Hamlet simplified

Synopsis

On a bitter cold night in Denmark, high on the walls of the king’s castle at Elsinore, the Ghost of the recently deceased King Hamlet returns, seen by three young men: soldiers Barnardo and Marcellus, and by Horatio, Prince Hamlet’s classmate and good friend.

Marcellus brought Horatio along with him that night with hopes “that if again this apparition come, he may approve our eyes and speak of it,” the ‘our’ being Barnardo and Marcellus who tell Horatio the “apparition has twice seen of us.”  Sure enough the Ghost does appear; Marcellus saying to Horatio “Thou art a scholar. Speak to it, Horatio.”  Horatio cries out at the Ghost “What art thou that usurp’st this time of night.  By heaven, I charge thee, speak.”  Marcellus says “It is offended.” The Ghost “stalks away.”  Marcellus asks “Who is ‘t that can inform me what is going on?”  Horatio responds “that can I” and proceeds to offer his thoughts on why “our last king appeared to us.”  While Horatio is offering the soldiers his opinions, the Ghost reappears.  Horatio again begs the Ghost to “speak to me.”  Again the Ghost silently exits.  As the three young men begin to leave, a confident Horatio says “let us impart what we have seen tonight unto young Hamlet; for, upon my life, this spirit, dumb to us, will speak to him.” It’s about at this point when Marcellus famously says “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark,” giving us an idea of what is to come.

What we do know is that within the last month King Hamlet has died; Claudius, the late king’s brother has married the late king’s widow, Gertrude, Prince Hamlet’s mother.  She is now once again Denmark’s queen.  The prince is not at all happy with this turn of events. 

We also early on learn that Denmark is subject to a potential international incident.  King Claudius sends Voltemand and Cornelius as ambassadors with a paper to be delivered to Norway (the aging king of Norway) “who, impotent and bedrid, scarcely hears on this his nephew’s purpose.”  Young Fortinbras, Norway’s nephew, is thought to be making mischief in Denmark.  The issue is the “message” that young Fortinbras has sent to Claudius. Claudius says the matter includes plans “to pester us with message importing the surrender of those lands lost by his father to our most valiant brother.”  King Claudius believes that young Fortinbras holds a “weak opinion of our worth” and is trying to use this moment “as a dream of his advantage.”

Aware that young Hamlet is out of sorts, King Claudius does his best to try and draw his nephew closer to him and his court, assuring the young prince that he will be the successor king, counseling the sad Hamlet that “you must know your father lost a father, that father lost, lost his.” Through a classic soliloquy, Shakespeare has young Hamlet provide us with a glimpse of his state of mind, a little irrationally distraught with all these issues he feels he has to deal with, saying “O, that this too, too sullied flesh would melt, thaw, and resolve itself into a dew.” Later Hamlet has a one-on-one talk with the Ghost, who makes it clear (clear as a ghost can) that Claudius killed his father, the Ghost instructing Hamlet to avenge the murder. 

Polonius, one of the late king’s best friends, has a son, Laertes, and Laertes is about to leave for France.  It’s here where Shakespeare, through Polonius and Laertes, gives us some timeless counsel.  As he is about to leave for France, Laertes has an interesting talk with his sister Ophelia, Ophelia being Hamlet’s girlfriend. And Polonius, a protective father, worried with the thought that his son might succumb to temptations there in Paris, and that his daughter might be at risk if she gets too involved with the nation’s prince, offers his son and daughter some eternal thoughts on a number of issues, such as “to thine own self be true” and “neither a borrower or lender be” and to his daughter “I do know when the blood burns, these blazes, giving more light than heat, you must not take for fire.”

Unnecessarily fretting over thoughts of what his son might be up to there in Paris, Polonius dispatches his servant to France to see how the boy is getting along, telling him he is worried that his son may be spending too much time “gaming, drinking, fencing, swearing, quarreling, drabbing ---- you may go so far.” Oh my.  Turning to his daughter, Polonius lets us know that he believes that Hamlet’s unusual conduct, his “madness,” is the result of his daughter having “denied him her love.”

It’s here where Hamlet offers his friend Horatio his thoughts on elements of leadership and on his own responsibility to the governed; the two of them biding their time waiting for the return of the Ghost.  The two young men receive a visit from the Ghost while listening to “the flourish of trumpets,” a signal that “the king stays awake tonight drinking.” The Ghost and Hamlet have a nice talk. Separately Ambassadors Voltemand and Cornelius report to Claudius that the Norwegians have their sights set on an insignificant piece of land in Poland and only want to travel through Denmark.  At about this point the king and queen instruct Guildenstern and Rosencrantz, two of Hamlet’s classmates at Wittenberg, to help identify the cause of Hamlet’s “transformation.”  But Hamlet is wise to the king and queen’s ruse.

By happenstance, a group of actors arrives at Elsinore to provide some Lenten entertainment for the king and his court.  Hamlet inquires if the players have “The Murder of Gonzago” in their repertoire. They do. Hamlet says “We’ll have it tomorrow night.” 

Entering the stage alone and thinking aloud, Hamlet asks himself the famous question “to be or not to be,” trying to decide whether enduring life’s ills is better than “flying blindly alone to that we know not of.” Denmark’s prince, having it all, doesn’t find life easy.  Ophelia enters. It is here where Hamlet abruptly suggests to her that they go their separate ways, saying to her “to a nunnery, go.”  Hamlet exits as Polonius enters; Polonius still believing the “neglected love” from Ophelia is the cause of Hamlet’s professed madness.

The troop of visiting actors is on stage ready to perform, and the royal audience is seated. The play, The Murder of Gonzago, quickly develops along the lines of how the ghost of Hamlet’s father described his death: where a king’s brother poisons the king, marries the king’s queen and becomes king himself.  The play seriously disturbs Claudius.  Soon after the play begins, an uneasy King Claudius exits; the others following him out, except for Horatio and Hamlet. Hamlet says “O good Horatio, didst perceive, and upon the talk of poisoning?”  Horatio responds “I did very well note him.”  Guildenstern, Hamlet’s school friend, tells Hamlet that “The king, sir, is in his retirement marvelous distempered.”  Hamlet responds “With drink, sir?”  Guildenstern replies “No, my lord, with anger.”  Guildenstern adds “The queen, your mother, hath sent me to you.  She desires to speak with you in her chambers.” To add to the urgency, Polonius enters to say to Hamlet “My lord, the queen would speak with you and presently.”  Hamlet responds “Then I will come to my mother by and by. Let me be cruel, not unnatural, I will speak daggers to her, but use none.” 

Meanwhile, an infuriated Claudius instructs Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to escort Hamlet to England, where the king hopes Hamlet can be cured of his purported madness.  But Hamlet more narrowly sees the trip as a one-way trip to England, planned by the king as a way to get rid of him. As Rosencrantz and Guildenstern exit, Polonius enters to tell the king “my lord, he’s going to his mother’s private chamber.  Behind the arras I’ll convey myself to hear the process.”  When Polonius exits, a remorseful Claudius in a soliloquy lets us know that “My offense is rank, it smells to heaven, a brother’s murder, but pray can I not. What form of prayer can serve my turn?  Forgive me my foul murder?  That cannot be.” 

Upon arriving at her chambers, Polonius tells the queen “He will come straight.  I’ll silence me even here.  Pray you, be blunt with him.”  He then hides behind her bedroom drapes.  When Hamlet angrily says to his mother “you go not till I set you up a glass where you may see the inmost part of you.”  And she cries “Thou wilt not murder me?”  Hearing this line, Polonius gasps, thinking Hamlet might harm the queen.  Hamlet stabs him dead, right through the drapes, not knowing, of course, who was there gasping.  His mother cries “What hast thou done?”  Hamlet says “Is it the king?”  The queen says “what a rash and bloody deed is this.”  Hamlet sarcastically responds “A bloody deed ---- almost as bad, good mother, as kill a king and marry with his brother.”  As he pulls Polonius’ body from behind the drapes, Hamlet tries to defend himself, letting his mother know how he sees things.  She finally says “O, speak to me no more.  These words like daggers enter in my ears.  No more, sweet Hamlet.”  The Ghost re-enters, not seen nor heard by the queen; there to remind the young prince “Do not forget.” Hamlet says to his mother “confess yourself to heaven, repent what’s past, avoid what is to come.”  She says “O Hamlet, thou hast cleft my heart in two. I have no life to breathe what thou hast said to me.”  Barely hearing her as he tugs on Polonius, Hamlet says “I’ll lug the guts into the neighbor room.” 

The king becomes seriously concerned for himself as well as the state when he learns that Hamlet has killed Polonius.  Hamlet rebuffs the efforts of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern (whom he now trusts not at all) to let them know where he has taken Polonius’ body; they being asked by the king to find out.  Later Hamlet mildly taunts the king, before letting him know where he can find the body.

Right after the play, called “The Mousetrap” by Hamlet, Claudius had told Rosencrantz and Guildenstern that “I like him not, nor stands it safe with us to let his madness range.  Therefore I your commission will forthwith dispatch, and he to England shall along with you.”  Fortinbras, meanwhile, continues to move his troops through Denmark on their way to Poland. Having angered the king by playing games with him concerning the whereabouts of Polonius’ body, the king uses the opportunity to tell Hamlet that “for thine especial safety must we send thee hence.  Therefore prepare thyself.  The bark is ready, and the wind at help, for England.” 

Separately, Ophelia enters singing sad refrains and speaking almost incoherently of lost love.  As the king and queen worry over the state of Ophelia’s mind, Laertes enters, having returned from France, an angry young man, upset not knowing the cause of his father’s sudden death.

Horatio receives a letter from Hamlet letting him know that he has escaped the ship at sea and that the two of them must soon meet and talk.  Hamlet also lets him know that Guildenstern and Rosencrantz are still on board, still heading for England.  The king, to his dismay, also receives a letter from Hamlet letting him know that he will soon return to Denmark and wants to see him.  At about this time the king and Laertes hatch a scheme where Laertes will challenge Hamlet to a duel, Laertes having had fencing lessons in Paris.  Laertes will have poison on the tip of his foil and the king will add poison to the wine that will be available to the prince.  Separately, we learn that Ophelia has drowned when she “fell in the weeping brook” and “that her garments, heavy with their drink, pulled the poor wretch to muddy death.”

Soon after Hamlet’s return to Denmark, Hamlet and Horatio greet the gravedigger preparing Ophelia’s grave. Hamlet, holding skulls, offers comments, including the famous one about Yorick, the late king’s jester, asking “Where are your gibes now; your songs?”  Hamlet and Horatio step aside as the king, queen, Laertes and others enter, leading Ophelia’s funeral procession.  Laertes promptly jumps into the grave crying “hold off the earth awhile till I have caught her once more in mine arms.”  Laertes’ dramatic moment angers Hamlet, who rushes forward crying “what is he whose grief bears such an emphasis. This is I, Hamlet the Dane.”  Laertes and Hamlet fight a little and are soon separated, Laertes saying “The devil take thy soul.” A little later, at the castle at Elsinore, Hamlet brings us up to date on events that occurred at sea, and how he was able to escape, saying “There’s a divinity that shapes our ends.”

Osric, an aide to Claudius, enters to tell Hamlet that the king would like for Laertes and him to have a friendly duel, including side bets.  Hamlet agrees, unaware of the king’s and Laertes’ plans.  The stage is set with a table, chairs, foils and cups of wine. They begin their “playful” duel.  The queen has a drink from a cup, not knowing that the wine in the cup has been poisoned, the king crying “Gertrude, do not drink.”  But she does and she dies.  Hamlet then forces the king to drink from the same cup.  The king does and he dies.  Meanwhile, Hamlet had been scratched by Laertes’ rapier, tipped as it was in poison.  As Laertes and Hamlet continue their duel, they inadvertently exchange their foils.  A few more moments into the heat of the duel, Hamlet scratches Laertes with the poisoned-tipped foil.  Both Hamlet and Laertes fall; Laertes soon dies.  A dying Hamlet suggests to Horatio that Fortinbras should be named Denmark’s king, his final words being “I do prophesy th’ election lights on Fortinbras; he has my dying voice.” Fortinbras and the English Ambassador enter, reporting that Guildenstern and Rosencrantz are dead.  Speaking of Hamlet, Fortinbras says “He was likely to have proved most royal.”  

Principal Characters

Claudius.   Throughout the play Claudius is the king of Denmark, having succeeded his brother, King Hamlet, following King Hamlet’s murder, a result of Claudius’ doing, a central theme in the play.  Within a month of King Hamlet’s death, Claudius marries the late king’s widow, Gertrude, Hamlet’s mother, causing a problem throughout the play for Hamlet, her son and only child. 

Gertrude.  Queen Gertrude, Hamlet’s mother, the queen to two kings, has a major role in the play, most of it being non-speaking.  Hamlet and his mother never reconcile or come to peace over her hasty marriage to his uncle. 

Hamlet.  Hamlet is the prince of Denmark, the late King Hamlet’s son, the current King Claudius’ nephew.  The marriage of Hamlet’s mother, Gertrude, to her brother-in-law soon after the death of her husband is a major issue that Hamlet wrestles with throughout the play.  Shall we say, Hamlet has a complex personality.  It seems he is always led by events, and is generally angry about things.  He seems to wrestle with issues that don’t surface in the play.

Horatio.  Horatio remains a close friend and confidant to Hamlet throughout the play. 

Laertes.  Laertes is the son of Polonius and is Ophelia’s brother.  He spends much of his time in France, only to return late in the play as an accomplished swordsman and angry over the circumstances surrounding his father’s “mysterious” death.

Ophelia.  Ophelia is Laertes’ sister and Polonius’ daughter.  She is also Hamlet’s girlfriend, dropped abruptly late in the play by Hamlet, causing her, it seems, to fall into a depression that leads to her death, by drowning or by suicide.  The reader gets to decide.

Polonius.  Polonius is the father to both Laertes and Ophelia and was a friend and confidant to the late King Hamlet.  He is well-meaning, but not young and not fully engaged in the events that swirl around him.  But to his credit, Shakespeare uses him to provide wise counsel to his children. 

The Play


  • Act 1, Scene 1
  • The scene opens early in the morning on the walls of the castle at Elsinore, with Barnardo, a guard, about to relieve Francisco, another guard.
  • BARNARDO
  • Get thee to bed, Francisco.
  • FRANCISCO
  • For this relief much thanks. ‘Tis bitter cold.
  • Horatio and Marcellus enter; Horatio being Hamlet’s friend, Marcellus a guard.
  • FRANCISCO
  • Stand ho! Who is there?
  • HORATIO
  • Friends to this ground.
  • MARCELLUS
  • O farewell, honest soldier. Who hath relieved you?
  • FRANCISCO
  • Barnardo hath my place.
  • Francisco exits.
  • HORATIO
  • What, has this thing appeared again tonight?
  • BARNARDO
  • I have seen nothing.
  • MARCELLUS
  • Horatio says ‘tis but our fantasy and will not let belief take hold of him touching this dreaded sight twice seen of us. If again this apparition come, he may approve our eyes and speak to it.
  • HORATIO
  • Tush, tush, ‘twill not appear.
  • BARNARDO
  • Sit down awhile, and let us once again assail your ears.
  • HORATIO
  • Well, sit we down, and let us hear Barnardo speak of this.
  • The Ghost enters.
  • MARCELLAS
  • Look where it comes again.
  • BARNARDO
  • In the same figure like the King that’s dead.
  • MARCELLAS
  • Thou art a scholar. Speak to it, Horatio.
  • HORATIO
  • It harrows me with fear and wonder.
  • MARCELLAS
  • Speak to it, Horatio.
  • HORATIO
  • What art thou that usurp’st this time of night. By heaven, I charge thee, speak.
  • MARCELLUS
  • It is offended.
  • HORATIO
  • I charge thee, speak!
  • The Ghost exits.
  • BARNARDO
  • Horatio, you tremble and look pale. What think you on ‘t?
  • HORATIO
  • 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. ‘Tis strange.
  • MARCELLUS
  • Thus twice before, and exactly at this dead hour. With martial stalk hath he gone by our watch.
  • HORATIO
  • In the scope of mine opinion this bodes some strange eruption tour state.
  • MARCELLUS
  • Good now, sit down, and tell me, he that knows, why this most observant watch so nightly toils the subject of the land. Who is ‘t that can inform me?
  • HORATIO
  • That can I.
  •  
  •  
  • Horatio to Marcellus and Barnardo
  •  
  • Our last king, whose image here now appeared
  • To us, was to fatal combat challenged
  • By the daring and overconfident
  • Fortinbras of Norway, a king who lacked
  • Fighting skills, losing lands to our valiant
  • Hamlet, who took the king’s life, through a pact
  • Sealed, against which lands pledged by our king would
  • By bargain have gone to Fortinbras should
  • He have been vanquisher. Young Fortinbras,
  • We hear, hath drawn a list of poorly led
  • Resolutes, himself without fear of loss,
  • Determined to recover those foresaid
  • Lands so by his father lost. I now take
  • It, ‘tis why this readiness we now make.
  • BARNARDO
  • I think it be no other but e’en so.
  • HORATIO
  • A mote it is to trouble the mind’s eye. The foreshadowing of feared events, as harbingers preceding still the fates and prologue to the omen coming on, unto our regions and countrymen.
  • The Ghost enters.
  • HORATIO
  • But soft, behold! Lo, where it comes again!
  • It spreads its arms.
  • HORATIO
  • If there be any good thing to be done that may to thee do ease and grace to me, speak to me. If thou art privy to thy country’s fate, which happily foreknowing may avoid, O, speak!
  • The cock crows.
  • HORATIO
  • Stay and speak! Stop it, Marcellus.
  • The Ghost exits.
  • MARCELLUS
  • ‘Tis gone. We do it wrong, begin so majestical, to offer it the show of violence, for it is as the air, invulnerable.
  • BARNARDO
  • It was about to speak when the cock crew.
  • HORATIO
  • And then it started like a guilty thing upon a fearful summons.
  • MARCELLUS
  • It faded on the crowing of the cock. Some say that ever ‘gainst that season comes wherein our Savior’s birth is celebrated. This bird of dawning singeth all night long. And then, they say, no spirit dare stir abroad, so hallowed and so gracious is that time.
  • HORATIO
  • But look, the morn in russet mantle clad walks o’er the dew of yon high eastward hill. Let us impart what we have seen tonight unto young Hamlet; for, upon my life, this spirit, dumb to us, will speak to him.
  • MARCELLUS
  • Let’s do it.
  • They exit.
  • Act 1, Scene 2
  • At Elsinore, Claudius, the new King of Denmark, enters along with Queen Gertrude, Polonius, Laertes and Hamlet.
  •  
  •  
  • Claudius to his court
  •  
  • Though the memory of our dear brother’s
  • Death be green; befitting, his death transfers
  • Our hearts to saddest grief, yet with wisest
  • Sorrow, we must think with remembrance of
  • Ourselves. Therefore, serving with what be best,
  • We’ve taken this sometime sister we love
  • As queen, in equal scale weighing delight
  • And dole, thanking all, for you keep insight
  • And wisdom. Young Fortinbras, holding you
  • And I too weak in worth; our state to be
  • Out of frame and disjoint, hath not failed to
  • Pester us with message importing the
  • Surrender of lands lost by his father,
  • Within the law, to our valiant brother.
  • KING
  • Now for ourself and for this time of meeting. We have here writ to Norway, uncle of young Fortinbras, who, bedrid, scarcely hears of this his nephew’s purpose to suppress his further gait herein. We here dispatch you, good Cornelius, and you, Voltemand, for bearers of this greeting to old Norway.
  • He gives them a paper.
  • CLAUDIUS
  • Farewell, and let your haste commend your duty.
  • CORNELIUS/VOLTEMAND
  • In that and all things will we show our duty.
  • Voltemand and Cornelius exit.
  • KING
  • And now, Laertes, what’s the news with you? You told us of some suit. What is ‘t, Laertes? What wouldst thou have, Laertes?
  • LAERTES
  • My lord, your leave and favor to return to France. My thoughts and wishes bend again toward France and bow them to your gracious leave and pardon.
  • KING
  • Have you your father’s leave? What says Polonius?
  • POLONIUS
  • Upon his will I sealed my hard consent. I do beseech you give him leave to go.
  • KING
  • Take thy fair hour, Laertes. Time be thine, and thy best graces spend it at thy will. But now, my cousin Hamlet and my son.
  • HAMLET ASIDE
  • A little more than kin and less than kind.
  • QUEEN
  • Good Hamlet, cast thy knighted color off, and let thine eye look like a friend on Denmark. Thou know’st ‘tis common; all that lives must die, passing through nature to eternity.
  • HAMLET
  • Ay, madam, it is common.
  • QUEEN
  • If it be, why seems it so particular with thee?
  • HAMLET
  • “Seems,” madam? Nay, it is. I know not “seems.” These but the trappings and suits of woe.
  •  
  •  
  • Claudius to Hamlet
  •  
  • Your nature is most commended, Hamlet,
  • To give this mourning to your father, yet
  • You must know your father lost a father,
  • And that father, lost his. Each survivor
  • Is bound to family grief, but to endure
  • Obstinately is as if your heart bore
  • A stubborn, openly defiant care
  • For what must be. The world will note you’re heir
  • To this throne, and as the dearest father
  • Bears to his son, I to you. It doth seem
  • Strong grief for nature’s fault; we can’t defer
  • This fault against the dead whose common theme
  • Is death of fathers. Think of us as one
  • Family, the comfort of our eye, our son.
  • QUEEN
  • Let not thy mother lose her prayers, Hamlet. I pray thee, stay with us. Go not to Wittenberg.
  • HAMLET
  • I shall in all my best obey you, madam.
  • KING
  • Why, ‘tis a loving and a fair reply. Be as ourself in Denmark. Madam, come. Come away.
  • All exit but Hamlet.
  •  
  •  
  • Hamlet to himself, No. 1
  •  
  • O, that this too, too sullied flesh would pale
  • Into a dew. This world’s uses seem stale,
  • O God, possessed by all things gross and rank.
  • That it should come to this. So loving this
  • Kind king to my mother that he might bank
  • The winds of heaven from her face. I miss
  • Him, but must I remember? Why, she would
  • Hang on him; yet within a month? How could
  • She, before those shoes were old with which she
  • Followed my father’s poor body, marry
  • My uncle, my father’s brother, when he
  • No more like my father than he to me.
  • Ere an unweeded garden grows to seed,
  • Ere tears in her flushed eyes dried, she married.
  • HAMLET
  • It is not, nor it cannot come to good. But break, my heart, for I must hold my tongue.
  • Horatio, Marcellus and Barnardo enter.
  • HORATIO
  • Hail to your lordship.
  • HAMLET
  • I am glad to see you well.
  • HORATIO
  • The same, my lord, and your poor servant ever.
  • HAMLET
  • But what, in faith, make you from Wittenberg? I know you are no truant. But what is your affair in Elsinore?
  • 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.
  • HAMLET
  • Horatio! My father --- methinks I see my father.
  • HORATIO
  • Where, my lord?
  • HAMLET
  • In my mind’s eye, Horatio.
  • HORATIO
  • My lord, I think I saw him yesternight.
  • HAMLET
  • The King my father? For God’s love, let me hear!
  • HORATIO
  • Two nights together had these gentlemen, Marcellus and Barnardo, on their watch, been thus encountered: a figure like your father appears before them, whilst they, distilled almost to jelly with the act of fear, stand dumb and speak not to him. And I with them the third night kept the watch, where the apparition comes. I knew your father.
  • HAMLET
  • But where was this?
  • MARCELLUS
  • My lord, upon the platform where we watch.
  • HAMLET
  • Did you not speak to it?
  • HORATIO
  • My lord, I did, but answer made it none.
  • HAMLET
  • ‘Tis very strange.
  • HORATIO
  • As I do live, my honored lord, ‘tis true. And we did think it writ down in our duty to let you know of it.
  • HAMLET
  • Indeed, sirs, but this troubles me. Hold you the watch tonight?
  • ALL
  • We do, my lord.
  • HAMLET
  • I would I had been there.
  • HORATIO
  • It would have much amazed you.
  • HAMLET
  • I will watch tonight. Perchance ‘twill walk again.
  • HORATIO
  • I warrant it will.
  • HAMLET
  • If it assume my noble father’s person, I’ll speak to it. Let it be tenable in your silence still; and whatsomever else shall hap tonight, give it an understanding but no tongue. Upon the platform, ‘twixt eleven and twelve, I’ll visit you.
  • ALL
  • Our duty to your Honor.
  • All exit but Hamlet.
  • HAMLET
  • All is not well. Would the night were come!
  • He exits.
  • Act 1, Scene 3
  • In Polonius’ home, Laertes says good-bye to his sister, Ophelia.
  • LAERTES
  • Farewell, sister, and let me hear from you.
  • OPHELIA
  • Do you doubt that?
  • LAERTES
  • For Hamlet, hold it as a temporary flirtation, a violet in the youth of nature, not lasting the pleasure of a minute, no more.
  • OPHELIA
  • No more but so?
  • LAERTES
  • Think it no more.
  •  
  •  
  • Laertes to Ophelia
  •  
  • Note my dear sister that nature’s crescent
  • Does not grow alone in muscle strength sent
  • In youth; the mind and soul grow wide withal.
  • Perhaps he loves you now, but his will is
  • Not his own, but of the whole state, so fall
  • With care. He may say he loves you, but his
  • Words go no further than the main voice of
  • Denmark, so weigh loss of honor above
  • The moment; a cautious maid’s prodigal
  • Enough if she unmask to the moon. Lie
  • Not to thyself, knowing canker can gall
  • Buds of spring and fresh blossoms know not why.
  • Be wary, then; best safety lies in fear
  • Knowing youth itself rebels when love’s near.
  • OPHELIA
  • I shall the effect of this good lesson keep as watchman to my heart. But, good my brother, do not, as some ungracious pastors do, show me the steep and thorny way to heaven, whiles himself the primrose path of dalliance treads and heeds not his own advice.
  • LAERTES
  • O, fear me not.
  • Polonius enters.
  • LAERTES
  • I stay too long. But here my father comes.
  • POLONIUS
  • Yet here, Laertes? Aboard. The wind sits in the shoulder of your sail, and you are stayed for. My blessing with thee.
  •  
  •  
  • Polonius to Laertes
  •  
  • Hold tight these percepts. Give thy thoughts no tongue,
  • Nor act too swiftly. Grapple friends when young,
  • My son. Tie them to thy soul with hoops of
  • Steel; then draw in new-hatched, unfledged comrades
  • With care. Beware of letting a course shove
  • Lead to a fight, but if there, let the lads
  • Know you’re in. Give every man they ear, but
  • Few thy voice. Reserve judgment, but take what
  • Others say. Neither a borrower nor
  • Lender be. Borrowing, the devil’s due;
  • Loans oft lose themselves and can make friends sore.
  • This above all
  • to thine own self be true.
  • And it must follow as the night the day
  • Thou canst not then be false in any way.
  • POLONIUS
  • The time invests you. Go, your servants tend.
  • LAERTES
  • Farewell, Ophelia, and remember well what I have said to you.
  • OPHELIA
  • ‘Tis in my memory locked, and you yourself shall keep the key to it.
  • Laertes exits.
  • POLONIUS
  • What is ‘t, Ophelia, he hath said to you?
  • OPHELIA
  • So please you, something touching the Lord Hamlet.
  • POLONIUS
  • ‘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. What is between you? Give me up the truth.
  • OPHELIA
  • He hath, my lord, of late made many tenders of his affection to me.
  • POLONIUS
  • Affection! You speak like a green girl naive in such perilous circumstance.
  • OPHELIA
  • I do not know, my lord, what I should think.
  • POLONIUS
  • Tender yourself more dearly, or you’ll tender me a fool.
  • OPHELIA
  • My lord, he hath importuned me with love in honorable fashion.
  • POLONIUS
  • Ay, “fashion” you may call it.
  • OPHELIA
  • And hath given countenance to his speech, my lord, with almost all the holy vows of heaven.
  •  
  •  
  • Polonius to Ophelia
  •  
  • Ay, I know when the blood burns how lightly
  • The soul lends the tongue vows. Do believe me
  • Daughter, those blazes giving more light than
  • Heat extinguish themselves as they are made,
  • Not to be taken for fire. This is an
  • Occurrence replayed, so as a fair maid,
  • Be more meager. For Lord Hamlet, believe
  • In him that he is young and free to leave
  • With a larger tether than you. His vows
  • Are not in true reports heard and in large
  • Measure beyond what good judgment allows.
  • This is for all: from this time forth I charge
  • You not misuse any leisure minute
  • To give words or talk with the Lord Hamlet.
  • OPHELIA
  • I shall obey, my lord.
  • They exit.
  • Act 1, Scene 4
  • The scene is Elsinore
  • HAMLET
  • The air bites shrewdly; it is very cold. What hour now?
  • A flourish of trumpets.
  • HORATIO
  • What does this mean, my lord?
  • HAMLET
  • The King stays awake tonight drinking. As he drains his draughts of Rhine wine down, the kettledrum and trumpet thus bray out the triumph of emptying the cup in one draft.
  • HORATIO
  • Is it a custom?
  • HAMLET
  • Ay, marry, is ‘t.
  •  
  •  
  • Hamlet to Horatio, No. 1
  •  
  • This heavy-headed drinking goes a bit
  • Too far, much defamed as we are for it.
  • It takes from our great feats, Horatio,
  • Fair Dane; loyal, good friend. It is a custom
  • Better breached in honor than observed. So
  • Oft it seems inherited, as if some
  • Are guilty by birth, yet man can’t choose his
  • Origin or this trait that leads him. ‘Tis
  • Sad, for other virtues, be they pure as
  • Grace, as infinite as any man may
  • Have, he’ll be publicly censured and has
  • To live with it, because of it; the way
  • Of misfortune’s star. That dram of evil
  • O’ergrows the noble to our own scandal.
  • The Ghost enters.
  • HORATIO
  • Look, my lord, it comes.
  • HAMLET
  • 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. What may this mean that we fools of nature so horridly to shake our disposition with thoughts beyond the reaches of our souls? What should we do?
  • The Ghost beckons.
  • MARCELLUS
  • 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 I will follow it.
  • HORATIO
  • Do not, my lord.
  • HAMLET
  • Why, what should be the fear? I do not set my life at the cost of a pin. And for my soul, what can it do to that, being a thing immortal as itself?
  • HORATIO
  • What if it tempt you toward the flood, my lord? Or to the dreadful summit of the cliff and there assume some other horrible form which might deprive your sovereignty of reason and draw you into madness? Think of it.
  • HAMLET
  • It wave me still. Go on, I’ll follow thee.
  • They hold back Hamlet.
  • HAMLET
  • Hold off your hands. Unhand me, gentlemen. By heaven, I’ll make a ghost of him that lets me!
  • Ghost and Hamlet exit.
  • 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. Let’s follow him.
  • They exit.
  • Act 1, Scene 5
  • The Ghost and Hamlet enter.
  • HAMLET
  • Whither wilt thou lead me? Speak. I’ll go no further.
  • GHOST
  • Pay attention to me.
  • HAMLET
  • I will.
  • GHOST
  • Pity me not, but lend thy serious hearing to what I shall unfold.
  • HAMLET
  • Speak. I am bound to hear.
  • GHOST
  • So art thou to revenge, when thou shalt hear.
  • HAMLET
  • What?
  •  
  •  
  • Ghost to Hamlet
  •  
  • I am thy father’s spirit doomed to walk
  • The night for a time, determined to stalk
  • The truth. Listen, if thou didst ever thy
  • Dear father love. Now, Hamlet, hear me. It
  • Has been give out that, sleeping in my
  • Orchard, a serpent stung me, but what bit
  • Thy father’s life now wears his crown, takes my
  • Wife as his queen, and sent my soul to fly
  • With my defects still on my head. If thou
  • Hast a spirit in thee, keep it alive.
  • However thou pursue this act, allow
  • Not thy mind be stained nor thy soul contrive
  • ‘Gainst thy mother. As each day comes to be,
  • As the sun flares its fire, remember me.
  • The Ghost exits.
  • HAMLET
  • Remember thee? Yea, from the table of my memory I’ll wipe away all trivial, fond records. And thy commandment all alone shall live within the book and volume of my brain. That one may smile and smile and be a villain. At least I am sure it may be so in Denmark.
  • Horatio and Marcellus enter.
  • HORATIO
  • What news, my lord?
  • HAMLET
  • O, wonderful.
  • 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
  • There’s never a villain dwelling in all Denmark but he’s an arrant knave.
  • HORATIO
  • There needs no ghost, my lord, come from the grave to tell us this.
  • HAMLET
  • Why, right, you are in the right. Touching this vision here, it is an honest ghost. That let me tell you. And now, good friend, give me one poor request.
  • HORATIO
  • What is ‘t, my lord? We will.
  • HAMLET
  • Nay, but swear ‘t, upon my sword.
  • MARCELLUS
  • We have sworn, my lord, already.
  • GHOST CRIES UNDER THE STAGE
  • Swear.
  • HORATIO
  • Propose the oath, my lord.
  • HAMLET
  • Never to speak of this that you have seen. Swear by my sword.
  • GHOST BENEATH
  • Swear by his sword.
  • HORATIO
  • O day and night, but this is wondrous strange.
  • HAMLET
  • There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy. Here, as before, never note that you know aught of me. This do swear, so grace and mercy at your most need help you.
  • GHOST BENEATH
  • Swear.
  • HAMLET
  • Rest, rest, perturbed spirit. Go, gentlemen, 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.
  • They exit.
  • Act 2, Scene 1
  • Polonius is on stage with his servant, Reynaldo, preparing to send him on a mission to Paris.
  • POLONIUS
  • Give him this money and these notes, Reynaldo.
  • REYNALDO
  • I will, my lord.
  • POLONIUS
  • You shall do marvelous wisely, good Reynaldo, before you visit him, to make inquire of his behavior.
  • REYNALDO
  • My lord, I did intend it.
  • POLONIUS
  • Look you, sir, inquire me first what Danes are in Paris; and how, and who, what means, and where they keep what company, at what expense. Do you mark this, Reynaldo?
  • REYNALDO
  • Ay, very well, my lord.
  • POLONIUS
  • Sir, wanton, wild and usual slips are companions noted and most known to youth and liberty.
  • REYNALDO
  • As gaming, my lord.
  • POLONIUS
  • Ay, or drinking, fencing swearing, quarreling-----you may go so far.
  • REYNALDO
  • My lord, that would dishonor him.
  • POLONIUS
  • You must not put another scandal on him. That’s not my meaning.
  • REYNALDO
  • But, my good lord!
  • POLONIUS
  • Marry, sir, here’s my drift. Was he gaming or falling out at tennis----or so forth. You have me, have you not?
  • REYNALDO
  • My lord, I have.
  • POLONIUS
  • Farewell.
  • Reynaldo exits. Ophelia enters.
  • POLONIUS
  • How now, Ophelia, what’s the matter?
  • OPHELIA
  • O, 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 a look so piteous in purport, to speak of horrors, 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?
  • OPHELIA
  • He took me by the wrist and held me hard. Long stayed he so. He raised a sigh so piteous and profound as it did seem to shatter all his bulk and end his being. That done, he lets me go.
  • POLONIUS
  • Come, go with me. I will go seek the King. This is the very ecstasy of love, whose violent property fordoes itself and leads the will to desperate undertakings. 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.
  • POLONIUS
  • That hath made him mad. By heaven, it is as proper to our age to cast beyond ourselves in our opinions as it is common for the younger sort to lack discretion. Come, go we to the King.
  • They exit.
  • Act 2, Scene 2
  • Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, two longtime friends of Hamlet, enter with the King and Queen.
  • KING
  • Welcome, dear Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Something have you heard of Hamlet’s transformation, so call it. I treat you both to draw him on to pleasures, and to gather so much as from occasion you may glean.
  • QUEEN
  • Good gentlemen, it will please you to show us so much goodwill for the supply and profit of our hope. Your visitation shall receive such thanks as fits a king’s remembrance.
  • GUILDENSTERN
  • We both obey, and here give up ourselves in the full bent to lay our service freely at your feet, to be commanded.
  • QUEEN
  • Thanks, Guildenstern and gentle Rosencrantz. I beseech you instantly to visit my too much changed son.
  • GUILDENSTERN
  • Heavens make our presence and our practices pleasant and helpful to him!
  • Rosencrantz and Guildenstern exit. Polonius enters.
  • POLONIUS
  • Th’ ambassadors from Norway, my good lord, are joyfully returned.
  • KING
  • Thou still hast been the father of good news.
  • POLONIUS
  • I do think that I have found the very cause of Hamlet’s lunacy.
  • KING
  • O, speak of that! That do I long to hear.
  • POLONIUS
  • Give first admittance to th’ ambassadors. My news shall be the fruit to that great feast.
  • Polonius exits.
  • KING
  • He tells me, my dear Gertrude, he hath found the head and source of all your son’s distemper.
  • QUEEN
  • I doubt it is no other but the main --- his father’s death and our o’erhasty marriage.
  • KING
  • Well, we shall examine him.
  • Ambassadors Voltemand and Cornelius enter with Polonius.
  • KING
  • Say, Voltemand, what from our brother Norway?
  • VOLTEMAND
  • Upon our first, he sent out to suppress his nephew’s levies, which to him appeared to be a preparation ‘gainst the Polack, but he truly found it was against your Highness. Whereat he sends out arrests on Fortinbras, which he, in brief, obeys, receives rebuke from Norway, and makes vow before his uncle never more to give th’ assay of arms against your Majesty. Whereon old Norway, overcome with joy, then gives him three-score thousand crowns in annual fee to employ those soldiers against the Polack, that it might please you to give quiet pass through your dominions for this enterprise.
  • Voltemand gives the king a paper.
  • KING
  • At our more considered time, we’ll read, answer, and think upon this business. Meantime, go to your rest. Most welcome home.
  • Voltemand and Cornelius exit.
  • POLONIUS
  • My liege, and madam, since brevity is the soul of wit, 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?
  • QUEEN
  • More matter with less art.
  • POLONIUS
  • Madam, I swear I use no art at all. I have a daughter who hath given me this.
  • POLONIUS READS
  • “To the celestial, and my soul’s idol, the most beautiful Ophelia -----.”
  • QUEEN
  • Came this from Hamlet to her?
  • POLONIUS
  • Good madam, stay awhile.
  • POLONIUS READS
  • “Doubt thou the stars are fire, doubt that the sun doth move, doubt truth to be a liar, but never doubt I love. O dear Ophelia, I love the best, O most best, believe it.” Hamlet
  • KING
  • But how hath she received his love?
  • POLONIUS
  • What do you think of me?
  • KING
  • As of a man faithful and honorable.
  • POLONIUS
  • I would fain prove so. What might you think if I had looked upon this love with idle sight? Thus I did bespeak: “Lord Hamlet is a prince, out of thy star. This must not be.” Then I prescripts gave her that she should lock herself from his resort, admit no messengers, receive no tokens; which done, she took the fruits of my advice, and he fell into a sadness, then into a fast, thence into a weakness, into the madness wherein now he raves and all we mourn for.
  • KING TO THE QUEEN
  • Do you think ‘tis this?
  • QUEEN
  • It may be, very like.
  • POLONIUS
  • If circumstances lead me, I will find where truth is hid. You know sometimes he walks here in the lobby.
  • QUEEN
  • So he does indeed.
  • POLONIUS
  • At such a time I’ll loose my daughter to him.
  • POLONIUS TO THE KING
  • Be you and I behind an arras then. Mark the encounter.
  • KING
  • We will try it.
  • Hamlet enters reading a book.
  • POLONIUS
  • Away, I do beseech you both, away.
  • King and Queen exit.
  • POLONIUS
  • How does my good Lord Hamlet?
  • HAMLET
  • Excellent well. You are a fishmonger.
  • POLONIUS
  • Not I, my lord.
  • HAMLET
  • Have you a daughter?
  • POLONIUS
  • I have, my lord.
  • HAMLET
  • Let her not walk i’ th’ sun.
  • POLONIUS ASIDE
  • Still harping on my daughter. Yet he knew me not at first; he said I was a fishmonger. He is far gone.
  • POLONIUS
  • What is the matter that you read, my lord.
  • HAMLET
  • Slanders, sir; for the satirical rogue says here that old men have gray beards, and that they have a plentiful lack of wit. For yourself, sir, I hold it you shall grow old as I am, if, like a crab, you could go backward.
  • POLONIUS ASIDE
  • Though this be madness, yet there is method in ‘t.
  • POLONIUS
  • I will take my leave of you.
  • HAMLET
  • You cannot, sir, take from me anything that I will more willingly part withal ---- except my life.
  • POLONIUS
  • Fare you well, my lord.
  • HAMLET ASIDE
  • These tedious old fools.
  • Polonius exits. Guildenstern and Rosencrantz enter.
  • HAMLET
  • My excellent good friends! Good lads, how do you both? What news?
  • ROSENCRANTZ
  • None, my lord, but that the world’s grown honest.
  • HAMLET
  • Then is doomsday near. What have you, my good friends, deserved at the hands of fortune that she sends you to prison hither?
  • GUILDENSTERN
  • Prison, my lord?
  • HAMLET
  • Denmark’s a prison.
  • ROSENCRANTZ
  • We think not so, my lord.
  • HAMLET
  • Why, then, ‘tis none to you, for there is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so. To me, it is a prison.
  • ROSENCRANTZ
  • Why, then, your ambition makes it one.
  • HAMLET
  • I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams.
  • GUILDENSTERN
  • Which dreams, indeed, are ambition, for the very substance of the ambitious is merely the shadow of a dream.
  • HAMLET
  • A dream itself is but a shadow.
  • ROSENCRANTZ
  • Truly.
  • HAMLET
  • Come, come, deal justly with me. Come, nay, speak.
  • GUILDENSTERN
  • What should we say, my lord?
  • HAMLET
  • Anything but to th’ purpose. I know the good king and queen have sent for you.
  • ROSENCRANTZ
  • To what end, my lord.
  • HAMLET
  • That you must teach me. By the rights of our fellowship, be even and direct with me whether you were sent for or no.
  • GUILDENSTERN
  • My lord, we were sent for.
  •  
  •  
  • Hamlet to Guildenstern and Rosencrantz
  •  
  • That your pledge to the king and queen need not
  • Be disclosed, as to break their secret sought,
  • I will tell you why. I have lost my mirth
  • And forsaken exercise. Indeed, my
  • Disposition’s so bad that this good earth
  • Seems a sterile rock and this air, the sky,
  • This brave overhanging arch, fretted with
  • The golden fire appeareth as a myth,
  • As a pestilent set of vapors. What
  • A piece of work is a man. Nobel must
  • Be he in reason, form and action, but
  • Yet to me, what’s this quintessence of dust?
  • Man delights me not, nor women I know,
  • 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 me not?”
  • ROSENCRANTZ
  • To think, my lord, if you delight not in man, what Lenten entertainment the players shall receive from you. They are coming to offer you service.
  • The Players enter.
  • GUILDENSTERN
  • There are the players.
  • HAMLET
  • Gentlemen, you are welcome to Elsinore. You are welcome. But my uncle-father and aunt-mother are deceived.
  • GUILDENSTERN
  • In what, my dear lord?
  • HAMLET
  • I am but mad north-north-west. When the wind is southerly, I know a hawk from a handsaw.
  • Polonius enters.
  • POLONIUS
  • Well be with you, gentlemen.
  • HAMLET
  • Good my lord, will you see the players well bestowed? Do you hear, let them be well used, for they are the abstract and brief chronicles of the time.
  • POLONIUS
  • My lord, I will use them according to their desert.
  • HAMLET
  • Use them after your own honor and dignity. Take them in.
  • POLONIUS
  • Come, sirs.
  • HAMLET
  • We’ll hear a play tomorrow.
  • HAMLET TO THE FIRST PLAYER
  • Can you play “The Murder of Gonzago”?
  • FIRST PLAYER
  • Ay, my lord.
  • HAMLET
  • We’ll ha ‘t tomorrow night.
  • First Player exits.
  • HAMLET TO ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN
  • My good friends, I’ll leave you till night. You are welcome to Elsinore.
  • ROSENCRANTZ
  • Good my lord.
  • Rosencrantz and Guildenstern exit.
  • HAMLET
  • Now I am alone.
  •  
  •  
  • Hamlet to himself, No. 2
  •  
  • O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I!
  • How can this actor force his eyes to cry,
  • His voice to break, his face to wan, when all
  • A fiction be, for nothing? What would he
  • Do had he my just motive and could call
  • On the passion that is mine. Yet I be
  • A pigeon-livered knave, like John-a-dreams
  • And can say nothing. Do I lack the means
  • To make oppression bitter? Hum, I’ve heard
  • That guilty creatures sitting at a play
  • Have proclaimed their malefactions when the word,
  • Though it hath no tongue, speaks for itself. May
  • The devil hath a role and the play ring
  • Truth. I’ll then catch the conscience of the king.
  • He exits.
  • Act 3, Scene 1
  • The King, Queen, Polonius, Ophelia, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern enter.
  • KING
  • Can you by no drift of conference get from him why he puts on this confusion?
  • ROSENCRANTZ
  • He does confess he feels himself distracted.
  • GUILDERSTERN
  • With a crafty madness he keeps aloof.
  • QUEEN
  • Did you tempt him to any pastime?
  • ROSENCRANTZ
  • Madam, it so fell out that certain players we overtook on the way. They have already order this night to play before him.
  • POLONIUS
  • ‘Tis most true, and he beseeched me to entreat your Majesties to hear and see the matter.
  • KING
  • Good gentlemen, give him a further edge and drive his purpose into these delights.
  • Rosencrantz and Guildenstern exit.
  • KING
  • Sweet Gertrude, leave us, for we have closely sent for Hamlet hither, that he, as ‘twere by accident, may here affront Ophelia, her father and myself.
  • QUEEN
  • I shall obey you. And for your part, Ophelia, I do wish that your good beauties be the happy cause of Hamlet’s wildness.
  • OPHELIA
  • Madam, I wish it many.
  • Queen exits.
  • POLONIUS
  • Ophelia, walk you here. I hear him coming. Let’s withdraw, my lord.
  • They withdraw. Hamlet enters.
  •  
  •  
  • Hamlet to himself, No. 3
  •  
  • To be or not to be is the question.
  • Is it nobler to bear the misfortune
  • Of slings and arrows or by opposing
  • A sea of troubles end them? To die, to
  • Sleep and by a sleep to find the ending
  • To the heartache and natural shocks you
  • Are heir to is an ending to be sought.
  • Yet to die with the chance to dream ought not
  • Be sought, for not knowing in that sleep of
  • Death what dreams may come must give us pause. There’s
  • The respect for life, for who’d suffer love,
  • Accept oppressors, what the weakest bears,
  • And the law’s delays, when he might rather
  • Relieve himself from life with a dagger.
  •  
  •  
  • Hamlet to himself, No. 4
  •  
  • Who would bear these burdens, to grunt and sweat
  • Under a weary life if not to let
  • The dread of what’s after death, the unknown
  • Far-off land from whose bourn no traveler
  • Returns, make us rather bear these ills sown
  • Than fly blindly alone to another
  • That we know not of. Thus conscience doth make
  • Us cowards all, afraid to die, to wake
  • No more. Our natural resolution
  • Becomes a look of sickness, cowering
  • In a shadow of thought, as when action
  • In great enterprises begins losing
  • Its motion through fear, as when a river
  • Deflected becomes mere stagnant water.
  • HAMLET
  • Soft you now, the fair Ophelia.
  • OPHELIA
  • My lord, I have remembrances of yours that I have longed long to redeliver. I pray you now receive them.
  • HAMLET
  • No, not I. I never gave you aught.
  • OPHELIA
  • My honored lord, you know right well you did. Rich gifts wax poor when givers prove unkind.
  • HAMLET
  • Ha, ha, are you honest?
  • OPHELIA
  • My lord?
  • HAMLET
  • Are you fair?
  • OPHELIA
  • What means your lordship?
  • HAMLET
  • Ay, I did love you once.
  • OPHELIA
  • Indeed, my lord, you made me believe so.
  • HAMLET
  • You should not have believed me. I loved you not.
  • 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 me of such things that it were better my mother had not borne me. What should such fellows as I do crawling between earth and heaven? We are arrant knaves all; believe none of us. Where’s your father?
  • OPHELIA
  • At home, my lord.
  • HAMLET
  • Let the doors be shut upon him that he may play the fool nowhere but in ‘s own house. Farewell.
  • OPHELIA
  • O, help him, you sweet heavens!
  • HAMLET
  • If thou wilt needs marry, marry a fool, for wise men know well enough what monsters you make of them. Farewell.
  • OPHELIA
  • Heavenly powers, restore him!
  • HAMLET
  • I’ll no more of it. It hath made me mad. I say we will have no more marriage. To a nunnery, go.
  • He exits.
  • OPHELIA
  • O, what a noble mind is here o’erthrown! The courtier’s, soldier’s, scholar’s, eye, tongue, sword, the rose of the fair state, the glass of fashion and the mold of form, th’ observed of all observers, quite, quite down! O, woe is me t’ have seen what I have seen, see what I see!
  • KING ADVANCING WITH POLONIUS
  • Love? There’s something in his soul o’er which his melancholy sits on brood. I have in quick determination thus set it down; he shall with speed to England for the demand of our neglected tribute. Haply the seas, and countries different, shall expel this something-settled matter in his heart. What think you on ‘t?
  • POLONIUS
  • It shall do well. But yet do I believe the origin of his grief sprung from neglected love. My lord, after the play let his queen-mother all alone entreat him to show his grief. Let her be round with him; and I’ll be placed, so please you, in the ear of all their conference.
  • KING
  • It shall be so. Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.
  • They exit.
  • Act 3, Scene 2
  • Hamlet enters offering instructions to three of the players.
  • HAMLET
  • Speak the speech, I pray you, trippingly on the tongue, but if you mouth it, as many of our players do, I had as life the town-crier spoke my lines. Nor do not saw the air too much with your hand.
  • PLAYER
  • I warrant your Honor.
  • HAMLET
  • Be not too tame neither, but let your own discretion be your tutor. Suit the action to the word, the word to the action. For anything so o’erdone is from the purpose of playing, whose end was and is to hold, as ‘twere, the mirror up to nature. O, there be players that I have seen play and have so strutted and bellowed that I have thought some of nature’s journeymen had made men, and not made them well, they imitated humanity so abominably.
  • PLAYER
  • I hope we have reformed that indifferently with us, sir.
  • HAMLET
  • O, reform it altogether. Go make you ready.
  • Players exit. Horatio enters.
  • HORATIO
  • Here, sweet lord, at your service.
  • HAMLET
  • Horatio, thou art e’en as just a man as e’er my conversation coped withal.
  • HORATIO
  • O, my dear lord----
  •  
  •  
  • Hamlet to Horatio, No. 2
  •  
  • Think not, Horatio, that I flatter,
  • For what advancement hast thou to offer
  • Me, having no revenue but thy good
  • Spirits to feed and clothe thee? The absurd
  • Pomp that flows from those with candied tongues should
  • Be for gifts that may follow fawning heard.
  • My mistress soul choose thee for herself as
  • One who suffers not, having suffered, has
  • Bourne Fortune’s buffets and rewards, has been
  • Blessed with the balanced judgment of the brave;
  • Those who let not Fortune’s fickleness win.
  • Give me that man that is not passion’s slave
  • And I will wear him in the core of me,
  • Ay, in my heart of heart as I do thee.
  • HAMLET
  • There is a play tonight before the King. One scene of it comes near the circumstance which I have hold thee of my father’s death. When thou seest that act afoot, observe my uncle. Give him heedful note, for I mine eyes will rivet to his face, and, after, we will both our judgments join in censure of his seeming.
  • A flourish sounds.
  • HAMLET
  • They are coming to the play. I must be idle. Get you a place.
  • The King, Queen, Polonius, Ophelia, Rosencrantz, Guildenstern and others enter.
  • HAMLET
  • Be the players ready?
  • ROSENCRANTZ
  • Ay, my lord.
  • Hamlet takes a place near Ophelia.
  • POLONIUS TO THE KING
  • Oh, ho! Do you mark that?
  • HAMLET
  • Lady, shall I rest my head upon your lap?
  • OPHELIA
  • You are merry, my lord.
  • HAMLET
  • What should a man do but be merry? For look how cheerfully my mother looks, and my father died within ‘t two hours.
  • OPHELIA
  • Nay, ‘tis twice two months, my lord.
  • HAMLET
  • So long? O heavens, die two months ago, and not forgotten yet? Then there’s hope a great man’s memory may outlive his life half a year.
  • Trumpets sound. A show without words follows. A King and Queen enter, very lovingly. He lies down upon a bank of flowers. She, seeing him asleep, leaves him. Along comes another man, takes off his crown, kisses it, pours poison in the sleeper’s ears, and leaves him. The Queen returns, finds the King dead, makes passionate action. The poisoner comes in again, seems to console her. The dead body is carried away. The poisoner woos the Queen with gifts. She seems harsh awhile but in the end accepts his love. Players exit.
  • OPHELIA
  • What means this, my lord?
  • HAMLET
  • It means mischief.
  • A Prologue enters.
  • HAMLET
  • Is this a prologue?
  • OPHELIA
  • ‘Tis brief, my lord.
  • HAMLET
  • As woman’s love.
  • The Player King and Queen enter.
  • PLAYER KING
  • Since love our hearts and our hands unite commutual in most sacred bands.
  • PLAYER QUEEN
  • Your are so sick of late, so far from cheer and from your former state, that I distrust you. Yet, though I distrust, my lord, it nothing must. 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. And thou shalt live in this fair world behind, honored, beloved.
  • PLAYER QUEEN
  • O, confound the rest! In second husband let me be accurst. None wed the second but who killed the first.
  • HAMLET
  • That’s bitter.
  • PLAYER QUEEN
  • The instances that second marriage move are base respects of thrift, but none of love. A second time I kill my husband dead when second husband kisses me in bed.
  • PLAYER KING
  • I do believe you think what now you speak.
  •  
  •  
  • Player King to Player Queen
  •  
  • Passion breeds promises too soon broken
  • When passion ends, like fruit falls unshaken
  • From a tree when mellow. We forget to
  • Pay ourselves what we said we owed ourselves.
  • Joy and grief can change quickly and they do;
  • Where passionate vows lead, no one foretells.
  • This world’s not forever; so ‘tis not strange
  • That even love should with our fortunes change.
  • The question’s left for us to prove whether
  • Love leads to fate or through fate comes love. Our
  • Will and fates wonder knowing not what lure
  • Awaits. Our thought ours, though their ends may sour.
  • You say thou wilt no second husband wed,
  • But thy thoughts die when thy first love is dead.
  • PLAYER QUEEN
  • Nor earth to me give good, nor heaven light, sport and repose lock from me day and night, to desperation turn my trust and hope, an anchor’s cheer in prison be my scope. Both her and hence pursue me lasting strife, if, once a widow, ever I be wife.
  • PLAYER KING
  • Sweet, leave me here awhile. My spirits grow dull, and fain I would beguile the tedious day with sleep.
  • He sleeps.
  • PLAYER QUEEN
  • Sleep rock thy brain, and never come mischance between us twain.
  • Player Queen exits.
  • HAMLET
  • Madam, how like you this play?
  • QUEEN
  • The lady doth protest too much, methinks.
  • HAMLET
  • O, but she’ll keep her word.
  • KING
  • Have you heard the plot? Is there no offense in ‘t? What do they call the play?
  • HAMLET
  • “The Mousetrap.” ‘Tis a knavish piece of work, but what of that? Your Majesty and we that have free souls, it touches us not. Let the galled jade wince.
  • Lucianus enters.
  • HAMLET
  • This is one Lucianus, nephew to the king.
  • LUCIANUS
  • Thoughts black, hands apt, drugs fit, and time agreeing, else no creature seeing, thou mixture rank.
  • Lucianus pours the poison in the Player King’s ear.
  • HAMLET
  • He poisons him i’ th’ garden for his estate. His name’s Gonzago. The story is written in very choice Italian. You shall see soon how the murderer gets the love of Gonzago’s wife.
  • Claudius rises.
  • HAMLET
  • What, frighted with false fire?
  • QUEEN
  • How fares my lord?
  • KING
  • Give me some light. Away!
  • All but Hamlet and Horatio exit.
  • HAMLET
  • O good Horatio, I’ll take the ghost’s word for a thousand pound. Didst perceive?
  • HORATIO
  • Very well, my lord.
  • HAMLET
  • Upon the talk of the poisoning?
  • HORATIO
  • I did very well note him.
  • Rosencrantz and Guildenstern enter.
  • GUILDENSTERN
  • The King, sir, is in his retirement marvelous distempered.
  • HAMLET
  • With drink, sir?
  • GUILDENSTERN
  • No, my lord, with choler.
  • HAMLET
  • Your wisdom should show itself more richer to signify this to the doctor.
  • GUILDENSTERN
  • The Queen your mother hath sent me to you.
  • HAMLET
  • My mother, you say.
  • ROSENCRANTZ
  • Then thus she says: your behavior hath struck her into amazement and admiration.
  • HAMLET
  • O wonderful son that can so ‘stonish a mother!
  • ROSENCRANTZ
  • She desires to speak with you in her private chamber ere you go to bed.
  • HAMLET
  • We shall obey. Have you any further trade with us?
  • ROSENCRANTZ
  • Good my lord, what is your cause of distemper?
  • 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
  • “While the grass grows, the horse starves.”
  • Polonius enters.
  • POLONIUS
  • My lord, the Queen would speak with you, and presently.
  • HAMLET
  • I will come to my mother by and by.
  • POLONIUS
  • I will say so.
  • All exit but Hamlet.
  • HAMLET
  • Soft, now to my mother. Let me be cruel, not unnatural. I will speak daggers to her, but use none.
  • He exits.
  • Act 3, Scene 3
  • The King enters with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, preparing to give them instructions.
  • KING
  • I like him not, nor stands it safe with us to let his madness range. I your commission will forthwith dispatch, and he to England shall along with you.
  • GUILDENSTERN
  • We will ourselves provide.
  • KING
  • Arm you, I pray you, to this speedy voyage, for we will fetters put about tis fear, which now goes too free-footed.
  • Rosencrantz and Guildenstern exit. Polonius enters.
  • POLONIUS
  • My lord, he’s going to his mother’s chambers. Behind the arras I’ll convey myself to hear the process.
  • KING
  • Thanks, dear my lord.
  • Polonius exits.
  • KING
  • O, my offense is rank, it smells to heaven; it hath the primal eldest curse upon ‘t, a brother’s murder. Pray can I not, though inclination be as sharp as will.
  •  
  •  
  • Claudius to himself
  •  
  • My stronger guilt defeats my strong intent
  • To pray, and, like a motionless man bent
  • On two options, I know not where to start,
  • Neglecting both. To what end serves mercy
  • But to face the offense? What is the part
  • Of prayer but to be not tempted and be
  • Forgiven? What form of prayer would serve me
  • Best? “Forgive my foul murder?” That can’t be
  • Since I am still possessed of those effects
  • For which I did the murder, my fair queen
  • And crown. I lose all if the state detects
  • The crime. Yet above the crime will be seen
  • For the truth it is? What is there to vent?
  • What can one do when one cannot repent?
  • KING
  • Bow, stubborn knees, and heart with strings of steel be soft as sinews of the newborn babe. All may be well.
  • He kneels. Hamlet enters.
  • HAMLET
  • Now he is a–praying, and now I’ll do ‘t.
  • He draws his sword.
  • HAMLET
  • And so he goes to heaven, and so am I revenged. A villain kills my father, and for that, I, his sole son, do this same villain send to heaven. Why, this is hire and salary, not revenge. No. Up sword.
  • He sheathes his sword.
  • HAMLET
  • When he is drunk asleep, or in his rage, then trip him, that his heels may kick at heaven, and that his soul may be as damned and black as hell, whereto it goes.
  • Hamlet exits.
  • KING RISING
  • My words fly up, my thoughts remain below; words without thoughts never to heaven go.
  • He exits.
  • Act 3, Scene 4
  • The Queen enters with Polonius, who plans to hide behind the drapes.
  • POLONIUS
  • He will come straight. I’ll silence me even here. Pray you, be round with him.
  • QUEEN
  • I’ll warrant you. Fear me not. Withdraw.
  • Polonius hides behind the arras. Hamlet enters.
  • QUEEN
  • Hamlet, thou hast thy father much offended.
  • HAMLET
  • Mother, you have my father much offended.
  • QUEEN
  • Come, come, you answer with an idle tongue. Have you forgot me?
  • HAMLET
  • No. You are the Queen, your husband’s brother’s wife. You are my mother.
  • Come and sit you down; you shall not budge.
  • QUEEN
  • What wilt thou do? Thou wilt not murder me?
  • POLONIUS FROM BEHIND THE ARRAS
  • What ho! Help!
  • HAMLET
  • How now, a rat? Dead for a ducat, dead.
  • He kills Polonius, thrusting a rapier through the arras.
  • POLONIUS FROM BEHIND THE ARRAS
  • O, I am slain!
  • QUEEN
  • O me, what hast thou done?
  • HAMLET
  • Nay, I know not. Is it the King?
  • Hamlet pulls Polonius’ body from behind the arras.
  • HAMLET
  • Thou wretched, rash, intruding fool, farewell. I took thee for the better.
  • HAMLET TO THE QUEEN
  • Leave wringing of your hands. Peace, sit you down, and let me wring your heart.
  • QUEEN
  • What have I done, that thou dar’st wag thy tongue in noise so rude against me?
  • 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 as false as dicers’ oaths.
  • QUEEN
  • Ay, me.
  • HAMLET
  • Look here upon this picture and on this, the counterfeit presentment of two brothers. This was your husband. Look you now what follows. Here is your husband, like a mildewed ear blasting his wholesome brother.
  •  
  •  
  • Hamlet to his Mother
  •  
  • Have you eyes? This cannot be called love, for
  • At your age the thrill in the blood is more
  • Tame. Your senses must be paralyzed or
  • Your mind enslaved; what judgment would have stepped
  • To this? Madness would not err like this nor
  • Should bliss be so bonding for you to’ve leapt
  • To this fantasy; not reserving some
  • Quantity of choice. What devil has come
  • To trick you at blindman’s bluff? If this love,
  • Love is mad. If thou in matron’s bones lacks
  • Reason and will, how can the virtue of
  • A flaming maid not melt as heated wax?
  • Shaming youth for ardor is not your turn
  • When frost itself as actively doth burn.
  • QUEEN
  • O Hamlet, speak no more! These words like daggers enter in my ears. No more, sweet Hamlet
  • The Ghost enters.
  • HAMLET
  • What would your gracious figure?
  • QUEEN
  • Alas, he’s mad.
  • HAMLET
  • Do you not come your tardy son to chide, that, lapsed in time and passion, lets go by th’ important acting of your dread command?
  • GHOST
  • Do not forget. But look, amazement on thy mother sits. O, step between her and her fighting soul. Speak to her, Hamlet.
  • HAMLET
  • How is it with you, lady?
  • QUEEN
  • Alas, how is ‘t with you, that you do bend your eye on vacancy and with th’ incorporal air do hold discourse? 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.
  • QUEEN
  • To whom do you speak this?
  • HAMLET
  • Do you see nothing there?
  • QUEEN
  • Nothing at all; yet all that is I see.
  • HAMLET
  • Nor did you nothing hear?
  • QUEEN
  • No, nothing but ourselves.
  • HAMLET
  • Why, look you there, look how it steals away! My father, in his habit as he lived!
  • The Ghost exits.
  • QUEEN
  • This is the very coinage of your brain.
  • HAMLET
  • It is not madness that I have uttered. Mother, for love of grace, lay not that flattering unction to your soul that not your trespass but my madness speaks. Confess yourself to heaven, repent what’s past, avoid what is to come. Forgive me this my virtue, for virtue itself of vice must pardon beg.
  • QUEEN
  • O Hamlet, thou hast cleft my heart in twain!
  • HAMLET
  • O, throw away the worser part of it and live the purer with the other half! Good night. For this same lord (pointing to Polonius) I do repent. So, again, good night. I must be cruel only to be kind.
  • QUEEN
  • What shall I do?
  • HAMLET
  • Ravel all this matter out that I essentially am not in madness, but mad in craft.
  • QUEEN
  • Be thou assured, 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.
  • QUEEN
  • Alack, I had forgot! ‘Tis so concluded on.
  • HAMLET
  • My two schoolfellows, whom I will trust as I will adders fanged, they bear the mandate; they must sweep my way and marshal me to knavery. Let it work. This man shall set me packing (pointing to Polonius). I’ll lug the guts into the neighbor room. Come, sir, to draw toward an end with you. Good night, mother.
  • They exit, Hamlet tugging in Polonius.
  • Act 4, Scene 1
  • The King, Queen, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are on stage.
  • KING
  • Where is your son?
  • QUEEN
  • Bestow this place onus a little while.
  • Rosencrantz and Guildenstern exit.
  • KING
  • How does Hamlet?
  • QUEEN
  • Mad as the sea and wind when both contend which is the mightier. In his lawless fit, behind the arras hearing something stir, whips out his rapier, cries “A rat, a rat,” and in this brainish apprehension kills the unseen good old man.
  • KING
  • O heavy deed! His liberty is full of threats to all. Alas, how shall this bloody deed be answered? It will be laid to us. Where is he gone?
  • QUEEN
  • To draw apart the body he hath killed. He weeps for what is done.
  • KING
  • The sun no sooner shall the mountains touch but we will ship him hence; and this vile deed we must with all your majesty and skill both countenance and excuse. Ho, Guildenstern!
  • Rosencrantz and Guildenstern enter.
  • KING
  • Friends both, Hamlet in madness hath Polonius slain, and from his mother’s chambers hath he dragged him. Go seek him out, speak fair, and bring the body into the chapel.
  • Rosencrantz and Guildenstern exit.
  • KING
  • Come, Gertrude, we’ll call up our wisest friends and let them know both what we mean to do and what’s untimely done. O, come away! My soul is full of discord and dismay.
  • They exit.
  • Act 4, Scene 2
  • Hamlet is on stage.
  • HAMLET
  • Safely stowed.
  • Rosencrantz and Guildenstern enter.
  • ROSENCRANTZ
  • What have you done, my lord, with the dead body? Tell us where ‘tis, that we may take it thence and bear it to the chapel.
  • 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?
  • ROSENCRANTZ
  • Take you me for a sponge, my lord?
  • HAMLET
  • Ay, sir, that soaks up the King’s favorable looks, his rewards, his authorities. When he needs what you have gleaned, it is but squeezing you, and, sponge, you shall be dry again.
  • ROSENCRANTZ
  • I understand you not, my lord.
  • HAMLET
  • I am glad of it. A knavish speech is not understood in a foolish ear.
  • ROSENCRANTZ
  • My lord, you must tell us where the body is and go with us to the King.
  • HAMLET
  • The body is with the King, but the King is not with the body. The King is a thing----
  • GUILDENSTERN
  • A “thing,” my lord.
  • HAMLET
  • Of nothing.
  • They exit.
  • Act 4, Scene 3
  • The King is on stage.
  • KING
  • I have sent to seek him and to find the body. How dangerous is it that this man goes loose! But he is loved of the distracted multitude, who like not in their judgment, but their eyes. This sudden sending him away must seem deliberate pause.
  • Rosencrantz enters.
  • ROSENCRANTZ
  • Where the dead body is bestowed, my lord, we cannot get from him.
  • KING
  • But where is he?
  • ROSENCRANTZ
  • Without, my lord.
  • KING
  • Bring him before us.
  • They enter with Hamlet.
  • KING
  • Now, Hamlet, where’s Polonius?
  • HAMLET
  • At supper.
  • KING
  • At supper where?
  •  
  •  
  • Hamlet to Claudius
  •  
  • It’s not where he eats, but where he’s eaten.
  • A group of crafty worms are e’en ‘im.
  • Your worm is the emperor of eaters.
  • We fatten all creatures to fatten us,
  • And the fattening of ourselves defers
  • To the maggots and worms. The worms don’t fuss
  • Over a fat king and skinny beggar,
  • Considering them both fine meals; rather
  • Like two different dishes at one table.
  • A man may fish with the worm that was led
  • To a king and eat the fish ‘twas able
  • To feed on that worm, which shows a king fed
  • May progress through a beggar. You shall all
  • Nose him as you go up into the hall.
  • KING TO ATTENDANTS
  • Go, seek him there.
  • HAMLET
  • He will stay till you come.
  • Attendants exit.
  • KING
  • Hamlet, this deed, for thine especial safety must we send thee hence. Therefore prepare thyself. The bark is ready, and the wind at help.
  • HAMLET
  • For England?
  • KING
  • Ay, Hamlet.
  • HAMLET
  • Good. But come, for England. Farewell, dear mother.
  • He exits.
  • KING
  • Follow him at foot; tempt him with speed aboard. Delay it not.
  • All but the King exit.
  • KING
  • The present death of Hamlet. Do it, England.
  • He exits.
  • Act 4, Scene 4
  • Fortinbras with his army march over the stage.
  • FORTINBRAS
  • Go, Captain, from me greet the Danish king. Tell him that by his license Fortinbras craves the conveyance of a promised march over his kingdom.
  • CAPTAIN
  • I will do ‘t, my lord.
  • All but the Captain exit. Hamlet, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern enter.
  • HAMLET
  • Good sir, whose powers are these?
  • CAPTAIN
  • They are of Norway, sir.
  • HAMLET
  • How purposed, sir.
  • CAPTAIN
  • Against some part of Poland.
  • HAMLET
  • Who commands them, sir?
  • CAPTAIN
  • The nephew to old Norway, Fortinbras.
  • HAMLET
  • Goes it against the main of Poland, sir, or for some frontier?
  • CAPTAIN
  • We go to gain a little patch of ground that hath in it no profit but the name. To pay five ducats, five, I would not farm it.
  • HAMLET
  • Why, then, the Polack never will defend it.
  • CAPTAIN
  • Yes, it is already garrisoned.
  • HAMLET
  • Two thousand souls and twenty thousand ducats will not debate the question of this straw. This is th’ abscess of much wealth and peace, that inward breaks and shows no cause on the outside why the man dies.
  • CAPTAIN
  • God be wi’ you, sir.
  • He exits.
  • ROSENCRANTZ
  • Will ‘t please you to go, my lord?
  • All exit but Hamlet.
  • HAMLET
  • How all occasions do inform against me and spur my dull revenge.
  •  
  •  
  • Hamlet to himself, No. 5
  •  
  • Is man no more than a beast if his chief
  • Good is to sleep and feed during his brief
  • Stay? Since God gave us the power of thought,
  • Surely he didn’t intend we grow stale
  • From unuse. Why do I say “This I ought
  • Do” and yet not do it? Norway doth rail
  • And this tender prince doth risk all for his
  • Country, even for an eggshell. It is
  • To find quarrel in a straw when honor’s
  • At stake; otherwise fight only if the
  • Argument is great. This trick of fame bores
  • Me, knowing they to die for fantasy.
  • O, for the rest of my pale life on earth
  • I’ll hold bloody thoughts or be nothing worth.
  • He exits.
  • Act 4, Scene 5
  • Horatio, the Queen and a Gentleman enter.
  • QUEEN
  • I will not speak with her. What would she have?
  • GENTLEMAN
  • She speaks much of her father. Her speech is nothing, yet the unshaped use of it doth move the hearers to conclusions.
  • HORATIO
  • ‘Twere good she were spoken with, for she may strew dangerous conjectures in ill-breeding minds.
  • QUEEN
  • Let her come in.
  • Gentleman exits. Ophelia enters distracted.
  • OPHELIA SINGS
  • “How should I your true love know from another one?”
  • QUEEN
  • Alas, sweet lady, what imports this song?
  • OPHELIA SINGS
  • “He is dead and gone, lady, he is dead and gone.”
  • King enters.
  • KING
  • How do you, pretty lady?
  • OPHELIA
  • They say the owl was a baker’s daughter. Lord, we know what we are but know not what we may be.
  • KING
  • She is thinking about her father.
  • OPHELIA SINGS
  • “Tomorrow is Saint Valentine’s day, all in the morning betime, and I a maid at your window, to be your Valentine.”
  • KING
  • Pretty Ophelia.
  • OPHELIA SINGS
  • “You promised me to wed.”
  • KING
  • How long hath she been thus?
  • OPHELIA
  • I hope all will be well. We must be patient, but I cannot choose but weep to think they would lay him i’ th’ cold ground. My brother shall know of it. Good night, ladies, good night.
  • She exits.
  • KING
  • Follow her close; give her good watch, I pray you.
  • Horatio exits.
  •  
  •  
  • Claudius to Gertrude
  •  
  • O, Gertrude, this is the poison of deep
  • Grief; it’s from her father’s death. Sorrows keep
  • Coming; her father’s slain and your son’s gone,
  • The author of his removal. People
  • Are talking and the whispering goes on;
  • These sudden events are taking their toll.
  • By not having properly interred him
  • And with Ophelia split by this ill whim,
  • We’re but the picture of mere beasts. And her
  • Brother has in secret come from France, feeds
  • On these rumors, hearing each gossiper
  • Draw it to me. I know not where this leads.
  • O, dear Gertrude, these are frightening days
  • Murd’ring me piece by piece in many ways.
  • A Messenger enters.
  • MESSENGER
  • Save yourself, my lord. The ocean eats not the flats with more impiteous haste than young Laertes o’erbears your officers. The rabble call him “lord.” They cry “Choose we, Laertes shall be king!”
  • QUEEN
  • You are following the wrong trail, you false Danish dogs!
  • Laertes enters with others.
  • LAERTES
  • Where is this king? O thou vile king, give me my father!
  • QUEEN
  • Calmly, good Laertes.
  • KING
  • What is the cause, Laertes? 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, why thou art thus incensed.
  • LAERTES
  • Where is my father?
  • KING
  • Dead.
  • QUEEN
  • But not by him.
  • LAERTES
  • How came he dead? I’ll not be juggled with. To this point I stand; let come what comes, only I’ll be revenged most thoroughly for my father.
  • KING
  • Good Laertes, if you desire to know the certainty of your dear father, is ‘t writ in your revenge that you will draw both friend and foe, winner and loser?
  • LAERTES
  • None but his enemies.
  • KING
  • Will you know them, then?
  • LAERTES
  • To his good friends thus wide I’ll open my arms.
  • KING
  • Why, now you speak like a good child and a true gentleman. That I am guiltless of your father’s death and am most sensibly in grief for it.
  • Ophelia enters.
  • LAERTES
  • O heat, dry up my brains! 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?
  • OPHELIA SINGS
  • “They bore him barefaced on the bier, and in his grave rained many a tear.”
  • LAERTES
  • This nonsense speaks more eloquently than does serious speech.
  • 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.
  • OPHELIA
  • There’s a daisy. I would give you some violets, but they withered all when my father died. They say he made a good end.
  • LAERTES
  • Thought and afflictions, passion, hell itself she turns to favor and to prettiness.
  • OPHELIA SINGS
  • “And will he not come again? No, no, he is dead. His beard was as white as snow. He is gone, God ‘a mercy on his soul.”
  • OPHELIA
  • And of all Christians’ souls, God be wi’ you.
  • She exits.
  • LAERTES
  • Do you see this?
  • KING
  • Laertes, make choice of whom your wisest friends you will, and they shall hear and judge ‘twixt you and me. If they find us touched, we will our kingdom give, our crown, our life, and all that we call ours. But if not, be you content to lend your patience to us.
  • LAERTES
  • Let this be so. His means of death, his obscure funeral cry to be heard, as ‘twere from heaven to earth that I must call ‘t in question.
  • KING
  • So you shall, and where th’ offense is, let the great ax fall.
  • They exit.
  • Act 4, Scene 6
  • Horatio and a Gentleman are on stage.
  • HORATIO
  • What are they that would speak with me?
  • GENTLEMAN
  • Seafaring men, sir.
  • HORATIO
  • Let them come in.
  • Gentleman exits. Sailors enter.
  • SAILOR
  • There’s a letter for you, sir. It came from th’ ambassador that was bound for England, if your name be Horatio, as I am let to know it is.
  • He hands Horatio a letter.
  • HORATIO READS THE LETTER
  • “Horatio, when thou shalt have overlooked this, give these fellows some means to the King. They have letters for him. Ere we were two days old at sea, a pirate of very warlike appointment gave us chase. In the grapple I boarded them. 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 to me with as much speed as thou wouldst fly death. I have words to speak in thine ear will make thee dumb. 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. Hamlet.”
  • HORATIO
  • Come, direct me to him from whom you brought them.
  • They exit.
  • Act 4, Scene 7
  • The King and Laertes are on stage.
  • KING
  • You must put me in your heart for friend, since you have heard that he which hath your noble father slain pursued my life.
  • LAERTES
  • It well appears. But tell me why you proceeded not gainst these feats.
  • KING
  • O, for two special reasons. The Queen his mother lives almost by his looks, and for myself she is so closely joined to my life and soul that I could not but by her. The other motive is the great love the common people bear him.
  • LAERTES
  • And so have I a noble father lost and a sister driven into desp’rate terms. But my revenge will come.
  • KING
  • Break not your sleeps for that. You must not think that we are made of stuff so flat and dull that we can let our beard be shook with danger and think it pastime.
  • A Messenger enters.
  • MESSENGER
  • Letters, my lord, for Hamlet. These to your Majesty, this to the Queen.
  • KING
  • From Hamlet? Who brought them?
  • MESSENGER
  • Sailors, my lord, they say.
  • Messenger exits.
  • KING READS
  • “High and mighty, tomorrow shall I beg leave to see your kingly eyes, when I shall recount the occasion of my sudden return. Hamlet”
  • KING
  • In the postscript here, he says “alone.” Can you advise me?
  • LAERTES
  • I am lost in it, my lord. But let him come. I shall tell him to his teeth “Thus didst thou.”
  • KING
  • If it be so, Laertes, will you be ruled by me?
  • LAERTES
  • Ay, my lord, so you will not o’errule me to a peace.
  • KING
  • I will work him to an exploit under the which he shall not choose but fall; and for his death no wind of blame shall breathe.
  • LAERTES
  • My lord, I will be ruled, the rather if you could devise it so that I might be the agent.
  • KING
  • It falls right. You have been talked of a quality wherein they say you shine.
  • LAERTES
  • What part is that, my lord?
  • KING
  • Here was a gentleman of Normandy. I have seen him myself. He made confession of you and gave you such a masterly report for your rapier most especial, that he cried out ‘twould be a sight indeed if one could match you. This report of his did Hamlet so envenom with his envy that he could nothing do but wish and beg your sudden coming-o’er. Laertes, was your father dear to you? Or are you like the painting of a sorrow, a face without a heart?
  • LAERTES
  • Why ask you this?
  •  
  •  
  • Claudius to Laertes, No. 1
  •  
  • Laertes, know that I think you did then
  • Love your father, but there is a time when
  • Love begins, and, with proof from my past, I
  • Know that time qualifies the spark and fire
  • Of it. In the very flames of love lie
  • Snuff that will abate it. Goodness doth tire
  • In its own too-much. We should right-away
  • Do what we would for “would” can find delay,
  • And delay feeds on itself finding ways
  • To abate and postpone action, changing
  • Woulds to inactions. Then what should be stays
  • Undone. To the quick, Hamlet’s back. Using
  • More than words, what processes should be done
  • To show yourself indeed your father’s son?
  • LAERTES
  • To cut his throat i’ th’ church.
  •  
  •  
  • Claudius to Laertes, No. 2
  •  
  • No safe place should protect a murderer.
  • Good Laertes, stay within your chamber.
  • Hamlet shall know you have returned. We’ll praise
  • The fame attached to thy French-learned fencing
  • Skills, and with Hamlet’s guilelessness, he’ll raise
  • Unaware a foil. By then anointing
  • Your sword with that rare poison that can bring
  • Death to one scratched withal, you serve the king.
  • But if this should fail, make your motions more
  • Violent that he soon becomes hot and dry,
  • Calling for drink. I’ll have a chalice for
  • The prince, whereon but sipping, if he by
  • Chance escapes your venom stuck, will give us
  • The second chance to achieve our purpose.
  • LAERTES
  • I will do it. And for that purpose I’ll anoint my sword. I’ll touch my point with this poison, that, if I scratch him slightly, it may be death.
  • The Queen enters.
  • QUEEN
  • One woe doth tread upon another’s heel, so fast they follow. Your sister’s drowned, Laertes.
  • LAERTES
  • Drowned? O, where?
  • QUEEN
  • There is a willow grows across the brook. There on the pendant boughs an envious sliver broke, when down she fell in the weeping brook. But long it could not be till that her garments, heavy with their drink, pulled the poor wretch to muddy death.
  • LAERTES
  • Alas, then she is drowned.
  • QUEEN
  • Drowned, drowned.
  • LAERTES
  • Too much of water hast thou, poor Ophelia, and therefore I forbid my tears. But yet nature her custom holds; let shame say what it will.
  • He exits.
  • KING
  • Let’s follow, Gertrude. How much I had to do to calm his rage! Now fear I this will give it start again. Therefore, let’s follow.
  • They exit.
  • Act 5, Scene 1
  • Gravediggers are on stage in a graveyard.
  •  
  •  
  • Gravedigger to another gravedigger
  •  
  • The coroner ruled that she doth deserve
  • A Christian burial though she did serve
  • Out her own salvation, so it seems. Say
  • She drowned herself in her own defense; it
  • Cannot be else. If one takes life that way
  • Wittingly, it argues the act doth fit.
  • But if the water comes to her, not sought
  • By her, she drowns not herself; then she’s not
  • Guilty of her own cruel death that shortened
  • Her own favored life. The truth is if she
  • Weren’t a gentlewoman, she’d not received
  • A Christian burial. ‘Tis a pity
  • That great folk don’t have more approval to
  • Drown themselves than their fellow Christians do.
  • The Gravedigger sings. Hamlet and Horatio enter.
  • HAMLET
  • Has this fellow no feeling of his business? He sings in grave-making.
  • HORATIO
  • Custom hath made it in him a property of easiness.
  • HAMLET
  • ‘Tis e’en so.
  • The Gravedigger sings. He digs up a skull.
  • HAMLET
  • That skull had a tongue in it and could sing once. This might be of a courtier, which could say “Good morrow, sweet lord! How dost thou, sweet lord?” Might it not?
  • HORATIO
  • Ay, my lord.
  • The Gravedigger digs up more skulls.
  • HAMLET
  • There’s another. Why may not that be the skull of a lawyer? Where be his hair-splitting definitions now, his cases, and his tricks. Why does he suffer this mad knave now to knock him bout the head with a dirty shovel and will not tell him of his action of battery? Whose grave’s this, sirrah?
  • GRAVEDIGGER
  • Mine, sir.
  • HAMLET
  • I think it be thine indeed, for thou liest in ‘t.
  • GRAVEDIGGER
  • 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
  • What man dost thou dig it for?
  • GRAVEDIGGER
  • For no man, sir.
  • HAMLET
  • What woman then?
  • GRAVEDIGGER
  • For none, neither.
  • HAMLET
  • Who is to be buried in it?
  • GRAVEDIGGER
  • One that was a woman, sir, but, rest her soul, she’s dead.
  • HAMLET
  • How precise the knave is! How long hast thou been grave maker?
  • GRAVEDIGGER
  • Of all the days i’ th’ year, I came to ‘t that day that our last King Hamlet overcame Fortinbras.
  • HAMLET
  • How long is that since?
  • GRAVEDIGGER
  • Cannot you tell that? Every fool can tell that. It was that very day that young Hamlet was born --- he that is mad, and sent into England.
  • HAMLET
  • Ay, marry, why was he sent into England?
  • GRAVEDIGGER
  • Why, because he was mad. He shall recover his wits there. Or if he do not, ‘tis no great matter there.
  • HAMLET
  • Why?
  • GRAVEDIGGER
  • There the men are as mad as he.
  • HAMLET
  • How long will a man lie i’ th’ earth ere he rot?
  • GRAVEDIGGER
  • Faith, if he be not rotten before he die he will last you some eight year or nine year. A tanner will last you nine year. Here’s a skull now hath lien you i’ th’ earth three-and-twenty years.
  • HAMLET
  • Whose was it?
  • GRAVEDIGGER
  • This same skull, sir, was, sir, Yorick’s skull, the King’s jester.
  • HAMLET
  • This?
  • GRAVEDIGGER
  • E’en that.
  • Hamlet takes the skull.
  • HAMLET
  • Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio --- a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy. Where be your gibes now? Your songs? Your flashes of merriment that were wont to set the table on a roar?
  • Hamlet puts the skull down. The King, Queen, Laertes and others bearing the corpse of Ophelia enter.
  • HAMLET
  • Here comes the King, the Queen, the courtiers. Who is this they follow? This doth betoken the corpse they follow did with desp’rate hand fordo its own life. ‘Twas of some estate.
  • They step aside.
  • LAERTES
  • What ceremony else?
  • HAMLET
  • That is Laertes, a very noble youth.
  • DOCTOR
  • Her death was suspicious, and, but that great command o’ersways the order, she should in ground unsanctified been lodged till the last trumpet.
  • LAERTES
  • Must there no more be done?
  • DOCTOR
  • No more be done.
  • LAERTES
  • Lay her i’ th’ earth, and from her fair and unpolluted flesh may violets spring!
  • HAMLET TO HORATIO
  • What, the fair Ophelia?
  • QUEEN
  • Sweets to the sweet, farewell!
  • She scatters flowers.
  • QUEEN
  • I hoped thou shouldst have been my Hamlet’s wife.
  • LAERTES
  • Hold off the earth awhile till I have caught her once more in mine arms.
  • He leaps in the grave. Hamlet advances.
  • HAMLET
  • What is he whose grief bears such an emphasis? This is I, Hamlet the Dane.
  • Laertes comes out of the grave.
  • LAERTES
  • The devil take thy soul!
  • They grapple.
  • HAMLET
  • I prithee take thy fingers from my throat. Hold off thy hand.
  • QUEEN
  • Hamlet, Hamlet!
  • ALL
  • Gentlemen!
  • Hamlet and Laertes are separated.
  • HAMLET
  • Why, I will fight with him upon this theme until my eyelids will no longer wag!
  • QUEEN
  • O my son, what theme?
  •  
  •  
  • Hamlet to Laertes, No. 1
  •  
  • I loved Ophelia. Some forty thousand
  • Brothers’ love could not make up my sum, and
  • What wilt thou do for her, Laertes? Show
  • Me what thou’lt do. Wilt thou weep, wilt thou fight,
  • Wilt thou drink vinegar or eat a crow?
  • I’ll do it. Dost thou come within my sight
  • To whine or to outface me with leaping
  • In her grave? Let all earth come cascading
  • On us, millions of acres, enough to
  • Bury us to the earth’s burning zone. When
  • Thou’lt mouth, I will rant as thou. Why do you
  • Use me like this? But then so what. Even
  • Hercules could try to do what he may,
  • Yet cats will mew and dogs will have their day.
  • Hamlet exits.
  • KING
  • I pray thee, good Horatio, wait upon him.
  • Horatio exits.
  • KING TO LAERTES
  • Strengthen your patience in our last night’s speech.
  • KING TO QUEEN
  • Good Gertrude, set some watch over your son.
  • They exit.
  • Act 5, Scene 2
  • Hamlet and Horatio are on stage.
  • HAMLET
  • 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.
  •  
  •  
  • Hamlet to Horatio, No. 3
  •  
  • Since impulsive acts sometimes serve us, we
  • Should learn, dear friend, there’s a divinity
  • That shapes our ends. With my gown wrapped about
  • Me, I groped to find them and fingered their
  • Packet. As I withdrew I did find out
  • An exact command that was writ with care
  • To have my head struck off. I sat me down,
  • Devised a new command and with a frown
  • Took my father’s seal and, sensing the row,
  • Folded, sealed and placed it safely before
  • The next day’s sea fight; and what followed thou
  • Knowest already. ‘Tis dangerous for
  • Baser nature’s to get involved when it’s
  • Between the points of mighty opposites.
  • HAMLET
  • Without debatement further, more or less, he should those bearers put to sudden death.
  • HORATIO
  • So Guildenstern and Rosencrantz go to ‘t.
  • HAMLET
  • They are not near my conscience. Their defeat does by drawing themselves into the affair.
  • Osric, a courtier, enters.
  • OSRIC
  • Your lordship is right welcome back to Denmark.
  • HAMLET
  • I humbly thank you, sir.
  • OSRIC
  • If your lordship were at leisure, I should impart a thing to you from his Majesty.
  • HAMLET
  • I will receive it, sir, with all diligence of spirit.
  • OSRIC
  • My lord, his Majesty bade me signify to you that he has laid a great wager on your head. Sir, this is the matter----
  • HAMLET
  • I beseech you, remember.
  • OSRIC
  • Sir, here is newly come to court Laertes --- believe me, an absolute gentleman, of very soft society and great showing. I take him to be a soul of great article.
  • HAMLET
  • What imports the naming of this gentleman?
  • OSRIC
  • Of Laertes?
  • HAMLET
  • Of him, sir.
  • OSRIC
  • You are not ignorant of what excellence Laertes is -----
  • HAMLET
  • I dare not confess that, lest I should compare with him in excellence. But to know a man well were to know himself.
  • OSRIC
  • I mean, sir, for his weapon.
  • HAMLET
  • What’s his weapon?
  • OSRIC
  • Rapier and dagger.
  • HAMLET
  • That’s two of his weapons.
  • OSRIC
  • The King, sir, hath wagered with him six Barbary horses, against which he has impawned, as I take it, six French rapiers and daggers.
  • HAMLET
  • But on. Six Barbary horses against six French swords. That’s the French bet against the Danish. Why is this all “impawned,” as you call it?
  • OSRIC
  • The King, sir, hath laid, sir, that in a dozen passes between yourself and him, he shall not exceed you three hits. He hath laid on twelve for nine, and it would come to immediate trial if your lordship would vouchsafe the answer.
  • HAMLET
  • Sir, I will walk here in the hall. Let the foils be brought, the gentleman willing, and the King hold his purpose. I will win for him, as I can. If not, I will gain nothing but my shame and the odd hits.
  • OSRIC
  • I commend my duty to your lordship.
  • Osric exits.
  • HAMLET
  • He does well to commend it himself.
  • A Lord enters.
  • LORD
  • My lord, his Majesty 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. If his fitness speaks, mine is ready now or whensoever.
  • LORD
  • The King and Queen and all are coming down.
  • Lord exits.
  • HORATIO
  • You will lose, my lord.
  • HAMLET
  • I do not think so. Since he went into France, I have been in continual practice.
  • HORATIO
  • Nay, good my lord.
  • HAMLET
  • It is such a kind of misgiving as would perhaps trouble a woman.
  • HORATIO
  • If your mind dislikes anything, obey it. I will forestall their coming hither and say you are not fit.
  • HAMLET
  • There is a special providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be not now, yet it will come. The readiness is all.
  • A table is prepared with foils, daggers and wine. The King, Queen, Osric and Laertes enter.
  •  
  •  
  • Hamlet to Laertes, No. 2
  •  
  • As all in this presence know, I have done
  • You wrong, Laertes. Accept my pardon.
  • But, as you must have heard, I’ve been punished
  • With a sore distraction. ‘Tis no one’s guess
  • That what I did roughly awakened
  • Your honor resulted from my madness.
  • If madness takes Hamlet away, and when
  • He’s not himself he wrongs Laertes, then
  • Hamlet does it not. His madness is host;
  • His madness is poor Hamlet’s enemy.
  • Hamlet is a faction wronged. In your most
  • Kind thoughts, from this evil please do free me
  • As if I had shot my arrow over
  • The house and by mistake hurt my brother.
  • LAERTES
  • I am satisfied in nature. But in my terms of honor I stand aloof. I do receive your offered love like love and will not wrong it.
  • HAMLET
  • I embrace it freely. Give us the foils.
  • LAERTES
  • Come, one for me.
  • HAMLET
  • I’ll be your foil, Laertes; in mine ignorance your skill shall stand out in brilliant contrast,
  • LAERTES
  • You mock me, sir.
  • HAMLET
  • No, by this hand.
  • KING
  • Give them the foils, young Osric. Cousin Hamlet, you know the wager?
  • HAMLET
  • Very well, my lord. Your Grace has laid the odds o’ th’ weaker side.
  • KING
  • I do not fear it; I have seen you both. But, since he is better, we have therefore odds.
  • They prepare to play.
  • KING
  • Set me the stoups of wine upon that table. Give me the cups. Now the King drinks to Hamlet. Come, begin. And you, the judges, bear a wary eye.
  • They play.
  • OSRIC
  • A hit, a very palpable hit.
  • KING
  • Stay, give me drink. Hamlet, this pearl is thine. Here’s to thy health.
  • He drinks and then drops the pearl in the cup.
  • HAMLET
  • Another hit. What say you?
  • LAERTES
  • A touch, a touch. I do confess ‘t.
  • KING
  • Our son shall win.
  • QUEEN
  • He’s fat and scant of breath. Here, Hamlet, take my napkin; rub thy brows.
  • She lifts the cup.
  • KING
  • Gertrude, do not drink.
  • QUEEN
  • I will, my lord; I pray you pardon me.
  • She drinks.
  • KING ASIDE
  • It is the poisoned cup. It is too late.
  • HAMLET
  • I dare not drink yet, madam --- by and by. Come, for the third, Laertes. You do but dally. I pray you pass with your best violence.
  • LAERTES
  • Say you so? Come on.
  • They play.
  • LAERTES
  • Have at you now!
  • Laertes wounds Hamlet. Then in scuffling they change rapiers. Hamlet wounds Laertes.
  • KING
  • Part them.
  • HAMLET
  • Nay, come again.
  • The Queen falls.
  • OSRIC
  • Look to the Queen there, ho! How is ‘t, Laertes?
  • LAERTES
  • Why as a woodcock caught in my own trap, Osric.
  • He falls.
  • LAERTES
  • I am justly killed with mine own treachery.
  • HAMLET
  • How does the Queen?
  • KING
  • She swoons to see them bleed.
  • QUEEN
  • No, no, the drink, the drink! O, my dear Hamlet! I am poisoned.
  • She dies.
  • HAMLET
  • O villainy! Ho! Let the door be locked.
  • Osric exits.
  • LAERTES
  • It is here, Hamlet. Hamlet, thou art slain. No med’cine in the world can do thee good. In thee there is not half an hour’s life. The treacherous instrument is in thy hand. The foul practice hath turned itself on me. Lo, here I lie, never to rise again. Thy mother’s poisoned. I can no more. The King, the King’s to blame.
  • HAMLET
  • The point envenomed too! Then, venom, to thy work.
  • He hurts the King.
  • HAMLET
  • Drink off this potion.
  • He forces the King to drink the poison.
  • HAMLET
  • Follow my mother.
  • King dies.
  • LAERTES
  • He is justly served. It is a poison tempered by himself. Exchange forgiveness with me, noble Hamlet, mine and my father’s death come not upon thee, nor thine on me.
  • He dies.
  • HAMLET
  • Heaven make thee free of it. I follow thee. I am dead, Horatio. Wretched queen, adieu. Horatio, I am dead. Thou livest, report me and my cause aright to the unsatisfied.
  • HORATIO
  • Never believe it. I am more an antique Roman than a Dane.
  • He picks up the cup.
  • HAMLET
  • Give me the cup. Let go! Be heaven, I’ll ha ‘t. If thou didst ever hold me in thy heart draw thy breath in pain to tell my story.
  • Osric enters.
  • OSRIC
  • Young Fortinbras, with conquest come from Poland, to th’ ambassadors of England give this warlike volley.
  • HAMLET
  • O, I die, Horatio! The potent poison quite triumphs over my spirit. I cannot live to hear the news from England. But I do prophesy th’ election lights on Fortinbras; he has my dying voice. So tell him. The rest is silence.
  • He dies.
  • HORATIO
  • Now cracks a noble heart. Good night, sweet prince, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.
  • Fortinbras with the English Ambassadors enter.
  • FORTINBRAS
  • Where is this sight?
  • HORATIO
  • If aught of woe or wonder, cease your search.
  • FORTINBRAS
  • This quarry cries of havoc.
  • AMBASSADOR
  • The sight is dismal, and our affairs from England come too late. The ears are senseless that should give us hearing to tell him that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead.
  • HORATIO
  • You from the Polack wars, and you from England, are here arrived. So shall you hear of carnal, bloody acts of accidental judgments, of deaths put on by cunning cause, purposes mistook fall’n on th’ inventors’ heads. All this can I truly deliver.
  • FORTINBRAS
  • Let us haste to hear it. For me, 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. But let this same be presently performed 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, for he was likely to have proved most royal. Take up the bodies. Such a sight as this becomes the field but here shows much amiss.
  • They exit.

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