Plays  +  Sonnets  +  Poems  +  Concordance  +  Advanced Search  +  About OSS

The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark

print/save print/save view


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.
  • Polonius. You shall do marvell's wisely, good Reynaldo, 950
    Before You visit him, to make inquire
    Of his behaviour.
  • 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?
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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
  • Polonius. Observe his inclination in yourself.
  • 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.
  • Ophelia. My lord, I do not know,
    But truly I do fear it.
  • 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