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The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark

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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.
  • 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.

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

[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. 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
  • 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
  • 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.