Open Source Shakespeare

The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark

(complete text)

Act I

1. Elsinore. A platform before the Castle.

2. Elsinore. A room of state in the Castle.

3. Elsinore. A room in the house of Polonius.

4. Elsinore. The platform before the Castle.

5. Elsinore. The Castle. Another part of the fortifications.

Act II

1. Elsinore. A room in the house of Polonius.

2. Elsinore. A room in the Castle.


1. Elsinore. A room in the Castle.

2. Elsinore. hall in the Castle.

3. A room in the Castle.

4. The Queen’s closet.

Act IV

1. Elsinore. A room in the Castle.

2. Elsinore. A passage in the Castle.

3. Elsinore. A room in the Castle.

4. Near Elsinore.

5. Elsinore. A room in the Castle.

6. Elsinore. Another room in the Castle.

7. Elsinore. Another room in the Castle.

Act V

1. Elsinore. A churchyard.

2. Elsinore. A hall in the Castle.

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Act I, Scene 1

Elsinore. A platform before the Castle.


Enter two Sentinels-[first,] Francisco, [who paces up and down at his post; then] Bernardo, [who approaches him].

  • Bernardo. Who's there?
  • Francisco. Nay, answer me. Stand and unfold yourself.
  • Bernardo. Long live the King!
  • Francisco. Bernardo? 5
  • Bernardo. He.
  • Francisco. You come most carefully upon your hour.
  • Bernardo. 'Tis now struck twelve. Get thee to bed, Francisco.
  • Francisco. For this relief much thanks. 'Tis bitter cold,
    And I am sick at heart. 10
  • Bernardo. Have you had quiet guard?
  • Francisco. Not a mouse stirring.
  • Bernardo. Well, good night.
    If you do meet Horatio and Marcellus,
    The rivals of my watch, bid them make haste. 15

Enter Horatio and Marcellus.

  • Francisco. I think I hear them. Stand, ho! Who is there?
  • Horatio. Friends to this ground.
  • Marcellus. And liegemen to the Dane.
  • Francisco. Give you good night. 20
  • Marcellus. O, farewell, honest soldier.
    Who hath reliev'd you?
  • Francisco. Bernardo hath my place.
    Give you good night. Exit.
  • Marcellus. Holla, Bernardo! 25
  • Bernardo. Say-
    What, is Horatio there ?
  • Horatio. A piece of him.
  • Bernardo. Welcome, Horatio. Welcome, good Marcellus.
  • Marcellus. What, has this thing appear'd again to-night? 30
  • Bernardo. I have seen nothing.
  • Marcellus. Horatio says 'tis but our fantasy,
    And will not let belief take hold of him
    Touching this dreaded sight, twice seen of us.
    Therefore I have entreated him along, 35
    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. Tush, tush, 'twill not appear.
  • Bernardo. Sit down awhile, 40
    And let us once again assail your ears,
    That are so fortified against our story,
    What we two nights have seen.
  • Horatio. Well, sit we down,
    And let us hear Bernardo speak of this. 45
  • Bernardo. Last night of all,
    When yond same star that's westward from the pole
    Had made his course t' illume that part of heaven
    Where now it burns, Marcellus and myself,
    The bell then beating one- 50

Enter Ghost.

  • Marcellus. Peace! break thee off! Look where it comes again!
  • Bernardo. In the same figure, like the King that's dead.
  • Marcellus. Thou art a scholar; speak to it, Horatio.
  • Bernardo. Looks it not like the King? Mark it, Horatio. 55
  • Horatio. Most like. It harrows me with fear and wonder.
  • Bernardo. It would be spoke to.
  • Marcellus. Question it, Horatio.
  • Horatio. What art thou that usurp'st this time of night
    Together with that fair and warlike form 60
    In which the majesty of buried Denmark
    Did sometimes march? By heaven I charge thee speak!
  • Marcellus. It is offended.
  • Bernardo. See, it stalks away!
  • Horatio. Stay! Speak, speak! I charge thee speak! 65

Exit Ghost.

  • Marcellus. 'Tis gone and will not answer.
  • Bernardo. How now, Horatio? You tremble and look pale.
    Is not this something more than fantasy?
    What think you on't? 70
  • Horatio. Before my God, I might not this believe
    Without the sensible and true avouch
    Of mine own eyes.
  • Marcellus. Is it not like the King?
  • Horatio. As thou art to thyself. 75
    Such was the very armour he had on
    When he th' ambitious Norway combated.
    So frown'd he once when, in an angry parle,
    He smote the sledded Polacks on the ice.
    'Tis strange. 80
  • 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 my opinion,
    This bodes some strange eruption to our state. 85
  • 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
    And foreign mart for implements of war; 90
    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-labourer with the day?
    Who is't that can inform me? 95
  • Horatio. That can I.
    At least, the whisper goes so. Our last king,
    Whose image even but now appear'd to us,
    Was, as you know, by Fortinbras of Norway,
    Thereto prick'd on by a most emulate pride, 100
    Dar'd to the combat; in which our valiant Hamlet
    (For so this side of our known world esteem'd him)
    Did slay this Fortinbras; who, by a seal'd compact,
    Well ratified by law and heraldry,
    Did forfeit, with his life, all those his lands 105
    Which he stood seiz'd of, to the conqueror;
    Against the which a moiety competent
    Was gaged by our king; which had return'd
    To the inheritance of Fortinbras,
    Had he been vanquisher, as, by the same cov'nant 110
    And carriage of the article design'd,
    His fell to Hamlet. Now, sir, young Fortinbras,
    Of unimproved mettle hot and full,
    Hath in the skirts of Norway, here and there,
    Shark'd up a list of lawless resolutes, 115
    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
    And terms compulsatory, those foresaid lands 120
    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 post-haste and romage in the land.
  • Bernardo. I think it be no other but e'en so. 125
    Well may it sort that this portentous figure
    Comes armed 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.
    In the most high and palmy state of Rome, 130
    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,
    Disasters in the sun; and the moist star 135
    Upon whose influence Neptune's empire stands
    Was sick almost to doomsday with eclipse.
    And even the like precurse of fierce events,
    As harbingers preceding still the fates
    And prologue to the omen coming on, 140
    Have heaven and earth together demonstrated
    Unto our climature and countrymen.
    [Enter Ghost again.]
    But soft! behold! Lo, where it comes again!
    I'll cross it, though it blast me.- Stay illusion! 145
    [Spreads his arms.]
    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, 150
    Speak to me.
    If thou art privy to thy country's fate,
    Which happily foreknowing may avoid,
    O, speak!
    Or if thou hast uphoarded in thy life 155
    Extorted treasure in the womb of earth
    (For which, they say, you spirits oft walk in death),
    [The cock crows.]
    Speak of it! Stay, and speak!- Stop it, Marcellus!
  • Marcellus. Shall I strike at it with my partisan? 160
  • Horatio. Do, if it will not stand.
  • Bernardo. 'Tis here!
  • Horatio. 'Tis here!
  • Marcellus. 'Tis gone!
    [Exit Ghost.] 165
    We do it wrong, being so majestical,
    To offer it the show of violence;
    For it is as the air, invulnerable,
    And our vain blows malicious mockery.
  • Bernardo. It was about to speak, when the cock crew. 170
  • Horatio. And then it started, like a guilty thing
    Upon a fearful summons. I have heard
    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, 175
    Whether in sea or fire, in earth or air,
    Th' extravagant and erring spirit hies
    To his confine; and of the truth herein
    This present object made probation.
  • Marcellus. It faded on the crowing of the cock. 180
    Some say that ever, 'gainst that season comes
    Wherein our Saviour's birth is celebrated,
    The bird of dawning singeth all night long;
    And then, they say, no spirit dare stir abroad,
    The nights are wholesome, then no planets strike, 185
    No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm,
    So hallow'd and so gracious is the time.
  • Horatio. 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. 190
    Break we our watch up; and by my advice
    Let us impart what we have seen to-night
    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, 195
    As needful in our loves, fitting our duty?
    Let's do't, I pray; and I this morning know
    Where we shall find him most conveniently.



Act I, Scene 2

Elsinore. A room of state in the Castle.


Flourish. [Enter Claudius, King of Denmark, Gertrude the Queen, Hamlet, Polonius, Laertes and his sister Ophelia, [Voltemand, Cornelius,] Lords Attendant.

  • Claudius. 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,
    Yet so far hath discretion fought with nature 205
    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,
    Have we, as 'twere with a defeated joy, 210
    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 barr'd
    Your better wisdoms, which have freely gone 215
    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
    Our state to be disjoint and out of frame, 220
    Colleagued with this dream of his advantage,
    He hath not fail'd to pester us with message
    Importing the surrender of those lands
    Lost by his father, with all bands of law,
    To our most valiant brother. So much for him. 225
    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
    Of this his nephew's purpose, to suppress 230
    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,
    For bearers of this greeting to old Norway, 235
    Giving to you no further personal power
    To business with the King, more than the scope
    Of these dilated articles allow. [Gives a paper.]
    Farewell, and let your haste commend your duty.
  • Cornelius. [with Voltemand] In that, and all things, will we show our duty. 240
  • Claudius. We doubt it nothing. Heartily farewell.
    [Exeunt Voltemand and Cornelius.]
    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 245
    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,
    Than is the throne of Denmark to thy father. 250
    What wouldst thou have, Laertes?
  • Laertes. My dread lord,
    Your leave and favour to return to France;
    From whence though willingly I came to Denmark
    To show my duty in your coronation, 255
    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.
  • Claudius. Have you your father's leave? What says Polonius?
  • Polonius. He hath, my lord, wrung from me my slow leave 260
    By laboursome petition, and at last
    Upon his will I seal'd my hard consent.
    I do beseech you give him leave to go.
  • Claudius. Take thy fair hour, Laertes. Time be thine,
    And thy best graces spend it at thy will! 265
    But now, my cousin Hamlet, and my son-
  • Hamlet. [aside] A little more than kin, and less than kind!
  • Claudius. How is it that the clouds still hang on you?
  • Hamlet. Not so, my lord. I am too much i' th' sun.
  • Gertrude. Good Hamlet, cast thy nighted colour off, 270
    And let thine eye look like a friend on Denmark.
    Do not for ever with thy vailed lids
    Seek for thy noble father in the dust.
    Thou know'st 'tis common. All that lives must die,
    Passing through nature to eternity. 275
  • Hamlet. Ay, madam, it is common.
  • Gertrude. If it be,
    Why seems it so particular with thee?
  • Hamlet. Seems, madam, Nay, it is. I know not 'seems.'
    'Tis not alone my inky cloak, good mother, 280
    Nor customary suits of solemn black,
    Nor windy suspiration of forc'd breath,
    No, nor the fruitful river in the eye,
    Nor the dejected havior of the visage,
    Together with all forms, moods, shapes of grief, 285
    'That can denote me truly. These indeed seem,
    For they are actions that a man might play;
    But I have that within which passeth show-
    These but the trappings and the suits of woe.
  • Claudius. 'Tis sweet and commendable in your nature, Hamlet, 290
    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
    In filial obligation for some term
    To do obsequious sorrow. But to persever 295
    In obstinate condolement is a course
    Of impious stubbornness. 'Tis unmanly grief;
    It shows a will most incorrect to heaven,
    A heart unfortified, a mind impatient,
    An understanding simple and unschool'd; 300
    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
    Take it to heart? Fie! 'tis a fault to heaven,
    A fault against the dead, a fault to nature, 305
    To reason most absurd, whose common theme
    Is death of fathers, and who still hath cried,
    From the first corse till he that died to-day,
    'This must be so.' We pray you throw to earth
    This unprevailing woe, and think of us 310
    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
    Than that which dearest father bears his son
    Do I impart toward you. For your intent 315
    In going back to school in Wittenberg,
    It is most retrograde to our desire;
    And we beseech you, bend you to remain
    Here in the cheer and comfort of our eye,
    Our chiefest courtier, cousin, and our son. 320
  • Gertrude. 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.
  • Claudius. Why, 'tis a loving and a fair reply.
    Be as ourself in Denmark. Madam, come. 325
    This gentle and unforc'd accord of Hamlet
    Sits smiling to my heart; in grace whereof,
    No jocund health that Denmark drinks to-day
    But the great cannon to the clouds shall tell,
    And the King's rouse the heaven shall bruit again, 330
    Respeaking earthly thunder. Come away.

Flourish. Exeunt all but Hamlet.

  • Hamlet. O that this too too solid flesh would melt,
    Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew!
    Or that the Everlasting had not fix'd 335
    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
    That grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature 340
    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
    That he might not beteem the winds of heaven 345
    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-
    Let me not think on't! Frailty, thy name is woman!- 350
    A little month, or ere those shoes were old
    With which she followed my poor father's body
    Like Niobe, all tears- why she, even she
    (O God! a beast that wants discourse of reason
    Would have mourn'd longer) married with my uncle; 355
    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
    Had left the flushing in her galled eyes,
    She married. O, most wicked speed, to post 360
    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 Bernardo.

  • Horatio. Hail to your lordship! 365
  • 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.
    And what make you from Wittenberg, Horatio? 370
  • Marcellus. My good lord!
  • Hamlet. I am very glad to see you.- [To Bernardo] Good even, sir.-
    But what, in faith, make you from Wittenberg?
  • Horatio. A truant disposition, good my lord. 375
  • 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
    Against yourself. I know you are no truant.
    But what is your affair in Elsinore? 380
    We'll teach you to drink deep ere you depart.
  • Horatio. My lord, I came to see your father's funeral.
  • Hamlet. I prithee do not mock me, fellow student.
    I think it was to see my mother's wedding.
  • Horatio. Indeed, my lord, it followed hard upon. 385
  • Hamlet. Thrift, thrift, Horatio! The funeral bak'd meats
    Did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables.
    Would I had met my dearest foe in heaven
    Or ever I had seen that day, Horatio!
    My father- methinks I see my father. 390
  • Horatio. O, where, my lord?
  • Hamlet. In my mind's eye, Horatio.
  • Horatio. I saw him once. He was a goodly king.
  • Hamlet. He was a man, take him for all in all.
    I shall not look upon his like again. 395
  • Horatio. My lord, I think I saw him yesternight.
  • Hamlet. Saw? who?
  • Horatio. My lord, the King your father.
  • Hamlet. The King my father?
  • Horatio. Season your admiration for a while 400
    With an attent ear, till I may deliver
    Upon the witness of these gentlemen,
    This marvel to you.
  • Hamlet. For God's love let me hear!
  • Horatio. Two nights together had these gentlemen 405
    (Marcellus and Bernardo) on their watch
    In the dead vast and middle of the night
    Been thus encount'red. A figure like your father,
    Armed at point exactly, cap-a-pe,
    Appears before them and with solemn march 410
    Goes slow and stately by them. Thrice he walk'd
    By their oppress'd and fear-surprised eyes,
    Within his truncheon's length; whilst they distill'd
    Almost to jelly with the act of fear,
    Stand dumb and speak not to him. This to me 415
    In dreadful secrecy impart they did,
    And I with them the third night kept the watch;
    Where, as they had deliver'd, both in time,
    Form of the thing, each word made true and good,
    The apparition comes. I knew your father. 420
    These hands are not more like.
  • Hamlet. But where was this?
  • Marcellus. My lord, upon the platform where we watch'd.
  • Hamlet. Did you not speak to it?
  • Horatio. My lord, I did; 425
    But answer made it none. Yet once methought
    It lifted up it head and did address
    Itself to motion, like as it would speak;
    But even then the morning cock crew loud,
    And at the sound it shrunk in haste away 430
    And vanish'd from our sight.
  • Hamlet. 'Tis very strange.
  • Horatio. As I do live, my honour'd lord, 'tis true;
    And we did think it writ down in our duty
    To let you know of it. 435
  • Hamlet. Indeed, indeed, sirs. But this troubles me.
    Hold you the watch to-night?
  • Marcellus. [with Bernardo] We do, my lord.
  • Hamlet. Arm'd, say you?
  • Marcellus. [with Bernardo] Arm'd, my lord. 440
  • Hamlet. From top to toe?
  • Marcellus. [with Bernardo] My lord, from head to foot.
  • Hamlet. Then saw you not his face?
  • Horatio. O, yes, my lord! He wore his beaver up.
  • Hamlet. What, look'd he frowningly. 445
  • Horatio. A countenance more in sorrow than in anger.
  • Hamlet. Pale or red?
  • Horatio. Nay, very pale.
  • Hamlet. And fix'd his eyes upon you?
  • Horatio. Most constantly. 450
  • Hamlet. I would I had been there.
  • Horatio. It would have much amaz'd you.
  • Hamlet. Very like, very like. Stay'd it long?
  • Horatio. While one with moderate haste might tell a hundred.
  • Marcellus. [with Bernardo] Longer, longer. 455
  • Horatio. Not when I saw't.
  • Hamlet. His beard was grizzled- no?
  • Horatio. It was, as I have seen it in his life,
    A sable silver'd.
  • Hamlet. I will watch to-night. 460
    Perchance 'twill walk again.
  • Horatio. I warr'nt it will.
  • Hamlet. 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, 465
    If you have hitherto conceal'd this sight,
    Let it be tenable in your silence still;
    And whatsoever else shall hap to-night,
    Give it an understanding but no tongue.
    I will requite your loves. So, fare you well. 470
    Upon the platform, 'twixt eleven and twelve,
    I'll visit you.
  • All. Our duty to your honour.
  • Hamlet. Your loves, as mine to you. Farewell.
    [Exeunt [all but Hamlet].] 475
    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,
    Though all the earth o'erwhelm them, to men's eyes.



Act I, Scene 3

Elsinore. A room in the house of Polonius.


Enter Laertes and Ophelia.

  • Laertes. My necessaries are embark'd. Farewell.
    And, sister, as the winds give benefit
    And convoy is assistant, do not sleep,
    But let me hear from you. 485
  • Ophelia. Do you doubt that?
  • Laertes. For Hamlet, and the trifling of his favour,
    Hold it a fashion, and a toy in blood;
    A violet in the youth of primy nature,
    Forward, not permanent- sweet, not lasting; 490
    The perfume and suppliance of a minute;
    No more.
  • Ophelia. No more but so?
  • Laertes. Think it no more.
    For nature crescent does not grow alone 495
    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, 500
    His greatness weigh'd, 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 health of this whole state, 505
    And therefore must his choice be circumscrib'd
    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
    As he in his particular act and place 510
    May give his saying deed; which is no further
    Than the main voice of Denmark goes withal.
    Then weigh what loss your honour may sustain
    If with too credent ear you list his songs,
    Or lose your heart, or your chaste treasure open 515
    To his unmast'red 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.
    The chariest maid is prodigal enough 520
    If she unmask her beauty to the moon.
    Virtue itself scopes not calumnious strokes.
    The canker galls the infants of the spring
    Too oft before their buttons be disclos'd,
    And in the morn and liquid dew of youth 525
    Contagious blastments are most imminent.
    Be wary then; best safety lies in fear.
    Youth to itself rebels, though none else near.
  • Ophelia. I shall th' effect of this good lesson keep
    As watchman to my heart. But, good my brother, 530
    Do not as some ungracious pastors do,
    Show me the steep and thorny way to heaven,
    Whiles, like a puff'd and reckless libertine,
    Himself the primrose path of dalliance treads
    And recks not his own rede. 535
  • 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. 540
  • Polonius. Yet here, Laertes? Aboard, aboard, for shame!
    The wind sits in the shoulder of your sail,
    And you are stay'd for. There- my blessing with thee!
    And these few precepts in thy memory
    Look thou character. Give thy thoughts no tongue, 545
    Nor any unproportion'd 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;
    But do not dull thy palm with entertainment 550
    Of each new-hatch'd, unfledg'd comrade. Beware
    Of entrance to a quarrel; but being in,
    Bear't that th' opposed may beware of thee.
    Give every man thine ear, but few thy voice;
    Take each man's censure, but reserve thy judgment. 555
    Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy,
    But not express'd in fancy; rich, not gaudy;
    For the apparel oft proclaims the man,
    And they in France of the best rank and station
    Are most select and generous, chief in that. 560
    Neither a borrower nor a lender be;
    For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
    And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.
    This above all- to thine own self be true,
    And it must follow, as the night the day, 565
    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 invites you. Go, your servants tend.
  • Laertes. Farewell, Ophelia, and remember well 570
    What I have said to you.
  • Ophelia. 'Tis in my memory lock'd,
    And you yourself shall keep the key of it.
  • Laertes. Farewell. Exit.
  • Polonius. What is't, Ophelia, he hath said to you? 575
  • Ophelia. So please you, something touching the Lord Hamlet.
  • Polonius. Marry, well bethought!
    'Tis told me he hath very oft of late
    Given private time to you, and you yourself
    Have of your audience been most free and bounteous. 580
    If it be so- as so 'tis put on me,
    And that in way of caution- I must tell you
    You do not understand yourself so clearly
    As it behooves my daughter and your honour.
    What is between you? Give me up the truth. 585
  • Ophelia. He hath, my lord, of late made many tenders
    Of his affection to me.
  • Polonius. Affection? Pooh! You speak like a green girl,
    Unsifted in such perilous circumstance.
    Do you believe his tenders, as you call them? 590
  • Ophelia. I do not know, my lord, what I should think,
  • Polonius. Marry, I will teach you! Think yourself a baby
    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, 595
    Running it thus) you'll tender me a fool.
  • Ophelia. My lord, he hath importun'd me with love
    In honourable fashion.
  • Polonius. Ay, fashion you may call it. Go to, go to!
  • Ophelia. And hath given countenance to his speech, my lord, 600
    With almost all the holy vows of heaven.
  • Polonius. Ay, springes to catch woodcocks! I do know,
    When the blood burns, how prodigal the soul
    Lends the tongue vows. These blazes, daughter,
    Giving more light than heat, extinct in both 605
    Even in their promise, as it is a-making,
    You must not take for fire. From this time
    Be something scanter of your maiden presence.
    Set your entreatments at a higher rate
    Than a command to parley. For Lord Hamlet, 610
    Believe so much in him, that he is young,
    And with a larger tether may he walk
    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, 615
    But mere implorators of unholy suits,
    Breathing like sanctified and pious bawds,
    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 620
    As to give words or talk with the Lord Hamlet.
    Look to't, I charge you. Come your ways.
  • Ophelia. I shall obey, my lord.



Act I, Scene 4

Elsinore. The platform before the Castle.


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. No, it is struck. 630
  • 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 go off.]
    What does this mean, my lord?
  • Hamlet. The King doth wake to-night and takes his rouse, 635
    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? 640
  • Hamlet. Ay, marry, is't;
    But to my mind, though I am native here
    And to the manner born, it is a custom
    More honour'd in the breach than the observance.
    This heavy-headed revel east and west 645
    Makes us traduc'd and tax'd of other nations;
    They clip us drunkards and with swinish phrase
    Soil our addition; and indeed it takes
    From our achievements, though perform'd at height,
    The pith and marrow of our attribute. 650
    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,-
    By the o'ergrowth of some complexion, 655
    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,
    Being nature's livery, or fortune's star, 660
    Their 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 e'il
    Doth all the noble substance often dout To his own scandal. 665

Enter Ghost.

  • Horatio. Look, my lord, it comes!
  • Hamlet. Angels and ministers of grace defend us!
    Be thou a spirit of health or goblin damn'd,
    Bring with thee airs from heaven or blasts from hell, 670
    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,
    King, father, royal Dane. O, answer me?
    Let me not burst in ignorance, but tell 675
    Why thy canoniz'd bones, hearsed in death,
    Have burst their cerements; why the sepulchre
    Wherein we saw thee quietly inurn'd,
    Hath op'd his ponderous and marble jaws
    To cast thee up again. What may this mean 680
    That thou, dead corse, again in complete steel,
    Revisits thus the glimpses of the moon,
    Making night hideous, and we fools of nature
    So horridly to shake our disposition
    With thoughts beyond the reaches of our souls? 685
    Say, why is this? wherefore? What should we do?

Ghost beckons Hamlet.

  • Horatio. It beckons you to go away with it,
    As if it some impartment did desire
    To you alone. 690
  • Marcellus. Look with what courteous action
    It waves you to a more removed ground.
    But do not go with it!
  • Horatio. No, by no means!
  • Hamlet. It will not speak. Then will I follow it. 695
  • 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,
    Being a thing immortal as itself? 700
    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,
    And there assume some other, horrible form 705
    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
    That looks so many fadoms to the sea 710
    And hears it roar beneath.
  • Hamlet. It waves me still.
    Go on. I'll follow thee.
  • Marcellus. You shall not go, my lord.
  • Hamlet. Hold off your hands! 715
  • Horatio. Be rul'd. You shall not go.
  • Hamlet. My fate cries out
    And makes each petty artire in this body
    As hardy as the Nemean lion's nerve.
    [Ghost beckons.] 720
    Still am I call'd. Unhand me, gentlemen.
    By heaven, I'll make a ghost of him that lets me!-
    I say, away!- Go on. I'll follow thee.

Exeunt Ghost and Hamlet.

  • Horatio. He waxes desperate with imagination. 725
  • Marcellus. Let's follow. 'Tis not fit thus to obey him.
  • Horatio. Have after. To what issue will this come?
  • Marcellus. Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.
  • Horatio. Heaven will direct it.
  • Marcellus. Nay, let's follow him. 730



Act I, Scene 5

Elsinore. The Castle. Another part of the fortifications.


Enter Ghost and Hamlet.

  • Hamlet. Whither wilt thou lead me? Speak! I'll go no further.
  • Father's Ghost. Mark me.
  • Hamlet. I will. 735
  • Father's Ghost. My hour is almost come,
    When I to sulph'rous and tormenting flames
    Must render up myself.
  • Hamlet. Alas, poor ghost!
  • Father's Ghost. Pity me not, but lend thy serious hearing 740
    To what I shall unfold.
  • Hamlet. Speak. I am bound to hear.
  • Father's Ghost. So art thou to revenge, when thou shalt hear.
  • Hamlet. What?
  • Father's Ghost. I am thy father's spirit, 745
    Doom'd for a certain term to walk the night,
    And for the day confin'd to fast in fires,
    Till the foul crimes done in my days of nature
    Are burnt and purg'd away. But that I am forbid
    To tell the secrets of my prison house, 750
    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 combined locks to part,
    And each particular hair to stand on end 755
    Like quills upon the fretful porcupine.
    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. O God! 760
  • Father's Ghost. Revenge his foul and most unnatural murther.
  • Hamlet. Murther?
  • Father's Ghost. Murther most foul, as in the best it is;
    But this most foul, strange, and unnatural.
  • Hamlet. Haste me to know't, that I, with wings as swift 765
    As meditation or the thoughts of love,
    May sweep to my revenge.
  • Father's Ghost. I find thee apt;
    And duller shouldst thou be than the fat weed
    That rots itself in ease on Lethe wharf, 770
    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 forged process of my death
    Rankly abus'd. But know, thou noble youth, 775
    The serpent that did sting thy father's life
    Now wears his crown.
  • Hamlet. O my prophetic soul!
    My uncle?
  • Father's Ghost. Ay, that incestuous, that adulterate beast, 780
    With witchcraft of his wit, 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, 785
    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! 790
    But virtue, as it never will be mov'd,
    Though lewdness court it in a shape of heaven,
    So lust, though to a radiant angel link'd,
    Will sate itself in a celestial bed
    And prey on garbage. 795
    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 cursed hebona in a vial, 800
    And in the porches of my ears did pour
    The leperous 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, 805
    And with a sudden vigour it doth posset
    And curd, like eager droppings into milk,
    The thin and wholesome blood. So did it mine;
    And a most instant tetter bark'd about,
    Most lazar-like, with vile and loathsome crust 810
    All my smooth body.
    Thus was I, sleeping, by a brother's hand
    Of life, of crown, of queen, at once dispatch'd;
    Cut off even in the blossoms of my sin,
    Unhous'led, disappointed, unanel'd, 815
    No reckoning made, but sent to my account
    With all my imperfections on my head.
  • Hamlet. O, horrible! O, horrible! most horrible!
  • Father's Ghost. If thou hast nature in thee, bear it not.
    Let not the royal bed of Denmark be 820
    A couch for luxury and damned incest.
    But, howsoever thou pursuest 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 825
    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. Exit.
  • Hamlet. O all you host of heaven! O earth! What else? 830
    And shall I couple hell? Hold, hold, my heart!
    And you, my sinews, grow not instant old,
    But bear me stiffly up. Remember thee?
    Ay, thou poor ghost, while memory holds a seat
    In this distracted globe. Remember thee? 835
    Yea, from the table of my memory
    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 840
    Within the book and volume of my brain,
    Unmix'd with baser matter. Yes, by heaven!
    O most pernicious woman!
    O villain, villain, smiling, damned villain!
    My tables! Meet it is I set it down 845
    That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain;
    At least I am sure it may be so in Denmark. [Writes.]
    So, uncle, there you are. Now to my word:
    It is 'Adieu, adieu! Remember me.'
    I have sworn't. 850
  • Horatio. [within] My lord, my lord!

Enter Horatio and Marcellus.

  • Marcellus. Lord Hamlet!
  • Horatio. Heaven secure him!
  • Hamlet. So be it! 855
  • Marcellus. Illo, ho, ho, my lord!
  • Hamlet. Hillo, ho, ho, boy! Come, bird, come.
  • Marcellus. How is't, my noble lord?
  • Horatio. What news, my lord?
  • Marcellus. O, wonderful! 860
  • Horatio. Good my lord, tell it.
  • Hamlet. 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? 865
    But you'll be secret?
  • Marcellus. [with Horatio] Ay, by heaven, my lord.
  • Hamlet. There's neer a villain dwelling in all Denmark
    But he's an arrant knave.
  • Horatio. There needs no ghost, my lord, come from the grave 870
    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 desires shall point you, 875
    For every man hath business and desire,
    Such as it is; and for my own poor part,
    Look you, I'll go pray.
  • Horatio. These are but wild and whirling words, my lord.
  • Hamlet. I am sorry they offend you, heartily; 880
    Yes, faith, heartily.
  • Horatio. There's no offence, my lord.
  • Hamlet. Yes, by Saint Patrick, but there is, Horatio,
    And much offence too. Touching this vision here,
    It is an honest ghost, that let me tell you. 885
    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. 890
  • Hamlet. Never make known what you have seen to-night.
  • Marcellus. [with Horatio] My lord, we will not.
  • Hamlet. Nay, but swear't.
  • Horatio. In faith,
    My lord, not I. 895
  • Marcellus. Nor I, my lord- in faith.
  • Hamlet. Upon my sword.
  • Marcellus. We have sworn, my lord, already.
  • Hamlet. Indeed, upon my sword, indeed.

Ghost cries under the stage.

  • Father's Ghost. Swear.
  • Hamlet. Aha boy, say'st thou so? Art thou there, truepenny?
    Come on! You hear this fellow in the cellarage.
    Consent to swear.
  • Horatio. Propose the oath, my lord. 905
  • Hamlet. Never to speak of this that you have seen.
    Swear by my sword.
  • Father's Ghost. [beneath] Swear.
  • Hamlet. Hic et ubique? Then we'll shift our ground.
    Come hither, gentlemen, 910
    And lay your hands again upon my sword.
    Never to speak of this that you have heard:
    Swear by my sword.
  • Father's Ghost. [beneath] Swear by his sword.
  • Hamlet. Well said, old mole! Canst work i' th' earth so fast? 915
    A worthy pioner! Once more remove, good friends."
  • Horatio. 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. 920
    But come!
    Here, as before, never, so help you mercy,
    How strange or odd soe'er I bear myself
    (As I perchance hereafter shall think meet
    To put an antic disposition on), 925
    That you, at such times seeing me, never shall,
    With arms encumb'red thus, or this head-shake,
    Or by pronouncing of some doubtful phrase,
    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,' 930
    Or such ambiguous giving out, to note
    That you know aught of me- this is not to do,
    So grace and mercy at your most need help you,
  • Father's Ghost. [beneath] Swear. 935

[They swear.]

  • Hamlet. Rest, rest, perturbed spirit! So, gentlemen,
    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, 940
    God willing, shall not lack. Let us go in together;
    And still your fingers on your lips, I pray.
    The time is out of joint. O cursed spite
    That ever I was born to set it right!
    Nay, come, let's go together. 945



Act II, Scene 1

Elsinore. A room in the house of Polonius.


Enter Polonius and Reynaldo.

  • Polonius. Give him this money and these notes, Reynaldo.
  • Reynaldo. I will, my lord.
  • Polonius. You shall do marvell's wisely, good Reynaldo, 950
    Before You visit him, to make inquire
    Of his behaviour.
  • Reynaldo. My lord, I did intend it.
  • Polonius. Marry, well said, very well said. Look you, sir,
    Enquire me first what Danskers are in Paris; 955
    And how, and who, what means, and where they 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. 960
    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. 965
    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 dishonour him- take heed of that;
    But, sir, such wanton, wild, and usual slips 970
    As are companions noted and most known
    To youth and liberty.
  • Reynaldo. As gaming, my lord.
  • Polonius. Ay, or drinking, fencing, swearing, quarrelling,
    Drabbing. You may go so far. 975
  • Reynaldo. My lord, that would dishonour 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 quaintly 980
    That they may seem the taints of liberty,
    The flash and outbreak of a fiery mind,
    A savageness in unreclaimed blood,
    Of general assault.
  • Reynaldo. But, my good lord- 985
  • 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 warrant. 990
    You laying these slight sullies on my son
    As 'twere a thing a little soil'd i' th' working,
    Mark you,
    Your party in converse, him you would sound,
    Having ever seen in the prenominate crimes 995
    The youth you breathe of guilty, be assur'd
    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- 1000
  • Reynaldo. Very good, my lord.
  • Polonius. And then, sir, does 'a this- 'a 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 or so,' and
    gentleman.' 1005
  • Polonius. At 'closes in the consequence'- Ay, marry!
    He closes thus: 'I know the gentleman.
    I saw him yesterday, or t'other day,
    Or then, or then, with such or such; and, as you say,
    There was 'a gaming; there o'ertook in's rouse; 1010
    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-
    Your bait of falsehood takes this carp of truth; 1015
    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,
    Shall you my son. You have me, have you not? 1020
  • Reynaldo. My lord, I have.
  • Polonius. God b' wi' ye, fare ye well!
  • Reynaldo. Good my lord! [Going.]
  • Polonius. Observe his inclination in yourself.
  • Reynaldo. I shall, my lord. 1025
  • Polonius. And let him ply his music.
  • Reynaldo. Well, my lord.
  • Polonius. Farewell!
    [Exit Reynaldo.]
    [Enter Ophelia.] 1030
    How now, Ophelia? What's the matter?
  • Ophelia. 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 unbrac'd, 1035
    No hat upon his head, his stockings foul'd,
    Ungart'red, and down-gyved 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 loosed out of hell 1040
    To speak of horrors- he comes before me.
  • Polonius. Mad for thy love?
  • Ophelia. My lord, I do not know,
    But truly I do fear it.
  • Polonius. What said he? 1045
  • Ophelia. He took me by the wrist and held me hard;
    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 stay'd he so. 1050
    At last, a little shaking of mine arm,
    And thrice his head thus waving up and down,
    He rais'd 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, 1055
    And with his head over his shoulder turn'd
    He seem'd to find his way without his eyes,
    For out o' doors he went without their help
    And to the last bended their light on me.
  • Polonius. Come, go with me. I will go seek the King. 1060
    This is the very ecstasy of love,
    Whose violent property fordoes itself
    And leads the will to desperate undertakings
    As oft as any passion under heaven
    That does afflict our natures. I am sorry. 1065
    What, have you given him any hard words of late?
  • Ophelia. 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. 1070
    I am sorry that with better heed and judgment
    I had not quoted him. I fear'd 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 1075
    As it is common for the younger sort
    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. 1080



Act II, Scene 2

Elsinore. A room in the Castle.


Flourish. [Enter King and Queen, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern,

cum aliis.

  • Claudius. Welcome, dear Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.
    Moreover that we much did long to see you, 1085
    The need we have to use you did provoke
    Our hasty sending. Something have you heard
    Of Hamlet's transformation. So I call it,
    Sith nor th' exterior nor the inward man
    Resembles that it was. What it should be, 1090
    More than his father's death, that thus hath put him
    So much from th' understanding of himself,
    I cannot dream of. I entreat you both
    That, being of so young days brought up with him,
    And since so neighbour'd to his youth and haviour, 1095
    That you vouchsafe your rest here in our court
    Some little time; so by your companies
    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 1100
    That, open'd, lies within our remedy.
  • Gertrude. Good gentlemen, he hath much talk'd of you,
    And sure I am two men there are not living
    To whom he more adheres. If it will please you
    To show us so much gentry and good will 1105
    As to expend your time with us awhile
    For the supply and profit of our hope,
    Your visitation shall receive such thanks
    As fits a king's remembrance.
  • Rosencrantz. Both your Majesties 1110
    Might, by the sovereign power you have of us,
    Put your dread pleasures more into command
    Than to entreaty.
  • Guildenstern. But we both obey,
    And here give up ourselves, in the full bent, 1115
    To lay our service freely at your feet,
    To be commanded.
  • Claudius. Thanks, Rosencrantz and gentle Guildenstern.
  • Gertrude. Thanks, Guildenstern and gentle Rosencrantz.
    And I beseech you instantly to visit 1120
    My too much changed son.- Go, some of you,
    And bring these gentlemen where Hamlet is.
  • Guildenstern. Heavens make our presence and our practices
    Pleasant and helpful to him!
  • Gertrude. Ay, amen! 1125

Exeunt Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, [with some Attendants].

Enter Polonius.

  • Polonius. Th' ambassadors from Norway, my good lord,
    Are joyfully return'd.
  • Claudius. Thou still hast been the father of good news. 1130
  • Polonius. Have I, my lord? Assure you, 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
    Hunts not the trail of policy so sure 1135
    As it hath us'd to do- that I have found
    The very cause of Hamlet's lunacy.
  • Claudius. O, speak of that! That do I long to hear.
  • Polonius. Give first admittance to th' ambassadors.
    My news shall be the fruit to that great feast. 1140
  • Claudius. Thyself do grace to them, and bring them in.
    [Exit Polonius.]
    He tells me, my dear Gertrude, he hath found
    The head and source of all your son's distemper.
  • Gertrude. I doubt it is no other but the main, 1145
    His father's death and our o'erhasty marriage.
  • Claudius. Well, we shall sift him.
    [Enter Polonius, Voltemand, and Cornelius.]
    Welcome, my good friends.
    Say, Voltemand, what from our brother Norway? 1150
  • Voltemand. Most fair return of greetings and desires.
    Upon our first, he sent out to suppress
    His nephew's levies; which to him appear'd
    To be a preparation 'gainst the Polack,
    But better look'd into, he truly found 1155
    It was against your Highness; whereat griev'd,
    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, 1160
    Makes vow before his uncle never more
    To give th' assay of arms against your Majesty.
    Whereon old Norway, overcome with joy,
    Gives him three thousand crowns in annual fee
    And his commission to employ those soldiers, 1165
    So levied as before, against the Polack;
    With an entreaty, herein further shown,
    [Gives a paper.]
    That it might please you to give quiet pass
    Through your dominions for this enterprise, 1170
    On such regards of safety and allowance
    As therein are set down.
  • Claudius. It likes us well;
    And at our more consider'd time we'll read,
    Answer, and think upon this business. 1175
    Meantime we thank you for your well-took labour.
    Go to your rest; at night we'll feast together.
    Most welcome home! Exeunt Ambassadors.
  • Polonius. This business is well ended.
    My liege, and madam, to expostulate 1180
    What majesty should be, what duty is,
    Why day is day, night is 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, 1185
    I will be brief. Your noble son is mad.
    Mad call I it; for, to define true madness,
    What is't but to be nothing else but mad?
    But let that go.
  • Gertrude. More matter, with less art. 1190
  • Polonius. Madam, I swear I use no art at all.
    That he is 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 1195
    That we find out the cause of this effect-
    Or rather say, the cause of this defect,
    For this effect defective comes by cause.
    Thus it remains, and the remainder thus.
    Perpend. 1200
    I have a daughter (have while she is mine),
    Who in her duty and obedience, mark,
    Hath given me this. Now gather, and surmise.
    [Reads] the letter.]
    'To the celestial, and my soul's idol, the most beautified Ophelia,'- 1205
    That's an ill phrase, a vile phrase; 'beautified' is a vile phrase.
    But you shall hear. Thus:
    'In her excellent white bosom, these, &c.'
  • Gertrude. Came this from Hamlet to her? 1210
  • Polonius. Good madam, stay awhile. I will be faithful. [Reads.]
    'Doubt thou the stars are fire;
    Doubt that the sun doth move;
    Doubt truth to be a liar;
    But never doubt I love. 1215
    'O dear Ophelia, I am ill at these numbers; I have not art to
    reckon my groans; but that I love thee best, O most best, believe
    it. Adieu.
    'Thine evermore, most dear lady, whilst this machine is to
    him, HAMLET.' 1220
    This, in obedience, hath my daughter shown me;
    And more above, hath his solicitings,
    As they fell out by time, by means, and place,
    All given to mine ear.
  • Claudius. But how hath she 1225
    Receiv'd his love?
  • Polonius. What do you think of me?
  • Claudius. As of a man faithful and honourable.
  • Polonius. I would fain prove so. But what might you think,
    When I had seen this hot love on the wing 1230
    (As I perceiv'd it, I must tell you that,
    Before my daughter told me), what might you,
    Or my dear Majesty your queen here, think,
    If I had play'd the desk or table book,
    Or given my heart a winking, mute and dumb, 1235
    Or look'd upon this love with idle sight?
    What might you think? No, I went round to work
    And my young mistress thus I did bespeak:
    'Lord Hamlet is a prince, out of thy star.
    This must not be.' And then I prescripts gave her, 1240
    That she should lock herself from his resort,
    Admit no messengers, receive no tokens.
    Which done, she took the fruits of my advice,
    And he, repulsed, a short tale to make,
    Fell into a sadness, then into a fast, 1245
    Thence to a watch, thence into a weakness,
    Thence to a lightness, and, by this declension,
    Into the madness wherein now he raves,
    And all we mourn for.
  • Claudius. Do you think 'tis this? 1250
  • Gertrude. it may be, very like.
  • Polonius. Hath there been such a time- I would fain know that-
    That I have Positively said 'Tis so,'
    When it prov'd otherwise.?
  • Claudius. Not that I know. 1255
  • Polonius. [points to his head and shoulder] Take this from this, if this be otherwise.
    If circumstances lead me, I will find
    Where truth is hid, though it were hid indeed
    Within the centre.
  • Claudius. How may we try it further? 1260
  • Polonius. You know sometimes he walks for hours together
    Here in the lobby.
  • Gertrude. So he does indeed.
  • Polonius. At such a time I'll loose my daughter to him.
    Be you and I behind an arras then. 1265
    Mark the encounter. If he love her not,
    And he not from his reason fall'n thereon
    Let me be no assistant for a state,
    But keep a farm and carters.
  • Claudius. We will try it. 1270

Enter Hamlet, reading on a book.

  • Gertrude. But look where sadly the poor wretch comes reading.
  • Polonius. Away, I do beseech you, both away
    I'll board him presently. O, give me leave.
    [Exeunt King and Queen, [with Attendants].] 1275
    How does my good Lord Hamlet?
  • Hamlet. Well, God-a-mercy.
  • Polonius. Do you know me, my lord?
  • Hamlet. Excellent well. You are a fishmonger.
  • Polonius. Not I, my lord. 1280
  • 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 be one man
    pick'd out of ten thousand.
  • Polonius. That's very true, my lord. 1285
  • Hamlet. For if the sun breed maggots in a dead dog, being a god
    kissing carrion- Have you a daughter?
  • Polonius. I have, my lord.
  • Hamlet. Let her not walk i' th' sun. Conception is a blessing, but not
    as your daughter may conceive. Friend, look to't. 1290
  • Polonius. [aside] How say you by that? Still harping on my daughter. Yet
    he knew me not at first. He said I was a fishmonger. He is far
    gone, far gone! And truly in my youth I suff'red much extremity
    for love- very near this. I'll speak to him again.- What do you
    read, my lord? 1295
  • Hamlet. Words, 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 that old men 1300
    have grey 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 hold it
    not honesty to have it thus set down; for you yourself, sir, 1305
    should be old as I am if, like a crab, you could go backward.
  • Polonius. [aside] Though this be madness, yet there is a method in't.-
    Will You walk out of the air, my lord?
  • Hamlet. Into my grave?
  • Polonius. Indeed, that is out o' th' air. [Aside] How pregnant sometimes 1310
    his replies are! a happiness that often madness hits on, which
    reason and sanity could not so prosperously be delivered of. I
    will leave him and suddenly contrive the means of meeting between
    him and my daughter.- My honourable lord, I will most humbly take
    my leave of you. 1315
  • Hamlet. You cannot, sir, take from me anything that I will more
    willingly part withal- except my life, except my life, except my

Enter Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.

  • Polonius. Fare you well, my lord. 1320
  • Hamlet. These tedious old fools!
  • Polonius. You go to seek the Lord Hamlet. There he is.
  • Rosencrantz. [to Polonius] God save you, sir!

Exit [Polonius].

  • Guildenstern. My honour'd lord! 1325
  • Rosencrantz. My most dear lord!
  • Hamlet. My excellent good friends! How dost thou, Guildenstern? Ah,
    Rosencrantz! Good lads, how do ye both?
  • Rosencrantz. As the indifferent children of the earth.
  • Guildenstern. Happy in that we are not over-happy. 1330
    On Fortune's cap we are not the very button.
  • Hamlet. Nor the soles of her shoe?
  • Rosencrantz. Neither, my lord.
  • Hamlet. Then you live about her waist, or in the middle of her
    favours? 1335
  • Guildenstern. Faith, her privates we.
  • Hamlet. In the secret parts of Fortune? O! most true! she is a
    strumpet. What news ?
  • Rosencrantz. None, my lord, but that the world's grown honest.
  • Hamlet. Then is doomsday near! But your news is not true. Let me 1340
    question more in particular. What have you, my good friends,
    deserved at the hands of Fortune that she sends you to prison
  • Guildenstern. Prison, my lord?
  • Hamlet. Denmark's a prison. 1345
  • Rosencrantz. Then is the world one.
  • Hamlet. A goodly one; in which there are many confines, 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 1350
    or bad but thinking makes it so. To me it is a prison.
  • Rosencrantz. Why, then your ambition makes it one. 'Tis too narrow for your
  • Hamlet. O God, I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a
    king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams. 1355
  • 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. Truly, and I hold ambition of so airy and light a quality that
    it is but a shadow's shadow. 1360
  • Hamlet. Then are our beggars bodies, and our monarchs and outstretch'd
    heroes the beggars' shadows. Shall we to th' court? for, by my
    fay, I cannot reason.
  • Rosencrantz. [with Guildenstern] We'll wait upon you.
  • Hamlet. No such matter! I will not sort you with the rest of my 1365
    servants; for, to speak to you like an honest man, I am most
    dreadfully attended. But in the beaten way of friendship, what
    make you at Elsinore?
  • Rosencrantz. To visit you, my lord; no other occasion.
  • Hamlet. Beggar that I am, I am even poor in thanks; but I thank you; 1370
    and sure, dear friends, my thanks are too dear a halfpenny. Were
    you not sent for? Is it your own inclining? Is it a free
    visitation? Come, deal justly with me. Come, come! Nay, speak.
  • Guildenstern. What should we say, my lord?
  • Hamlet. Why, anything- but to th' purpose. You were sent for; and 1375
    there is a kind of confession in your looks, which your modesties
    have not craft enough to colour. I know the good King and Queen
    have sent for you.
  • Rosencrantz. To what end, my lord?
  • Hamlet. That you must teach me. But let me conjure you by the rights 1380
    of our fellowship, by the consonancy of our youth, by the
    obligation of our ever-preserved love, and by what more dear a
    better proposer could charge you withal, be even and direct with
    me, whether you were sent for or no.
  • Rosencrantz. [aside to Guildenstern] What say you? 1385
  • Hamlet. [aside] Nay then, I have an eye of you.- If you love me, hold
    not off.
  • Guildenstern. My 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 moult no 1390
    feather. I have of late- but wherefore I know not- lost all my
    mirth, forgone all 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 1395
    roof fretted with golden fire- why, it appeareth no other thing
    to me than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours. What a
    piece of work is a man! how noble in reason! how infinite in
    faculties! in form and moving how express and admirable! in
    action how like an angel! in apprehension how like a god! the 1400
    beauty of the world, the paragon of animals! And yet to me what
    is this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me- no, nor woman
    neither, though by your smiling you seem to say so.
  • Rosencrantz. My lord, there was no such stuff in my thoughts.
  • Hamlet. Why did you laugh then, when I said 'Man delights not me'? 1405
  • Rosencrantz. To think, my lord, if you delight not in 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 of me; the adventurous knight shall use his foil and 1410
    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' sere; and the lady shall say her mind
    freely, or the blank verse shall halt for't. What players are
    they? 1415
  • 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. I think their inhibition comes by the means of the late 1420
  • Hamlet. Do they hold the same estimation they did when I was in the
    city? Are they so follow'd?
  • Rosencrantz. No indeed are they not.
  • Hamlet. How comes it? Do they grow rusty? 1425
  • Rosencrantz. Nay, their endeavour keeps in the wonted pace; but there is,
    sir, an eyrie of children, little eyases, that cry out on the top
    of question and are most tyrannically clapp'd for't. These are now
    the fashion, and so berattle the common stages (so they call
    them) that many wearing rapiers are afraid of goosequills and 1430
    dare scarce come thither.
  • Hamlet. What, are they children? Who maintains 'em? How are they
    escoted? Will they pursue the quality 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 1435
    are no better), their writers do them wrong to make them exclaim
    against their own succession.
  • Rosencrantz. Faith, there has been much to do on both sides; and the nation
    holds it no sin to tarre them to controversy. There was, for a
    while, no money bid for argument unless the poet and the player 1440
    went to cuffs in the question.
  • Hamlet. Is'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 and his load too. 1445
  • Hamlet. It is not very strange; for my uncle is King of Denmark, and
    those that would make mows at him while my father lived give
    twenty, forty, fifty, a hundred ducats apiece for his picture in
    little. 'Sblood, there is something in this more than natural, if
    philosophy could find it out. 1450

Flourish for the Players.

  • Guildenstern. There are the players.
  • Hamlet. Gentlemen, you are welcome to Elsinore. Your hands, come! Th'
    appurtenance of welcome is fashion and ceremony. Let me comply
    with you in this garb, lest my extent to the players (which I 1455
    tell you must show fairly outwards) should more appear like
    entertainment than yours. You are welcome. But my uncle-father
    and aunt-mother are deceiv'd.
  • Guildenstern. In what, my dear lord?
  • Hamlet. I am but mad north-north-west. When the wind is southerly I 1460
    know a hawk from a handsaw.

Enter Polonius.

  • Polonius. Well be with you, gentlemen!
  • Hamlet. Hark you, Guildenstern- and you too- at each ear a hearer!
    That great baby you see there is not yet out of his swaddling 1465
  • Rosencrantz. Happily he's the second time come to them; for they say an old
    man is twice a child.
  • Hamlet. I will prophesy he comes to tell me of the players. Mark it.-
    You say right, sir; a Monday morning; twas so indeed. 1470
  • Polonius. My lord, I have news to tell you.
  • Hamlet. My lord, I have news to tell you. When Roscius was an actor in Rome-
  • Polonius. The actors are come hither, my lord.
  • Hamlet. Buzz, buzz!
  • Polonius. Upon my honour- 1475
  • Hamlet. Then came each actor on his ass-
  • Polonius. The 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 1480
    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 treasure had he, my lord?
  • Hamlet. Why, 1485
    'One fair daughter, and no more,
    The which he loved passing well.'
  • Polonius. [aside] Still on my daughter.
  • Hamlet. Am I not i' th' right, old Jephthah?
  • Polonius. If you call me Jephthah, my lord, I have a daughter that I 1490
    love passing well.
  • Hamlet. Nay, that follows not.
  • Polonius. What follows then, my lord?
  • Hamlet. Why,
    'As by lot, God wot,' 1495
    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 four or five Players.] 1500
    You are welcome, masters; welcome, all.- I am glad to see thee
    well.- Welcome, good friends.- O, my old friend? Why, thy face is
    valanc'd since I saw thee last. Com'st' thou to' beard me in
    Denmark?- What, my young lady and mistress? By'r Lady, your
    ladyship is nearer to heaven than when I saw you last by the 1505
    altitude of a chopine. Pray God your voice, like a piece of
    uncurrent gold, be not crack'd within the ring.- Masters, you are
    all welcome. We'll e'en to't like French falconers, fly at
    anything we see. We'll have a speech straight. Come, give us a
    taste of your quality. Come, a passionate speech. 1510
  • 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 the play, I remember, pleas'd
    not the million, 'twas caviary to the general; but it was (as I
    receiv'd it, and others, whose judgments in such matters cried in 1515
    the top of mine) an excellent play, well digested in the scenes,
    set down with as much modesty as cunning. I remember one said
    there were no sallets in the lines to make the matter savoury,
    nor no matter in the phrase that might indict the author of
    affectation; but call'd it an honest method, as wholesome as 1520
    sweet, and by very much more handsome than fine. One speech in't
    I chiefly lov'd. 'Twas AEneas' tale to Dido, and thereabout of it
    especially where he speaks of Priam's slaughter. If it live in
    your memory, begin at this line- let me see, let me see:
    'The rugged Pyrrhus, like th' Hyrcanian beast-' 1525
    '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 couched in the ominous horse,
    Hath now this dread and black complexion smear'd 1530
    With heraldry more dismal. Head to foot
    Now is be total gules, horridly trick'd
    With blood of fathers, mothers, daughters, sons,
    Bak'd and impasted with the parching streets,
    That lend a tyrannous and a damned light 1535
    To their lord's murther. Roasted in wrath and fire,
    And thus o'ersized with coagulate gore,
    With eyes like carbuncles, the hellish Pyrrhus
    Old grandsire Priam seeks.'
    So, proceed you. 1540
  • 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,
    Rebellious to his arm, lies where it falls,
    Repugnant to command. Unequal match'd, 1545
    Pyrrhus at Priam drives, in rage strikes wide;
    But with the whiff and wind of his fell sword
    Th' unnerved father falls. Then senseless Ilium,
    Seeming to feel this blow, with flaming top
    Stoops to his base, and with a hideous crash 1550
    Takes prisoner Pyrrhus' ear. For lo! his sword,
    Which was declining on the milky head
    Of reverend Priam, seem'd i' th' air to stick.
    So, as a painted tyrant, Pyrrhus stood,
    And, like a neutral to his will and matter, 1555
    Did nothing.
    But, as we often see, against some storm,
    A silence in the heavens, the rack stand still,
    The bold winds speechless, and the orb below
    As hush as death- anon the dreadful thunder 1560
    Doth rend the region; so, after Pyrrhus' pause,
    Aroused vengeance sets him new awork;
    And never did the Cyclops' hammers fall
    On Mars's armour, forg'd for proof eterne,
    With less remorse than Pyrrhus' bleeding sword 1565
    Now falls on Priam.
    Out, out, thou strumpet Fortune! All you gods,
    In general synod take away her power;
    Break all the spokes and fellies from her wheel,
    And bowl the round nave down the hill of heaven, 1570
    As low as to the fiends!
  • Polonius. This is too long.
  • Hamlet. It shall to the barber's, with your beard.- Prithee say on.
    He's for a jig or a tale of bawdry, or he sleeps. Say on; come to
    Hecuba. 1575
  • First Player. 'But who, O who, had seen the mobled queen-'
  • Hamlet. 'The mobled queen'?
  • Polonius. That's good! 'Mobled queen' is good.
  • First Player. 'Run barefoot up and down, threat'ning the flames
    With bisson rheum; a clout upon that head 1580
    Where late the diadem stood, and for a robe,
    About her lank and all o'erteemed loins,
    A blanket, in the alarm of fear caught up-
    Who this had seen, with tongue in venom steep'd
    'Gainst Fortune's state would treason have pronounc'd. 1585
    But if the gods themselves did see her then,
    When she saw Pyrrhus make malicious sport
    In Mincing with his sword her husband's limbs,
    The instant burst of clamour that she made
    (Unless things mortal move them not at all) 1590
    Would have made milch the burning eyes of heaven
    And passion in the gods.'
  • Polonius. Look, whe'r he has not turn'd his colour, and has tears in's
    eyes. Prithee no more!
  • Hamlet. 'Tis well. I'll have thee speak out the rest of this soon.- 1595
    Good my lord, will you see the players well bestow'd? Do you
    hear? Let them be well us'd; 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. 1600
  • Hamlet. God's bodykins, man, much better! Use every man after his
    desert, and who should scape whipping? Use them after your own
    honour and dignity. The less they deserve, the more merit is in
    your bounty. Take them in.
  • Polonius. Come, sirs. 1605
  • Hamlet. Follow him, friends. We'll hear a play to-morrow.
    [Exeunt Polonius and Players [except the First].]
    Dost thou hear me, old friend? Can you play 'The Murther of
  • First Player. Ay, my lord. 1610
  • Hamlet. We'll ha't to-morrow 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. Ay, my lord.
  • Hamlet. Very well. Follow that lord- and look you mock him not. 1615
    [Exit First Player.]
    My good friends, I'll leave you till night. You are welcome to
  • Rosencrantz. Good my lord!
  • Hamlet. Ay, so, God b' wi' ye! 1620
    [Exeunt Rosencrantz and Guildenstern]
    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, 1625
    Could force his soul so to his own conceit
    That, from her working, all his visage wann'd,
    Tears in his eyes, distraction in's aspect,
    A broken voice, and his whole function suiting
    With forms to his conceit? And all for nothing! 1630
    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 1635
    And cleave the general ear with horrid speech;
    Make mad the guilty and appal the free,
    Confound the ignorant, and amaze indeed
    The very faculties of eyes and ears.
    Yet I, 1640
    A dull and muddy-mettled rascal, peak
    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 damn'd defeat was made. Am I a coward? 1645
    Who calls me villain? breaks my pate across?
    Plucks off my beard and blows it in my face?
    Tweaks me by th' 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 1650
    But I am pigeon-liver'd and lack gall
    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! 1655
    O, vengeance!
    Why, what an ass am I! This is most brave,
    That I, the son of a dear father murther'd,
    Prompted to my revenge by heaven and hell,
    Must (like a whore) unpack my heart with words 1660
    And fall a-cursing like a very drab,
    A scullion!
    Fie upon't! foh! About, my brain! Hum, I have heard
    That guilty creatures, sitting at a play,
    Have by the very cunning of the scene 1665
    Been struck so to the soul that presently
    They have proclaim'd their malefactions;
    For murther, though it have no tongue, will speak
    With most miraculous organ, I'll have these Players
    Play something like the murther of my father 1670
    Before mine uncle. I'll observe his looks;
    I'll tent him to the quick. If he but 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 1675
    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. Exit. 1680


Act III, Scene 1

Elsinore. A room in the Castle.


Enter King, Queen, Polonius, Ophelia, Rosencrantz, Guildenstern,

and Lords.

  • Claudius. And can you by no drift of circumstance
    Get from him why he puts on this confusion,
    Grating so harshly all his days of quiet 1685
    With turbulent and dangerous lunacy?
  • Rosencrantz. 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 1690
    When we would bring him on to some confession
    Of his true state.
  • Gertrude. Did he receive you well?
  • Rosencrantz. Most like a gentleman.
  • Guildenstern. But with much forcing of his disposition. 1695
  • Rosencrantz. Niggard of question, but of our demands
    Most free in his reply.
  • Gertrude. Did you assay him
    To any pastime?
  • Rosencrantz. Madam, it so fell out that certain players 1700
    We o'erraught on the way. Of these we told him,
    And there did seem in him a kind of joy
    To hear of it. They are here about the court,
    And, as I think, they have already order
    This night to play before him. 1705
  • Polonius. 'Tis most true;
    And he beseech'd me to entreat your Majesties
    To hear and see the matter.
  • Claudius. With all my heart, and it doth much content me
    To hear him so inclin'd. 1710
    Good gentlemen, give him a further edge
    And drive his purpose on to these delights.
  • Rosencrantz. We shall, my lord.

Exeunt Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.

  • Claudius. Sweet Gertrude, leave us too; 1715
    For we have closely sent for Hamlet hither,
    That he, as 'twere by accident, may here
    Affront Ophelia.
    Her father and myself (lawful espials)
    Will so bestow ourselves that, seeing unseen, 1720
    We may of their encounter frankly judge
    And gather by him, as he is behav'd,
    If't be th' affliction of his love, or no,
    That thus he suffers for.
  • Gertrude. I shall obey you; 1725
    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
    Will bring him to his wonted way again,
    To both your honours. 1730
  • Ophelia. Madam, I wish it may.

[Exit Queen.]

  • Polonius. Ophelia, walk you here.- Gracious, so please you,
    We will bestow ourselves.- [To Ophelia] Read on this book,
    That show of such an exercise may colour 1735
    Your loneliness.- We are oft to blame in this,
    'Tis too much prov'd, that with devotion's visage
    And pious action we do sugar o'er
    The Devil himself.
  • Claudius. [aside] O, 'tis too true! 1740
    How smart a lash that speech doth give my conscience!
    The harlot's cheek, beautied with plast'ring art,
    Is not more ugly to the thing that helps it
    Than is my deed to my most painted word.
    O heavy burthen! 1745
  • Polonius. I hear him coming. Let's withdraw, my lord.

Exeunt King and Polonius].

Enter Hamlet.

  • Hamlet. To be, or not to be- that is the question:
    Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer 1750
    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
    The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks 1755
    That flesh is heir to. 'Tis a consummation
    Devoutly to be wish'd. To die- to sleep.
    To sleep- perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub!
    For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
    When we have shuffled off this mortal coil, 1760
    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,
    The pangs of despis'd love, the law's delay, 1765
    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 these fardels bear,
    To grunt and sweat under a weary life, 1770
    But that the dread of something after death-
    The undiscover'd country, from whose bourn
    No traveller returns- puzzles the will,
    And makes us rather bear those ills we have
    Than fly to others that we know not of? 1775
    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 pith and moment
    With this regard their currents turn awry 1780
    And lose the name of action.- Soft you now!
    The fair Ophelia!- Nymph, in thy orisons
    Be all my sins rememb'red.
  • Ophelia. Good my lord,
    How does your honour for this many a day? 1785
  • Hamlet. I humbly thank you; well, well, well.
  • Ophelia. My lord, I have remembrances of yours
    That I have longed long to re-deliver.
    I pray you, now receive them.
  • Hamlet. No, not I! 1790
    I never gave you aught.
  • Ophelia. My honour'd lord, you know right well you did,
    And with them words of so sweet breath compos'd
    As made the things more rich. Their perfume lost,
    Take these again; for to the noble mind 1795
    Rich gifts wax poor when givers prove unkind.
    There, my lord.
  • Hamlet. Ha, ha! Are you honest?
  • Ophelia. My lord?
  • Hamlet. Are you fair? 1800
  • 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 than with honesty?
  • Hamlet. Ay, truly; for the power of beauty will sooner transform 1805
    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 the time gives it proof. I did love you once.
  • Ophelia. Indeed, my lord, you made me believe so.
  • Hamlet. You should not have believ'd me; for virtue cannot so 1810
    inoculate our old stock but we shall relish of it. I loved you
  • Ophelia. I 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 1815
    me of such things that it were better my mother had not borne me.
    I am very proud, revengeful, ambitious; with more offences 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 all; 1820
    believe none of us. Go thy ways to a nunnery. Where's your
  • 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. 1825
  • Ophelia. O, 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 nunnery. Go, farewell. Or if thou wilt
    needs marry, marry a fool; for wise men know well enough what 1830
    monsters you make of them. To a nunnery, go; and quickly too.
  • Ophelia. O heavenly powers, restore him!
  • Hamlet. I have heard of your paintings too, well enough. God hath
    given you one face, and you make yourselves another. You jig, you 1835
    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 no moe marriages. Those that are
    married already- all but one- shall live; the rest shall keep as
    they are. To a nunnery, go. Exit. 1840
  • Ophelia. O, what a noble mind is here o'erthrown!
    The courtier's, scholar's, soldier's, eye, tongue, sword,
    Th' expectancy and rose of the fair state,
    The glass of fashion and the mould of form,
    Th' observ'd of all observers- quite, quite down! 1845
    And I, of ladies most deject and wretched,
    That suck'd the honey of his music vows,
    Now see that noble and most sovereign reason,
    Like sweet bells jangled, out of tune and harsh;
    That unmatch'd form and feature of blown youth 1850
    Blasted with ecstasy. O, woe is me
    T' have seen what I have seen, see what I see!

Enter King and Polonius.

  • Claudius. Love? his affections do not that way tend;
    Nor what he spake, though it lack'd form a little, 1855
    Was not like madness. There's something in his soul
    O'er which his melancholy sits on brood;
    And I do doubt the hatch and the disclose
    Will be some danger; which for to prevent,
    I have in quick determination 1860
    Thus set it down: he shall with speed to England
    For the demand of our neglected tribute.
    Haply the seas, and countries different,
    With variable objects, shall expel
    This something-settled matter in his heart, 1865
    Whereon his brains still beating puts him thus
    From fashion of himself. What think you on't?
  • Polonius. It shall do well. But yet do I believe
    The origin and commencement of his grief
    Sprung from neglected love.- How now, Ophelia? 1870
    You need not tell us what Lord Hamlet said.
    We heard it all.- My lord, do as you please;
    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; 1875
    And I'll be plac'd so please you, in the ear
    Of all their conference. If she find him not,
    To England send him; or confine him where
    Your wisdom best shall think.
  • Claudius. It shall be so. 1880
    Madness in great ones must not unwatch'd go. Exeunt.


Act III, Scene 2

Elsinore. hall in the Castle.


Enter Hamlet and three of the Players.

  • Hamlet. Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounc'd it to you,
    trippingly on the tongue. But if you mouth it, as many of our
    players do, I had as live the town crier spoke my lines. Nor do 1885
    not saw the air 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, it offends me to the
    soul to hear a robustious periwig-pated fellow tear a passion to 1890
    tatters, to very rags, to split the cars of the groundlings, who
    (for the most part) are capable of nothing but inexplicable dumb
    shows and noise. I would have such a fellow whipp'd for o'erdoing
    Termagant. It out-herods Herod. Pray you avoid it.
  • First Player. I warrant your honour. 1895
  • 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 observance, that you o'erstep not the modesty of
    nature: for anything so overdone is from the purpose of playing,
    whose end, both at the first and now, was and is, to hold, as 1900
    'twere, the mirror up to nature; to show Virtue her own feature,
    scorn her own image, and the very age and body of the time his
    form and pressure. Now this overdone, or come tardy off, though
    it make the unskilful laugh, cannot but make the judicious
    grieve; the censure of the which one must in your allowance 1905
    o'erweigh a whole theatre 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 the accent of
    Christians, nor the gait of Christian, pagan, nor man, have so
    strutted and bellowed that I have thought some of Nature's 1910
    journeymen had made men, and not made them well, they imitated
    humanity so abominably.
  • First Player. I hope we have reform'd that indifferently with us, sir.
  • Hamlet. O, reform it altogether! And let those that play your clowns
    speak no more than is set down for them. For there be of them 1915
    that will themselves laugh, to set on some quantity of barren
    spectators to laugh too, though in the mean time some necessary
    question of the play be then to be considered. That's villanous
    and shows a most pitiful ambition in the fool that uses it. Go
    make you ready. 1920
    [Exeunt Players.]
    [Enter Polonius, Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern.]
    How now, my lord? Will the King hear this piece of work?
  • Polonius. And the Queen too, and that presently.
  • Hamlet. Bid the players make haste, [Exit Polonius.] Will you two 1925
    help to hasten them?
  • Rosencrantz. [with Guildenstern] We will, my lord.

Exeunt they two.

  • Hamlet. What, ho, Horatio!

Enter Horatio.

  • Horatio. Here, sweet lord, at your service.
  • Hamlet. Horatio, thou art e'en as just a man
    As e'er my conversation cop'd withal.
  • Horatio. O, my dear lord!
  • Hamlet. Nay, do not think I flatter; 1935
    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 flatter'd?
    No, let the candied tongue lick absurd pomp,
    And crook the pregnant hinges of the knee 1940
    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 seal'd thee for herself. For thou hast been
    As one, in suff'ring all, that suffers nothing; 1945
    A man that Fortune's buffets and rewards
    Hast ta'en with equal thanks; and blest are those
    Whose blood and judgment are so well commingled
    That they are not a pipe for Fortune's finger
    To sound what stop she please. Give me that man 1950
    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 I
    There is a play to-night before the King.
    One scene of it comes near the circumstance, 1955
    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
    Observe my uncle. If his occulted guilt
    Do not itself unkennel in one speech, 1960
    It is a damned ghost that we have seen,
    And my imaginations are as foul
    As Vulcan's stithy. Give him heedful note;
    For I mine eyes will rivet to his face,
    And after we will both our judgments join 1965
    In censure of his seeming.
  • Horatio. Well, my lord.
    If he steal aught the whilst this play is playing,
    And scape detecting, I will pay the theft.
    Sound a flourish. [Enter Trumpets and Kettledrums. Danish 1970
    march. [Enter King, Queen, Polonius, Ophelia, Rosencrantz, Guildenstern,
    and other Lords attendant, with the Guard carrying torches.]
  • Hamlet. They are coming to the play. I must be idle.
    Get you a place.
  • Claudius. How fares our cousin Hamlet? 1975
  • Hamlet. Excellent, i' faith; of the chameleon's dish. I eat the air,
    promise-cramm'd. You cannot feed capons so.
  • Claudius. I have nothing with this answer, Hamlet. These words are not
  • Hamlet. No, nor mine now. [To Polonius] My lord, you play'd once 1980
    i' th' university, you say?
  • 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 kill'd i' th' Capitol; Brutus
    kill'd me. 1985
  • 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.
  • Gertrude. Come hither, my dear Hamlet, sit by me.
  • Hamlet. No, good mother. Here's metal more attractive. 1990
  • Polonius. [to the King] O, ho! do you mark that?
  • Hamlet. Lady, shall I lie in your lap?

[Sits down at Ophelia's feet.]

  • Ophelia. No, my lord.
  • Hamlet. I mean, my head upon your lap? 1995
  • Ophelia. Ay, my lord.
  • Hamlet. Do you think I meant country matters?
  • Ophelia. I think nothing, my lord.
  • Hamlet. That's a fair thought to lie between maids' legs.
  • Ophelia. What is, my lord? 2000
  • Hamlet. Nothing.
  • Ophelia. You are merry, my lord.
  • Hamlet. Who, I?
  • Ophelia. Ay, my lord.
  • Hamlet. O God, your only jig-maker! What should a man do but be merry? 2005
    For look you how cheerfully my mother looks, and my father died
    within 's two 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 2010
    yet? Then there's hope a great man's memory may outlive his life
    half a year. But, by'r Lady, he must build churches then; or else
    shall he suffer not thinking on, with the hobby-horse, whose
    epitaph is 'For O, for O, the hobby-horse is forgot!'
    [Hautboys play. The dumb show enters.] 2015
    Enter 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 lays him down upon a bank of flowers. She, seeing
    him asleep, leaves him. Anon comes in a fellow, takes off his 2020
    crown, kisses it, pours poison in the sleeper's ears, and
    leaves him. The Queen returns, finds the King dead, and makes
    passionate action. The Poisoner with some three or four Mutes,
    comes in again, seem to condole with her. The dead body is
    carried away. The Poisoner wooes the Queen with gifts; she 2025
    seems harsh and unwilling awhile, but in the end accepts
    his love.


  • Ophelia. What means this, my lord?
  • Hamlet. Marry, this is miching malhecho; it means mischief. 2030
  • Ophelia. Belike 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? 2035
  • Hamlet. Ay, or any show that you'll show him. Be not you asham'd to
    show, he'll not shame to tell you what it means.
  • Ophelia. You are naught, you are naught! I'll mark the play.
    Pro. For us, and for our tragedy,
    Here stooping to your clemency, 2040
    We beg your hearing patiently. [Exit.]
  • Hamlet. Is this a prologue, or the posy of a ring?
  • Ophelia. 'Tis brief, my lord.
  • Hamlet. As woman's love.

Enter [two Players as] King and Queen.

  • Player King. Full thirty times hath Phoebus' cart gone round
    Neptune's salt wash and Tellus' orbed ground,
    And thirty dozen moons with borrowed sheen
    About the world have times twelve thirties been,
    Since love our hearts, and Hymen did our hands, 2050
    Unite comutual 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,
    So far from cheer and from your former state. 2055
    That I distrust you. Yet, though I distrust,
    Discomfort you, my lord, it nothing must;
    For women's fear and love holds quantity,
    In neither aught, or in extremity.
    Now what my love is, proof hath made you know; 2060
    And as my love is siz'd, my fear is so.
    Where love is great, the littlest doubts are fear;
    Where little fears grow great, great love grows there.
  • Player King. Faith, I must leave thee, love, and shortly too;
    My operant powers their functions leave to do. 2065
    And thou shalt live in this fair world behind,
    Honour'd, belov'd, and haply one as kind
    For husband shalt thou-
  • Player Queen. O, confound the rest!
    Such love must needs be treason in my breast. 2070
    When second husband let me be accurst!
    None wed the second but who killed the first.
  • Hamlet. [aside] Wormwood, wormwood!
    Queen. The instances that second marriage move
    Are base respects of thrift, but none of love. 2075
    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;
    But what we do determine oft we break.
    Purpose is but the slave to memory, 2080
    Of violent birth, but poor validity;
    Which now, like fruit unripe, sticks on the tree,
    But fall unshaken when they mellow be.
    Most necessary 'tis that we forget
    To pay ourselves what to ourselves is debt. 2085
    What to ourselves in passion we propose,
    The passion ending, doth the purpose lose.
    The violence of either grief or joy
    Their own enactures with themselves destroy.
    Where joy most revels, grief doth most lament; 2090
    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;
    For 'tis a question left us yet to prove,
    Whether love lead fortune, or else fortune love. 2095
    The great man down, you mark his favourite flies,
    The poor advanc'd makes friends of enemies;
    And hitherto doth love on fortune tend,
    For who not needs shall never lack a friend,
    And who in want a hollow friend doth try, 2100
    Directly seasons him his enemy.
    But, orderly to end where I begun,
    Our wills and fates do so contrary run
    That our devices still are overthrown;
    Our thoughts are ours, their ends none of our own. 2105
    So think thou wilt no second husband wed;
    But die thy thoughts when thy first lord is dead.
  • Player Queen. Nor earth to me give food, nor heaven light,
    Sport and repose lock from me day and night,
    To desperation turn my trust and hope, 2110
    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,
    Both here and hence pursue me lasting strife,
    If, once a widow, ever I be wife! 2115
  • 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
    The tedious day with sleep.
  • Player Queen. Sleep rock thy brain, 2120

He sleeps.]

  • Player Queen. And never come mischance between us twain!


  • Hamlet. Madam, how like you this play?
  • Gertrude. The lady doth protest too much, methinks. 2125
  • Hamlet. O, but she'll keep her word.
  • Claudius. Have you heard the argument? Is there no offence in't?
  • Hamlet. No, no! They do but jest, poison in jest; no offence i' th'
  • Claudius. What do you call the play? 2130
  • Hamlet. 'The Mousetrap.' Marry, how? Tropically. This play is the
    image of a murther done in Vienna. Gonzago is the duke's name;
    his wife, Baptista. You shall see anon. 'Tis a knavish piece of
    work; but what o' that? Your Majesty, and we that have free
    souls, it touches us not. Let the gall'd jade winch; our withers 2135
    are unwrung.

Enter Lucianus.This is one Lucianus, nephew to the King.

  • Ophelia. You are as good as a chorus, my lord.
  • Hamlet. I could interpret between you and your love, if I could see
    the puppets dallying. 2140
  • Ophelia. You are keen, my lord, you are keen.
  • Hamlet. It would cost you a groaning to take off my edge.
  • Ophelia. Still better, and worse.
  • Hamlet. So you must take your husbands.- Begin, murtherer. Pox, leave
    thy damnable faces, and begin! Come, the croaking raven doth 2145
    bellow for revenge.
    Luc. 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, 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's estate. His name's Gonzago.
    The story is extant, and written in very choice Italian. You 2150
    shall see anon how the murtherer gets the love of Gonzago's wife.
  • Ophelia. The King rises.
  • Hamlet. What, frighted with false fire?
  • Gertrude. How fares my lord?
  • Polonius. Give o'er the play. 2155
  • Claudius. Give me some light! Away!
  • All. Lights, lights, lights!

Exeunt all but Hamlet and Horatio.

  • Hamlet. Why, let the strucken deer go weep,
    The hart ungalled play; 2160
    For some must watch, while some must sleep:
    Thus runs the world away.
    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 raz'd
    shoes, get me a fellowship in a cry of players, sir? 2165
  • Horatio. Half 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 2170
    A very, very- pajock.
  • Horatio. You might have rhym'd.
  • Hamlet. O good Horatio, I'll take the ghost's word for a thousand
    pound! Didst perceive?
  • Horatio. Very well, my lord. 2175
  • Hamlet. Upon the talk of the poisoning?
  • Horatio. I did very well note him.
  • Hamlet. Aha! Come, some music! Come, the recorders!
    For if the King like not the comedy,
    Why then, belike he likes it not, perdy. 2180
    Come, some music!
    Enter Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.
  • Guildenstern. Good my lord, vouchsafe me a word with you.
  • Hamlet. Sir, a whole history.
  • Guildenstern. The King, sir- 2185
  • Hamlet. Ay, sir, what of him?
  • Guildenstern. Is in his retirement, marvellous distemper'd.
  • Hamlet. With drink, sir?
  • Guildenstern. No, my lord; rather with choler.
  • Hamlet. Your wisdom should show itself more richer to signify this to 2190
    the doctor; for me to put him to his purgation would perhaps
    plunge him into far more choler.
  • Guildenstern. Good my lord, put your discourse into some frame, and start
    not so wildly from my affair.
  • Hamlet. I am tame, sir; pronounce. 2195
  • Guildenstern. The Queen, your mother, in most great 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 2200
    your mother's commandment; if not, your pardon and my return
    shall be the end of my business.
  • Hamlet. Sir, I cannot.
  • Guildenstern. What, my lord?
  • Hamlet. Make you a wholesome answer; my wit's diseas'd. But, sir, such 2205
    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
  • Rosencrantz. Then thus she says: your behaviour hath struck her into
    amazement and admiration. 2210
  • 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 closet ere you go to bed.
  • Hamlet. We shall obey, were she ten times our mother. Have you any
    further trade with us? 2215
  • Rosencrantz. My lord, you once did love me.
  • Hamlet. And do still, by these pickers and stealers!
  • Rosencrantz. Good 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. 2220
  • Hamlet. Sir, I lack advancement.
  • Rosencrantz. How can that be, when you have the voice of the King himself
    for your succession in Denmark?
  • Hamlet. Ay, sir, but 'while the grass grows'- the proverb is something
    musty. 2225
    [Enter the Players with recorders. ]
    O, the recorders! Let me see one. To 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. 2230
  • Hamlet. I 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. I do beseech you. 2235
  • Guildenstern. I know, no touch of it, my lord.
  • Hamlet. It is as easy as lying. Govern these ventages with your
    fingers and thumbs, give it breath with your mouth, and it will
    discourse most eloquent music. Look you, these are the stops.
  • Guildenstern. But these cannot I command to any utt'rance of harmony. I 2240
    have not the skill.
  • Hamlet. Why, look you now, how unworthy a thing you make of me! You
    would play upon me; you 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, 2245
    excellent voice, in this little organ, yet cannot you make it
    speak. 'Sblood, do you think I am easier to be play'd on than a
    pipe? Call me what instrument you will, though you can fret me,
    you cannot play upon me.
    [Enter Polonius.] 2250
    God bless you, sir!
  • Polonius. My lord, the Queen would speak with you, 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. 2255
  • Polonius. It is back'd like a weasel.
  • Hamlet. Or like a whale.
  • Polonius. Very like a whale.
  • Hamlet. Then will I come to my mother by-and-by.- They fool me to the
    top of my bent.- I will come by-and-by. 2260
  • Polonius. I will say so. Exit.
  • Hamlet. 'By-and-by' is easily said.- Leave me, friends.
    [Exeunt all but Hamlet.]
    'Tis now the very witching time of night,
    When churchyards yawn, and hell itself breathes out 2265
    Contagion to this world. Now could I drink hot blood
    And do such bitter business as the day
    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. 2270
    Let me be cruel, not unnatural;
    I will speak daggers to her, but use none.
    My tongue and soul in this be hypocrites-
    How in my words somever she be shent,
    To give them seals never, my soul, consent! Exit. 2275


Act III, Scene 3

A room in the Castle.


Enter King, Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern.

  • Claudius. 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. 2280
    The terms of our estate may not endure
    Hazard so near us as doth hourly grow
    Out of his lunacies.
  • Guildenstern. We will ourselves provide.
    Most holy and religious fear it is 2285
    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 armour of the mind
    To keep itself from noyance; but much more 2290
    That spirit upon whose weal depends and rests
    The lives of many. The cesse of majesty
    Dies not alone, but like a gulf doth draw
    What's near it with it. It is a massy wheel,
    Fix'd on the summit of the highest mount, 2295
    To whose huge spokes ten thousand lesser things
    Are mortis'd and adjoin'd; 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. 2300
  • Claudius. Arm you, I pray you, to this speedy voyage;
    For we will fetters put upon this fear,
    Which now goes too free-footed.
  • Rosencrantz. [with Guildenstern] We will haste us.

Exeunt Gentlemen.

Enter Polonius.

  • Polonius. My lord, he's going to his mother's closet.
    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, 2310
    'Tis meet that some more audience than a mother,
    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. 2315
  • Claudius. Thanks, dear my lord.
    [Exit [Polonius].]
    O, my offence is rank, it smells to heaven;
    It hath the primal eldest curse upon't,
    A brother's murther! Pray can I not, 2320
    Though inclination be as sharp as will.
    My stronger guilt defeats my strong intent,
    And, like a man to double business bound,
    I stand in pause where I shall first begin,
    And both neglect. What if this cursed hand 2325
    Were thicker than itself with brother's blood,
    Is there not rain enough in the sweet heavens
    To wash it white as snow? Whereto serves mercy
    But to confront the visage of offence?
    And what's in prayer but this twofold force, 2330
    To be forestalled ere we come to fall,
    Or pardon'd being down? Then I'll look up;
    My fault is past. But, O, what form of prayer
    Can serve my turn? 'Forgive me my foul murther'?
    That cannot be; since I am still possess'd 2335
    Of those effects for which I did the murther-
    My crown, mine own ambition, and my queen.
    May one be pardon'd and retain th' offence?
    In the corrupted currents of this world
    Offence's gilded hand may shove by justice, 2340
    And oft 'tis seen the wicked prize itself
    Buys out the law; but 'tis not so above.
    There is no shuffling; there the action lies
    In his true nature, and we ourselves compell'd,
    Even to the teeth and forehead of our faults, 2345
    To give in evidence. What then? What rests?
    Try what repentance can. What can it not?
    Yet what can it when one cannot repent?
    O wretched state! O bosom black as death!
    O limed soul, that, struggling to be free, 2350
    Art more engag'd! Help, angels! Make assay.
    Bow, stubborn knees; and heart with strings of steel,
    Be soft as sinews of the new-born babe!
    All may be well. He kneels.

Enter Hamlet.

  • Hamlet. Now might I do it pat, now he is praying;
    And now I'll do't. And so he goes to heaven,
    And so am I reveng'd. That would be scann'd.
    A villain kills my father; and for that,
    I, his sole son, do this same villain send 2360
    To heaven.
    Why, this is hire and salary, not revenge!
    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? 2365
    But in our circumstance and course of thought,
    'Tis heavy with him; and am I then reveng'd,
    To take him in the purging of his soul,
    When he is fit and seasoned for his passage?
    No. 2370
    Up, sword, and know thou a more horrid hent.
    When he is drunk asleep; or in his rage;
    Or in th' incestuous pleasure of his bed;
    At gaming, swearing, or about some act
    That has no relish of salvation in't- 2375
    Then trip him, that his heels may kick at heaven,
    And that his soul may be as damn'd and black
    As hell, whereto it goes. My mother stays.
    This physic but prolongs thy sickly days. Exit.
  • Claudius. [rises] My words fly up, my thoughts remain below. 2380
    Words without thoughts never to heaven go. Exit.


Act III, Scene 4

The Queen’s closet.


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 screen'd and stood between 2385
    Much heat and him. I'll silence me even here.
    Pray you be round with him.
  • Hamlet. [within] Mother, mother, mother!
  • Gertrude. I'll warrant you; fear me not. Withdraw; I hear him coming.

[Polonius hides behind the arras.]

Enter Hamlet.

  • Hamlet. Now, mother, what's the matter?
  • Gertrude. Hamlet, thou hast thy father much offended.
  • Hamlet. Mother, you have my father much offended.
  • Gertrude. Come, come, you answer with an idle tongue. 2395
  • Hamlet. Go, go, you question with a wicked tongue.
  • Gertrude. Why, how now, Hamlet?
  • Hamlet. What's the matter now?
  • Gertrude. Have you forgot me?
  • Hamlet. No, by the rood, not so! 2400
    You are the Queen, your husband's brother's wife,
    And (would it were not so!) you are my mother.
  • Gertrude. 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 2405
    Where you may see the inmost part of you.
  • Gertrude. What wilt thou do? Thou wilt not murther me?
    Help, help, ho!
  • Polonius. [behind] What, ho! help, help, help!
  • Hamlet. [draws] How now? a rat? Dead for a ducat, dead! 2410

[Makes a pass through the arras and] kills Polonius.

  • Polonius. [behind] O, I am slain!
  • Gertrude. O me, what hast thou done?
  • Hamlet. Nay, I know not. Is it the King?
  • Gertrude. O, what a rash and bloody deed is this! 2415
  • Hamlet. A bloody deed- almost as bad, good mother,
    As kill a king, and marry with his brother.
  • Gertrude. As kill a king?
  • Hamlet. Ay, lady, it was my word.
    [Lifts up the arras and sees Polonius.] 2420
    Thou wretched, rash, intruding fool, farewell!
    I took thee for thy better. Take thy fortune.
    Thou find'st to be too busy is some danger.
    Leave wringing of your hands. Peace! sit you down
    And let me wring your heart; for so I shall 2425
    If it be made of penetrable stuff;
    If damned custom have not braz'd it so
    That it is proof and bulwark against sense.
  • Gertrude. What have I done that thou dar'st wag thy tongue
    In noise so rude against me? 2430
  • Hamlet. Such an act
    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 2435
    As false as dicers' oaths. O, such a deed
    As from the body of contraction plucks
    The very soul, and sweet religion makes
    A rhapsody of words! Heaven's face doth glow;
    Yea, this solidity and compound mass, 2440
    With tristful visage, as against the doom,
    Is thought-sick at the act.
  • Gertrude. Ah me, what act,
    That roars so loud and thunders in the index?
  • Hamlet. Look here upon th's picture, and on this, 2445
    The counterfeit presentment of two brothers.
    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 2450
    New lighted on a heaven-kissing hill:
    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. 2455
    Here is your husband, like a mildew'd ear
    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 2460
    The heyday in the blood is tame, it's humble,
    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 apoplex'd; for madness would not err, 2465
    Nor sense to ecstacy was ne'er so thrall'd
    But it reserv'd some quantity of choice
    To serve in such a difference. What devil was't
    That thus hath cozen'd you at hoodman-blind?
    Eyes without feeling, feeling without sight, 2470
    Ears without hands or eyes, smelling sans all,
    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, 2475
    To flaming youth let virtue be as wax
    And melt in her own fire. Proclaim no shame
    When the compulsive ardour gives the charge,
    Since frost itself as actively doth burn,
    And reason panders will. 2480
  • Gertrude. O Hamlet, speak no more!
    Thou turn'st mine eyes into my very soul,
    And there I see such black and grained spots
    As will not leave their tinct.
  • Hamlet. Nay, but to live 2485
    In the rank sweat of an enseamed bed,
    Stew'd in corruption, honeying and making love
    Over the nasty sty!
  • Gertrude. O, speak to me no more!
    These words like daggers enter in mine ears. 2490
    No more, sweet Hamlet!
  • Hamlet. A murtherer 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, 2495
    That from a shelf the precious diadem stole
    And put it in his pocket!
  • Gertrude. No more!

Enter the Ghost in his nightgown.

  • Hamlet. A king of shreds and patches!- 2500
    Save me and hover o'er me with your wings,
    You heavenly guards! What would your gracious figure?
  • Gertrude. Alas, he's mad!
  • Hamlet. Do you not come your tardy son to chide,
    That, laps'd in time and passion, lets go by 2505
    Th' important acting of your dread command?
    O, say!
  • Father's Ghost. Do not forget. This visitation
    Is but to whet thy almost blunted purpose.
    But look, amazement on thy mother sits. 2510
    O, step between her and her fighting soul
    Conceit in weakest bodies strongest works.
    Speak to her, Hamlet.
  • Hamlet. How is it with you, lady?
  • Gertrude. Alas, how is't with you, 2515
    That you do bend your eye on vacancy,
    And with th' encorporal air do hold discourse?
    Forth at your eyes your spirits wildly peep;
    And, as the sleeping soldiers in th' alarm,
    Your bedded hairs, like life in excrements, 2520
    Start up and stand an end. O gentle son,
    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 conjoin'd, preaching to stones, 2525
    Would make them capable.- Do not look upon me,
    Lest with this piteous action you convert
    My stern effects. Then what I have to do
    Will want true colour- tears perchance for blood.
  • Gertrude. To whom do you speak this? 2530
  • Hamlet. Do you see nothing there?
  • Gertrude. Nothing at all; yet all that is I see.
  • Hamlet. Nor did you nothing hear?
  • Gertrude. No, nothing but ourselves.
  • Hamlet. Why, look you there! Look how it steals away! 2535
    My father, in his habit as he liv'd!
    Look where he goes even now out at the portal!

Exit Ghost.

  • Gertrude. This is the very coinage of your brain.
    This bodiless creation ecstasy 2540
    Is very cunning in.
  • Hamlet. Ecstasy?
    My pulse as yours doth temperately keep time
    And makes as healthful music. It is not madness
    That I have utt'red. Bring me to the test, 2545
    And I the matter will reword; which madness
    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, 2550
    Whiles rank corruption, mining all within,
    Infects unseen. Confess yourself to heaven;
    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; 2555
    For in the fatness of these pursy times
    Virtue itself of vice must pardon beg-
    Yea, curb and woo for leave to do him good.
  • Gertrude. O Hamlet, thou hast cleft my heart in twain.
  • Hamlet. O, throw away the worser part of it, 2560
    And live the purer with the other half,
    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 evil, is angel yet in this, 2565
    That to the use of actions fair and good
    He likewise gives a frock or livery,
    That aptly is put on. Refrain to-night,
    And that shall lend a kind of easiness
    To the next abstinence; the next more easy; 2570
    For use almost can change the stamp of nature,
    And either [master] 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, 2575
    I do repent; but heaven hath pleas'd it so,
    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. 2580
    I must be cruel, only to be kind;
    Thus bad begins, and worse remains behind.
    One word more, good lady.
  • Gertrude. What shall I do?
  • Hamlet. Not this, by no means, that I bid you do: 2585
    Let the bloat King tempt you again to bed;
    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 damn'd fingers,
    Make you to ravel all this matter out, 2590
    That I essentially am not in madness,
    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? 2595
    No, in despite of sense and secrecy,
    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. 2600
  • Gertrude. Be thou assur'd, if words be made of breath,
    And breath of life, I have no life to breathe
    What thou hast said to me.
  • Hamlet. I must to England; you know that?
  • Gertrude. Alack, 2605
    I had forgot! 'Tis so concluded on.
  • Hamlet. There's letters seal'd; and my two schoolfellows,
    Whom I will trust as I will adders fang'd,
    They bear the mandate; they must sweep my way
    And marshal me to knavery. Let it work; 2610
    For 'tis the sport to have the enginer
    Hoist with his own petar; 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. 2615
    This man shall set me packing.
    I'll lug the guts into the neighbour room.-
    Mother, good night.- Indeed, this counsellor
    Is now most still, most secret, and most grave,
    Who was in life a foolish peating knave. 2620
    Come, sir, to draw toward an end with you.
    Good night, mother.

[Exit the Queen. Then] Exit Hamlet, tugging in



Act IV, Scene 1

Elsinore. A room in the Castle.


Enter King and Queen, with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.

  • Claudius. There's matter in these sighs. These profound heaves
    You must translate; 'tis fit we understand them.
    Where is your son?
  • Gertrude. Bestow this place on us a little while.
    [Exeunt Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.] 2630
    Ah, mine own lord, what have I seen to-night!
  • Claudius. What, Gertrude? How does Hamlet?
  • Gertrude. Mad as the sea and wind when both contend
    Which is the mightier. In his lawless fit
    Behind the arras hearing something stir, 2635
    Whips out his rapier, cries 'A rat, a rat!'
    And in this brainish apprehension kills
    The unseen good old man.
  • Claudius. O heavy deed!
    It had been so with us, had we been there. 2640
    His liberty is full of threats to all-
    To you yourself, to us, to every one.
    Alas, how shall this bloody deed be answer'd?
    It will be laid to us, whose providence
    Should have kept short, restrain'd, and out of haunt 2645
    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? 2650
  • Gertrude. To draw apart the body he hath kill'd;
    O'er whom his very madness, like some ore
    Among a mineral of metals base,
    Shows itself pure. He weeps for what is done.
  • Claudius. O Gertrude, come away! 2655
    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.] 2660
    Friends both, go join you with some further aid.
    Hamlet in madness hath Polonius slain,
    And from his mother's closet hath he dragg'd him.
    Go seek him out; speak fair, and bring the body
    Into the chapel. I pray you haste in this. 2665
    [Exeunt [Rosencrantz and Guildenstern].]
    Come, Gertrude, we'll call up our wisest friends
    And let them know both what we mean to do
    And what's untimely done. [So haply slander-]
    Whose whisper o'er the world's diameter, 2670
    As level as the cannon to his blank,
    Transports his poisoned shot- may miss our name
    And hit the woundless air.- O, come away!
    My soul is full of discord and dismay.



Act IV, Scene 2

Elsinore. A passage in the Castle.


Enter Hamlet.

  • Hamlet. Safely stow'd.
  • Gentlemen. [within] Hamlet! Lord Hamlet!
  • Hamlet. But soft! What noise? Who calls on Hamlet? O, here they


Enter Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.

  • Rosencrantz. 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. 2685
  • Hamlet. Do not believe it.
  • Rosencrantz. Believe 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? 2690
  • Rosencrantz. Take you me for a sponge, my lord?
  • Hamlet. Ay, 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, in the corner of his jaw;
    first mouth'd, to be last swallowed. When he needs what you have 2695
    glean'd, it is but squeezing you and, sponge, you shall be dry
  • Rosencrantz. I understand you not, my lord.
  • Hamlet. I am glad of it. A knavish speech sleeps in a foolish ear.
  • Rosencrantz. My lord, you must tell us where the body is and go with us to 2700
    the King.
  • Hamlet. The body is with the King, but the King is not with the body.
    The King is a thing-
  • Guildenstern. A thing, my lord?
  • Hamlet. Of nothing. Bring me to him. Hide fox, and all after. 2705



Act IV, Scene 3

Elsinore. A room in the Castle.


Enter King.

  • Claudius. 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. 2710
    He's lov'd of the distracted multitude,
    Who like not in their judgment, but their eyes;
    And where 'tis so, th' offender's scourge is weigh'd,
    But never the offence. To bear all smooth and even,
    This sudden sending him away must seem 2715
    Deliberate pause. Diseases desperate grown
    By desperate appliance are reliev'd,
    Or not at all.
    [Enter Rosencrantz.]
    How now O What hath befall'n? 2720
  • Rosencrantz. Where the dead body is bestow'd, my lord,
    We cannot get from him.
  • Claudius. But where is he?
  • Rosencrantz. Without, my lord; guarded, to know your pleasure.
  • Claudius. Bring him before us. 2725
  • Rosencrantz. Ho, Guildenstern! Bring in my lord.

Enter Hamlet and Guildenstern [with Attendants].

  • Claudius. Now, Hamlet, where's Polonius?
  • Hamlet. At supper.
  • Claudius. At supper? Where? 2730
  • 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 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 2735
  • Claudius. Alas, alas!
  • Hamlet. A man may fish with the worm that hath eat of a king, and eat
    of the fish that hath fed of that worm.
  • Claudius. What dost thou mean by this? 2740
  • Hamlet. Nothing but to show you how a king may go a progress through
    the guts of a beggar.
  • Claudius. 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 indeed, if you 2745
    find him not within this month, you shall nose him as you go up
    the stair, into the lobby.
  • Claudius. Go seek him there. [To Attendants.]
  • Hamlet. He will stay till you come.

[Exeunt Attendants.]

  • Claudius. Hamlet, this deed, for thine especial safety,-
    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, 2755
    Th' associates tend, and everything is bent
    For England.
  • Hamlet. For England?
  • Claudius. Ay, Hamlet.
  • Hamlet. Good. 2760
  • Claudius. So is it, if thou knew'st our purposes.
  • Hamlet. I see a cherub that sees them. But come, for England!
    Farewell, dear mother.
  • Claudius. Thy loving father, Hamlet.
  • Hamlet. My mother! Father and mother is man and wife; man and wife is 2765
    one flesh; and so, my mother. Come, for England!


  • Claudius. Follow him at foot; tempt him with speed aboard.
    Delay it not; I'll have him hence to-night.
    Away! for everything is seal'd and done 2770
    That else leans on th' affair. Pray you make haste.
    [Exeunt Rosencrantz and Guildenstern]
    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 2775
    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; 2780
    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 were ne'er begun. Exit.


Act IV, Scene 4

Near Elsinore.


Enter Fortinbras with his Army over the stage.

  • Fortinbras. Go, Captain, from me greet the Danish king. 2785
    Tell him that by his license Fortinbras
    Craves the conveyance of a promis'd march
    Over his kingdom. You know the rendezvous.
    If that his Majesty would aught with us,
    We shall express our duty in his eye; 2790
    And let him know so.
  • Norwegian Captain. I will do't, my lord.
  • Fortinbras. Go softly on.

Exeunt [all but the Captain].

Enter Hamlet, Rosencrantz, [Guildenstern,] and others.

  • Hamlet. Good sir, whose powers are these?
  • Norwegian Captain. They are of Norway, sir.
  • Hamlet. How purpos'd, sir, I pray you?
  • Norwegian Captain. Against some part of Poland.
  • Hamlet. Who commands them, sir? 2800
  • Norwegian Captain. The nephew to old Norway, Fortinbras.
  • Hamlet. Goes it against the main of Poland, sir,
    Or for some frontier?
  • Norwegian Captain. Truly to speak, and with no addition,
    We go to gain a little patch of ground 2805
    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. 2810
  • Norwegian Captain. Yes, it is already garrison'd.
  • Hamlet. Two thousand souls and twenty thousand ducats
    Will not debate the question of this straw.
    This is th' imposthume of much wealth and peace,
    That inward breaks, and shows no cause without 2815
    Why the man dies.- I humbly thank you, sir.
  • Norwegian Captain. God b' wi' you, sir. [Exit.]
  • Rosencrantz. Will't please you go, my lord?
  • Hamlet. I'll be with you straight. Go a little before.
    [Exeunt all but Hamlet.] 2820
    How all occasions do inform against me
    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, 2825
    Looking before and after, gave us not
    That capability and godlike reason
    To fust in us unus'd. Now, whether it be
    Bestial oblivion, or some craven scruple
    Of thinking too precisely on th' event,- 2830
    A thought which, quarter'd, hath but one part 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. 2835
    Witness this army of such mass and charge,
    Led by a delicate and tender prince,
    Whose spirit, with divine ambition puff'd,
    Makes mouths at the invisible event,
    Exposing what is mortal and unsure 2840
    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 honour's at the stake. How stand I then, 2845
    That have a father kill'd, a mother stain'd,
    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 2850
    Go to their graves like beds, fight for a plot
    Whereon the numbers cannot try the cause,
    Which is not tomb enough and continent
    To hide the slain? O, from this time forth,
    My thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth! Exit. 2855


Act IV, Scene 5

Elsinore. A room in the Castle.


Enter Horatio, Queen, and a Gentleman.

  • Gertrude. I will not speak with her.
  • Gentleman. She is importunate, indeed distract.
    Her mood will needs be pitied.
  • Gertrude. What would she have? 2860
  • Gentleman. 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,
    Yet the unshaped use of it doth move 2865
    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,
    Indeed would make one think there might be thought,
    Though nothing sure, yet much unhappily. 2870
  • Horatio. 'Twere good she were spoken with; for she may strew
    Dangerous conjectures in ill-breeding minds.
  • Gertrude. Let her come in.
    [Exit Gentleman.]
    [Aside] To my sick soul (as sin's true nature is) 2875
    Each toy seems Prologue to some great amiss.
    So full of artless jealousy is guilt
    It spills itself in fearing to be spilt.

Enter Ophelia distracted.

  • Ophelia. Where is the beauteous Majesty of Denmark? 2880
  • Gertrude. How now, Ophelia?
  • Ophelia. [sings]
    How should I your true-love know
    From another one?
    By his cockle bat and' staff 2885
    And his sandal shoon.
  • Gertrude. Alas, sweet lady, what imports this song?
  • Ophelia. Say you? Nay, pray You mark.
    (Sings) He is dead and gone, lady,
    He is dead and gone; 2890
    At his head a grass-green turf,
    At his heels a stone.
    O, ho!
  • Gertrude. Nay, but Ophelia-
  • Ophelia. Pray you mark. 2895
    (Sings) White his shroud as the mountain snow-

Enter King.

  • Gertrude. Alas, look here, my lord!
  • Ophelia. [Sings]
    Larded all with sweet flowers; 2900
    Which bewept to the grave did not go
    With true-love showers.
  • Claudius. 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 2905
    your table!
  • Claudius. Conceit upon her father.
  • Ophelia. Pray let's have no words of this; but when they ask, you what
    it means, say you this:
    (Sings) To-morrow is Saint Valentine's day, 2910
    All in the morning bedtime,
    And I a maid at your window,
    To be your Valentine.
    Then up he rose and donn'd his clo'es
    And dupp'd the chamber door, 2915
    Let in the maid, that out a maid
    Never departed more.
  • Claudius. Pretty Ophelia!
  • Ophelia. Indeed, la, without an oath, I'll make an end on't!
    [Sings] By Gis and by Saint Charity, 2920
    Alack, and fie for shame!
    Young men will do't if they come to't
    By Cock, they are to blame.
    Quoth she, 'Before you tumbled me,
    You promis'd me to wed.' 2925
    He answers:
    'So would I 'a' done, by yonder sun,
    An thou hadst not come to my bed.'
  • Claudius. How long hath she been thus?
  • Ophelia. I hope all will be well. We must be patient; but I cannot 2930
    choose but weep to think they would 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. Exit
  • Claudius. Follow her close; give her good watch, I pray you. 2935
    [Exit Horatio.]
    O, this is the poison of deep grief; it springs
    All from her father's death. O Gertrude, Gertrude,
    When sorrows come, they come not single spies.
    But in battalions! First, her father slain; 2940
    Next, your son gone, and he most violent author
    Of his own just remove; the people muddied,
    Thick and and unwholesome in their thoughts and whispers
    For good Polonius' death, and we have done but greenly
    In hugger-mugger to inter him; poor Ophelia 2945
    Divided from herself and her fair judgment,
    Without the which we are pictures or mere beasts;
    Last, and as much containing as all these,
    Her brother is in secret come from France;
    Feeds on his wonder, keeps, himself in clouds, 2950
    And wants not buzzers to infect his ear
    With pestilent speeches of his father's death,
    Wherein necessity, of matter beggar'd,
    Will nothing stick our person to arraign
    In ear and ear. O my dear Gertrude, this, 2955
    Like to a murd'ring piece, in many places
    Give me superfluous death. A noise within.
  • Gertrude. Alack, what noise is this?
  • Claudius. Where are my Switzers? Let them guard the door.
    [Enter a Messenger.] 2960
    What is the matter?
  • Messenger. Save Yourself, my lord:
    The ocean, overpeering of his list,
    Eats not the flats with more impetuous haste
    Than Young Laertes, in a riotous head, 2965
    O'erbears Your offices. The rabble call him lord;
    And, as the world were now but to begin,
    Antiquity forgot, custom not known,
    The ratifiers and props of every word,
    They cry 'Choose we! Laertes shall be king!' 2970
    Caps, hands, and tongues applaud it to the clouds,
    'Laertes shall be king! Laertes king!'

A noise within.

  • Gertrude. How cheerfully on the false trail they cry!
    O, this is counter, you false Danish dogs! 2975
  • Claudius. The doors are broke.

Enter Laertes with others.

  • Laertes. Where is this king?- Sirs, staid you all without.
  • All. No, let's come in!
  • Laertes. I pray you give me leave. 2980
  • All. We will, we will!
  • Laertes. I thank you. Keep the door. [Exeunt his Followers.]
    O thou vile king,
    Give me my father!
  • Gertrude. Calmly, good Laertes. 2985
  • Laertes. That drop of blood that's calm proclaims me bastard;
    Cries cuckold to my father; brands the harlot
    Even here between the chaste unsmirched brows
    Of my true mother.
  • Claudius. What is the cause, Laertes, 2990
    That thy rebellion looks so giantlike?
    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,
    Acts little of his will. Tell me, Laertes, 2995
    Why thou art thus incens'd. Let him go, Gertrude.
    Speak, man.
  • Laertes. Where is my father?
  • Claudius. Dead.
  • Gertrude. But not by him! 3000
  • Claudius. Let him demand his fill.
  • Laertes. How came he dead? I'll not be juggled with:
    To hell, allegiance! vows, to the blackest devil
    Conscience and grace, to the profoundest pit!
    I dare damnation. To this point I stand, 3005
    That both the world, I give to negligence,
    Let come what comes; only I'll be reveng'd
    Most throughly for my father.
  • Claudius. Who shall stay you?
  • Laertes. My will, not all the world! 3010
    And for my means, I'll husband them so well
    They shall go far with little.
  • Claudius. Good Laertes,
    If you desire to know the certainty
    Of your dear father's death, is't writ in your revenge 3015
    That sweepstake you will draw both friend and foe,
    Winner and loser?
  • Laertes. None but his enemies.
  • Claudius. Will you know them then?
  • Laertes. To his good friends thus wide I'll ope my arms 3020
    And, like the kind life-rend'ring pelican,
    Repast them with my blood.
  • Claudius. Why, now You speak
    Like a good child and a true gentleman.
    That I am guiltless of your father's death, 3025
    And am most sensibly in grief for it,
    It shall as level to your judgment pierce
    As day does to your eye.

A noise within: 'Let her come in.'

  • Laertes. How now? What noise is that? 3030
    [Enter Ophelia. ]
    O heat, dry up my brains! Tears seven times salt
    Burn out the sense and virtue of mine eye!
    By heaven, thy madness shall be paid by weight
    Till our scale turn the beam. O rose of May! 3035
    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?
    Nature is fine in love, and where 'tis fine,
    It sends some precious instance of itself 3040
    After the thing it loves.
  • Ophelia. [sings]
    They bore him barefac'd on the bier
    (Hey non nony, nony, hey nony)
    And in his grave rain'd many a tear. 3045
    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 call him a-down-a.' O,
    how the wheel becomes it! It is the false steward, that stole his 3050
    master's daughter.
  • Laertes. This nothing's more than matter.
  • Ophelia. There's rosemary, that's for remembrance. Pray you, love,
    remember. And there is pansies, that's for thoughts.
  • Laertes. A document in madness! Thoughts and remembrance fitted. 3055
  • Ophelia. There's fennel for you, and columbines. There's rue for you,
    and here's some for me. We may call it herb of grace o' Sundays.
    O, you must wear your rue with a difference! There's a daisy. I
    would give you some violets, but they wither'd all when my father
    died. They say he made a good end. 3060
    [Sings] For bonny sweet Robin is all my joy.
  • Laertes. Thought and affliction, passion, hell itself,
    She turns to favour and to prettiness.
  • Ophelia. [sings]
    And will he not come again? 3065
    And will he not come again?
    No, no, he is dead;
    Go to thy deathbed;
    He never will come again.
    His beard was as white as snow, 3070
    All flaxen was his poll.
    He is gone, he is gone,
    And we cast away moan.
    God 'a'mercy on his soul!
    And of all Christian souls, I pray God. God b' wi' you. 3075


  • Laertes. Do you see this, O God?
  • Claudius. Laertes, I must commune with your grief,
    Or you deny me right. Go but apart,
    Make choice of whom your wisest friends you will, 3080
    And they shall hear and judge 'twixt you and me.
    If by direct or by collateral hand
    They find us touch'd, we will our kingdom give,
    Our crown, our life, and all that we call ours,
    To you in satisfaction; but if not, 3085
    Be you content to lend your patience to us,
    And we shall jointly labour with your soul
    To give it due content.
  • Laertes. Let this be so.
    His means of death, his obscure funeral- 3090
    No trophy, sword, nor hatchment o'er his bones,
    No noble rite nor formal ostentation,-
    Cry to be heard, as 'twere from heaven to earth,
    That I must call't in question.
  • Claudius. So you shall; 3095
    And where th' offence is let the great axe fall.
    I pray you go with me.



Act IV, Scene 6

Elsinore. Another room in the Castle.


Enter Horatio with an Attendant.

  • Horatio. What are they that would speak with me? 3100
  • Servant. Seafaring men, sir. They say they have letters for you.
  • Horatio. Let them come in.
    [Exit Attendant.]
    I do not know from what part of the world
    I should be greeted, if not from Lord Hamlet. 3105

Enter Sailors.

  • Sailor. God bless you, sir.
  • Horatio. Let him bless thee too.
  • Sailor. 'A shall, sir, an't please him. There's a letter for you,
    sir,- it comes from th' ambassador that was bound for England- if 3110
    your name be Horatio, as I am let to know it is.
  • Horatio. [reads the letter] 'Horatio, when thou shalt have overlook'd
    this, give these fellows some means to the 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 3115
    slow of sail, we put on a compelled valour, and in the grapple I
    boarded them. On the instant they got clear of our ship; so I
    alone 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 3120
    to me with as much speed as thou wouldst fly death. I have words
    to speak in 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. 3125
    'He that thou knowest thine, HAMLET.'
    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. Exeunt.


Act IV, Scene 7

Elsinore. Another room in the Castle.


Enter King and Laertes.

  • Claudius. 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
    Pursued my life. 3135
  • Laertes. It well appears. But tell me
    Why you proceeded not against these feats
    So crimeful and so capital in nature,
    As by your safety, wisdom, all things else,
    You mainly were stirr'd up. 3140
  • Claudius. O, for two special reasons,
    Which may to you, perhaps, seem much unsinew'd,
    But yet to me they are strong. The Queen his mother
    Lives almost by his looks; and for myself,-
    My virtue or my plague, be it either which,- 3145
    She's 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
    Is the great love the general gender bear him, 3150
    Who, dipping all his faults in their affection,
    Would, like the spring that turneth wood to stone,
    Convert his gives to graces; so that my arrows,
    Too slightly timber'd for so loud a wind,
    Would have reverted to my bow again, 3155
    And not where I had aim'd them.
  • Laertes. And so have I a noble father lost;
    A sister driven into desp'rate terms,
    Whose worth, if praises may go back again,
    Stood challenger on mount of all the age 3160
    For her perfections. But my revenge will come.
  • Claudius. 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,
    And think it pastime. You shortly shall hear more. 3165
    I lov'd 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 Hamlet: 3170
    This to your Majesty; this to the Queen.
  • Claudius. From Hamlet? Who brought them?
  • Messenger. Sailors, my lord, they say; I saw them not.
    They were given me by Claudio; he receiv'd them
    Of him that brought them. 3175
  • Claudius. Laertes, you shall hear them.
    Leave us.
    [Exit Messenger.]
    [Reads]'High and Mighty,-You shall know I am set naked on your
    kingdom. To-morrow shall I beg leave to see your kingly eyes; 3180
    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?
    Or is it some abuse, and no such thing?
  • Laertes. Know you the hand? 3185
  • Claudius. 'Tis Hamlet's character. 'Naked!'
    And in a postscript here, he says 'alone.'
    Can you advise me?
  • Laertes. I am lost in it, my lord. But let him come!
    It warms the very sickness in my heart 3190
    That I shall live and tell him to his teeth,
    'Thus didest thou.'
  • Claudius. If it be so, Laertes
    (As how should it be so? how otherwise?),
    Will you be rul'd by me? 3195
  • Laertes. Ay my lord,
    So you will not o'errule me to a peace.
  • Claudius. To thine own peace. If he be now return'd
    As checking at his voyage, and that he means
    No more to undertake it, I will work him 3200
    To exploit now ripe in my device,
    Under the which he shall not choose but fall;
    And for his death no wind shall breathe
    But even his mother shall uncharge the practice
    And call it accident. 3205
  • Laertes. My lord, I will be rul'd;
    The rather, if you could devise it so
    That I might be the organ.
  • Claudius. It falls right.
    You have been talk'd of since your travel much, 3210
    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
    As did that one; and that, in my regard,
    Of the unworthiest siege. 3215
  • Laertes. What part is that, my lord?
  • Claudius. A very riband in the cap of youth-
    Yet needfull too; for youth no less becomes
    The light and careless livery that it wears
    Than settled age his sables and his weeds, 3220
    Importing health and graveness. Two months since
    Here was a gentleman of Normandy.
    I have seen myself, and serv'd against, the French,
    And they can well on horseback; but this gallant
    Had witchcraft in't. He grew unto his seat, 3225
    And to such wondrous doing brought his horse
    As had he been incorps'd and demi-natur'd
    With the brave beast. So far he topp'd my thought
    That I, in forgery of shapes and tricks,
    Come short of what he did. 3230
  • Laertes. A Norman was't?
  • Claudius. A Norman.
  • Laertes. Upon my life, Lamound.
  • Claudius. The very same.
  • Laertes. I know him well. He is the broach indeed 3235
    And gem of all the nation.
  • Claudius. He made confession of you;
    And gave you such a masterly report
    For art and exercise in your defence,
    And for your rapier most especially, 3240
    That he cried out 'twould be a sight indeed
    If one could match you. The scrimers of their nation
    He swore had neither motion, guard, nor eye,
    If you oppos'd them. Sir, this report of his
    Did Hamlet so envenom with his envy 3245
    That he could nothing do but wish and beg
    Your sudden coming o'er to play with you.
    Now, out of this-
  • Laertes. What out of this, my lord?
  • Claudius. Laertes, was your father dear to you? 3250
    Or are you like the painting of a sorrow,
    A face without a heart,'
  • Laertes. Why ask you this?
  • Claudius. Not that I think you did not love your father;
    But that I know love is begun by time, 3255
    And that I see, in passages of proof,
    Time qualifies the spark and fire of it.
    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; 3260
    For goodness, growing to a plurisy,
    Dies in his own too-much. That we would do,
    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; 3265
    And then this 'should' is like a spendthrift sigh,
    That hurts by easing. But to the quick o' th' ulcer!
    Hamlet comes back. What would you undertake
    To show yourself your father's son in deed
    More than in words? 3270
  • Laertes. To cut his throat i' th' church!
  • Claudius. No place indeed should murther sanctuarize;
    Revenge should have no bounds. But, good Laertes,
    Will you do this? Keep close within your chamber.
    Hamlet return'd shall know you are come home. 3275
    We'll put on those shall praise your excellence
    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, 3280
    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.
  • Laertes. I will do't! 3285
    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 3290
    Under the moon, can save the thing from death
    This is but scratch'd withal. I'll touch my point
    With this contagion, that, if I gall him slightly,
    It may be death.
  • Claudius. Let's further think of this, 3295
    Weigh what convenience both of time and means
    May fit us to our shape. If this should fall,
    And that our drift look through our bad performance.
    'Twere better not assay'd. Therefore this project
    Should have a back or second, that might hold 3300
    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-
    As make your bouts more violent to that end- 3305
    And that he calls for drink, I'll have prepar'd him
    A chalice for the nonce; whereon but sipping,
    If he by chance escape your venom'd stuck,
    Our purpose may hold there.- But stay, what noise,
    [Enter Queen.] 3310
    How now, sweet queen?
  • Gertrude. One woe doth tread upon another's heel,
    So fast they follow. Your sister's drown'd, Laertes.
  • Laertes. Drown'd! O, where?
  • Gertrude. There is a willow grows aslant a brook, 3315
    That shows his hoar leaves in the glassy stream.
    There with fantastic garlands did she come
    Of crowflowers, nettles, daisies, and long purples,
    That liberal shepherds give a grosser name,
    But our cold maids do dead men's fingers call them. 3320
    There on the pendant boughs her coronet weeds
    Clamb'ring to hang, an envious sliver broke,
    When down her weedy trophies and herself
    Fell in the weeping brook. Her clothes spread wide
    And, mermaid-like, awhile they bore her up; 3325
    Which time she chaunted snatches of old tunes,
    As one incapable of her own distress,
    Or like a creature native and indued
    Unto that element; but long it could not be
    Till that her garments, heavy with their drink, 3330
    Pull'd the poor wretch from her melodious lay
    To muddy death.
  • Laertes. Alas, then she is drown'd?
  • Gertrude. Drown'd, drown'd.
  • Laertes. Too much of water hast thou, poor Ophelia, 3335
    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,
    The woman will be out. Adieu, my lord.
    I have a speech of fire, that fain would blaze 3340
    But that this folly douts it. Exit.
  • Claudius. Let's follow, Gertrude.
    How much I had to do to calm his rage I
    Now fear I this will give it start again;
    Therefore let's follow. 3345



Act V, Scene 1

Elsinore. A churchyard.


Enter two Clowns, [with spades and pickaxes].

  • First Clown. Is she to be buried in Christian burial when she wilfully seeks her own salvation?
  • Second Clown. I tell thee she is; therefore make her grave straight.
    The crowner hath sate on her, and finds it Christian burial. 3350
  • First Clown. How can that be, unless she drown'd herself in her own
  • Second Clown. Why, 'tis found so.
  • First Clown. It must be se offendendo; it cannot be else. For here lies
    the point: if I drown myself wittingly, it argues an act; and an 3355
    act hath three branches-it is to act, to do, and to perform;
    argal, she drown'd herself wittingly.
  • Second Clown. Nay, but hear you, Goodman Delver!
  • First Clown. Give me leave. Here lies the water; good. Here stands the
    man; good. If the man go to this water and drown himself, it is, 3360
    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 that is not
    guilty of his own death shortens not his own life.
  • Second Clown. But is this law?
  • First Clown. Ay, marry, is't- crowner's quest law. 3365
  • Second Clown. Will you ha' the truth an't? If this had not been a
    gentlewoman, she should have been buried out o' Christian burial.
  • First Clown. Why, there thou say'st! And the more pity that great folk
    should have count'nance in this world to drown or hang themselves
    more than their even-Christian. Come, my spade! There is no 3370
    ancient gentlemen but gard'ners, ditchers, and grave-makers. They
    hold up Adam's profession.
  • Second Clown. Was he a gentleman?
  • First Clown. 'A was the first that ever bore arms.
  • Second Clown. Why, he had none. 3375
  • First Clown. What, art a heathen? How dost thou understand the Scripture?
    The Scripture says Adam digg'd. Could he dig without arms? I'll
    put another question to thee. If thou answerest me not to the
    purpose, confess thyself-
  • Second Clown. Go to! 3380
  • First Clown. What is he that builds stronger than either the mason, the
    shipwright, or the carpenter?
  • Second Clown. The gallows-maker; for that frame outlives a thousand
  • First Clown. I like thy wit well, in good faith. The gallows does well. 3385
    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 gallows may do well to thee. To't again, come!
  • Second Clown. Who builds stronger than a mason, a shipwright, or a
    carpenter? 3390
  • First Clown. Ay, tell me that, and unyoke.
  • Second Clown. Marry, now I can tell!
  • First Clown. To't.
  • Second Clown. Mass, I cannot tell.

Enter Hamlet and Horatio afar off.

  • First Clown. Cudgel thy brains no more about it, for your dull ass will
    not mend his pace with beating; and when you are ask'd this
    question next, say 'a grave-maker.' The houses he makes lasts
    till doomsday. Go, get thee to Yaughan; fetch me a stoup of
    liquor. 3400

[Exit Second Clown.]

[Clown digs and] sings.

  • First Clown. In youth when I did love, did love,
    Methought it was very sweet;
    To contract- O- the time for- a- my behove, 3405
    O, methought there- a- was nothing- a- meet.
  • Hamlet. Has this fellow no feeling of his business, that he sings at
  • Horatio. Custom hath made it in him a property of easiness.
  • Hamlet. 'Tis e'en so. The hand of little employment hath the daintier 3410
  • First Clown. [sings]
    But age with his stealing steps
    Hath clawed me in his clutch,
    And hath shipped me intil the land, 3415
    As if I had never been such.

[Throws 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 murther! This might be the pate of a Politician, 3420
    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 morrow, sweet lord!
    How dost thou, good lord?' This might be my Lord Such-a-one, that 3425
    prais'd my Lord Such-a-one's horse when he meant to beg it- might
    it not?
  • Horatio. Ay, my lord.
  • Hamlet. Why, e'en so! and now my Lady Worm's, chapless, and knock'd
    about the mazzard with a sexton's spade. Here's fine revolution, 3430
    and we had the trick to see't. Did these bones cost no more the
    breeding but to play at loggets with 'em? Mine ache to think
  • First Clown. [Sings]
    A pickaxe and a spade, a spade, 3435
    For and a shrouding sheet;
    O, a Pit of clay for to be made
    For such a guest is meet.
    Throws up [another skull].
  • Hamlet. There's another. Why may not that be the skull of a lawyer? 3440
    Where be his quiddits now, his quillets, his cases, his tenures,
    and his tricks? Why does he suffer this rude knave now to knock
    him about the sconce with a dirty shovel, and will not tell 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 3445
    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 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 3450
    scarcely lie in this box; and must th' inheritor himself have no
    more, ha?
  • Horatio. Not a jot more, my lord.
  • Hamlet. Is not parchment made of sheepskins?
  • Horatio. Ay, my lord, And of calveskins too. 3455
  • Hamlet. They are sheep and calves which seek out assurance in that. I
    will speak to this fellow. Whose grave's this, sirrah?
  • First Clown. Mine, sir.
    [Sings] O, a pit of clay for to be made
    For such a guest is meet. 3460
  • Hamlet. I think it be thine indeed, for thou liest in't.
  • First Clown. You 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 liest. 3465
  • First Clown. 'Tis a quick lie, sir; 'twill away again from me to you.
  • Hamlet. What man dost thou dig it for?
  • First Clown. For no man, sir.
  • Hamlet. What woman then?
  • First Clown. For none neither. 3470
  • Hamlet. Who is to be buried in't?
  • First Clown. One that was a woman, sir; but, rest her soul, she's dead.
  • Hamlet. How absolute the knave is! We must speak by the card, or
    equivocation will undo us. By the Lord, Horatio, this three years
    I have taken note of it, the age is grown so picked that the toe 3475
    of the peasant comes so near the heel of the courtier he galls
    his kibe.- How long hast thou been a grave-maker?
  • First Clown. Of all the days i' th' year, I came to't that day that our
    last king Hamlet overcame Fortinbras.
  • Hamlet. How long is that since? 3480
  • First Clown. Cannot you tell that? Every fool can tell that. It was the
    very day that young Hamlet was born- he that is mad, and sent
    into England.
  • Hamlet. Ay, marry, why was be sent into England?
  • First Clown. Why, because 'a was mad. 'A shall recover his wits there; 3485
    or, if 'a do not, 'tis no great matter there.
  • Hamlet. Why?
  • First Clown. 'Twill not he seen in him there. There the men are as mad as
  • Hamlet. How came he mad? 3490
  • First Clown. Very strangely, they say.
  • Hamlet. How strangely?
  • First Clown. Faith, e'en with losing his wits.
  • Hamlet. Upon what ground?
  • First Clown. Why, here in Denmark. I have been sexton here, man and boy 3495
    thirty years.
  • Hamlet. How long will a man lie i' th' earth ere he rot?
  • First Clown. Faith, if 'a be not rotten before 'a die (as we have many
    pocky corses now-a-days that will scarce hold the laying in, I
    will last you some eight year or nine year. A tanner will last 3500
    you nine year.
  • Hamlet. Why he more than another?
  • First Clown. Why, sir, his hide is so tann'd with his trade that 'a will
    keep out water a great while; and your water is a sore decayer of
    your whoreson dead body. Here's a skull now. This skull hath lien 3505
    you i' th' earth three-and-twenty years.
  • Hamlet. Whose was it?
  • First Clown. A whoreson, mad fellow's it was. Whose do you think it was?
  • Hamlet. Nay, I know not.
  • First Clown. A pestilence on him for a mad rogue! 'A pour'd a flagon of 3510
    Rhenish on my head once. This same skull, sir, was Yorick's
    skull, the King's jester.
  • Hamlet. This?
  • First Clown. E'en that.
  • Hamlet. Let me see. [Takes the skull.] Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, 3515
    Horatio. A fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy. He
    hath borne me on his back a thousand times. And now how abhorred
    in my imagination it is! My gorge rises at it. Here hung those
    lips that I have kiss'd I know not how oft. Where be your gibes
    now? your gambols? your songs? your flashes of merriment that 3520
    were wont to set the table on a roar? Not one now, to mock your
    own grinning? Quite chap- fall'n? Now get you to my lady's
    chamber, and tell her, let her paint an inch thick, to this
    favour she must come. Make her laugh at that. Prithee, Horatio,
    tell me one thing. 3525
  • Horatio. What's that, my lord?
  • Hamlet. Dost thou think Alexander look'd o' this fashion i' th' earth?
  • Horatio. E'en so.
  • Hamlet. And smelt so? Pah!

[Puts down the skull.]

  • Horatio. E'en so, my lord.
  • Hamlet. To what base uses we may return, Horatio! 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. 3535
  • Hamlet. No, faith, not a jot; but to follow him thither with modesty
    enough, and likelihood to lead it; as thus: Alexander died,
    Alexander was buried, Alexander returneth into 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? 3540
    Imperious Caesar, dead and turn'd 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!
    But soft! but soft! aside! Here comes the King- 3545
    Enter [priests with] a coffin [in funeral procession], King,
    [Queen, Laertes, with Lords attendant.]
    The Queen, the courtiers. Who is this they follow?
    And with such maimed rites? This doth betoken
    The corse they follow did with desp'rate hand 3550
    Fordo it own life. 'Twas of some estate.
    Couch we awhile, and mark.

[Retires with Horatio.]

  • Laertes. What ceremony else?
  • Hamlet. That is Laertes, 3555
    A very noble youth. Mark.
  • Laertes. What ceremony else?
  • Priest. Her obsequies have been as far enlarg'd
    As we have warranty. Her death was doubtful;
    And, but that great command o'ersways the order, 3560
    She should in ground unsanctified have lodg'd
    Till the last trumpet. For charitable prayers,
    Shards, flints, and pebbles should be thrown on her.
    Yet here she is allow'd her virgin rites,
    Her maiden strewments, and the bringing home 3565
    Of bell and burial.
  • Laertes. Must there no more be done?
  • Priest. No more be done.
    We should profane the service of the dead
    To sing a requiem and such rest to her 3570
    As to peace-parted souls.
  • Laertes. Lay her i' th' earth;
    And from her fair and unpolluted flesh
    May violets spring! I tell thee, churlish priest,
    A minist'ring angel shall my sister be 3575
    When thou liest howling.
  • Hamlet. What, the fair Ophelia?
  • Gertrude. Sweets to the sweet! Farewell.
    [Scatters flowers.]
    I hop'd thou shouldst have been my Hamlet's wife; 3580
    I thought thy bride-bed to have deck'd, sweet maid,
    And not have strew'd thy grave.
  • Laertes. O, treble woe
    Fall ten times treble on that cursed head
    Whose wicked deed thy most ingenious sense 3585
    Depriv'd thee of! Hold off the earth awhile,
    Till I have caught her once more in mine arms.
    [Leaps in the grave.]
    Now pile your dust upon the quick and dead
    Till of this flat a mountain you have made 3590
    T' o'ertop old Pelion or the skyish head
    Of blue Olympus.
  • Hamlet. [comes forward] What is he whose grief
    Bears such an emphasis? whose phrase of sorrow
    Conjures the wand'ring stars, and makes them stand 3595
    Like wonder-wounded hearers? This is I,
    Hamlet the Dane. [Leaps in after Laertes.]
  • Laertes. The devil take thy soul!

[Grapples with him.]

  • Hamlet. Thou pray'st not well. 3600
    I prithee take thy fingers from my throat;
    For, though I am not splenitive and rash,
    Yet have I in me something dangerous,
    Which let thy wisdom fear. Hold off thy hand!
  • Claudius. Pluck them asunder. 3605
  • Gertrude. Hamlet, Hamlet!
  • All. Gentlemen!
  • Horatio. Good my lord, be quiet.

[The Attendants part them, and they come out of the grave.]

  • Hamlet. Why, I will fight with him upon this theme 3610
    Until my eyelids will no longer wag.
  • Gertrude. O my son, what theme?
  • Hamlet. I lov'd Ophelia. Forty thousand brothers
    Could not (with all their quantity of love)
    Make up my sum. What wilt thou do for her? 3615
  • Claudius. O, he is mad, Laertes.
  • Gertrude. For love of God, forbear him!
  • Hamlet. 'Swounds, show me what thou't do.
    Woo't weep? woo't fight? woo't fast? woo't tear thyself?
    Woo't drink up esill? eat a crocodile? 3620
    I'll do't. Dost thou come here to whine?
    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, 3625
    Singeing his pate against the burning zone,
    Make Ossa like a wart! Nay, an thou'lt mouth,
    I'll rant as well as thou.
  • Gertrude. This is mere madness;
    And thus a while the fit will work on him. 3630
    Anon, as patient as the female dove
    When that her golden couplets are disclos'd,
    His silence will sit drooping.
  • Hamlet. Hear you, sir!
    What is the reason that you use me thus? 3635
    I lov'd you ever. But it is no matter.
    Let Hercules himself do what he may,
    The cat will mew, and dog will have his day.


  • Claudius. I pray thee, good Horatio, wait upon him. 3640
    [Exit Horatio.]
    [To Laertes] Strengthen your patience in our last night's speech.
    We'll put the matter to the present push.-
    Good Gertrude, set some watch over your son.-
    This grave shall have a living monument. 3645
    An hour of quiet shortly shall we see;
    Till then in patience our proceeding be.



Act V, Scene 2

Elsinore. A hall in the Castle.


Enter Hamlet and Horatio.

  • Hamlet. So much for this, sir; now shall you see the other. 3650
    You do remember all the circumstance?
  • Horatio. Remember it, my lord!
  • Hamlet. Sir, in my heart there was a kind of fighting
    That would not let me sleep. Methought I lay
    Worse than the mutinies in the bilboes. Rashly- 3655
    And prais'd be rashness for it; let us know,
    Our indiscretion sometime serves us well
    When our deep plots do pall; and that should learn us
    There's a divinity that shapes our ends,
    Rough-hew them how we will- 3660
  • Horatio. That is most certain.
  • Hamlet. Up from my cabin,
    My sea-gown scarf'd about me, in the dark
    Grop'd I to find out them; had my desire,
    Finger'd their packet, and in fine withdrew 3665
    To mine own room again; making so bold
    (My fears forgetting manners) to unseal
    Their grand commission; where I found, Horatio
    (O royal knavery!), an exact command,
    Larded with many several sorts of reasons, 3670
    Importing Denmark's health, and England's too,
    With, hoo! such bugs and goblins in my life-
    That, on the supervise, no leisure bated,
    No, not to stay the finding of the axe,
    My head should be struck off. 3675
  • Horatio. Is't possible?
  • Hamlet. Here's the commission; read it at more leisure.
    But wilt thou bear me how I did proceed?
  • Horatio. I beseech you.
  • Hamlet. Being thus benetted round with villanies, 3680
    Or I could make a prologue to my brains,
    They had begun the play. I sat me down;
    Devis'd a new commission; wrote it fair.
    I once did hold it, as our statists do,
    A baseness to write fair, and labour'd much 3685
    How to forget that learning; but, sir, now
    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, 3690
    As England was his faithful tributary,
    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 such-like as's of great charge, 3695
    That, on the view and knowing of these contents,
    Without debatement further, more or less,
    He should the bearers put to sudden death,
    Not shriving time allow'd.
  • Horatio. How was this seal'd? 3700
  • Hamlet. Why, even in that was heaven ordinant.
    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,
    Subscrib'd it, gave't th' impression, plac'd it safely, 3705
    The changeling never known. Now, the next day
    Was our sea-fight; and what to this was sequent
    Thou know'st already.
  • Horatio. So Guildenstern and Rosencrantz go to't.
  • Hamlet. Why, man, they did make love to this employment! 3710
    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 incensed points
    Of mighty opposites. 3715
  • Horatio. Why, what a king is this!
  • Hamlet. Does it not, thinks't thee, stand me now upon-
    He that hath kill'd my king, and whor'd my mother;
    Popp'd in between th' election and my hopes;
    Thrown out his angle for my proper life, 3720
    And with such coz'nage- is't not perfect conscience
    To quit him with this arm? And is't not to be damn'd
    To let this canker of our nature come
    In further evil?
  • Horatio. It must be shortly known to him from England 3725
    What is the issue of the business there.
  • Hamlet. It will be short; the interim is mine,
    And a man's life is no more than to say 'one.'
    But I am very sorry, good Horatio,
    That to Laertes I forgot myself, 3730
    For by the image of my cause I see
    The portraiture of his. I'll court his favours.
    But sure the bravery of his grief did put me
    Into a tow'ring passion.
  • Horatio. Peace! Who comes here? 3735

Enter young Osric, a courtier.

  • Osric. Your lordship is right welcome back to Denmark.
  • Hamlet. I humbly thank you, sir. [Aside to Horatio] Dost know this
  • Horatio. [aside to Hamlet] No, my good lord. 3740
  • 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 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 3745
    a thing to you from his Majesty.
  • Hamlet. I will receive it, sir, with all diligence of 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. 3750
  • Osric. It 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. But, my lord, his Majesty bade me signify to you that
    he has laid a great wager on your head. Sir, this is the matter- 3755
  • Hamlet. I beseech you remember.

[Hamlet moves him to put on his hat.]

  • Osric. Nay, good my lord; for mine ease, in good faith. Sir, here is
    newly come to court Laertes; believe me, an absolute gentleman,
    full of most excellent differences, of very soft society and 3760
    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. Sir, his definement suffers no perdition in you; though, I
    know, to divide him inventorially would dozy th' arithmetic of 3765
    memory, and yet but yaw neither in respect of his quick sail.
    But, in the verity of extolment, I take him to be a soul of great
    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. 3770
  • Hamlet. The concernancy, sir? Why do we wrap the gentleman in our more
    rawer breath?
  • Osric. Sir?
  • Horatio. [aside to Hamlet] Is't not possible to understand in another
    tongue? You will do't, sir, really. 3775
  • Hamlet. What imports the nomination of this gentleman?
  • Osric. Of Laertes?
  • Horatio. [aside] His purse is empty already. All's golden words are
  • Hamlet. Of him, sir. 3780
  • 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 is-
  • Hamlet. I dare not confess that, lest I should compare with him in 3785
    excellence; but to know a man well were to know himself.
  • Osric. I mean, sir, for his weapon; but in the imputation laid on him
    by them, in his meed he's unfellowed.
  • Hamlet. What's his weapon?
  • Osric. Rapier and dagger. 3790
  • Hamlet. That's two of his weapons- but well.
  • Osric. The King, sir, hath wager'd with him six Barbary horses;
    against the which he has impon'd, 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, 3795
    very responsive to the hilts, most delicate carriages, and of
    very liberal conceit.
  • Hamlet. What call you the carriages?
  • Horatio. [aside to Hamlet] I knew you must be edified by the margent
    ere you had done. 3800
  • Osric. The carriages, sir, are the hangers.
  • Hamlet. The phrase would be more germane to the matter if we could
    carry cannon by our sides. I would it might be hangers till then.
    But on! Six Barbary horses against six French swords, their
    assigns, and three liberal-conceited carriages: that's the French 3805
    bet against the Danish. Why is this all impon'd, as you call it?
  • Osric. The King, sir, hath laid that, in a dozen passes between
    yourself and him, he shall not 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. 3810
  • Hamlet. How if I answer no?
  • Osric. I mean, my lord, the opposition of your person 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, 3815
    I will win for him if I can; if not, I will gain nothing but my
    shame and the odd hits.
  • Osric. Shall I redeliver you e'en so?
  • Hamlet. To this effect, sir, after what flourish your nature will.
  • Osric. I commend my duty to your lordship. 3820
  • Hamlet. Yours, yours. [Exit Osric.] 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 head.
  • Hamlet. He did comply with his dug before he suck'd it. Thus has he,
    and many more of the same bevy that I know the drossy age dotes 3825
    on, only got the tune of the time and outward habit of encounter-
    a kind of yesty collection, which carries them through and
    through the most fann'd 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 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 the King's pleasure. 3835
    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. The Queen desires you to use some gentle entertainment to 3840
    Laertes before you fall to play.
  • Hamlet. She well instructs me.

[Exit Lord.]

  • Horatio. You will lose this wager, my lord.
  • Hamlet. I do not think so. Since he went into France I have been in 3845
    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 gaingiving as
    would perhaps trouble a woman. 3850
  • 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's a special providence in
    the fall of a sparrow. If it be now, 'tis not to come; if it be
    not to come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come: 3855
    the readiness is all. Since no man knows aught of what he leaves,
    what is't to leave betimes? Let be.

Enter King, Queen, Laertes, Osric, and Lords, with other

Attendants with foils and gauntlets.

A table and flagons of wine on it.

  • Claudius. Come, Hamlet, come, and take this hand from me.

[The King puts Laertes' hand into Hamlet's.]

  • Hamlet. Give me your pardon, sir. I have done you wrong;
    But pardon't, as you are a gentleman.
    This presence knows, 3865
    And you must needs have heard, how I am punish'd
    With sore distraction. What I have done
    That might your nature, honour, and exception
    Roughly awake, I here proclaim was madness.
    Was't Hamlet wrong'd Laertes? Never Hamlet. 3870
    If Hamlet from himself be taken away,
    And when he's not himself does wrong Laertes,
    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 wrong'd; 3875
    His madness is poor Hamlet's enemy.
    Sir, in this audience,
    Let my disclaiming from a purpos'd evil
    Free me so far in your most generous thoughts
    That I have shot my arrow o'er the house 3880
    And hurt my brother.
  • Laertes. I am satisfied in nature,
    Whose motive in this case should stir me most
    To my revenge. But in my terms of honour
    I stand aloof, and will no reconcilement 3885
    Till by some elder masters of known honour
    I have a voice and precedent of peace
    To keep my name ungor'd. But till that time
    I do receive your offer'd love like love,
    And will not wrong it. 3890
  • Hamlet. I embrace it freely,
    And will this brother's wager frankly play.
    Give us the foils. Come on.
  • Laertes. Come, one for me.
  • Hamlet. I'll be your foil, Laertes. In mine ignorance 3895
    Your skill shall, like a star i' th' darkest night,
    Stick fiery off indeed.
  • Laertes. You mock me, sir.
  • Hamlet. No, by this hand.
  • Claudius. Give them the foils, young Osric. Cousin Hamlet, 3900
    You know the wager?
  • Hamlet. Very well, my lord.
    Your Grace has laid the odds o' th' weaker side.
  • Claudius. I do not fear it, I have seen you both;
    But since he is better'd, we have therefore odds. 3905
  • Laertes. This is too heavy; let me see another.
  • Hamlet. This likes me well. These foils have all a length?

Prepare to play.

  • Osric. Ay, my good lord.
  • Claudius. Set me the stoups of wine upon that table. 3910
    If Hamlet give the first or second hit,
    Or quit in answer of the third exchange,
    Let all the battlements their ordnance fire;
    The King shall drink to Hamlet's better breath,
    And in the cup an union shall he throw 3915
    Richer than that which four successive kings
    In Denmark's crown have worn. Give me the cups;
    And let the kettle to the trumpet speak,
    The trumpet to the cannoneer without,
    The cannons to the heavens, the heaven to earth, 3920
    'Now the King drinks to Hamlet.' Come, begin.
    And you the judges, bear a wary eye.
  • Hamlet. Come on, sir.
  • Laertes. Come, my lord. They play.
  • Hamlet. One. 3925
  • Laertes. No.
  • Hamlet. Judgment!
  • Osric. A hit, a very palpable hit.
  • Laertes. Well, again!
  • Claudius. Stay, give me drink. Hamlet, this pearl is thine; 3930
    Here's to thy health.
    [Drum; trumpets sound; a piece goes off [within].]
    Give him the cup.
  • Hamlet. I'll play this bout first; set it by awhile.
    Come. [They play.] Another hit. What say you? 3935
  • Laertes. A touch, a touch; I do confess't.
  • Claudius. Our son shall win.
  • Gertrude. He's fat, and scant of breath.
    Here, Hamlet, take my napkin, rub thy brows.
    The Queen carouses to thy fortune, Hamlet. 3940
  • Hamlet. Good madam!
  • Claudius. Gertrude, do not drink.
  • Gertrude. I will, my lord; I pray you pardon me. Drinks.
  • Claudius. [aside] It is the poison'd cup; it is too late.
  • Hamlet. I dare not drink yet, madam; by-and-by. 3945
  • Gertrude. Come, let me wipe thy face.
  • Laertes. My lord, I'll hit him now.
  • Claudius. I do not think't.
  • Laertes. [aside] And yet it is almost against my conscience.
  • Hamlet. Come for the third, Laertes! You but dally. 3950
    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. Have at you now! 3955

[Laertes wounds Hamlet; then] in scuffling, they change rapiers, [and Hamlet wounds Laertes].

  • Claudius. Part them! They are incens'd.
  • 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? 3960
  • Osric. How is't, Laertes?
  • Laertes. Why, as a woodcock to mine own springe, Osric.I am justly kill'd with mine own treachery.
  • Hamlet. How does the Queen?
  • Claudius. She sounds to see them bleed.
  • Gertrude. No, no! the drink, the drink! O my dear Hamlet! 3965
    The drink, the drink! I am poison'd. [Dies.]
  • Hamlet. O villany! Ho! let the door be lock'd.
    Treachery! Seek it out.

[Laertes falls.]

  • Laertes. It is here, Hamlet. Hamlet, thou art slain; 3970
    No medicine in the world can do thee good.
    In thee there is not half an hour of life.
    The treacherous instrument is in thy hand,
    Unbated and envenom'd. The foul practice
    Hath turn'd itself on me. Lo, here I lie, 3975
    Never to rise again. Thy mother's poison'd.
    I can no more. The King, the King's to blame.
  • Hamlet. The point envenom'd too?
    Then, venom, to thy work. Hurts the King.
  • All. Treason! treason! 3980
  • Claudius. O, yet defend me, friends! I am but hurt.
  • Hamlet. Here, thou incestuous, murd'rous, damned Dane,
    Drink off this potion! Is thy union here?
    Follow my mother. King dies.
  • Laertes. He is justly serv'd. 3985
    It is a poison temper'd 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. 3990
    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- 3995
    But let it be. Horatio, I am dead;
    Thou liv'st; report me and my cause aright
    To the unsatisfied.
  • Horatio. Never believe it.
    I am more an antique Roman than a Dane. 4000
    Here's yet some liquor left.
  • Hamlet. As th'art a man,
    Give me the cup. Let go! By heaven, I'll ha't.
    O good Horatio, what a wounded name
    (Things standing thus unknown) shall live behind me! 4005
    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. [March afar off, and shot within.]
    What warlike noise is this? 4010
  • Osric. Young Fortinbras, with conquest come from Poland,
    To the ambassadors of England gives
    This warlike volley.
  • Hamlet. O, I die, Horatio!
    The potent poison quite o'ercrows my spirit. 4015
    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,
    Which have solicited- the rest is silence. Dies. 4020
  • 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 and English Ambassadors, with Drum, Colours, and Attendants. 4025
  • Fortinbras. Where is this sight?
  • Horatio. What is it you will 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 4030
    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 4035
    To tell him his commandment is fulfill'd
    That Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead.
    Where should we have our thanks?
  • Horatio. Not from his mouth,
    Had it th' ability of life to thank you. 4040
    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 arriv'd, give order that these bodies
    High on a stage be placed to the view; 4045
    And let me speak to the yet unknowing world
    How these things came about. So shall you hear
    Of carnal, bloody and unnatural acts;
    Of accidental judgments, casual slaughters;
    Of deaths put on by cunning and forc'd cause; 4050
    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,
    And call the noblest to the audience. 4055
    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,
    And from his mouth whose voice will draw on more. 4060
    But let this same be presently perform'd,
    Even while men's minds are wild, lest more mischance
    On plots and errors happen.
  • Fortinbras. Let four captains
    Bear Hamlet like a soldier to the stage; 4065
    For he was likely, had he been put on,
    To have prov'd most royally; and for his passage
    The soldiers' music and the rites of war
    Speak loudly for him.
    Take up the bodies. Such a sight as this 4070
    Becomes the field but here shows much amiss.
    Go, bid the soldiers shoot.

Exeunt marching; after the which a peal of ordnance are shot off.