieved
20 you?
FRANCISCO 
 Barnardo hath my place. Give you good night.
Francisco exits.
MARCELLUS Holla, Barnardo.
BARNARDO Say, what, is Horatio there?
HORATIO A piece of him.
BARNARDO 
25 Welcome, Horatio.—Welcome, good Marcellus.
HORATIO 
 What, has this thing appeared again tonight?
BARNARDO I have seen nothing.
MARCELLUS 
 Horatio says ’tis but our fantasy
 And will not let belief take hold of him
30 Touching this dreaded sight twice seen of us.
 Therefore I have entreated him along
 With us to watch the minutes of this night,
 That, if again this apparition come,
 He may approve our eyes and speak to it.
HORATIO 
35 Tush, tush, ’twill not appear.
BARNARDO  Sit down awhile,
 And let us once again assail your ears,
 That are so fortified against our story,
 What we have two nights seen.
HORATIO 40 Well, sit we down,
 And let us hear Barnardo speak of this.
BARNARDO Last night of all,
 When yond same star that’s westward from the pole
 Had made his course t’ illume that part of heaven
45 Where now it burns, Marcellus and myself,
 The bell then beating one—

11
Hamlet
ACT 1. SC. 1

Enter Ghost.

MARCELLUS 
 Peace, break thee off! Look where it comes again.
BARNARDO 
 In the same figure like the King that’s dead.
MARCELLUS, to Horatio 
 Thou art a scholar. Speak to it, Horatio.
BARNARDO 
50 Looks he not like the King? Mark it, Horatio.
HORATIO 
 Most like. It harrows me with fear and wonder.
BARNARDO 
 It would be spoke to.
MARCELLUS  Speak to it, Horatio.
HORATIO 
 What art thou that usurp’st this time of night,
55 Together with that fair and warlike form
 In which the majesty of buried Denmark
 Did sometimes march? By heaven, I charge thee,
 speak.
MARCELLUS 
 It is offended.
BARNARDO 60 See, it stalks away.
HORATIO 
 Stay! speak! speak! I charge thee, speak!
Ghost exits.
MARCELLUS ’Tis gone and will not answer.
BARNARDO 
 How now, Horatio, you tremble and look pale.
 Is not this something more than fantasy?
65 What think you on ’t?
HORATIO 
 Before my God, I might not this believe
 Without the sensible and true avouch
 Of mine own eyes.

13
Hamlet
ACT 1. SC. 1

MARCELLUS  Is it not like the King?
HORATIO 70As thou art to thyself.
 Such was the very armor he had on
 When he the ambitious Norway combated.
 So frowned he once when, in an angry parle,
 He smote the sledded Polacks on the ice.
75 ’Tis strange.
MARCELLUS 
 Thus twice before, and jump at this dead hour,
 With martial stalk hath he gone by our watch.
HORATIO 
 In what particular thought to work I know not,
 But in the gross and scope of mine opinion
80 This bodes some strange eruption to our state.
MARCELLUS 
 Good now, sit down, and tell me, he that knows,
 Why this same strict and most observant watch
 So nightly toils the subject of the land,
 And why such daily cast of brazen cannon
85 And foreign mart for implements of war,
 Why such impress of shipwrights, whose sore task
 Does not divide the Sunday from the week.
 What might be toward that this sweaty haste
 Doth make the night joint laborer with the day?
90 Who is ’t that can inform me?
HORATIO  That can I.
 At least the whisper goes so: our last king,
 Whose image even but now appeared to us,
 Was, as you know, by Fortinbras of Norway,
95 Thereto pricked on by a most emulate pride,
 Dared to the combat; in which our valiant Hamlet
 (For so this side of our known world esteemed him)
 Did slay this Fortinbras, who by a sealed compact,
 Well ratified by law and heraldry,
100 Did forfeit, with his life, all those his lands
 Which he stood seized of, to the conqueror.

15
Hamlet
ACT 1. SC. 1

 Against the which a moiety competent
 Was gagèd by our king, which had returned
 To the inheritance of Fortinbras
105 Had he been vanquisher, as, by the same comart
 And carriage of the article designed,
 His fell to Hamlet. Now, sir, young Fortinbras,
 Of unimprovèd mettle hot and full,
 Hath in the skirts of Norway here and there
110 Sharked up a list of lawless resolutes
 For food and diet to some enterprise
 That hath a stomach in ’t; which is no other
 (As it doth well appear unto our state)
 But to recover of us, by strong hand
115 And terms compulsatory, those foresaid lands
 So by his father lost. And this, I take it,
 Is the main motive of our preparations,
 The source of this our watch, and the chief head
 Of this posthaste and rummage in the land.
[BARNARDO 
120 I think it be no other but e’en so.
 Well may it sort that this portentous figure
 Comes armèd through our watch so like the king
 That was and is the question of these wars.
HORATIO 
 A mote it is to trouble the mind’s eye.
125 In the most high and palmy state of Rome,
 A little ere the mightiest Julius fell,
 The graves stood tenantless, and the sheeted dead
 Did squeak and gibber in the Roman streets;
 As stars with trains of fire and dews of blood,
130 Disasters in the sun; and the moist star,
 Upon whose influence Neptune’s empire stands,
 Was sick almost to doomsday with eclipse.
 And even the like precurse of feared events,
 As harbingers preceding still the fates
135 And prologue to the omen coming on,

17
Hamlet
ACT 1. SC. 1

 Have heaven and Earth together demonstrated
 Unto our climatures and countrymen.]

Enter Ghost.

 But soft, behold! Lo, where it comes again!
 I’ll cross it though it blast me.—Stay, illusion!
It spreads his arms.
140 If thou hast any sound or use of voice,
 Speak to me.
 If there be any good thing to be done
 That may to thee do ease and grace to me,
 Speak to me.
145 If thou art privy to thy country’s fate,
 Which happily foreknowing may avoid,
 O, speak!
 Or if thou hast uphoarded in thy life
 Extorted treasure in the womb of earth,
150 For which, they say, you spirits oft walk in death,
 Speak of it.The cock crows.
 Stay and speak!—Stop it, Marcellus.
MARCELLUS 
 Shall I strike it with my partisan?
HORATIO Do, if it will not stand.
BARNARDO 155’Tis here.
HORATIO ’Tis here.
Ghost exits.
MARCELLUS ’Tis gone.
 We do it wrong, being so majestical,
 To offer it the show of violence,
160 For it is as the air, invulnerable,
 And our vain blows malicious mockery.
BARNARDO 
 It was about to speak when the cock crew.
HORATIO 
 And then it started like a guilty thing
 Upon a fearful summons. I have heard

19
Hamlet
ACT 1. SC. 1

165 The cock, that is the trumpet to the morn,
 Doth with his lofty and shrill-sounding throat
 Awake the god of day, and at his warning,
 Whether in sea or fire, in earth or air,
 Th’ extravagant and erring spirit hies
170 To his confine, and of the truth herein
 This present object made probation.
MARCELLUS 
 It faded on the crowing of the cock.
 Some say that ever ’gainst that season comes
 Wherein our Savior’s birth is celebrated,
175 This bird of dawning singeth all night long;
 And then, they say, no spirit dare stir abroad,
 The nights are wholesome; then no planets strike,
 No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm,
 So hallowed and so gracious is that time.
HORATIO 
180 So have I heard and do in part believe it.
 But look, the morn in russet mantle clad
 Walks o’er the dew of yon high eastward hill.
 Break we our watch up, and by my advice
 Let us impart what we have seen tonight
185 Unto young Hamlet; for, upon my life,
 This spirit, dumb to us, will speak to him.
 Do you consent we shall acquaint him with it
 As needful in our loves, fitting our duty?
MARCELLUS 
 Let’s do ’t, I pray, and I this morning know
190 Where we shall find him most convenient.
They exit.




21
Hamlet
ACT 1. SC. 2

Scene 2
Flourish. Enter Claudius, King of Denmark, Gertrude the
Queen, the Council, as Polonius, and his son Laertes,
Hamlet, with others, among them Voltemand and
Cornelius.


KING 
 Though yet of Hamlet our dear brother’s death
 The memory be green, and that it us befitted
 To bear our hearts in grief, and our whole kingdom
 To be contracted in one brow of woe,
5 Yet so far hath discretion fought with nature
 That we with wisest sorrow think on him
 Together with remembrance of ourselves.
 Therefore our sometime sister, now our queen,
 Th’ imperial jointress to this warlike state,
10 Have we (as ’twere with a defeated joy,
 With an auspicious and a dropping eye,
 With mirth in funeral and with dirge in marriage,
 In equal scale weighing delight and dole)
 Taken to wife. Nor have we herein barred
15 Your better wisdoms, which have freely gone
 With this affair along. For all, our thanks.
 Now follows that you know. Young Fortinbras,
 Holding a weak supposal of our worth
 Or thinking by our late dear brother’s death
20 Our state to be disjoint and out of frame,
 Colleaguèd with this dream of his advantage,
 He hath not failed to pester us with message
 Importing the surrender of those lands
 Lost by his father, with all bonds of law,
25 To our most valiant brother—so much for him.
 Now for ourself and for this time of meeting.
 Thus much the business is: we have here writ
 To Norway, uncle of young Fortinbras,
 Who, impotent and bedrid, scarcely hears

23
Hamlet
ACT 1. SC. 2

30 Of this his nephew’s purpose, to suppress
 His further gait herein, in that the levies,
 The lists, and full proportions are all made
 Out of his subject; and we here dispatch
 You, good Cornelius, and you, Voltemand,
35 For bearers of this greeting to old Norway,
 Giving to you no further personal power
 To business with the King more than the scope
 Of these dilated articles allow.
Giving them a paper.
 Farewell, and let your haste commend your duty.
CORNELIUS/VOLTEMAND 
40 In that and all things will we show our duty.
KING 
 We doubt it nothing. Heartily farewell.
Voltemand and Cornelius exit.
 And now, Laertes, what’s the news with you?
 You told us of some suit. What is ’t, Laertes?
 You cannot speak of reason to the Dane
45 And lose your voice. What wouldst thou beg,
 Laertes,
 That shall not be my offer, not thy asking?
 The head is not more native to the heart,
 The hand more instrumental to the mouth,
50 Than is the throne of Denmark to thy father.
 What wouldst thou have, Laertes?
LAERTES  My dread lord,
 Your leave and favor to return to France,
 From whence though willingly I came to Denmark
55 To show my duty in your coronation,
 Yet now I must confess, that duty done,
 My thoughts and wishes bend again toward France
 And bow them to your gracious leave and pardon.
KING 
 Have you your father’s leave? What says Polonius?

25
Hamlet
ACT 1. SC. 2

POLONIUS 
60 Hath, my lord, [wrung from me my slow leave
 By laborsome petition, and at last
 Upon his will I sealed my hard consent.]
 I do beseech you give him leave to go.
KING 
 Take thy fair hour, Laertes. Time be thine,
65 And thy best graces spend it at thy will.—
 But now, my cousin Hamlet and my son—
HAMLET, aside 
 A little more than kin and less than kind.
KING 
 How is it that the clouds still hang on you?
HAMLET 
 Not so, my lord; I am too much in the sun.
QUEEN 
70 Good Hamlet, cast thy nighted color off,
 And let thine eye look like a friend on Denmark.
 Do not forever with thy vailèd lids
 Seek for thy noble father in the dust.
 Thou know’st ’tis common; all that lives must die,
75 Passing through nature to eternity.
HAMLET 
 Ay, madam, it is common.
QUEEN  If it be,
 Why seems it so particular with thee?
HAMLET 
 “Seems,” madam? Nay, it is. I know not “seems.”
80 ’Tis not alone my inky cloak, good mother,
 Nor customary suits of solemn black,
 Nor windy suspiration of forced breath,
 No, nor the fruitful river in the eye,
 Nor the dejected havior of the visage,
85 Together with all forms, moods, shapes of grief,
 That can denote me truly. These indeed “seem,”
 For they are actions that a man might play;

27
Hamlet
ACT 1. SC. 2

 But I have that within which passes show,
 These but the trappings and the suits of woe.
KING 
90 ’Tis sweet and commendable in your nature,
 Hamlet,
 To give these mourning duties to your father.
 But you must know your father lost a father,
 That father lost, lost his, and the survivor bound
95 In filial obligation for some term
 To do obsequious sorrow. But to persever
 In obstinate condolement is a course
 Of impious stubbornness. ’Tis unmanly grief.
 It shows a will most incorrect to heaven,
100 A heart unfortified, a mind impatient,
 An understanding simple and unschooled.
 For what we know must be and is as common
 As any the most vulgar thing to sense,
 Why should we in our peevish opposition
105 Take it to heart? Fie, ’tis a fault to heaven,
 A fault against the dead, a fault to nature,
 To reason most absurd, whose common theme
 Is death of fathers, and who still hath cried,
 From the first corse till he that died today,
110 “This must be so.” We pray you, throw to earth
 This unprevailing woe and think of us
 As of a father; for let the world take note,
 You are the most immediate to our throne,
 And with no less nobility of love
115 Than that which dearest father bears his son
 Do I impart toward you. For your intent
 In going back to school in Wittenberg,
 It is most retrograde to our desire,
 And we beseech you, bend you to remain
120 Here in the cheer and comfort of our eye,
 Our chiefest courtier, cousin, and our son.

29
Hamlet
ACT 1. SC. 2

QUEEN 
 Let not thy mother lose her prayers, Hamlet.
 I pray thee, stay with us. Go not to Wittenberg.
HAMLET 
 I shall in all my best obey you, madam.
KING 
125 Why, ’tis a loving and a fair reply.
 Be as ourself in Denmark.—Madam, come.
 This gentle and unforced accord of Hamlet
 Sits smiling to my heart, in grace whereof
 No jocund health that Denmark drinks today
130 But the great cannon to the clouds shall tell,
 And the King’s rouse the heaven shall bruit again,
 Respeaking earthly thunder. Come away.
Flourish. All but Hamlet exit.
HAMLET 
 O, that this too, too sullied flesh would melt,
 Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew,
135 Or that the Everlasting had not fixed
 His canon ’gainst self-slaughter! O God, God,
 How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable
 Seem to me all the uses of this world!
 Fie on ’t, ah fie! ’Tis an unweeded garden
140 That grows to seed. Things rank and gross in nature
 Possess it merely. That it should come to this:
 But two months dead—nay, not so much, not two.
 So excellent a king, that was to this
 Hyperion to a satyr; so loving to my mother
145 That he might not beteem the winds of heaven
 Visit her face too roughly. Heaven and Earth,
 Must I remember? Why, she would hang on him
 As if increase of appetite had grown
 By what it fed on. And yet, within a month
150 (Let me not think on ’t; frailty, thy name is woman!),
 A little month, or ere those shoes were old
 With which she followed my poor father’s body,

31
Hamlet
ACT 1. SC. 2

 Like Niobe, all tears—why she, even she
 (O God, a beast that wants discourse of reason
155 Would have mourned longer!), married with my
 uncle,
 My father’s brother, but no more like my father
 Than I to Hercules. Within a month,
 Ere yet the salt of most unrighteous tears
160 Had left the flushing in her gallèd eyes,
 She married. O, most wicked speed, to post
 With such dexterity to incestuous sheets!
 It is not, nor it cannot come to good.
 But break, my heart, for I must hold my tongue.

Enter Horatio, Marcellus, and Barnardo.

HORATIO 165Hail to your Lordship.
HAMLET I am glad to see you well.
 Horatio—or I do forget myself!
HORATIO 
 The same, my lord, and your poor servant ever.
HAMLET 
 Sir, my good friend. I’ll change that name with you.
170 And what make you from Wittenberg, Horatio?—
 Marcellus?
MARCELLUS My good lord.
HAMLET 
 I am very glad to see you. To Barnardo. Good
 even, sir.—
175 But what, in faith, make you from Wittenberg?
HORATIO 
 A truant disposition, good my lord.
HAMLET 
 I would not hear your enemy say so,
 Nor shall you do my ear that violence
 To make it truster of your own report
180 Against yourself. I know you are no truant.
 But what is your affair in Elsinore?
 We’ll teach you to drink deep ere you depart.

33
Hamlet
ACT 1. SC. 2

HORATIO 
 My lord, I came to see your father’s funeral.
HAMLET 
 I prithee, do not mock me, fellow student.
185 I think it was to see my mother’s wedding.
HORATIO 
 Indeed, my lord, it followed hard upon.
HAMLET 
 Thrift, thrift, Horatio. The funeral baked meats
 Did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables.
 Would I had met my dearest foe in heaven
190 Or ever I had seen that day, Horatio!
 My father—methinks I see my father.
HORATIO 
 Where, my lord?
HAMLET  In my mind’s eye, Horatio.
HORATIO 
 I saw him once. He was a goodly king.
HAMLET 
195 He was a man. Take him for all in all,
 I shall not look upon his like again.
HORATIO 
 My lord, I think I saw him yesternight.
HAMLET Saw who?
HORATIO 
 My lord, the King your father.
HAMLET 200 The King my father?
HORATIO 
 Season your admiration for a while
 With an attent ear, till I may deliver
 Upon the witness of these gentlemen
 This marvel to you.
HAMLET 205 For God’s love, let me hear!
HORATIO 
 Two nights together had these gentlemen,
 Marcellus and Barnardo, on their watch,

35
Hamlet
ACT 1. SC. 2

 In the dead waste and middle of the night,
 Been thus encountered: a figure like your father,
210 Armed at point exactly, cap-à-pie,
 Appears before them and with solemn march
 Goes slow and stately by them. Thrice he walked
 By their oppressed and fear-surprisèd eyes
 Within his truncheon’s length, whilst they, distilled
215 Almost to jelly with the act of fear,
 Stand dumb and speak not to him. This to me
 In dreadful secrecy impart they did,
 And I with them the third night kept the watch,
 Where, as they had delivered, both in time,
220 Form of the thing (each word made true and good),
 The apparition comes. I knew your father;
 These hands are not more like.
HAMLET  But where was this?
MARCELLUS 
 My lord, upon the platform where we watch.
HAMLET 
225 Did you not speak to it?
HORATIO  My lord, I did,
 But answer made it none. Yet once methought
 It lifted up its head and did address
 Itself to motion, like as it would speak;
230 But even then the morning cock crew loud,
 And at the sound it shrunk in haste away
 And vanished from our sight.
HAMLET  ’Tis very strange.
HORATIO 
 As I do live, my honored lord, ’tis true.
235 And we did think it writ down in our duty
 To let you know of it.
HAMLET Indeed, sirs, but this troubles me.
 Hold you the watch tonight?
ALL  We do, my lord.
HAMLET 
240 Armed, say you?

37
Hamlet
ACT 1. SC. 2

ALL  Armed, my lord.
HAMLET  From top to toe?
ALL My lord, from head to foot.
HAMLET Then saw you not his face?
HORATIO 
245 O, yes, my lord, he wore his beaver up.
HAMLET What, looked he frowningly?
HORATIO 
 A countenance more in sorrow than in anger.
HAMLET Pale or red?
HORATIO 
 Nay, very pale.
HAMLET 250 And fixed his eyes upon you?
HORATIO 
 Most constantly.
HAMLET  I would I had been there.
HORATIO It would have much amazed you.
HAMLET Very like. Stayed it long?
HORATIO 
255 While one with moderate haste might tell a
 hundred.
BARNARDO/MARCELLUS Longer, longer.
HORATIO 
 Not when I saw ’t.
HAMLET  His beard was grizzled, no?
HORATIO 
260 It was as I have seen it in his life,
 A sable silvered.
HAMLET  I will watch tonight.
 Perchance ’twill walk again.
HORATIO  I warrant it will.
HAMLET 
265 If it assume my noble father’s person,
 I’ll speak to it, though hell itself should gape
 And bid me hold my peace. I pray you all,
 If you have hitherto concealed this sight,

39
Hamlet
ACT 1. SC. 3

 Let it be tenable in your silence still;
270 And whatsomever else shall hap tonight,
 Give it an understanding but no tongue.
 I will requite your loves. So fare you well.
 Upon the platform, ’twixt eleven and twelve,
 I’ll visit you.
ALL 275 Our duty to your Honor.
HAMLET 
 Your loves, as mine to you. Farewell.
All but Hamlet exit.
 My father’s spirit—in arms! All is not well.
 I doubt some foul play. Would the night were come!
 Till then, sit still, my soul. Foul deeds will rise,
280 Though all the earth o’erwhelm them, to men’s
 eyes.
He exits.


Scene 3
Enter Laertes and Ophelia, his sister.

LAERTES 
 My necessaries are embarked. Farewell.
 And, sister, as the winds give benefit
 And convey is assistant, do not sleep,
 But let me hear from you.
OPHELIA 5 Do you doubt that?
LAERTES 
 For Hamlet, and the trifling of his favor,
 Hold it a fashion and a toy in blood,
 A violet in the youth of primy nature,
 Forward, not permanent, sweet, not lasting,
10 The perfume and suppliance of a minute,
 No more.
OPHELIA  No more but so?
LAERTES  Think it no more.

41
Hamlet
ACT 1. SC. 3

 For nature, crescent, does not grow alone
15 In thews and bulk, but, as this temple waxes,
 The inward service of the mind and soul
 Grows wide withal. Perhaps he loves you now,
 And now no soil nor cautel doth besmirch
 The virtue of his will; but you must fear,
20 His greatness weighed, his will is not his own,
 For he himself is subject to his birth.
 He may not, as unvalued persons do,
 Carve for himself, for on his choice depends
 The safety and the health of this whole state.
25 And therefore must his choice be circumscribed
 Unto the voice and yielding of that body
 Whereof he is the head. Then, if he says he loves
 you,
 It fits your wisdom so far to believe it
30 As he in his particular act and place
 May give his saying deed, which is no further
 Than the main voice of Denmark goes withal.
 Then weigh what loss your honor may sustain
 If with too credent ear you list his songs
35 Or lose your heart or your chaste treasure open
 To his unmastered importunity.
 Fear it, Ophelia; fear it, my dear sister,
 And keep you in the rear of your affection,
 Out of the shot and danger of desire.
40 The chariest maid is prodigal enough
 If she unmask her beauty to the moon.
 Virtue itself ’scapes not calumnious strokes.
 The canker galls the infants of the spring
 Too oft before their buttons be disclosed,
45 And, in the morn and liquid dew of youth,
 Contagious blastments are most imminent.
 Be wary, then; best safety lies in fear.
 Youth to itself rebels, though none else near.
OPHELIA 
 I shall the effect of this good lesson keep

43
Hamlet
ACT 1. SC. 3

50 As watchman to my heart. But, good my brother,
 Do not, as some ungracious pastors do,
 Show me the steep and thorny way to heaven,
 Whiles, like a puffed and reckless libertine,
 Himself the primrose path of dalliance treads
55 And recks not his own rede.
LAERTES  O, fear me not.

Enter Polonius.

 I stay too long. But here my father comes.
 A double blessing is a double grace.
 Occasion smiles upon a second leave.
POLONIUS 
60 Yet here, Laertes? Aboard, aboard, for shame!
 The wind sits in the shoulder of your sail,
 And you are stayed for. There, my blessing with
 thee.
 And these few precepts in thy memory
65 Look thou character. Give thy thoughts no tongue,
 Nor any unproportioned thought his act.
 Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar.
 Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
 Grapple them unto thy soul with hoops of steel,
70 But do not dull thy palm with entertainment
 Of each new-hatched, unfledged courage. Beware
 Of entrance to a quarrel, but, being in,
 Bear ’t that th’ opposèd may beware of thee.
 Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice.
75 Take each man’s censure, but reserve thy judgment.
 Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy,
 But not expressed in fancy (rich, not gaudy),
 For the apparel oft proclaims the man,
 And they in France of the best rank and station
80 Are of a most select and generous chief in that.
 Neither a borrower nor a lender be,
 For loan oft loses both itself and friend,

45
Hamlet
ACT 1. SC. 3

 And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.
 This above all: to thine own self be true,
85 And it must follow, as the night the day,
 Thou canst not then be false to any man.
 Farewell. My blessing season this in thee.
LAERTES 
 Most humbly do I take my leave, my lord.
POLONIUS 
 The time invests you. Go, your servants tend.
LAERTES 
90 Farewell, Ophelia, and remember well
 What I have said to you.
OPHELIA ’Tis in my memory locked,
 And you yourself shall keep the key of it.
LAERTES Farewell.Laertes exits.
POLONIUS 
95 What is ’t, Ophelia, he hath said to you?
OPHELIA 
 So please you, something touching the Lord
 Hamlet.
POLONIUS Marry, well bethought.
 ’Tis told me he hath very oft of late
100 Given private time to you, and you yourself
 Have of your audience been most free and
 bounteous.
 If it be so (as so ’tis put on me,
 And that in way of caution), I must tell you
105 You do not understand yourself so clearly
 As it behooves my daughter and your honor.
 What is between you? Give me up the truth.
OPHELIA 
 He hath, my lord, of late made many tenders
 Of his affection to me.
POLONIUS 
110 Affection, puh! You speak like a green girl
 Unsifted in such perilous circumstance.
 Do you believe his “tenders,” as you call them?

47
Hamlet
ACT 1. SC. 3

OPHELIA 
 I do not know, my lord, what I should think.
POLONIUS 
 Marry, I will teach you. Think yourself a baby
115 That you have ta’en these tenders for true pay,
 Which are not sterling. Tender yourself more dearly,
 Or (not to crack the wind of the poor phrase,
 Running it thus) you’ll tender me a fool.
OPHELIA 
 My lord, he hath importuned me with love
120 In honorable fashion—
POLONIUS 
 Ay, “fashion” you may call it. Go to, go to!
OPHELIA 
 And hath given countenance to his speech, my lord,
 With almost all the holy vows of heaven.
POLONIUS 
 Ay, springes to catch woodcocks. I do know,
125 When the blood burns, how prodigal the soul
 Lends the tongue vows. These blazes, daughter,
 Giving more light than heat, extinct in both
 Even in their promise as it is a-making,
 You must not take for fire. From this time
130 Be something scanter of your maiden presence.
 Set your entreatments at a higher rate
 Than a command to parle. For Lord Hamlet,
 Believe so much in him that he is young,
 And with a larger tether may he walk
135 Than may be given you. In few, Ophelia,
 Do not believe his vows, for they are brokers,
 Not of that dye which their investments show,
 But mere implorators of unholy suits,
 Breathing like sanctified and pious bawds
140 The better to beguile. This is for all:
 I would not, in plain terms, from this time forth
 Have you so slander any moment leisure

49
Hamlet
ACT 1. SC. 4

 As to give words or talk with the Lord Hamlet.
 Look to ’t, I charge you. Come your ways.
OPHELIA 145I shall obey, my lord.
They exit.


Scene 4
Enter Hamlet, Horatio, and Marcellus.

HAMLET 
 The air bites shrewdly; it is very cold.
HORATIO 
 It is a nipping and an eager air.
HAMLET What hour now?
HORATIO I think it lacks of twelve.
MARCELLUS 5No, it is struck.
HORATIO 
 Indeed, I heard it not. It then draws near the season
 Wherein the spirit held his wont to walk.
A flourish of trumpets and two pieces goes off.
 What does this mean, my lord?
HAMLET 
 The King doth wake tonight and takes his rouse,
10 Keeps wassail, and the swagg’ring upspring reels;
 And, as he drains his draughts of Rhenish down,
 The kettledrum and trumpet thus bray out
 The triumph of his pledge.
HORATIO Is it a custom?
HAMLET 15Ay, marry, is ’t,
 But, to my mind, though I am native here
 And to the manner born, it is a custom
 More honored in the breach than the observance.
 [This heavy-headed revel east and west
20 Makes us traduced and taxed of other nations.
 They clepe us drunkards and with swinish phrase
 Soil our addition. And, indeed, it takes

51
Hamlet
ACT 1. SC. 4

 From our achievements, though performed at
 height,
25 The pith and marrow of our attribute.
 So oft it chances in particular men
 That for some vicious mole of nature in them,
 As in their birth (wherein they are not guilty,
 Since nature cannot choose his origin),
30 By the o’ergrowth of some complexion
 (Oft breaking down the pales and forts of reason),
 Or by some habit that too much o’erleavens
 The form of plausive manners—that these men,
 Carrying, I say, the stamp of one defect,
35 Being nature’s livery or fortune’s star,
 His virtues else, be they as pure as grace,
 As infinite as man may undergo,
 Shall in the general censure take corruption
 From that particular fault. The dram of evil
40 Doth all the noble substance of a doubt
 To his own scandal.]

Enter Ghost.

HORATIO  Look, my lord, it comes.
HAMLET 
 Angels and ministers of grace, defend us!
 Be thou a spirit of health or goblin damned,
45 Bring with thee airs from heaven or blasts from
 hell,
 Be thy intents wicked or charitable,
 Thou com’st in such a questionable shape
 That I will speak to thee. I’ll call thee “Hamlet,”
50 “King,” “Father,” “Royal Dane.” O, answer me!
 Let me not burst in ignorance, but tell
 Why thy canonized bones, hearsèd in death,
 Have burst their cerements; why the sepulcher,
 Wherein we saw thee quietly interred,
55 Hath oped his ponderous and marble jaws

53
Hamlet
ACT 1. SC. 4

 To cast thee up again. What may this mean
 That thou, dead corse, again in complete steel,
 Revisits thus the glimpses of the moon,
 Making night hideous, and we fools of nature
60 So horridly to shake our disposition
 With thoughts beyond the reaches of our souls?
 Say, why is this? Wherefore? What should we do?
Ghost beckons.
HORATIO 
 It beckons you to go away with it
 As if it some impartment did desire
65 To you alone.
MARCELLUS  Look with what courteous action
 It waves you to a more removèd ground.
 But do not go with it.
HORATIO  No, by no means.
HAMLET 
70 It will not speak. Then I will follow it.
HORATIO 
 Do not, my lord.
HAMLET  Why, what should be the fear?
 I do not set my life at a pin’s fee.
 And for my soul, what can it do to that,
75 Being a thing immortal as itself?
 It waves me forth again. I’ll follow it.
HORATIO 
 What if it tempt you toward the flood, my lord?
 Or to the dreadful summit of the cliff
 That beetles o’er his base into the sea,
80 And there assume some other horrible form
 Which might deprive your sovereignty of reason
 And draw you into madness? Think of it.
 [The very place puts toys of desperation,
 Without more motive, into every brain
85 That looks so many fathoms to the sea
 And hears it roar beneath.]

55
Hamlet
ACT 1. SC. 5

HAMLET 
 It waves me still.—Go on, I’ll follow thee.
MARCELLUS 
 You shall not go, my lord.They hold back Hamlet.
HAMLET  Hold off your hands.
HORATIO 
90 Be ruled. You shall not go.
HAMLET  My fate cries out
 And makes each petty arture in this body
 As hardy as the Nemean lion’s nerve.
 Still am I called. Unhand me, gentlemen.
95 By heaven, I’ll make a ghost of him that lets me!
 I say, away!—Go on. I’ll follow thee.
Ghost and Hamlet exit.
HORATIO 
 He waxes desperate with imagination.
MARCELLUS 
 Let’s follow. ’Tis not fit thus to obey him.
HORATIO 
 Have after. To what issue will this come?
MARCELLUS 
100 Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.
HORATIO 
 Heaven will direct it.
MARCELLUS  Nay, let’s follow him.
They exit.


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.


ACT 2
Scene 1
Enter old Polonius with his man Reynaldo.

POLONIUS 
 Give him this money and these notes, Reynaldo.
REYNALDO I will, my lord.
POLONIUS 
 You shall do marvelous wisely, good Reynaldo,
 Before you visit him, to make inquire
5 Of his behavior.
REYNALDO  My lord, I did intend it.
POLONIUS 
 Marry, well said, very well said. Look you, sir,
 Inquire me first what Danskers are in Paris;
 And how, and who, what means, and where they
10 keep,
 What company, at what expense; and finding
 By this encompassment and drift of question
 That they do know my son, come you more nearer
 Than your particular demands will touch it.
15 Take you, as ’twere, some distant knowledge of him,
 As thus: “I know his father and his friends
 And, in part, him.” Do you mark this, Reynaldo?
REYNALDO Ay, very well, my lord.
POLONIUS 
 “And, in part, him, but,” you may say, “not well.
73

75
Hamlet
ACT 2. SC. 1

20 But if ’t be he I mean, he’s very wild,
 Addicted so and so.” And there put on him
 What forgeries you please—marry, none so rank
 As may dishonor him, take heed of that,
 But, sir, such wanton, wild, and usual slips
25 As are companions noted and most known
 To youth and liberty.
REYNALDO  As gaming, my lord.
POLONIUS Ay, or drinking, fencing, swearing,
 Quarreling, drabbing—you may go so far.
REYNALDO 30My lord, that would dishonor him.
POLONIUS 
 Faith, no, as you may season it in the charge.
 You must not put another scandal on him
 That he is open to incontinency;
 That’s not my meaning. But breathe his faults so
35 quaintly
 That they may seem the taints of liberty,
 The flash and outbreak of a fiery mind,
 A savageness in unreclaimèd blood,
 Of general assault.
REYNALDO 40But, my good lord—
POLONIUS Wherefore should you do this?
REYNALDO Ay, my lord, I would know that.
POLONIUS Marry, sir, here’s my drift,
 And I believe it is a fetch of wit.
45 You, laying these slight sullies on my son,
 As ’twere a thing a little soiled i’ th’ working,
 Mark you, your party in converse, him you would
 sound,
 Having ever seen in the prenominate crimes
50 The youth you breathe of guilty, be assured
 He closes with you in this consequence:
 “Good sir,” or so, or “friend,” or “gentleman,”
 According to the phrase or the addition
 Of man and country—

77
Hamlet
ACT 2. SC. 1

REYNALDO 55 Very good, my lord.
POLONIUS And then, sir, does he this, he does—what
 was I about to say? By the Mass, I was about to say
 something. Where did I leave?
REYNALDO At “closes in the consequence,” at “friend,
60 or so,” and “gentleman.”
POLONIUS 
 At “closes in the consequence”—ay, marry—
 He closes thus: “I know the gentleman.
 I saw him yesterday,” or “th’ other day”
 (Or then, or then, with such or such), “and as you
65 say,
 There was he gaming, there o’ertook in ’s rouse,
 There falling out at tennis”; or perchance
 “I saw him enter such a house of sale”—
 Videlicet, a brothel—or so forth. See you now
70 Your bait of falsehood take this carp of truth;
 And thus do we of wisdom and of reach,
 With windlasses and with assays of bias,
 By indirections find directions out.
 So by my former lecture and advice
75 Shall you my son. You have me, have you not?
REYNALDO 
 My lord, I have.
POLONIUS  God be wi’ you. Fare you well.
REYNALDO Good my lord.
POLONIUS 
 Observe his inclination in yourself.
REYNALDO 80I shall, my lord.
POLONIUS And let him ply his music.
REYNALDO Well, my lord.
POLONIUS 
 Farewell.Reynaldo exits.

Enter Ophelia.

 How now, Ophelia, what’s the matter?

79
Hamlet
ACT 2. SC. 1

OPHELIA 
85 O, my lord, my lord, I have been so affrighted!
POLONIUS With what, i’ th’ name of God?
OPHELIA 
 My lord, as I was sewing in my closet,
 Lord Hamlet, with his doublet all unbraced,
 No hat upon his head, his stockings fouled,
90 Ungartered, and down-gyvèd to his ankle,
 Pale as his shirt, his knees knocking each other,
 And with a look so piteous in purport
 As if he had been loosèd out of hell
 To speak of horrors—he comes before me.
POLONIUS 
95 Mad for thy love?
OPHELIA  My lord, I do not know,
 But truly I do fear it.
POLONIUS  What said he?
OPHELIA 
 He took me by the wrist and held me hard.
100 Then goes he to the length of all his arm,
 And, with his other hand thus o’er his brow,
 He falls to such perusal of my face
 As he would draw it. Long stayed he so.
 At last, a little shaking of mine arm,
105 And thrice his head thus waving up and down,
 He raised a sigh so piteous and profound
 As it did seem to shatter all his bulk
 And end his being. That done, he lets me go,
 And, with his head over his shoulder turned,
110 He seemed to find his way without his eyes,
 For out o’ doors he went without their helps
 And to the last bended their light on me.
POLONIUS 
 Come, go with me. I will go seek the King.
 This is the very ecstasy of love,
115 Whose violent property fordoes itself

81
Hamlet
ACT 2. SC. 2

 And leads the will to desperate undertakings
 As oft as any passions under heaven
 That does afflict our natures. I am sorry.
 What, have you given him any hard words of late?
OPHELIA 
120 No, my good lord, but as you did command
 I did repel his letters and denied
 His access to me.
POLONIUS  That hath made him mad.
 I am sorry that with better heed and judgment
125 I had not coted him. I feared he did but trifle
 And meant to wrack thee. But beshrew my jealousy!
 By heaven, it is as proper to our age
 To cast beyond ourselves in our opinions
 As it is common for the younger sort
130 To lack discretion. Come, go we to the King.
 This must be known, which, being kept close, might
 move
 More grief to hide than hate to utter love.
 Come.
They exit.


Scene 2
Flourish. Enter King and Queen, Rosencrantz and
Guildenstern and Attendants.


KING 
 Welcome, dear Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.
 Moreover that we much did long to see you,
 The need we have to use you did provoke
 Our hasty sending. Something have you heard
5 Of Hamlet’s transformation, so call it,
 Sith nor th’ exterior nor the inward man
 Resembles that it was. What it should be,
 More than his father’s death, that thus hath put him

83
Hamlet
ACT 2. SC. 2

 So much from th’ understanding of himself
10 I cannot dream of. I entreat you both
 That, being of so young days brought up with him
 And sith so neighbored to his youth and havior,
 That you vouchsafe your rest here in our court
 Some little time, so by your companies
15 To draw him on to pleasures, and to gather
 So much as from occasion you may glean,
 [Whether aught to us unknown afflicts him thus]
 That, opened, lies within our remedy.
QUEEN 
 Good gentlemen, he hath much talked of you,
20 And sure I am two men there is not living
 To whom he more adheres. If it will please you
 To show us so much gentry and goodwill
 As to expend your time with us awhile
 For the supply and profit of our hope,
25 Your visitation shall receive such thanks
 As fits a king’s remembrance.
ROSENCRANTZ  Both your Majesties
 Might, by the sovereign power you have of us,
 Put your dread pleasures more into command
30 Than to entreaty.
GUILDENSTERN  But we both obey,
 And here give up ourselves in the full bent
 To lay our service freely at your feet,
 To be commanded.
KING 
35 Thanks, Rosencrantz and gentle Guildenstern.
QUEEN 
 Thanks, Guildenstern and gentle Rosencrantz.
 And I beseech you instantly to visit
 My too much changèd son.—Go, some of you,
 And bring these gentlemen where Hamlet is.
GUILDENSTERN 
40 Heavens make our presence and our practices
 Pleasant and helpful to him!

85
Hamlet
ACT 2. SC. 2

QUEEN  Ay, amen!
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern exit
with some Attendants.


Enter Polonius.

POLONIUS 
 Th’ ambassadors from Norway, my good lord,
 Are joyfully returned.
KING 
45 Thou still hast been the father of good news.
POLONIUS 
 Have I, my lord? I assure my good liege
 I hold my duty as I hold my soul,
 Both to my God and to my gracious king,
 And I do think, or else this brain of mine
50 Hunts not the trail of policy so sure
 As it hath used to do, that I have found
 The very cause of Hamlet’s lunacy.
KING 
 O, speak of that! That do I long to hear.
POLONIUS 
 Give first admittance to th’ ambassadors.
55 My news shall be the fruit to that great feast.
KING 
 Thyself do grace to them and bring them in.
Polonius exits.
 He tells me, my dear Gertrude, he hath found
 The head and source of all your son’s distemper.
QUEEN 
 I doubt it is no other but the main—
60 His father’s death and our o’erhasty marriage.
KING 
 Well, we shall sift him.

Enter Ambassadors Voltemand and Cornelius with
Polonius.



87
Hamlet
ACT 2. SC. 2

 Welcome, my good friends.
 Say, Voltemand, what from our brother Norway?
VOLTEMAND 
 Most fair return of greetings and desires.
65 Upon our first, he sent out to suppress
 His nephew’s levies, which to him appeared
 To be a preparation ’gainst the Polack,
 But, better looked into, he truly found
 It was against your Highness. Whereat, grieved
70 That so his sickness, age, and impotence
 Was falsely borne in hand, sends out arrests
 On Fortinbras, which he, in brief, obeys,
 Receives rebuke from Norway, and, in fine,
 Makes vow before his uncle never more
75 To give th’ assay of arms against your Majesty.
 Whereon old Norway, overcome with joy,
 Gives him three-score thousand crowns in annual
 fee
 And his commission to employ those soldiers,
80 So levied as before, against the Polack,
 With an entreaty, herein further shown,
He gives a paper.
 That it might please you to give quiet pass
 Through your dominions for this enterprise,
 On such regards of safety and allowance
85 As therein are set down.
KING  It likes us well,
 And, at our more considered time, we’ll read,
 Answer, and think upon this business.
 Meantime, we thank you for your well-took labor.
90 Go to your rest. At night we’ll feast together.
 Most welcome home!
Voltemand and Cornelius exit.
POLONIUS  This business is well ended.
 My liege, and madam, to expostulate
 What majesty should be, what duty is,

89
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ACT 2. SC. 2

95 Why day is day, night night, and time is time
 Were nothing but to waste night, day, and time.
 Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,
 And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
 I will be brief. Your noble son is mad.
100 “Mad” call I it, for, to define true madness,
 What is ’t but to be nothing else but mad?
 But let that go.
QUEEN  More matter with less art.
POLONIUS 
 Madam, I swear I use no art at all.
105 That he’s mad, ’tis true; ’tis true ’tis pity,
 And pity ’tis ’tis true—a foolish figure,
 But farewell it, for I will use no art.
 Mad let us grant him then, and now remains
 That we find out the cause of this effect,
110 Or, rather say, the cause of this defect,
 For this effect defective comes by cause.
 Thus it remains, and the remainder thus.
 Perpend.
 I have a daughter (have while she is mine)
115 Who, in her duty and obedience, mark,
 Hath given me this. Now gather and surmise.
 He reads. To the celestial, and my soul’s idol, the
 most beautified Ophelia—

 That’s an ill phrase, a vile phrase; “beautified” is a
120 vile phrase. But you shall hear. Thus: He reads.
 In her excellent white bosom, these, etc.—

QUEEN Came this from Hamlet to her?
POLONIUS 
 Good madam, stay awhile. I will be faithful.
He reads the letter.
 Doubt thou the stars are fire,
125  Doubt that the sun doth move,
 Doubt truth to be a liar,
  But never doubt I love.


91
Hamlet
ACT 2. SC. 2

 O dear Ophelia, I am ill at these numbers. I have not
 art to reckon my groans, but that I love thee best, O
130 most best, believe it. Adieu.
 Thine evermore, most dear lady, whilst
 this machine is to him, Hamlet.

 This, in obedience, hath my daughter shown me,
 And more above, hath his solicitings,
135 As they fell out by time, by means, and place,
 All given to mine ear.
KING But how hath she received his love?
POLONIUS What do you think of me?
KING 
 As of a man faithful and honorable.
POLONIUS 
140 I would fain prove so. But what might you think,
 When I had seen this hot love on the wing
 (As I perceived it, I must tell you that,
 Before my daughter told me), what might you,
 Or my dear Majesty your queen here, think,
145 If I had played the desk or table-book
 Or given my heart a winking, mute and dumb,
 Or looked upon this love with idle sight?
 What might you think? No, I went round to work,
 And my young mistress thus I did bespeak:
150 “Lord Hamlet is a prince, out of thy star.
 This must not be.” And then I prescripts gave her,
 That she should lock herself from his resort,
 Admit no messengers, receive no tokens;
 Which done, she took the fruits of my advice,
155 And he, repelled (a short tale to make),
 Fell into a sadness, then into a fast,
 Thence to a watch, thence into a weakness,
 Thence to a lightness, and, by this declension,
 Into the madness wherein now he raves
160 And all we mourn for.
KING, to Queen  Do you think ’tis this?

93
Hamlet
ACT 2. SC. 2

QUEEN It may be, very like.
POLONIUS 
 Hath there been such a time (I would fain know
 that)
165 That I have positively said “’Tis so,”
 When it proved otherwise?
KING  Not that I know.
POLONIUS 
 Take this from this, if this be otherwise.
 If circumstances lead me, I will find
170 Where truth is hid, though it were hid, indeed,
 Within the center.
KING  How may we try it further?
POLONIUS 
 You know sometimes he walks four hours together
 Here in the lobby.
QUEEN 175 So he does indeed.
POLONIUS 
 At such a time I’ll loose my daughter to him.
 To the King. Be you and I behind an arras then.
 Mark the encounter. If he love her not,
 And be not from his reason fall’n thereon,
180 Let me be no assistant for a state,
 But keep a farm and carters.
KING  We will try it.

Enter Hamlet reading on a book.

QUEEN 
 But look where sadly the poor wretch comes
 reading.
POLONIUS 
185 Away, I do beseech you both, away.
 I’ll board him presently. O, give me leave.
King and Queen exit with Attendants.
 How does my good Lord Hamlet?
HAMLET Well, God-a-mercy.

95
Hamlet
ACT 2. SC. 2

POLONIUS Do you know me, my lord?
HAMLET 190Excellent well. You are a fishmonger.
POLONIUS Not I, my lord.
HAMLET Then I would you were so honest a man.
POLONIUS Honest, my lord?
HAMLET Ay, sir. To be honest, as this world goes, is to
195 be one man picked out of ten thousand.
POLONIUS That’s very true, my lord.
HAMLET For if the sun breed maggots in a dead
 dog, being a good kissing carrion—Have you a
 daughter?
POLONIUS 200I have, my lord.
HAMLET Let her not walk i’ th’ sun. Conception is a
 blessing, but, as your daughter may conceive,
 friend, look to ’t.
POLONIUS, aside How say you by that? Still harping on
205 my daughter. Yet he knew me not at first; he said I
 was a fishmonger. He is far gone. And truly, in my
 youth, I suffered much extremity for love, very near
 this. I’ll speak to him again.—What do you read, my
 lord?
HAMLET 210Words, words, words.
POLONIUS What is the matter, my lord?
HAMLET Between who?
POLONIUS I mean the matter that you read, my lord.
HAMLET Slanders, sir; for the satirical rogue says here
215 that old men have gray beards, that their faces are
 wrinkled, their eyes purging thick amber and
 plum-tree gum, and that they have a plentiful lack of
 wit, together with most weak hams; all which, sir,
 though I most powerfully and potently believe, yet I
220 hold it not honesty to have it thus set down; for
 yourself, sir, shall grow old as I am, if, like a crab,
 you could go backward.
POLONIUS, aside Though this be madness, yet there is
 method in ’t.—Will you walk out of the air, my lord?

97
Hamlet
ACT 2. SC. 2

HAMLET 225Into my grave?
POLONIUS Indeed, that’s out of the air. Aside. How
 pregnant sometimes his replies are! A happiness
 that often madness hits on, which reason and
 sanity could not so prosperously be delivered of. I
230 will leave him and suddenly contrive the means of
 meeting between him and my daughter.—My lord,
 I will take my leave of you.
HAMLET You cannot, sir, take from me anything that I
 will more willingly part withal—except my life,
235 except my life, except my life.
POLONIUS Fare you well, my lord.
HAMLET, aside These tedious old fools.

Enter Guildenstern and Rosencrantz.

POLONIUS You go to seek the Lord Hamlet. There he is.
ROSENCRANTZ, to Polonius God save you, sir.
Polonius exits.
GUILDENSTERN 240My honored lord.
ROSENCRANTZ My most dear lord.
HAMLET My excellent good friends! How dost thou,
 Guildenstern? Ah, Rosencrantz! Good lads, how do
 you both?
ROSENCRANTZ 
245 As the indifferent children of the earth.
GUILDENSTERN 
 Happy in that we are not overhappy.
 On Fortune’s cap, we are not the very button.
HAMLET Nor the soles of her shoe?
ROSENCRANTZ Neither, my lord.
HAMLET 250Then you live about her waist, or in the
 middle of her favors?
GUILDENSTERN Faith, her privates we.
HAMLET In the secret parts of Fortune? O, most true!
 She is a strumpet. What news?
ROSENCRANTZ 255None, my lord, but that the world’s
 grown honest.

99
Hamlet
ACT 2. SC. 2

HAMLET Then is doomsday near. But your news is not
 true. Let me question more in particular. What
 have you, my good friends, deserved at the hands of
260 Fortune that she sends you to prison hither?
GUILDENSTERN Prison, my lord?
HAMLET Denmark’s a prison.
ROSENCRANTZ Then is the world one.
HAMLET A goodly one, in which there are many confines,
265 wards, and dungeons, Denmark being one o’
 th’ worst.
ROSENCRANTZ We think not so, my lord.
HAMLET Why, then, ’tis none to you, for there is
 nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it
270 so. To me, it is a prison.
ROSENCRANTZ Why, then, your ambition makes it one.
 ’Tis too narrow for your mind.
HAMLET O God, I could be bounded in a nutshell and
 count myself a king of infinite space, were it not
275 that I have bad dreams.
GUILDENSTERN Which dreams, indeed, are ambition,
 for the very substance of the ambitious is merely
 the shadow of a dream.
HAMLET A dream itself is but a shadow.
ROSENCRANTZ 280Truly, and I hold ambition of so airy
 and light a quality that it is but a shadow’s shadow.
HAMLET Then are our beggars bodies, and our monarchs
 and outstretched heroes the beggars’ shadows.
 Shall we to th’ court? For, by my fay, I cannot
285 reason.
ROSENCRANTZ/GUILDENSTERN We’ll wait upon you.
HAMLET No such matter. I will not sort you with the
 rest of my servants, for, to speak to you like an
 honest man, I am most dreadfully attended. But,
290 in the beaten way of friendship, what make you at
 Elsinore?
ROSENCRANTZ To visit you, my lord, no other occasion.

101
Hamlet
ACT 2. SC. 2

HAMLET Beggar that I am, I am even poor in thanks;
 but I thank you, and sure, dear friends, my thanks
295 are too dear a halfpenny. Were you not sent for?
 Is it your own inclining? Is it a free visitation?
 Come, come, deal justly with me. Come, come; nay,
 speak.
GUILDENSTERN What should we say, my lord?
HAMLET 300Anything but to th’ purpose. You were sent
 for, and there is a kind of confession in your looks
 which your modesties have not craft enough to
 color. I know the good king and queen have sent for
 you.
ROSENCRANTZ 305To what end, my lord?
HAMLET That you must teach me. But let me conjure
 you by the rights of our fellowship, by the consonancy
 of our youth, by the obligation of our ever-preserved
 love, and by what more dear a better
310 proposer can charge you withal: be even and direct
 with me whether you were sent for or no.
ROSENCRANTZ, to Guildenstern What say you?
HAMLET, aside Nay, then, I have an eye of you.—If
 you love me, hold not off.
GUILDENSTERN 315My lord, we were sent for.
HAMLET I will tell you why; so shall my anticipation
 prevent your discovery, and your secrecy to the
 King and Queen molt no feather. I have of late, but
 wherefore I know not, lost all my mirth, forgone all
320 custom of exercises, and, indeed, it goes so heavily
 with my disposition that this goodly frame, the
 Earth, seems to me a sterile promontory; this most
 excellent canopy, the air, look you, this brave o’erhanging
 firmament, this majestical roof, fretted
325 with golden fire—why, it appeareth nothing to me
 but a foul and pestilent congregation of vapors.
 What a piece of work is a man, how noble in
 reason, how infinite in faculties, in form and moving

103
Hamlet
ACT 2. SC. 2

 how express and admirable; in action how like
330 an angel, in apprehension how like a god: the
 beauty of the world, the paragon of animals—and
 yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust? Man
 delights not me, no, nor women neither, though by
 your smiling you seem to say so.
ROSENCRANTZ 335My lord, there was no such stuff in my
 thoughts.
HAMLET Why did you laugh, then, when I said “man
 delights not me”?
ROSENCRANTZ To think, my lord, if you delight not in
340 man, what Lenten entertainment the players shall
 receive from you. We coted them on the way, and
 hither are they coming to offer you service.
HAMLET He that plays the king shall be welcome—his
 Majesty shall have tribute on me. The adventurous
345 knight shall use his foil and target, the lover shall
 not sigh gratis, the humorous man shall end his
 part in peace, the clown shall make those laugh
 whose lungs are tickle o’ th’ sear, and the lady
 shall say her mind freely, or the blank verse shall
350 halt for ’t. What players are they?
ROSENCRANTZ Even those you were wont to take such
 delight in, the tragedians of the city.
HAMLET How chances it they travel? Their residence,
 both in reputation and profit, was better both ways.
ROSENCRANTZ 355I think their inhibition comes by the
 means of the late innovation.
HAMLET Do they hold the same estimation they did
 when I was in the city? Are they so followed?
ROSENCRANTZ No, indeed are they not.
HAMLET 360How comes it? Do they grow rusty?
ROSENCRANTZ Nay, their endeavor keeps in the wonted
 pace. But there is, sir, an aerie of children, little
 eyases, that cry out on the top of question and are
 most tyrannically clapped for ’t. These are now the

105
Hamlet
ACT 2. SC. 2

365 fashion and so berattle the common stages (so
 they call them) that many wearing rapiers are afraid
 of goose quills and dare scarce come thither.
HAMLET What, are they children? Who maintains ’em?
 How are they escoted? Will they pursue the quality
370 no longer than they can sing? Will they not say
 afterwards, if they should grow themselves to common
 players (as it is most like, if their means are
 no better), their writers do them wrong to make
 them exclaim against their own succession?
ROSENCRANTZ 375Faith, there has been much to-do on
 both sides, and the nation holds it no sin to tar
 them to controversy. There was for a while no
 money bid for argument unless the poet and the
 player went to cuffs in the question.
HAMLET 380Is ’t possible?
GUILDENSTERN O, there has been much throwing
 about of brains.
HAMLET Do the boys carry it away?
ROSENCRANTZ Ay, that they do, my lord—Hercules
385 and his load too.
HAMLET It is not very strange; for my uncle is King of
 Denmark, and those that would make mouths at
 him while my father lived give twenty, forty, fifty,
 a hundred ducats apiece for his picture in little.
390 ’Sblood, there is something in this more than natural,
 if philosophy could find it out.
A flourish for the Players.
GUILDENSTERN There are the players.
HAMLET Gentlemen, you are welcome to Elsinore.
 Your hands, come then. Th’ appurtenance of welcome
395 is fashion and ceremony. Let me comply
 with you in this garb, lest my extent to the players,
 which, I tell you, must show fairly outwards, should
 more appear like entertainment than yours. You are
 welcome. But my uncle-father and aunt-mother are
400 deceived.

107
Hamlet
ACT 2. SC. 2

GUILDENSTERN In what, my dear lord?
HAMLET I am but mad north-north-west. When the
 wind is southerly, I know a hawk from a handsaw.

Enter Polonius.

POLONIUS Well be with you, gentlemen.
HAMLET 405Hark you, Guildenstern, and you too—at
 each ear a hearer! That great baby you see there is
 not yet out of his swaddling clouts.
ROSENCRANTZ Haply he is the second time come to
 them, for they say an old man is twice a child.
HAMLET 410I will prophesy he comes to tell me of the
 players; mark it.—You say right, sir, a Monday
 morning, ’twas then indeed.
POLONIUS My lord, I have news to tell you.
HAMLET My lord, I have news to tell you: when Roscius
415 was an actor in Rome—
POLONIUS The actors are come hither, my lord.
HAMLET Buzz, buzz.
POLONIUS Upon my honor—
HAMLET Then came each actor on his ass.
POLONIUS 420The best actors in the world, either for
 tragedy, comedy, history, pastoral, pastoral-comical,
 historical-pastoral, tragical-historical,
 tragical-comical-historical-pastoral, scene individable, or
 poem unlimited. Seneca cannot be too heavy, nor
425 Plautus too light. For the law of writ and the liberty,
 these are the only men.
HAMLET O Jephthah, judge of Israel, what a treasure
 hadst thou!
POLONIUS What a treasure had he, my lord?
HAMLET 430Why,
 One fair daughter, and no more,
 The which he lovèd passing well.

POLONIUS, aside Still on my daughter.
HAMLET Am I not i’ th’ right, old Jephthah?

109
Hamlet
ACT 2. SC. 2

POLONIUS 435If you call me “Jephthah,” my lord: I have a
 daughter that I love passing well.
HAMLET Nay, that follows not.
POLONIUS What follows then, my lord?
HAMLET Why,
440 As by lot, God wot

 and then, you know,
 It came to pass, as most like it was—

 the first row of the pious chanson will show you
 more, for look where my abridgment comes.

Enter the Players.

445 You are welcome, masters; welcome all.—I am glad
 to see thee well.—Welcome, good friends.—O my
 old friend! Why, thy face is valanced since I saw thee
 last. Com’st thou to beard me in Denmark?—What,
 my young lady and mistress! By ’r Lady, your Ladyship
450 is nearer to heaven than when I saw you last, by
 the altitude of a chopine. Pray God your voice, like a
 piece of uncurrent gold, be not cracked within the
 ring. Masters, you are all welcome. We’ll e’en to ’t
 like French falconers, fly at anything we see. We’ll
455 have a speech straight. Come, give us a taste of your
 quality. Come, a passionate speech.
FIRST PLAYER What speech, my good lord?
HAMLET I heard thee speak me a speech once, but it
 was never acted, or, if it was, not above once; for
460 the play, I remember, pleased not the million:
 ’twas caviary to the general. But it was (as I
 received it, and others whose judgments in such
 matters cried in the top of mine) an excellent play,
 well digested in the scenes, set down with as much
465 modesty as cunning. I remember one said there
 were no sallets in the lines to make the matter
 savory, nor no matter in the phrase that might indict
 the author of affection, but called it an honest

111
Hamlet
ACT 2. SC. 2

 method, [as wholesome as sweet and, by very much,
470 more handsome than fine.] One speech in ’t I
 chiefly loved. ’Twas Aeneas’ tale to Dido, and
 thereabout of it especially when he speaks of
 Priam’s slaughter. If it live in your memory, begin at
 this line—let me see, let me see:
475 The rugged Pyrrhus, like th’ Hyrcanian beast—

 ’tis not so; it begins with Pyrrhus:
 The rugged Pyrrhus, he whose sable arms,
 Black as his purpose, did the night resemble
 When he lay couchèd in th’ ominous horse,
480 Hath now this dread and black complexion smeared
 With heraldry more dismal. Head to foot,
 Now is he total gules, horridly tricked
 With blood of fathers, mothers, daughters, sons,
 Baked and impasted with the parching streets,
485 That lend a tyrannous and a damnèd light
 To their lord’s murder. Roasted in wrath and fire,
 And thus o’ersizèd with coagulate gore,
 With eyes like carbuncles, the hellish Pyrrhus
 Old grandsire Priam seeks.

490 So, proceed you.
POLONIUS ’Fore God, my lord, well spoken, with good
 accent and good discretion.
FIRST PLAYER  Anon he finds him
 Striking too short at Greeks. His antique sword,
495 Rebellious to his arm, lies where it falls,
 Repugnant to command. Unequal matched,
 Pyrrhus at Priam drives, in rage strikes wide;
 But with the whiff and wind of his fell sword
 Th’ unnervèd father falls. Then senseless Ilium,
500 Seeming to feel this blow, with flaming top
 Stoops to his base, and with a hideous crash
 Takes prisoner Pyrrhus’ ear. For lo, his sword,
 Which was declining on the milky head
 Of reverend Priam, seemed i’ th’ air to stick.

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505 So as a painted tyrant Pyrrhus stood
 And, like a neutral to his will and matter,
 Did nothing.
 But as we often see against some storm
 A silence in the heavens, the rack stand still,
510 The bold winds speechless, and the orb below
 As hush as death, anon the dreadful thunder
 Doth rend the region; so, after Pyrrhus’ pause,
 Arousèd vengeance sets him new a-work,
 And never did the Cyclops’ hammers fall
515 On Mars’s armor, forged for proof eterne,
 With less remorse than Pyrrhus’ bleeding sword
 Now falls on Priam.
 Out, out, thou strumpet Fortune! All you gods
 In general synod take away her power,
520 Break all the spokes and fellies from her wheel,
 And bowl the round nave down the hill of heaven
 As low as to the fiends!

POLONIUS This is too long.
HAMLET It shall to the barber’s with your beard.—
525 Prithee say on. He’s for a jig or a tale of bawdry, or
 he sleeps. Say on; come to Hecuba.
FIRST PLAYER 
 But who, ah woe, had seen the moblèd queen—

HAMLET “The moblèd queen”?
POLONIUS That’s good. Moblèd queen” is good.
FIRST PLAYER 
530 Run barefoot up and down, threat’ning the flames
 With bisson rheum, a clout upon that head
 Where late the diadem stood, and for a robe,
 About her lank and all o’erteemèd loins
 A blanket, in the alarm of fear caught up—
535 Who this had seen, with tongue in venom steeped,
 ’Gainst Fortune’s state would treason have
 pronounced.
 But if the gods themselves did see her then

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ACT 2. SC. 2

 When she saw Pyrrhus make malicious sport
540 In mincing with his sword her husband’s limbs,
 The instant burst of clamor that she made
 (Unless things mortal move them not at all)
 Would have made milch the burning eyes of heaven
 And passion in the gods.

POLONIUS 545Look whe’er he has not turned his color and
 has tears in ’s eyes. Prithee, no more.
HAMLET ’Tis well. I’ll have thee speak out the rest of
 this soon.—Good my lord, will you see the players
 well bestowed? Do you hear, let them be well used,
550 for they are the abstract and brief chronicles of the
 time. After your death you were better have a bad
 epitaph than their ill report while you live.
POLONIUS My lord, I will use them according to their
 desert.
HAMLET 555God’s bodykins, man, much better! Use every
 man after his desert and who shall ’scape
 whipping? Use them after your own honor and
 dignity. The less they deserve, the more merit is in
 your bounty. Take them in.
POLONIUS 560Come, sirs.
HAMLET Follow him, friends. We’ll hear a play
 tomorrow. As Polonius and Players exit, Hamlet speaks to
 the First Player.
 
Dost thou hear me, old friend? Can
 you play The Murder of Gonzago?
FIRST PLAYER 565Ay, my lord.
HAMLET We’ll ha ’t tomorrow night. You could, for a
 need, study a speech of some dozen or sixteen
 lines, which I would set down and insert in ’t,
 could you not?
FIRST PLAYER 570Ay, my lord.
HAMLET Very well. Follow that lord—and look you
 mock him not. First Player exits. My good friends,
 I’ll leave you till night. You are welcome to Elsinore.
ROSENCRANTZ Good my lord.

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HAMLET 
575 Ay, so, good-bye to you.
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern exit.
 Now I am alone.
 O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I!
 Is it not monstrous that this player here,
 But in a fiction, in a dream of passion,
580 Could force his soul so to his own conceit
 That from her working all his visage wanned,
 Tears in his eyes, distraction in his aspect,
 A broken voice, and his whole function suiting
 With forms to his conceit—and all for nothing!
585 For Hecuba!
 What’s Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba,
 That he should weep for her? What would he do
 Had he the motive and the cue for passion
 That I have? He would drown the stage with tears
590 And cleave the general ear with horrid speech,
 Make mad the guilty and appall the free,
 Confound the ignorant and amaze indeed
 The very faculties of eyes and ears. Yet I,
 A dull and muddy-mettled rascal, peak
595 Like John-a-dreams, unpregnant of my cause,
 And can say nothing—no, not for a king
 Upon whose property and most dear life
 A damned defeat was made. Am I a coward?
 Who calls me “villain”? breaks my pate across?
600 Plucks off my beard and blows it in my face?
 Tweaks me by the nose? gives me the lie i’ th’ throat
 As deep as to the lungs? Who does me this?
 Ha! ’Swounds, I should take it! For it cannot be
 But I am pigeon-livered and lack gall
605 To make oppression bitter, or ere this
 I should have fatted all the region kites
 With this slave’s offal. Bloody, bawdy villain!
 Remorseless, treacherous, lecherous, kindless
 villain!

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610 O vengeance!
 Why, what an ass am I! This is most brave,
 That I, the son of a dear father murdered,
 Prompted to my revenge by heaven and hell,
 Must, like a whore, unpack my heart with words
615 And fall a-cursing like a very drab,
 A stallion! Fie upon ’t! Foh!
 About, my brains!—Hum, I have heard
 That guilty creatures sitting at a play
 Have, by the very cunning of the scene,
620 Been struck so to the soul that presently
 They have proclaimed their malefactions;
 For murder, though it have no tongue, will speak
 With most miraculous organ. I’ll have these players
 Play something like the murder of my father
625 Before mine uncle. I’ll observe his looks;
 I’ll tent him to the quick. If he do blench,
 I know my course. The spirit that I have seen
 May be a devil, and the devil hath power
 T’ assume a pleasing shape; yea, and perhaps,
630 Out of my weakness and my melancholy,
 As he is very potent with such spirits,
 Abuses me to damn me. I’ll have grounds
 More relative than this. The play’s the thing
 Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the King.
He exits.


ACT 3
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,

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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.


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,

137
Hamlet
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

139
Hamlet
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
 work?
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.
HAMLET 
 Horatio, thou art e’en as just a man
 As e’er my conversation coped withal.
HORATIO 
 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
 flattered?
 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
 commeddled

141
Hamlet
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
torches.


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?

143
Hamlet
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
 patience.
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’
 legs.
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,

145
Hamlet
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
 mischief.
OPHELIA 160Belike this show imports the argument of the
 play.

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
 play.
PROLOGUE 
170 For us and for our tragedy,
 Here stooping to your clemency,
 We beg your hearing patiently.
He exits.

147
Hamlet
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.

PLAYER KING 
 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.

PLAYER QUEEN 
 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.]

PLAYER KING 
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.


149
Hamlet
ACT 3. SC. 2

HAMLET That’s wormwood!
PLAYER QUEEN 
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.

PLAYER KING 
 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.


151
Hamlet
ACT 3. SC. 2

PLAYER QUEEN 
 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!
PLAYER KING 
 ’Tis deeply sworn. Sweet, leave me here awhile.
 My spirits grow dull, and fain I would beguile
250 The tedious day with sleep.
Sleeps.
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.

153
Hamlet
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
 edge.
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
 revenge.
LUCIANUS 
280 Thoughts black, hands apt, drugs fit, and time
 agreeing,
 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.
HAMLET 
 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.


155
Hamlet
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
 recorders!
 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
 distempered.
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
 choler.

157
Hamlet
ACT 3. SC. 2

GUILDENSTERN 335Good my lord, put your discourse into
 some frame and start not so wildly from my
 affair.
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
 Denmark?

159
Hamlet
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.

161
Hamlet
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,
 friends.
All but Hamlet exit.
 ’Tis now the very witching time of night,
420 When churchyards yawn and hell itself breathes
 out
 Contagion to this world. Now could I drink hot
 blood
 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.




163
Hamlet
ACT 3. SC. 3

Scene 3
Enter King, Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern.

KING 
 I like him not, nor stands it safe with us
 To let his madness range. Therefore prepare you.
 I your commission will forthwith dispatch,
 And he to England shall along with you.
5 The terms of our estate may not endure
 Hazard so near ’s as doth hourly grow
 Out of his brows.
GUILDENSTERN  We will ourselves provide.
 Most holy and religious fear it is
10 To keep those many many bodies safe
 That live and feed upon your Majesty.
ROSENCRANTZ 
 The single and peculiar life is bound
 With all the strength and armor of the mind
 To keep itself from noyance, but much more
15 That spirit upon whose weal depends and rests
 The lives of many. The cess of majesty
 Dies not alone, but like a gulf doth draw
 What’s near it with it; or it is a massy wheel
 Fixed on the summit of the highest mount,
20 To whose huge spokes ten thousand lesser things
 Are mortised and adjoined, which, when it falls,
 Each small annexment, petty consequence,
 Attends the boist’rous ruin. Never alone
 Did the king sigh, but with a general groan.
KING 
25 Arm you, I pray you, to this speedy voyage,
 For we will fetters put about this fear,
 Which now goes too free-footed.
ROSENCRANTZ  We will haste us.
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern exit.

Enter Polonius.


165
Hamlet
ACT 3. SC. 3

POLONIUS 
 My lord, he’s going to his mother’s closet.
30 Behind the arras I’ll convey myself
 To hear the process. I’ll warrant she’ll tax him
 home;
 And, as you said (and wisely was it said),
 ’Tis meet that some more audience than a mother,
35 Since nature makes them partial, should o’erhear
 The speech of vantage. Fare you well, my liege.
 I’ll call upon you ere you go to bed
 And tell you what I know.
KING  Thanks, dear my lord.
Polonius exits.
40 O, my offense is rank, it smells to heaven;
 It hath the primal eldest curse upon ’t,
 A brother’s murder. Pray can I not,
 Though inclination be as sharp as will.
 My stronger guilt defeats my strong intent,
45 And, like a man to double business bound,
 I stand in pause where I shall first begin
 And both neglect. What if this cursèd hand
 Were thicker than itself with brother’s blood?
 Is there not rain enough in the sweet heavens
50 To wash it white as snow? Whereto serves mercy
 But to confront the visage of offense?
 And what’s in prayer but this twofold force,
 To be forestallèd ere we come to fall,
 Or pardoned being down? Then I’ll look up.
55 My fault is past. But, O, what form of prayer
 Can serve my turn? “Forgive me my foul murder”?
 That cannot be, since I am still possessed
 Of those effects for which I did the murder:
 My crown, mine own ambition, and my queen.
60 May one be pardoned and retain th’ offense?
 In the corrupted currents of this world,
 Offense’s gilded hand may shove by justice,

167
Hamlet
ACT 3. SC. 3

 And oft ’tis seen the wicked prize itself
 Buys out the law. But ’tis not so above:
65 There is no shuffling; there the action lies
 In his true nature, and we ourselves compelled,
 Even to the teeth and forehead of our faults,
 To give in evidence. What then? What rests?
 Try what repentance can. What can it not?
70 Yet what can it, when one cannot repent?
 O wretched state! O bosom black as death!
 O limèd soul, that, struggling to be free,
 Art more engaged! Help, angels! Make assay.
 Bow, stubborn knees, and heart with strings of steel
75 Be soft as sinews of the newborn babe.
 All may be well.He kneels.

Enter Hamlet.

HAMLET 
 Now might I do it pat, now he is a-praying,
 And now I’ll do ’t.He draws his sword.
 And so he goes to heaven,
80 And so am I revenged. That would be scanned:
 A villain kills my father, and for that,
 I, his sole son, do this same villain send
 To heaven.
 Why, this is hire and salary, not revenge.
85 He took my father grossly, full of bread,
 With all his crimes broad blown, as flush as May;
 And how his audit stands who knows save heaven.
 But in our circumstance and course of thought
 ’Tis heavy with him. And am I then revenged
90 To take him in the purging of his soul,
 When he is fit and seasoned for his passage?
 No.
 Up sword, and know thou a more horrid hent.
He sheathes his sword.
 When he is drunk asleep, or in his rage,

169
Hamlet
ACT 3. SC. 4

95 Or in th’ incestuous pleasure of his bed,
 At game, a-swearing, or about some act
 That has no relish of salvation in ’t—
 Then trip him, that his heels may kick at heaven,
 And that his soul may be as damned and black
100 As hell, whereto it goes. My mother stays.
 This physic but prolongs thy sickly days.
Hamlet exits.
KING, rising 
 My words fly up, my thoughts remain below;
 Words without thoughts never to heaven go.
He exits.


Scene 4
Enter Queen and Polonius.

POLONIUS 
 He will come straight. Look you lay home to him.
 Tell him his pranks have been too broad to bear
 with
 And that your Grace hath screened and stood
5 between
 Much heat and him. I’ll silence me even here.
 Pray you, be round with him.
HAMLET, within Mother, mother, mother!
QUEEN I’ll warrant you. Fear me not. Withdraw,
10 I hear him coming.
Polonius hides behind the arras.

Enter Hamlet.

HAMLET Now, mother, what’s the matter?
QUEEN 
 Hamlet, thou hast thy father much offended.
HAMLET 
 Mother, you have my father much offended.

171
Hamlet
ACT 3. SC. 4

QUEEN 
 Come, come, you answer with an idle tongue.
HAMLET 
15 Go, go, you question with a wicked tongue.
QUEEN 
 Why, how now, Hamlet?
HAMLET  What’s the matter now?
QUEEN 
 Have you forgot me?
HAMLET  No, by the rood, not so.
20 You are the Queen, your husband’s brother’s wife,
 And (would it were not so) you are my mother.
QUEEN 
 Nay, then I’ll set those to you that can speak.
HAMLET 
 Come, come, and sit you down; you shall not budge.
 You go not till I set you up a glass
25 Where you may see the inmost part of you.
QUEEN 
 What wilt thou do? Thou wilt not murder me?
 Help, ho!
POLONIUS, behind the arras What ho! Help!
HAMLET 
 How now, a rat? Dead for a ducat, dead.
He kills Polonius by thrusting a rapier
through the arras.

POLONIUS, behind the arras 
30 O, I am slain!
QUEEN  O me, what hast thou done?
HAMLET Nay, I know not. Is it the King?
QUEEN 
 O, what a rash and bloody deed is this!
HAMLET 
 A bloody deed—almost as bad, good mother,
35 As kill a king and marry with his brother.
QUEEN 
 As kill a king?

173
Hamlet
ACT 3. SC. 4

HAMLET  Ay, lady, it was my word.
He pulls Polonius’ body from behind the arras.
 Thou wretched, rash, intruding fool, farewell.
 I took thee for thy better. Take thy fortune.
40 Thou find’st to be too busy is some danger.
 To Queen. Leave wringing of your hands. Peace, sit
 you down,
 And let me wring your heart; for so I shall
 If it be made of penetrable stuff,
45 If damnèd custom have not brazed it so
 That it be proof and bulwark against sense.
QUEEN 
 What have I done, that thou dar’st wag thy tongue
 In noise so rude against me?
HAMLET  Such an act
50 That blurs the grace and blush of modesty,
 Calls virtue hypocrite, takes off the rose
 From the fair forehead of an innocent love
 And sets a blister there, makes marriage vows
 As false as dicers’ oaths—O, such a deed
55 As from the body of contraction plucks
 The very soul, and sweet religion makes
 A rhapsody of words! Heaven’s face does glow
 O’er this solidity and compound mass
 With heated visage, as against the doom,
60 Is thought-sick at the act.
QUEEN  Ay me, what act
 That roars so loud and thunders in the index?
HAMLET 
 Look here upon this picture and on this,
 The counterfeit presentment of two brothers.
65 See what a grace was seated on this brow,
 Hyperion’s curls, the front of Jove himself,
 An eye like Mars’ to threaten and command,
 A station like the herald Mercury
 New-lighted on a heaven-kissing hill,

175
Hamlet
ACT 3. SC. 4

70 A combination and a form indeed
 Where every god did seem to set his seal
 To give the world assurance of a man.
 This was your husband. Look you now what follows.
 Here is your husband, like a mildewed ear
75 Blasting his wholesome brother. Have you eyes?
 Could you on this fair mountain leave to feed
 And batten on this moor? Ha! Have you eyes?
 You cannot call it love, for at your age
 The heyday in the blood is tame, it’s humble
80 And waits upon the judgment; and what judgment
 Would step from this to this? [Sense sure you have,
 Else could you not have motion; but sure that sense
 Is apoplexed; for madness would not err,
 Nor sense to ecstasy was ne’er so thralled,
85 But it reserved some quantity of choice
 To serve in such a difference.] What devil was ’t
 That thus hath cozened you at hoodman-blind?
 [Eyes without feeling, feeling without sight,
 Ears without hands or eyes, smelling sans all,
90 Or but a sickly part of one true sense
 Could not so mope.] O shame, where is thy blush?
 Rebellious hell,
 If thou canst mutine in a matron’s bones,
 To flaming youth let virtue be as wax
95 And melt in her own fire. Proclaim no shame
 When the compulsive ardor gives the charge,
 Since frost itself as actively doth burn,
 And reason panders will.
QUEEN O Hamlet, speak no more!
100 Thou turn’st my eyes into my very soul,
 And there I see such black and grainèd spots
 As will not leave their tinct.
HAMLET  Nay, but to live
 In the rank sweat of an enseamèd bed,
105 Stewed in corruption, honeying and making love
 Over the nasty sty!

177
Hamlet
ACT 3. SC. 4

QUEEN O, speak to me no more!
 These words like daggers enter in my ears.
 No more, sweet Hamlet!
HAMLET 110 A murderer and a villain,
 A slave that is not twentieth part the tithe
 Of your precedent lord; a vice of kings,
 A cutpurse of the empire and the rule,
 That from a shelf the precious diadem stole
115 And put it in his pocket—
QUEEN No more!
HAMLET A king of shreds and patches—

Enter Ghost.

 Save me and hover o’er me with your wings,
 You heavenly guards!—What would your gracious
120 figure?
QUEEN Alas, he’s mad.
HAMLET 
 Do you not come your tardy son to chide,
 That, lapsed in time and passion, lets go by
 Th’ important acting of your dread command?
125 O, say!
GHOST  Do not forget. This visitation
 Is but to whet thy almost blunted purpose.
 But look, amazement on thy mother sits.
 O, step between her and her fighting soul.
130 Conceit in weakest bodies strongest works.
 Speak to her, Hamlet.
HAMLET  How is it with you, lady?
QUEEN Alas, how is ’t with you,
 That you do bend your eye on vacancy
135 And with th’ incorporal air do hold discourse?
 Forth at your eyes your spirits wildly peep,
 And, as the sleeping soldiers in th’ alarm,
 Your bedded hair, like life in excrements,
 Start up and stand an end. O gentle son,

179
Hamlet
ACT 3. SC. 4

140 Upon the heat and flame of thy distemper
 Sprinkle cool patience! Whereon do you look?
HAMLET 
 On him, on him! Look you how pale he glares.
 His form and cause conjoined, preaching to stones,
 Would make them capable. To the Ghost. Do not
145 look upon me,
 Lest with this piteous action you convert
 My stern effects. Then what I have to do
 Will want true color—tears perchance for blood.
QUEEN To whom do you speak this?
HAMLET 150Do you see nothing there?
QUEEN 
 Nothing at all; yet all that is I see.
HAMLET Nor did you nothing hear?
QUEEN No, nothing but ourselves.
HAMLET 
 Why, look you there, look how it steals away!
155 My father, in his habit as he lived!
 Look where he goes even now out at the portal!
Ghost exits.
QUEEN 
 This is the very coinage of your brain.
 This bodiless creation ecstasy
 Is very cunning in.
HAMLET 160 Ecstasy?
 My pulse as yours doth temperately keep time
 And makes as healthful music. It is not madness
 That I have uttered. Bring me to the test,
 And I the matter will reword, which madness
165 Would gambol from. Mother, for love of grace,
 Lay not that flattering unction to your soul
 That not your trespass but my madness speaks.
 It will but skin and film the ulcerous place,
 Whiles rank corruption, mining all within,
170 Infects unseen. Confess yourself to heaven,

181
Hamlet
ACT 3. SC. 4

 Repent what’s past, avoid what is to come,
 And do not spread the compost on the weeds
 To make them ranker. Forgive me this my virtue,
 For, in the fatness of these pursy times,
175 Virtue itself of vice must pardon beg,
 Yea, curb and woo for leave to do him good.
QUEEN 
 O Hamlet, thou hast cleft my heart in twain!
HAMLET 
 O, throw away the worser part of it,
 And live the purer with the other half!
180 Good night. But go not to my uncle’s bed.
 Assume a virtue if you have it not.
 [That monster, custom, who all sense doth eat,
 Of habits devil, is angel yet in this,
 That to the use of actions fair and good
185 He likewise gives a frock or livery
 That aptly is put on.] Refrain tonight,
 And that shall lend a kind of easiness
 To the next abstinence, [the next more easy;
 For use almost can change the stamp of nature
190 And either  the devil or throw him out
 With wondrous potency.] Once more, good night,
 And, when you are desirous to be blest,
 I’ll blessing beg of you. For this same lord
Pointing to Polonius.
 I do repent; but heaven hath pleased it so
195 To punish me with this and this with me,
 That I must be their scourge and minister.
 I will bestow him and will answer well
 The death I gave him. So, again, good night.
 I must be cruel only to be kind.
200 This bad begins, and worse remains behind.
 [One word more, good lady.]
QUEEN  What shall I do?

183
Hamlet
ACT 3. SC. 4

HAMLET 
 Not this by no means that I bid you do:
 Let the bloat king tempt you again to bed,
205 Pinch wanton on your cheek, call you his mouse,
 And let him, for a pair of reechy kisses
 Or paddling in your neck with his damned fingers,
 Make you to ravel all this matter out
 That I essentially am not in madness,
210 But mad in craft. ’Twere good you let him know,
 For who that’s but a queen, fair, sober, wise,
 Would from a paddock, from a bat, a gib,
 Such dear concernings hide? Who would do so?
 No, in despite of sense and secrecy,
215 Unpeg the basket on the house’s top,
 Let the birds fly, and like the famous ape,
 To try conclusions, in the basket creep
 And break your own neck down.
QUEEN 
 Be thou assured, if words be made of breath
220 And breath of life, I have no life to breathe
 What thou hast said to me.
HAMLET 
 I must to England, you know that.
QUEEN  Alack,
 I had forgot! ’Tis so concluded on.
HAMLET 
225 [There’s letters sealed; and my two schoolfellows,
 Whom I will trust as I will adders fanged,
 They bear the mandate; they must sweep my way
 And marshal me to knavery. Let it work,
 For ’tis the sport to have the enginer
230 Hoist with his own petard; and ’t shall go hard
 But I will delve one yard below their mines
 And blow them at the moon. O, ’tis most sweet
 When in one line two crafts directly meet.]
 This man shall set me packing.

185
Hamlet
ACT 3. SC. 4

235 I’ll lug the guts into the neighbor room.
 Mother, good night indeed. This counselor
 Is now most still, most secret, and most grave,
 Who was in life a foolish prating knave.—
 Come, sir, to draw toward an end with you.—
240 Good night, mother.
They exit, Hamlet tugging in Polonius.


ACT 4
Scene 1
Enter King and Queen, with Rosencrantz and
Guildenstern.


KING 
 There’s matter in these sighs; these profound heaves
 You must translate; ’tis fit we understand them.
 Where is your son?
QUEEN 
 [Bestow this place on us a little while.]
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern exit.
5 Ah, mine own lord, what have I seen tonight!
KING What, Gertrude? How does Hamlet?
QUEEN 
 Mad as the sea and wind when both contend
 Which is the mightier. In his lawless fit,
 Behind the arras hearing something stir,
10 Whips out his rapier, cries “A rat, a rat,”
 And in this brainish apprehension kills
 The unseen good old man.
KING  O heavy deed!
 It had been so with us, had we been there.
15 His liberty is full of threats to all—
 To you yourself, to us, to everyone.
 Alas, how shall this bloody deed be answered?
 It will be laid to us, whose providence
189

191
Hamlet
ACT 4. SC. 1

 Should have kept short, restrained, and out of haunt
20 This mad young man. But so much was our love,
 We would not understand what was most fit,
 But, like the owner of a foul disease,
 To keep it from divulging, let it feed
 Even on the pith of life. Where is he gone?
QUEEN 
25 To draw apart the body he hath killed,
 O’er whom his very madness, like some ore
 Among a mineral of metals base,
 Shows itself pure: he weeps for what is done.
KING O Gertrude, come away!
30 The sun no sooner shall the mountains touch
 But we will ship him hence; and this vile deed
 We must with all our majesty and skill
 Both countenance and excuse.—Ho, Guildenstern!

Enter Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.

 Friends both, go join you with some further aid.
35 Hamlet in madness hath Polonius slain,
 And from his mother’s closet hath he dragged him.
 Go seek him out, speak fair, and bring the body
 Into the chapel. I pray you, haste in this.
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern exit.
 Come, Gertrude, we’ll call up our wisest friends
40 And let them know both what we mean to do
 And what’s untimely done.
 [Whose whisper o’er the world’s diameter,
 As level as the cannon to his blank
 Transports his poisoned shot, may miss our name
45 And hit the woundless air.] O, come away!
 My soul is full of discord and dismay.
They exit.




193
Hamlet
ACT 4. SC. 2

Scene 2
Enter Hamlet.

HAMLET Safely stowed.
GENTLEMEN, within Hamlet! Lord Hamlet!
HAMLET But soft, what noise? Who calls on Hamlet?
 O, here they come.

Enter Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, and others.

ROSENCRANTZ 
5 What have you done, my lord, with the dead body?
HAMLET 
 Compounded it with dust, whereto ’tis kin.
ROSENCRANTZ 
 Tell us where ’tis, that we may take it thence
 And bear it to the chapel.
HAMLET Do not believe it.
ROSENCRANTZ 10Believe what?
HAMLET That I can keep your counsel and not mine
 own. Besides, to be demanded of a sponge, what
 replication should be made by the son of a king?
ROSENCRANTZ Take you me for a sponge, my lord?
HAMLET 15Ay, sir, that soaks up the King’s countenance,
 his rewards, his authorities. But such officers do the
 King best service in the end. He keeps them like an
 ape an apple in the corner of his jaw, first mouthed,
 to be last swallowed. When he needs what you have
20 gleaned, it is but squeezing you, and, sponge, you
 shall be dry again.
ROSENCRANTZ I understand you not, my lord.
HAMLET I am glad of it. A knavish speech sleeps in a
 foolish ear.
ROSENCRANTZ 25My lord, you must tell us where the
 body is and go with us to the King.
HAMLET The body is with the King, but the King is not
 with the body. The King is a thing—

195
Hamlet
ACT 4. SC. 3

GUILDENSTERN A “thing,” my lord?
HAMLET 30Of nothing. Bring me to him. Hide fox, and
 all after!
They exit.


Scene 3
Enter King and two or three.

KING 
 I have sent to seek him and to find the body.
 How dangerous is it that this man goes loose!
 Yet must not we put the strong law on him.
 He’s loved of the distracted multitude,
5 Who like not in their judgment, but their eyes;
 And, where ’tis so, th’ offender’s scourge is weighed,
 But never the offense. To bear all smooth and even,
 This sudden sending him away must seem
 Deliberate pause. Diseases desperate grown
10 By desperate appliance are relieved
 Or not at all.

Enter Rosencrantz.

 How now, what hath befallen?
ROSENCRANTZ 
 Where the dead body is bestowed, my lord,
 We cannot get from him.
KING 15 But where is he?
ROSENCRANTZ 
 Without, my lord; guarded, to know your pleasure.
KING 
 Bring him before us.
ROSENCRANTZ  Ho! Bring in the lord.

They enter with Hamlet.

KING Now, Hamlet, where’s Polonius?
HAMLET 20At supper.

197
Hamlet
ACT 4. SC. 3

KING At supper where?
HAMLET Not where he eats, but where he is eaten. A
 certain convocation of politic worms are e’en at
 him. Your worm is your only emperor for diet. We
25 fat all creatures else to fat us, and we fat ourselves
 for maggots. Your fat king and your lean beggar is
 but variable service—two dishes but to one table.
 That’s the end.
[KING Alas, alas!
HAMLET 30A man may fish with the worm that hath eat
 of a king and eat of the fish that hath fed of that
 worm.]
KING What dost thou mean by this?
HAMLET Nothing but to show you how a king may go a
35 progress through the guts of a beggar.
KING Where is Polonius?
HAMLET In heaven. Send thither to see. If your messenger
 find him not there, seek him i’ th’ other
 place yourself. But if, indeed, you find him not
40 within this month, you shall nose him as you go up
 the stairs into the lobby.
KING, to Attendants. Go, seek him there.
HAMLET He will stay till you come.Attendants exit.
KING 
 Hamlet, this deed, for thine especial safety
45 (Which we do tender, as we dearly grieve
 For that which thou hast done) must send thee
 hence
 With fiery quickness. Therefore prepare thyself.
 The bark is ready, and the wind at help,
50 Th’ associates tend, and everything is bent
 For England.
HAMLET For England?
KING Ay, Hamlet.
HAMLET Good.
KING 
55 So is it, if thou knew’st our purposes.

199
Hamlet
ACT 4. SC. 4

HAMLET 
 I see a cherub that sees them. But come, for
 England.
 Farewell, dear mother.
KING  Thy loving father, Hamlet.
HAMLET 
60 My mother. Father and mother is man and wife,
 Man and wife is one flesh, and so, my mother.—
 Come, for England.He exits.
KING 
 Follow him at foot; tempt him with speed aboard.
 Delay it not. I’ll have him hence tonight.
65 Away, for everything is sealed and done
 That else leans on th’ affair. Pray you, make haste.
All but the King exit.
 And England, if my love thou hold’st at aught
 (As my great power thereof may give thee sense,
 Since yet thy cicatrice looks raw and red
70 After the Danish sword, and thy free awe
 Pays homage to us), thou mayst not coldly set
 Our sovereign process, which imports at full,
 By letters congruing to that effect,
 The present death of Hamlet. Do it, England,
75 For like the hectic in my blood he rages,
 And thou must cure me. Till I know ’tis done,
 Howe’er my haps, my joys will ne’er begin.
He exits.


Scene 4
Enter Fortinbras with his army over the stage.

FORTINBRAS 
 Go, Captain, from me greet the Danish king.
 Tell him that by his license Fortinbras
 Craves the conveyance of a promised march
 Over his kingdom. You know the rendezvous.

201
Hamlet
ACT 4. SC. 4

5 If that his Majesty would aught with us,
 We shall express our duty in his eye;
 And let him know so.
CAPTAIN I will do ’t, my lord.
FORTINBRAS Go softly on.All but the Captain exit.

[Enter Hamlet, Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, and others.

HAMLET 10Good sir, whose powers are these?
CAPTAIN They are of Norway, sir.
HAMLET How purposed, sir, I pray you?
CAPTAIN Against some part of Poland.
HAMLET Who commands them, sir?
CAPTAIN 
15 The nephew to old Norway, Fortinbras.
HAMLET 
 Goes it against the main of Poland, sir,
 Or for some frontier?
CAPTAIN 
 Truly to speak, and with no addition,
 We go to gain a little patch of ground
20 That hath in it no profit but the name.
 To pay five ducats, five, I would not farm it;
 Nor will it yield to Norway or the Pole
 A ranker rate, should it be sold in fee.
HAMLET 
 Why, then, the Polack never will defend it.
CAPTAIN 
25 Yes, it is already garrisoned.
HAMLET 
 Two thousand souls and twenty thousand ducats
 Will not debate the question of this straw.
 This is th’ impostume of much wealth and peace,
 That inward breaks and shows no cause without
30 Why the man dies.—I humbly thank you, sir.
CAPTAIN God be wi’ you, sir.He exits.
ROSENCRANTZ Will ’t please you go, my lord?

203
Hamlet
ACT 4. SC. 4

HAMLET 
 I’ll be with you straight. Go a little before.
All but Hamlet exit.
 How all occasions do inform against me
35 And spur my dull revenge. What is a man
 If his chief good and market of his time
 Be but to sleep and feed? A beast, no more.
 Sure He that made us with such large discourse,
 Looking before and after, gave us not
40 That capability and godlike reason
 To fust in us unused. Now whether it be
 Bestial oblivion or some craven scruple
 Of thinking too precisely on th’ event
 (A thought which, quartered, hath but one part
45 wisdom
 And ever three parts coward), I do not know
 Why yet I live to say “This thing’s to do,”
 Sith I have cause, and will, and strength, and means
 To do ’t. Examples gross as Earth exhort me:
50 Witness this army of such mass and charge,
 Led by a delicate and tender prince,
 Whose spirit with divine ambition puffed
 Makes mouths at the invisible event,
 Exposing what is mortal and unsure
55 To all that fortune, death, and danger dare,
 Even for an eggshell. Rightly to be great
 Is not to stir without great argument,
 But greatly to find quarrel in a straw
 When honor’s at the stake. How stand I, then,
60 That have a father killed, a mother stained,
 Excitements of my reason and my blood,
 And let all sleep, while to my shame I see
 The imminent death of twenty thousand men
 That for a fantasy and trick of fame
65 Go to their graves like beds, fight for a plot
 Whereon the numbers cannot try the cause,

205
Hamlet
ACT 4. SC. 5

 Which is not tomb enough and continent
 To hide the slain? O, from this time forth
 My thoughts be bloody or be nothing worth!
He exits.]


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.




221
Hamlet
ACT 4. SC. 6

Scene 6
Enter Horatio and others.

HORATIO What are they that would speak with me?
GENTLEMAN Seafaring men, sir. They say they have
 letters for you.
HORATIO Let them come in. Gentleman exits. I do not
5 know from what part of the world I should be
 greeted, if not from Lord Hamlet.

Enter Sailors.

SAILOR God bless you, sir.
HORATIO Let Him bless thee too.
SAILOR He shall, sir, an ’t please Him. There’s a letter
10 for you, sir. It came from th’ ambassador that was
 bound for England—if your name be Horatio, as I
 am let to know it is.He hands Horatio a letter.
HORATIO reads the letter Horatio, when thou shalt have
 overlooked this, give these fellows some means to the
15 King. They have letters for him. Ere we were two days
 old at sea, a pirate of very warlike appointment gave
 us chase. Finding ourselves too slow of sail, we put on
 a compelled valor, and in the grapple I boarded them.
 On the instant, they got clear of our ship; so I alone
20 became their prisoner. They have dealt with me like
 thieves of mercy, but they knew what they did: I am to
 do a good turn for them. Let the King have the letters
 I have sent, and repair thou to me with as much speed
 as thou wouldst fly death. I have words to speak in
25 thine ear will make thee dumb; yet are they much too
 light for the bore of the matter. These good fellows
 will bring thee where I am. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern
 hold their course for England; of them I have
 much to tell thee. Farewell.
30 He that thou knowest thine,
 Hamlet.


223
Hamlet
ACT 4. SC. 7

 Come, I will give you way for these your letters
 And do ’t the speedier that you may direct me
 To him from whom you brought them.
They exit.


Scene 7
Enter King and Laertes.

KING 
 Now must your conscience my acquittance seal,
 And you must put me in your heart for friend,
 Sith you have heard, and with a knowing ear,
 That he which hath your noble father slain
5 Pursued my life.
LAERTES  It well appears. But tell me
 Why you proceeded not against these feats,
 So criminal and so capital in nature,
 As by your safety, greatness, wisdom, all things else,
10 You mainly were stirred up.
KING O, for two special reasons,
 Which may to you perhaps seem much unsinewed,
 But yet to me they’re strong. The Queen his mother
 Lives almost by his looks, and for myself
15 (My virtue or my plague, be it either which),
 She is so conjunctive to my life and soul
 That, as the star moves not but in his sphere,
 I could not but by her. The other motive
 Why to a public count I might not go
20 Is the great love the general gender bear him,
 Who, dipping all his faults in their affection,
 Work like the spring that turneth wood to stone,
 Convert his gyves to graces, so that my arrows,
 Too slightly timbered for so loud a wind,
25 Would have reverted to my bow again,
 But not where I have aimed them.
LAERTES 
 And so have I a noble father lost,

225
Hamlet
ACT 4. SC. 7

 A sister driven into desp’rate terms,
 Whose worth, if praises may go back again,
30 Stood challenger on mount of all the age
 For her perfections. But my revenge will come.
KING 
 Break not your sleeps for that. You must not think
 That we are made of stuff so flat and dull
 That we can let our beard be shook with danger
35 And think it pastime. You shortly shall hear more.
 I loved your father, and we love ourself,
 And that, I hope, will teach you to imagine—

Enter a Messenger with letters.

 How now? What news?
MESSENGER  Letters, my lord, from
40 Hamlet.
 These to your Majesty, this to the Queen.
KING From Hamlet? Who brought them?
MESSENGER 
 Sailors, my lord, they say. I saw them not.
 They were given me by Claudio. He received them
45 [Of him that brought them.]
KING  Laertes, you shall hear
 them.—
 Leave us.Messenger exits.
 Reads. High and mighty, you shall know I am set
50 naked on your kingdom. Tomorrow shall I beg leave to
 see your kingly eyes, when I shall (first asking your
 pardon) thereunto recount the occasion of my sudden
 and more strange return. Hamlet.

 What should this mean? Are all the rest come back?
55 Or is it some abuse and no such thing?
LAERTES Know you the hand?
KING ’Tis Hamlet’s character. “Naked”—
 And in a postscript here, he says “alone.”
 Can you advise me?

227
Hamlet
ACT 4. SC. 7

LAERTES 
60 I am lost in it, my lord. But let him come.
 It warms the very sickness in my heart
 That I shall live and tell him to his teeth
 “Thus didst thou.”
KING  If it be so, Laertes
65 (As how should it be so? how otherwise?),
 Will you be ruled by me?
LAERTES  Ay, my lord,
 So you will not o’errule me to a peace.
KING 
 To thine own peace. If he be now returned,
70 As checking at his voyage, and that he means
 No more to undertake it, I will work him
 To an exploit, now ripe in my device,
 Under the which he shall not choose but fall;
 And for his death no wind of blame shall breathe,
75 But even his mother shall uncharge the practice
 And call it accident.
[LAERTES My lord, I will be ruled,
 The rather if you could devise it so
 That I might be the organ.
KING 80 It falls right.
 You have been talked of since your travel much,
 And that in Hamlet’s hearing, for a quality
 Wherein they say you shine. Your sum of parts
 Did not together pluck such envy from him
85 As did that one, and that, in my regard,
 Of the unworthiest siege.
LAERTES What part is that, my lord?
KING 
 A very ribbon in the cap of youth—
 Yet needful too, for youth no less becomes
90 The light and careless livery that it wears
 Than settled age his sables and his weeds,
 Importing health and graveness.] Two months since

229
Hamlet
ACT 4. SC. 7

 Here was a gentleman of Normandy.
 I have seen myself, and served against, the French,
95 And they can well on horseback, but this gallant
 Had witchcraft in ’t. He grew unto his seat,
 And to such wondrous doing brought his horse
 As had he been encorpsed and demi-natured
 With the brave beast. So far he topped my thought
100 That I in forgery of shapes and tricks
 Come short of what he did.
LAERTES  A Norman was ’t?
KING A Norman.
LAERTES 
 Upon my life, Lamord.
KING 105 The very same.
LAERTES 
 I know him well. He is the brooch indeed
 And gem of all the nation.
KING He made confession of you
 And gave you such a masterly report
110 For art and exercise in your defense,
 And for your rapier most especial,
 That he cried out ’twould be a sight indeed
 If one could match you. [The ’scrimers of their
 nation
115 He swore had neither motion, guard, nor eye,
 If you opposed them.] Sir, this report of his
 Did Hamlet so envenom with his envy
 That he could nothing do but wish and beg
 Your sudden coming-o’er, to play with you.
120 Now out of this—
LAERTES  What out of this, my lord?
KING 
 Laertes, was your father dear to you?
 Or are you like the painting of a sorrow,
 A face without a heart?
LAERTES 125 Why ask you this?

231
Hamlet
ACT 4. SC. 7

KING 
 Not that I think you did not love your father,
 But that I know love is begun by time
 And that I see, in passages of proof,
 Time qualifies the spark and fire of it.
130 [There lives within the very flame of love
 A kind of wick or snuff that will abate it,
 And nothing is at a like goodness still;
 For goodness, growing to a pleurisy,
 Dies in his own too-much. That we would do
135 We should do when we would; for this “would”
 changes
 And hath abatements and delays as many
 As there are tongues, are hands, are accidents;
 And then this “should” is like a spendthrift sigh,
140 That hurts by easing. But to the quick of th’ ulcer:]
 Hamlet comes back; what would you undertake
 To show yourself indeed your father’s son
 More than in words?
LAERTES  To cut his throat i’ th’ church.
KING 
145 No place indeed should murder sanctuarize;
 Revenge should have no bounds. But, good Laertes,
 Will you do this? Keep close within your chamber.
 Hamlet, returned, shall know you are come home.
 We’ll put on those shall praise your excellence
150 And set a double varnish on the fame
 The Frenchman gave you; bring you, in fine,
 together
 And wager on your heads. He, being remiss,
 Most generous, and free from all contriving,
155 Will not peruse the foils, so that with ease,
 Or with a little shuffling, you may choose
 A sword unbated, and in a pass of practice
 Requite him for your father.

233
Hamlet
ACT 4. SC. 7

LAERTES  I will do ’t,
160 And for that purpose I’ll anoint my sword.
 I bought an unction of a mountebank
 So mortal that, but dip a knife in it,
 Where it draws blood no cataplasm so rare,
 Collected from all simples that have virtue
165 Under the moon, can save the thing from death
 That is but scratched withal. I’ll touch my point
 With this contagion, that, if I gall him slightly,
 It may be death.
KING  Let’s further think of this,
170 Weigh what convenience both of time and means
 May fit us to our shape. If this should fail,
 And that our drift look through our bad
 performance,
 ’Twere better not assayed. Therefore this project
175 Should have a back or second that might hold
 If this did blast in proof. Soft, let me see.
 We’ll make a solemn wager on your cunnings—
 I ha ’t!
 When in your motion you are hot and dry
180 (As make your bouts more violent to that end)
 And that he calls for drink, I’ll have prepared
 him
 A chalice for the nonce, whereon but sipping,
 If he by chance escape your venomed stuck,
185 Our purpose may hold there.—But stay, what
 noise?

Enter Queen.

QUEEN 
 One woe doth tread upon another’s heel,
 So fast they follow. Your sister’s drowned, Laertes.
LAERTES Drowned? O, where?
QUEEN 
190 There is a willow grows askant the brook

235
Hamlet
ACT 4. SC. 7

 That shows his hoar leaves in the glassy stream.
 Therewith fantastic garlands did she make
 Of crowflowers, nettles, daisies, and long purples,
 That liberal shepherds give a grosser name,
195 But our cold maids do “dead men’s fingers” call
 them.
 There on the pendant boughs her coronet weeds
 Clamb’ring to hang, an envious sliver broke,
 When down her weedy trophies and herself
200 Fell in the weeping brook. Her clothes spread wide,
 And mermaid-like awhile they bore her up,
 Which time she chanted snatches of old lauds,
 As one incapable of her own distress
 Or like a creature native and endued
205 Unto that element. But long it could not be
 Till that her garments, heavy with their drink,
 Pulled the poor wretch from her melodious lay
 To muddy death.
LAERTES  Alas, then she is drowned.
QUEEN 210Drowned, drowned.
LAERTES 
 Too much of water hast thou, poor Ophelia,
 And therefore I forbid my tears. But yet
 It is our trick; nature her custom holds,
 Let shame say what it will. When these are gone,
215 The woman will be out.—Adieu, my lord.
 I have a speech o’ fire that fain would blaze,
 But that this folly drowns it.He exits.
KING  Let’s follow, Gertrude.
 How much I had to do to calm his rage!
220 Now fear I this will give it start again.
 Therefore, let’s follow.
They exit.


ACT 5
Scene 1
Enter Gravedigger and Another.

GRAVEDIGGER Is she to be buried in Christian burial,
 when she willfully seeks her own salvation?
OTHER I tell thee she is. Therefore make her grave
 straight. The crowner hath sat on her and finds it
5 Christian burial.
GRAVEDIGGER How can that be, unless she drowned
 herself in her own defense?
OTHER Why, ’tis found so.
GRAVEDIGGER It must be se offendendo; it cannot be
10 else. For here lies the point: if I drown myself
 wittingly, it argues an act, and an act hath three
 branches—it is to act, to do, to perform. Argal, she
 drowned herself wittingly.
OTHER Nay, but hear you, goodman delver—
GRAVEDIGGER 15Give me leave. Here lies the water;
 good. Here stands the man; good. If the man go to
 this water and drown himself, it is (will he, nill he)
 he goes; mark you that. But if the water come to him
 and drown him, he drowns not himself. Argal, he
20 that is not guilty of his own death shortens not his
 own life.
OTHER But is this law?
GRAVEDIGGER Ay, marry, is ’t—crowner’s ’quest law.
239

241
Hamlet
ACT 5. SC. 1

OTHER Will you ha’ the truth on ’t? If this had not been
25 a gentlewoman, she should have been buried out o’
 Christian burial.
GRAVEDIGGER Why, there thou sayst. And the more
 pity that great folk should have count’nance in this
 world to drown or hang themselves more than
30 their even-Christian. Come, my spade. There is no
 ancient gentlemen but gard’ners, ditchers, and
 grave-makers. They hold up Adam’s profession.
OTHER Was he a gentleman?
GRAVEDIGGER He was the first that ever bore arms.
OTHER 35Why, he had none.
GRAVEDIGGER What, art a heathen? How dost thou
 understand the scripture? The scripture says Adam
 digged. Could he dig without arms? I’ll put another
 question to thee. If thou answerest me not to the
40 purpose, confess thyself—
OTHER Go to!
GRAVEDIGGER What is he that builds stronger than
 either the mason, the shipwright, or the carpenter?
OTHER The gallows-maker; for that frame outlives a
45 thousand tenants.
GRAVEDIGGER I like thy wit well, in good faith. The
 gallows does well. But how does it well? It does
 well to those that do ill. Now, thou dost ill to say the
 gallows is built stronger than the church. Argal, the
50 gallows may do well to thee. To ’t again, come.
OTHER “Who builds stronger than a mason, a shipwright,
 or a carpenter?”
GRAVEDIGGER Ay, tell me that, and unyoke.
OTHER Marry, now I can tell.
GRAVEDIGGER 55To ’t.
OTHER Mass, I cannot tell.

Enter Hamlet and Horatio afar off.

GRAVEDIGGER Cudgel thy brains no more about it,

243
Hamlet
ACT 5. SC. 1

 for your dull ass will not mend his pace with
 beating. And, when you are asked this question
60 next, say “a grave-maker.” The houses he makes
 lasts till doomsday. Go, get thee in, and fetch me a
 stoup of liquor.
The Other Man exits
and the Gravedigger digs and sings.

 In youth when I did love, did love,
  Methought it was very sweet
65 To contract—O—the time for—a—my behove,
  O, methought there—a—was nothing—a—meet.

HAMLET Has this fellow no feeling of his business? He
 sings in grave-making.
HORATIO Custom hath made it in him a property of
70 easiness.
HAMLET ’Tis e’en so. The hand of little employment
 hath the daintier sense.
GRAVEDIGGER sings 
 But age with his stealing steps
 Hath clawed me in his clutch,
75 And hath shipped me into the land,
 As if I had never been such.

He digs up a skull.
HAMLET That skull had a tongue in it and could sing
 once. How the knave jowls it to the ground as if
 ’twere Cain’s jawbone, that did the first murder!
80 This might be the pate of a politician which this ass
 now o’erreaches, one that would circumvent God,
 might it not?
HORATIO It might, my lord.
HAMLET Or of a courtier, which could say “Good
85 morrow, sweet lord! How dost thou, sweet lord?”
 This might be my Lord Such-a-one that praised my
 Lord Such-a-one’s horse when he went to beg it,
 might it not?
HORATIO Ay, my lord.

245
Hamlet
ACT 5. SC. 1

HAMLET 90Why, e’en so. And now my Lady Worm’s,
 chapless and knocked about the mazard with a
 sexton’s spade. Here’s fine revolution, an we had
 the trick to see ’t. Did these bones cost no more the
 breeding but to play at loggets with them? Mine
95 ache to think on ’t.
GRAVEDIGGER sings 
 A pickax and a spade, a spade,
 For and a shrouding sheet,
 O, a pit of clay for to be made
 For such a guest is meet.

He digs up more skulls.
HAMLET 100There’s another. Why may not that be the
 skull of a lawyer? Where be his quiddities now, his
 quillities, his cases, his tenures, and his tricks? Why
 does he suffer this mad knave now to knock him
 about the sconce with a dirty shovel and will not tell
105 him of his action of battery? Hum, this fellow might
 be in ’s time a great buyer of land, with his statutes,
 his recognizances, his fines, his double vouchers,
 his recoveries. Is this the fine of his fines and the
 recovery of his recoveries, to have his fine pate full
110 of fine dirt? Will his vouchers vouch him no more
 of his purchases, and double ones too, than the
 length and breadth of a pair of indentures? The very
 conveyances of his lands will scarcely lie in this box,
 and must th’ inheritor himself have no more, ha?
HORATIO 115Not a jot more, my lord.
HAMLET Is not parchment made of sheepskins?
HORATIO Ay, my lord, and of calves’ skins too.
HAMLET They are sheep and calves which seek out
 assurance in that. I will speak to this fellow.—
120 Whose grave’s this, sirrah?
GRAVEDIGGER Mine, sir.
Sings. O, a pit of clay for to be made
 For such a guest is meet.


247
Hamlet
ACT 5. SC. 1

HAMLET I think it be thine indeed, for thou liest in ’t.
GRAVEDIGGER 125You lie out on ’t, sir, and therefore ’tis
 not yours. For my part, I do not lie in ’t, yet it is
 mine.
HAMLET Thou dost lie in ’t, to be in ’t and say it is thine.
 ’Tis for the dead, not for the quick; therefore thou
130 liest.
GRAVEDIGGER ’Tis a quick lie, sir; ’twill away again
 from me to you.
HAMLET What man dost thou dig it for?
GRAVEDIGGER For no man, sir.
HAMLET 135What woman then?
GRAVEDIGGER For none, neither.
HAMLET Who is to be buried in ’t?
GRAVEDIGGER One that was a woman, sir, but, rest
 her soul, she’s dead.
HAMLET 140How absolute the knave is! We must speak by
 the card, or equivocation will undo us. By the
 Lord, Horatio, this three years I have took note of
 it: the age is grown so picked that the toe of the
 peasant comes so near the heel of the courtier, he
145 galls his kibe.—How long hast thou been
 grave-maker?
GRAVEDIGGER Of all the days i’ th’ year, I came to ’t
 that day that our last King Hamlet overcame
 Fortinbras.
HAMLET 150How long is that since?
GRAVEDIGGER Cannot you tell that? Every fool can
 tell that. It was that very day that young Hamlet
 was born—he that is mad, and sent into England.
HAMLET Ay, marry, why was he sent into England?
GRAVEDIGGER 155Why, because he was mad. He shall
 recover his wits there. Or if he do not, ’tis no great
 matter there.
HAMLET Why?
GRAVEDIGGER ’Twill not be seen in him there. There
160 the men are as mad as he.

249
Hamlet
ACT 5. SC. 1

HAMLET How came he mad?
GRAVEDIGGER Very strangely, they say.
HAMLET How “strangely”?
GRAVEDIGGER Faith, e’en with losing his wits.
HAMLET 165Upon what ground?
GRAVEDIGGER Why, here in Denmark. I have been
 sexton here, man and boy, thirty years.
HAMLET How long will a man lie i’ th’ earth ere he rot?
GRAVEDIGGER Faith, if he be not rotten before he die
170 (as we have many pocky corses nowadays that will
 scarce hold the laying in), he will last you some
 eight year or nine year. A tanner will last you nine
 year.
HAMLET Why he more than another?
GRAVEDIGGER 175Why, sir, his hide is so tanned with his
 trade that he will keep out water a great while; and
 your water is a sore decayer of your whoreson dead
 body. Here’s a skull now hath lien you i’ th’ earth
 three-and-twenty years.
HAMLET 180Whose was it?
GRAVEDIGGER A whoreson mad fellow’s it was.
 Whose do you think it was?
HAMLET Nay, I know not.
GRAVEDIGGER A pestilence on him for a mad rogue!
185 He poured a flagon of Rhenish on my head once.
 This same skull, sir, was, sir, Yorick’s skull, the
 King’s jester.
HAMLET This?
GRAVEDIGGER E’en that.
HAMLET, taking the skull 190Let me see. Alas, poor
 Yorick! I knew him, Horatio—a fellow of infinite
 jest, of most excellent fancy. He hath bore me on his
 back a thousand times, and now how abhorred in
 my imagination it is! My gorge rises at it. Here hung
195 those lips that I have kissed I know not how oft.
 Where be your gibes now? your gambols? your

251
Hamlet
ACT 5. SC. 1

 songs? your flashes of merriment that were wont to
 set the table on a roar? Not one now to mock your
 own grinning? Quite chapfallen? Now get you to my
200 lady’s chamber, and tell her, let her paint an inch
 thick, to this favor she must come. Make her laugh
 at that.—Prithee, Horatio, tell me one thing.
HORATIO What’s that, my lord?
HAMLET Dost thou think Alexander looked o’ this
205 fashion i’ th’ earth?
HORATIO E’en so.
HAMLET And smelt so? Pah!He puts the skull down.
HORATIO E’en so, my lord.
HAMLET To what base uses we may return, Horatio!
210 Why may not imagination trace the noble dust of
 Alexander till he find it stopping a bunghole?
HORATIO ’Twere to consider too curiously to consider
 so.
HAMLET No, faith, not a jot; but to follow him thither,
215 with modesty enough and likelihood to lead it, as
 thus: Alexander died, Alexander was buried, Alexander
 returneth to dust; the dust is earth; of earth
 we make loam; and why of that loam whereto he
 was converted might they not stop a beer barrel?
220 Imperious Caesar, dead and turned to clay,
 Might stop a hole to keep the wind away.
 O, that that earth which kept the world in awe
 Should patch a wall t’ expel the winter’s flaw!

Enter King, Queen, Laertes, Lords attendant, and the
corpse of Ophelia, with a Doctor of Divinity.


 But soft, but soft awhile! Here comes the King,
225 The Queen, the courtiers. Who is this they follow?
 And with such maimèd rites? This doth betoken
 The corse they follow did with desp’rate hand
 Fordo its own life. ’Twas of some estate.
 Couch we awhile and mark.They step aside.

253
Hamlet
ACT 5. SC. 1

LAERTES 230What ceremony else?
HAMLET That is Laertes, a very noble youth. Mark.
LAERTES What ceremony else?
DOCTOR 
 Her obsequies have been as far enlarged
 As we have warranty. Her death was doubtful,
235 And, but that great command o’ersways the order,
 She should in ground unsanctified been lodged
 Till the last trumpet. For charitable prayers
 Shards, flints, and pebbles should be thrown on
 her.
240 Yet here she is allowed her virgin crants,
 Her maiden strewments, and the bringing home
 Of bell and burial.
LAERTES 
 Must there no more be done?
DOCTOR  No more be done.
245 We should profane the service of the dead
 To sing a requiem and such rest to her
 As to peace-parted souls.
LAERTES  Lay her i’ th’ earth,
 And from her fair and unpolluted flesh
250 May violets spring! I tell thee, churlish priest,
 A minist’ring angel shall my sister be
 When thou liest howling.
HAMLET, to Horatio  What, the fair Ophelia?
QUEEN Sweets to the sweet, farewell!
She scatters flowers.
255 I hoped thou shouldst have been my Hamlet’s wife;
 I thought thy bride-bed to have decked, sweet maid,
 And not have strewed thy grave.
LAERTES  O, treble woe
 Fall ten times treble on that cursèd head
260 Whose wicked deed thy most ingenious sense
 Deprived thee of!—Hold off the earth awhile,
 Till I have caught her once more in mine arms.
Leaps in the grave.

255
Hamlet
ACT 5. SC. 1

 Now pile your dust upon the quick and dead,
 Till of this flat a mountain you have made
265 T’ o’ertop old Pelion or the skyish head
 Of blue Olympus.
HAMLET, advancing 
 What is he whose grief
 Bears such an emphasis, whose phrase of sorrow
 Conjures the wand’ring stars and makes them stand
270 Like wonder-wounded hearers? This is I,
 Hamlet the Dane.
LAERTES, coming out of the grave 
 The devil take thy soul!
HAMLET Thou pray’st not well.They grapple.
 I prithee take thy fingers from my throat,
275 For though I am not splenitive and rash,
 Yet have I in me something dangerous,
 Which let thy wisdom fear. Hold off thy hand.
KING Pluck them asunder.
QUEEN Hamlet! Hamlet!
ALL 280Gentlemen!
HORATIO Good my lord, be quiet.
Hamlet and Laertes are separated.
HAMLET 
 Why, I will fight with him upon this theme
 Until my eyelids will no longer wag!
QUEEN O my son, what theme?
HAMLET 
285 I loved Ophelia. Forty thousand brothers
 Could not with all their quantity of love
 Make up my sum. What wilt thou do for her?
KING O, he is mad, Laertes!
QUEEN For love of God, forbear him.
HAMLET 290’Swounds, show me what thou ’t do.
 Woo’t weep, woo’t fight, woo’t fast, woo’t tear
 thyself,
 Woo’t drink up eisel, eat a crocodile?

257
Hamlet
ACT 5. SC. 1

 I’ll do ’t. Dost thou come here to whine?
295 To outface me with leaping in her grave?
 Be buried quick with her, and so will I.
 And if thou prate of mountains, let them throw
 Millions of acres on us, till our ground,
 Singeing his pate against the burning zone,
300 Make Ossa like a wart. Nay, an thou ’lt mouth,
 I’ll rant as well as thou.
QUEEN  This is mere madness;
 And thus awhile the fit will work on him.
 Anon, as patient as the female dove
305 When that her golden couplets are disclosed,
 His silence will sit drooping.
HAMLET  Hear you, sir,
 What is the reason that you use me thus?
 I loved you ever. But it is no matter.
310 Let Hercules himself do what he may,
 The cat will mew, and dog will have his day.
Hamlet exits.
KING 
 I pray thee, good Horatio, wait upon him.
Horatio exits.
 To Laertes. Strengthen your patience in our last
 night’s speech.
315 We’ll put the matter to the present push.—
 Good Gertrude, set some watch over your son.—
 This grave shall have a living monument.
 An hour of quiet thereby shall we see.
 Till then in patience our proceeding be.
They exit.




259
Hamlet
ACT 5. SC. 2

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.