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I am a Jew else, an Ebrew Jew.

      — King Henry IV. Part I, Act II Scene 4


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The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark


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Scene 1. Elsinore. A room in the Castle.

Scene 2. Elsinore. hall in the Castle.

Scene 3. A room in the Castle.

Scene 4. The Queen’s closet.


Act III, Scene 1

Elsinore. A room in the Castle.

      next scene .

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.
. previous scene      

Act III, Scene 2

Elsinore. hall in the Castle.

      next scene .

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.
  • 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?

Exeunt they two.

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.
  • 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.
  • 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.]

  • Hamlet. I mean, my head upon your lap? 1995
  • 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.
  • 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?

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.

He sleeps.]


  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Hamlet. What, frighted with false fire?
  • 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
  • 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.
  • Hamlet. O good Horatio, I'll take the ghost's word for a thousand
    pound! Didst perceive?
  • 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.
  • Hamlet. Sir, a whole history.
  • Hamlet. Ay, sir, what of him?
  • Guildenstern. Is in his retirement, marvellous distemper'd.
  • 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.
  • 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. 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
  • 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?
  • Hamlet. I do beseech you. 2235
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
. previous scene      

Act III, Scene 3

A room in the Castle.

      next scene .

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.

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.
. previous scene      

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.
  • Hamlet. What's the matter now?
  • 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.

  • 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.
  • 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!

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?
  • 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?
  • 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.
  • 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