ACT 1
Scene 2
Flourish. Enter Claudius, King of Denmark, Gertrude the Queen, the Council, as Polonius, and his son Laertes, Hamlet, with others, among them Voltemand and Cornelius.

KING    
Though yet of Hamlet our dear brother’s death
The memory be green, and that it us befitted
To bear our hearts in grief, and our whole kingdom
To be contracted in one brow of woe,
Yet so far hath discretion fought with nature
That we with wisest sorrow think on him
Together with remembrance of ourselves.
Therefore our sometime sister, now our queen,
Th’ imperial jointress to this warlike state,
Have we (as ’twere with a defeated joy,
With an auspicious and a dropping eye,
With mirth in funeral and with dirge in marriage,
In equal scale weighing delight and dole)
Taken to wife. Nor have we herein barred
Your better wisdoms, which have freely gone
With this affair along. For all, our thanks.
Now follows that you know. Young Fortinbras,
Holding a weak supposal of our worth
Or thinking by our late dear brother’s death
Our state to be disjoint and out of frame,
Colleaguèd with this dream of his advantage,
He hath not failed to pester us with message
Importing the surrender of those lands
Lost by his father, with all bonds of law,
To our most valiant brother—so much for him.
Now for ourself and for this time of meeting.
Thus much the business is: we have here writ
To Norway, uncle of young Fortinbras,
Who, impotent and bedrid, scarcely hears
Of this his nephew’s purpose, to suppress
His further gait herein, in that the levies,
The lists, and full proportions are all made
Out of his subject; and we here dispatch
You, good Cornelius, and you, Voltemand,
For bearers of this greeting to old Norway,
Giving to you no further personal power
To business with the King more than the scope
Of these dilated articles allow.
Giving them a paper.
Farewell, and let your haste commend your duty.
CORNELIUS/VOLTEMAND    
In that and all things will we show our duty.
KING    
We doubt it nothing. Heartily farewell.
Voltemand and Cornelius exit.
And now, Laertes, what’s the news with you?
You told us of some suit. What is ’t, Laertes?
You cannot speak of reason to the Dane
And lose your voice. What wouldst thou beg,
Laertes,
That shall not be my offer, not thy asking?
The head is not more native to the heart,
The hand more instrumental to the mouth,
Than is the throne of Denmark to thy father.
What wouldst thou have, Laertes?
LAERTES    My dread lord,
Your leave and favor to return to France,
From whence though willingly I came to Denmark
To show my duty in your coronation,
Yet now I must confess, that duty done,
My thoughts and wishes bend again toward France
And bow them to your gracious leave and pardon.
KING    
Have you your father’s leave? What says Polonius?
POLONIUS    
Hath, my lord, wrung from me my slow leave
By laborsome petition, and at last
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.
KING    
How is it that the clouds still hang on you?
HAMLET    
Not so, my lord; I am too much in the sun.
QUEEN    
Good Hamlet, cast thy nighted color off,
And let thine eye look like a friend on Denmark.
Do not forever with thy vailèd lids
Seek for thy noble father in the dust.
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.”
’Tis not alone my inky cloak, good mother,
Nor customary suits of solemn black,
Nor windy suspiration of forced breath,
No, nor the fruitful river in the eye,
Nor the dejected havior of the visage,
Together with all forms, moods, shapes of grief,
That can denote me truly. These indeed “seem,”
For they are actions that a man might play;
But I have that within which passes show,
These but the trappings and the suits of woe.
KING    
’Tis sweet and commendable in your nature,
Hamlet,
To give these mourning duties to your father.
But you must know your father lost a father,
That father lost, lost his, and the survivor bound
In filial obligation for some term
To do obsequious sorrow. But to persever
In obstinate condolement is a course
Of impious stubbornness. ’Tis unmanly grief.
It shows a will most incorrect to heaven,
A heart unfortified, a mind impatient,
An understanding simple and unschooled.
For what we know must be and is as common
As any the most vulgar thing to sense,
Why should we in our peevish opposition
Take it to heart? Fie, ’tis a fault to heaven,
A fault against the dead, a fault to nature,
To reason most absurd, whose common theme
Is death of fathers, and who still hath cried,
From the first corse till he that died today,
“This must be so.” We pray you, throw to earth
This unprevailing woe and think of us
As of a father; for let the world take note,
You are the most immediate to our throne,
And with no less nobility of love
Than that which dearest father bears his son
Do I impart toward you. For your intent
In going back to school in Wittenberg,
It is most retrograde to our desire,
And we beseech you, bend you to remain
Here in the cheer and comfort of our eye,
Our chiefest courtier, cousin, and our son.
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.
This gentle and unforced accord of Hamlet
Sits smiling to my heart, in grace whereof
No jocund health that Denmark drinks today
But the great cannon to the clouds shall tell,
And the King’s rouse the heaven shall bruit again,
Respeaking earthly thunder. Come away.
Flourish. All but Hamlet exit.
Scene 3
Enter Polonius.

I stay too long. But here my father comes.
A double blessing is a double grace.
Occasion smiles upon a second leave.
POLONIUS    
Yet here, Laertes? Aboard, aboard, for shame!
The wind sits in the shoulder of your sail,
And you are stayed for. There, my blessing with
thee.
And these few precepts in thy memory
Look thou character. Give thy thoughts no tongue,
Nor any unproportioned thought his act.
Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar.
Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
Grapple them unto thy soul with hoops of steel,
But do not dull thy palm with entertainment
Of each new-hatched, unfledged courage. Beware
Of entrance to a quarrel, but, being in,
Bear ’t that th’ opposèd may beware of thee.
Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice.
Take each man’s censure, but reserve thy judgment.
Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy,
But not expressed in fancy (rich, not gaudy),
For the apparel oft proclaims the man,
And they in France of the best rank and station
Are of a most select and generous chief in that.
Neither a borrower nor a lender be,
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.
This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Farewell. My blessing season this in thee.
LAERTES    
Most humbly do I take my leave, my lord.
POLONIUS    
The time 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 of it.
LAERTES    Farewell.Laertes exits.
POLONIUS    
What is ’t, Ophelia, he hath said to you?
OPHELIA    
So please you, something touching the Lord
Hamlet.
POLONIUS    Marry, well bethought.
’Tis told me he hath very oft of late
Given private time to you, and you yourself
Have of your audience been most free and
bounteous.
If it be so (as so ’tis put on me,
And that in way of caution), I must tell you
You do not understand yourself so clearly
As it behooves my daughter and your honor.
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, puh! You speak like a green girl
Unsifted in such perilous circumstance.
Do you believe his “tenders,” as you call them?
OPHELIA    
I do not know, my lord, what I should think.
POLONIUS    
Marry, I will teach you. Think yourself a baby
That you have ta’en these tenders for true pay,
Which are not sterling. Tender yourself more dearly,
Or (not to crack the wind of the poor phrase,
Running it thus) 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. Go to, go to!
OPHELIA    
And hath given countenance to his speech, my lord,
With almost all the holy vows of heaven.
POLONIUS    
Ay, springes to catch woodcocks. I do know,
When the blood burns, how prodigal the soul
Lends the tongue vows. These blazes, daughter,
Giving more light than heat, extinct in both
Even in their promise as it is a-making,
You must not take for fire. From this time
Be something scanter of your maiden presence.
Set your entreatments at a higher rate
Than a command to parle. For Lord Hamlet,
Believe so much in him that he is young,
And with a larger tether may he walk
Than may be given you. In few, Ophelia,
Do not believe his vows, for they are brokers,
Not of that dye which their investments show,
But mere implorators of unholy suits,
Breathing like sanctified and pious bawds
The better to beguile. This is for all:
I would not, in plain terms, from this time forth
Have you so slander any moment leisure
As to give words or talk with the Lord Hamlet.
Look to ’t, I charge you. Come your ways.
OPHELIA    I shall obey, my lord.
They exit.
ACT 2
Scene 1
Enter old Polonius with his man Reynaldo.

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    
Marry, well said, very well said. Look you, sir,
Inquire me first what Danskers are in Paris;
And how, and who, what means, and where they
keep,
What company, at what expense; and finding
By this encompassment and drift of question
That they do know my son, come you more nearer
Than your particular demands will touch it.
Take you, as ’twere, some distant knowledge of him,
As thus: “I know his father and his friends
And, in part, him.” Do you mark this, Reynaldo?
REYNALDO    Ay, very well, my lord.
POLONIUS    
“And, in part, him, but,” you may say, “not well.
But if ’t be he I mean, he’s very wild,
Addicted so and so.” And there put on him
What forgeries you please—marry, none so rank
As may dishonor him, take heed of that,
But, sir, such wanton, wild, and usual slips
As are companions noted and most known
To youth and liberty.
REYNALDO    As gaming, my lord.
POLONIUS    Ay, or drinking, fencing, swearing,
Quarreling, drabbing—you may go so far.
REYNALDO    My lord, that would dishonor him.
POLONIUS    
Faith, no, as you may season it in the charge.
You must not put another scandal on him
That he is open to incontinency;
That’s not my meaning. But breathe his faults so
quaintly
That they may seem the taints of liberty,
The flash and outbreak of a fiery mind,
A savageness in unreclaimèd blood,
Of general assault.
REYNALDO    But, my good lord—
POLONIUS    Wherefore should you do this?
REYNALDO    Ay, my lord, I would know that.
POLONIUS    Marry, sir, here’s my drift,
And I believe it is a fetch of wit.
You, laying these slight sullies on my son,
As ’twere a thing a little soiled i’ th’ working,
Mark you, your party in converse, him you would
sound,
Having ever seen in the prenominate crimes
The youth you breathe of guilty, be assured
He closes with you in this consequence:
“Good sir,” or so, or “friend,” or “gentleman,”
According to the phrase or the addition
Of man and country—
REYNALDO    Very good, my lord.
POLONIUS    And then, sir, does he this, he does—what
was I about to say? By the Mass, I was about to say
something. Where did I leave?
REYNALDO    At “closes in the consequence,” at “friend,
or so,” and “gentleman.”
POLONIUS    
At “closes in the consequence”—ay, marry—
He closes thus: “I know the gentleman.
I saw him yesterday,” or “th’ other day”
(Or then, or then, with such or such), “and as you
say,
There was he gaming, there o’ertook in ’s rouse,
There falling out at tennis”; or perchance
“I saw him enter such a house of sale”—
Videlicet, a brothel—or so forth. See you now
Your bait of falsehood take this carp of truth;
And thus do we of wisdom and of reach,
With windlasses and with assays of bias,
By indirections find directions out.
So by my former lecture and advice
Shall you my son. You have me, have you not?
REYNALDO    
My lord, I have.
POLONIUS    God be wi’ you. Fare you well.
REYNALDO    Good my lord.
POLONIUS    
Observe his inclination in yourself.
REYNALDO    I shall, my lord.
POLONIUS    And let him ply his music.
REYNALDO    Well, my lord.
POLONIUS    
Farewell.Reynaldo exits.

Enter Ophelia.

How now, Ophelia, what’s the matter?
OPHELIA    
O, my lord, my lord, I have been so affrighted!
POLONIUS    With what, i’ th’ name of God?
OPHELIA    
My lord, as I was sewing in my closet,
Lord Hamlet, with his doublet all unbraced,
No hat upon his head, his stockings fouled,
Ungartered, and down-gyvèd to his ankle,
Pale as his shirt, his knees knocking each other,
And with a look so piteous in purport
As if he had been loosèd out of hell
To speak of horrors—he comes before me.
POLONIUS    
Mad for thy love?
OPHELIA    My lord, I do not know,
But truly I do fear it.
POLONIUS    What said he?
OPHELIA    
He took me by the wrist and held me hard.
Then goes he to the length of all his arm,
And, with his other hand thus o’er his brow,
He falls to such perusal of my face
As he would draw it. Long stayed he so.
At last, a little shaking of mine arm,
And thrice his head thus waving up and down,
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,
And, with his head over his shoulder turned,
He seemed to find his way without his eyes,
For out o’ doors he went without their helps
And to the last bended their light on me.
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
As oft as any passions under heaven
That does afflict our natures. I am sorry.
What, have you given him any hard words of late?
OPHELIA    
No, my good lord, but as you did command
I did repel his letters and denied
His access to me.
POLONIUS    That hath made him mad.
I am sorry that with better heed and judgment
I had not coted him. I feared he did but trifle
And meant to wrack thee. But beshrew my jealousy!
By heaven, it is as proper to our age
To cast beyond ourselves in our opinions
As it is common for the younger sort
To lack discretion. Come, go we to the King.
This must be known, which, being kept close, might
move
More grief to hide than hate to utter love.
Come.
They exit.
Scene 2
Enter Polonius.

POLONIUS    
Th’ ambassadors from Norway, my good lord,
Are joyfully returned.
KING    
Thou still hast been the father of good news.
POLONIUS    
Have I, my lord? I assure my good liege
I hold my duty as I hold my soul,
Both to my God and to my gracious king,
And I do think, or else this brain of mine
Hunts not the trail of policy so sure
As it hath used to do, 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.
KING    
Thyself do grace to them and bring them in.
Polonius exits. Enter Ambassadors Voltemand and Cornelius with Polonius.

Welcome, my good friends.
Say, Voltemand, what from our brother Norway?
VOLTEMAND    
Most fair return of greetings and desires.
Upon our first, he sent out to suppress
His nephew’s levies, which to him appeared
To be a preparation ’gainst the Polack,
But, better looked into, he truly found
It was against your Highness. Whereat, grieved
That so his sickness, age, and impotence
Was falsely borne in hand, sends out arrests
On Fortinbras, which he, in brief, obeys,
Receives rebuke from Norway, and, in fine,
Makes vow before his uncle never more
To give th’ assay of arms against your Majesty.
Whereon old Norway, overcome with joy,
Gives him three-score thousand crowns in annual
fee
And his commission to employ those soldiers,
So levied as before, against the Polack,
With an entreaty, herein further shown,
He gives a paper.
That it might please you to give quiet pass
Through your dominions for this enterprise,
On such regards of safety and allowance
As therein are set down.
KING    It likes us well,
And, at our more considered time, we’ll read,
Answer, and think upon this business.
Meantime, we thank you for your well-took labor.
Go to your rest. At night we’ll feast together.
Most welcome home!
Voltemand and Cornelius exit.
POLONIUS    This business is well ended.
My liege, and madam, to expostulate
What majesty should be, what duty is,
Why day is day, night night, and time is time
Were nothing but to waste night, day, and time.
Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,
And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
I will be brief. Your noble son is mad.
“Mad” call I it, for, to define true madness,
What is ’t but to be nothing else but mad?
But let that go.
QUEEN    More matter with less art.
POLONIUS    
Madam, I swear I use no art at all.
That he’s mad, ’tis true; ’tis true ’tis pity,
And pity ’tis ’tis true—a foolish figure,
But farewell it, for I will use no art.
Mad let us grant him then, and now remains
That we find out the cause of this effect,
Or, rather say, the cause of this defect,
For this effect defective comes by cause.
Thus it remains, and the remainder thus.
Perpend.
I have a daughter (have while she is mine)
Who, in her duty and obedience, mark,
Hath given me this. Now gather and surmise.
He reads. To the celestial, and my soul’s idol, the
most beautified Ophelia—
That’s an ill phrase, a vile phrase; “beautified” is a
vile phrase. But you shall hear. Thus: He reads.
In her excellent white bosom, these, etc.—
QUEEN    Came this from Hamlet to her?
POLONIUS    
Good madam, stay awhile. I will be faithful.
He reads the letter.
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 am ill at these numbers. I have not
art to reckon my groans, but that I love thee best, O
most best, believe it. Adieu.
Thine evermore, most dear lady, whilst
this machine is to him, Hamlet.
This, in obedience, hath my daughter shown me,
And more above, hath his solicitings,
As they fell out by time, by means, and place,
All given to mine ear.
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. But what might you think,
When I had seen this hot love on the wing
(As I perceived it, I must tell you that,
Before my daughter told me), what might you,
Or my dear Majesty your queen here, think,
If I had played the desk or table-book
Or given my heart a winking, mute and dumb,
Or looked upon this love with idle sight?
What might you think? No, I went round to work,
And my young mistress thus I did bespeak:
“Lord Hamlet is a prince, out of thy star.
This must not be.” And then I prescripts gave her,
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, repelled (a short tale to make),
Fell into a sadness, then into a fast,
Thence to a watch, thence into a weakness,
Thence to a lightness, and, by this declension,
Into the madness wherein now he raves
And all we mourn for.
KING , to Queen    Do you think ’tis this?
QUEEN    It may be, very like.
POLONIUS    
Hath there been such a time (I would fain know
that)
That I have positively said “’Tis so,”
When it proved otherwise?
KING    Not that I know.
POLONIUS    
Take this from this, if this be otherwise.
If circumstances lead me, I will find
Where truth is hid, though it were hid, indeed,
Within the center.
KING    How may we try it further?
POLONIUS    
You know sometimes he walks four hours together
Here in the lobby.
QUEEN    So he does indeed.
POLONIUS    
At such a time I’ll loose my daughter to him.
To the King. Be you and I behind an arras then.
Mark the encounter. If he love her not,
And be not from his reason fall’n thereon,
Let me be no assistant for a state,
But keep a farm and carters.
KING    We will try it.

Enter Hamlet reading on a book.

QUEEN    
But look where sadly the poor wretch comes
reading.
POLONIUS    
Away, I do beseech you both, away.
I’ll board him presently. O, give me leave.
King and Queen exit with Attendants.
How does my good Lord Hamlet?
HAMLET    Well, God-a-mercy.
POLONIUS    Do you know me, my lord?
HAMLET    Excellent well. You are a fishmonger.
POLONIUS    Not I, my lord.
HAMLET    Then I would you were so honest a man.
POLONIUS    Honest, my lord?
HAMLET    Ay, sir. To be honest, as this world goes, is to
be one man picked out of ten thousand.
POLONIUS    That’s very true, my lord.
HAMLET    For if the sun breed maggots in a dead
dog, being a good kissing carrion—Have you a
daughter?
POLONIUS    I have, my lord.
HAMLET    Let her not walk i’ th’ sun. Conception is a
blessing, but, as your daughter may conceive,
friend, look to ’t.
POLONIUS , aside    How say you by that? Still harping on
my daughter. Yet he knew me not at first; he said I
was a fishmonger. He is far gone. And truly, in my
youth, I suffered much extremity for love, very near
this. I’ll speak to him again.—What do you read, my
lord?
HAMLET    Words, words, words.
POLONIUS    What is the matter, my lord?
HAMLET    Between who?
POLONIUS    I mean the matter that you read, my lord.
HAMLET    Slanders, sir; for the satirical rogue says here
that old men have gray beards, that their faces are
wrinkled, their eyes purging thick amber and
plum-tree gum, and that they have a plentiful lack of
wit, together with most weak hams; all which, sir,
though I most powerfully and potently believe, yet I
hold it not honesty to have it thus set down; for
yourself, sir, 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.—Will you walk out of the air, my lord?
HAMLET    Into my grave?
POLONIUS    Indeed, that’s out of the air. Aside. How
pregnant sometimes his replies are! A happiness
that often madness hits on, which reason and
sanity could not so prosperously be delivered of. I
will leave him and suddenly contrive the means of
meeting between him and my daughter.—My lord,
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,
except my life, except my life.
POLONIUS    Fare you well, my lord.
HAMLET , aside    These tedious old fools.

Enter Guildenstern and Rosencrantz.

POLONIUS    You go to seek the Lord Hamlet. There he is.
ROSENCRANTZ , to Polonius    God save you, sir.
Polonius exits. Enter Polonius.

POLONIUS    Well be with you, gentlemen.
HAMLET    Hark you, Guildenstern, and you too—at
each ear a hearer! That great baby you see there is
not yet out of his swaddling clouts.
ROSENCRANTZ    Haply he is the second time come to
them, for they say an old man is twice a child.
HAMLET    I will prophesy he comes to tell me of the
players; mark it.—You say right, sir, a Monday
morning, ’twas then indeed.
POLONIUS    My lord, I have news to tell you.
HAMLET    My lord, I have news to tell you: when Roscius
was an actor in Rome—
POLONIUS    The actors are come hither, my lord.
HAMLET    Buzz, buzz.
POLONIUS    Upon my honor—
HAMLET    Then came each actor on his ass.
POLONIUS    The best actors in the world, either for
tragedy, comedy, history, pastoral, pastoral-comical,
historical-pastoral, tragical-historical,
tragical-comical-historical-pastoral, scene individable, or
poem unlimited. Seneca cannot be too heavy, nor
Plautus too light. For the law of writ and the liberty,
these are the only men.
HAMLET    O Jephthah, judge of Israel, what a treasure
hadst thou!
POLONIUS    What a treasure had he, my lord?
HAMLET    Why,
One fair daughter, and no more,
The which he lovèd passing well.
POLONIUS , aside    Still on my daughter.
HAMLET    Am I not i’ th’ right, old Jephthah?
POLONIUS    If you call me “Jephthah,” my lord: I have a
daughter that I love passing well.
HAMLET    Nay, that follows not.
POLONIUS    What follows then, my lord?
HAMLET    Why,
As by lot, God wot
and then, you know,
It came to pass, as most like it was—
the first row of the pious chanson will show you
more, for look where my abridgment comes.

Enter the Players.

You are welcome, masters; welcome all.—I am glad
to see thee well.—Welcome, good friends.—O my
old friend! Why, thy face is valanced since I saw thee
last. Com’st thou to beard me in Denmark?—What,
my young lady and mistress! By ’r Lady, your Ladyship
is nearer to heaven than when I saw you last, by
the altitude of a chopine. Pray God your voice, like a
piece of uncurrent gold, be not cracked within the
ring. Masters, you are all welcome. We’ll e’en to ’t
like French falconers, fly at anything we see. We’ll
have a speech straight. Come, give us a taste of your
quality. Come, a passionate speech.
FIRST PLAYER    What speech, my good lord?
HAMLET    I heard thee speak me a speech once, but it
was never acted, or, if it was, not above once; for
the play, I remember, pleased not the million:
’twas caviary to the general. But it was (as I
received it, and others whose judgments in such
matters cried in the top of mine) an excellent play,
well digested in the scenes, set down with as much
modesty as cunning. I remember one said there
were no sallets in the lines to make the matter
savory, nor no matter in the phrase that might indict
the author of affection, but called it an honest
method, as wholesome as sweet and, by very much,
more handsome than fine. One speech in ’t I
chiefly loved. ’Twas Aeneas’ tale to Dido, and
thereabout of it especially when he speaks of
Priam’s slaughter. If it live in your memory, begin at
this line—let me see, let me see:
The rugged Pyrrhus, like th’ Hyrcanian beast—
’tis not so; it begins with Pyrrhus:
The rugged Pyrrhus, he whose sable arms,
Black as his purpose, did the night resemble
When he lay couchèd in th’ ominous horse,
Hath now this dread and black complexion smeared
With heraldry more dismal. Head to foot,
Now is he total gules, horridly tricked
With blood of fathers, mothers, daughters, sons,
Baked and impasted with the parching streets,
That lend a tyrannous and a damnèd light
To their lord’s murder. Roasted in wrath and fire,
And thus o’ersizèd with coagulate gore,
With eyes like carbuncles, the hellish Pyrrhus
Old grandsire Priam seeks.
So, proceed you.
POLONIUS    ’Fore God, my lord, well spoken, with good
accent and good discretion.
FIRST PLAYER    Anon he finds him
Striking too short at Greeks. His antique sword,
Rebellious to his arm, lies where it falls,
Repugnant to command. Unequal matched,
Pyrrhus at Priam drives, in rage strikes wide;
But with the whiff and wind of his fell sword
Th’ unnervèd father falls. Then senseless Ilium,
Seeming to feel this blow, with flaming top
Stoops to his base, and with a hideous crash
Takes prisoner Pyrrhus’ ear. For lo, his sword,
Which was declining on the milky head
Of reverend Priam, seemed i’ th’ air to stick.
So as a painted tyrant Pyrrhus stood
And, like a neutral to his will and matter,
Did nothing.
But as we often see against some storm
A silence in the heavens, the rack stand still,
The bold winds speechless, and the orb below
As hush as death, anon the dreadful thunder
Doth rend the region; so, after Pyrrhus’ pause,
Arousèd vengeance sets him new a-work,
And never did the Cyclops’ hammers fall
On Mars’s armor, forged for proof eterne,
With less remorse than Pyrrhus’ bleeding sword
Now falls on Priam.
Out, out, thou strumpet Fortune! All you gods
In general synod take away her power,
Break all the spokes and fellies from her wheel,
And bowl the round nave down the hill of heaven
As low as to the fiends!
POLONIUS    This is too long.
HAMLET    It shall to the barber’s with your beard.—
Prithee say on. He’s for a jig or a tale of bawdry, or
he sleeps. Say on; come to Hecuba.
FIRST PLAYER    
But who, ah woe, had seen the moblèd queen—
HAMLET    “The moblèd queen”?
POLONIUS    That’s good. “Moblèd queen” is good.
FIRST PLAYER    
Run barefoot up and down, threat’ning the flames
With bisson rheum, a clout upon that head
Where late the diadem stood, and for a robe,
About her lank and all o’erteemèd loins
A blanket, in the alarm of fear caught up—
Who this had seen, with tongue in venom steeped,
’Gainst Fortune’s state would treason have
pronounced.
But if the gods themselves did see her then
When she saw Pyrrhus make malicious sport
In mincing with his sword her husband’s limbs,
The instant burst of clamor that she made
(Unless things mortal move them not at all)
Would have made milch the burning eyes of heaven
And passion in the gods.
POLONIUS    Look whe’er he has not turned his color and
has tears in ’s eyes. Prithee, no more.
HAMLET    ’Tis well. I’ll have thee speak out the rest of
this soon.—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. After your death you were better have a bad
epitaph than their ill report while you live.
POLONIUS    My lord, I will use them according to their
desert.
HAMLET    God’s bodykins, man, much better! Use every
man after his desert and who shall ’scape
whipping? Use them after your own honor and
dignity. The less they deserve, the more merit is in
your bounty. Take them in.
POLONIUS    Come, sirs.
HAMLET    Follow him, friends. We’ll hear a play
tomorrow. As Polonius and Players exit, Hamlet speaks to the First Player.
ACT 3
Scene 1
Enter King, Queen, Polonius, Ophelia, Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, and Lords.

KING    
And can you by no drift of conference
Get from him why he puts on this confusion,
Grating so harshly all his days of quiet
With turbulent and dangerous lunacy?
ROSENCRANTZ    
He does confess he feels himself distracted,
But from what cause he will by no means speak.
GUILDENSTERN    
Nor do we find him forward to be sounded,
But with a crafty madness keeps aloof
When we would bring him on to some confession
Of his true state.
QUEEN    Did he receive you well?
ROSENCRANTZ    Most like a gentleman.
GUILDENSTERN    
But with much forcing of his disposition.
ROSENCRANTZ    
Niggard of question, but of our demands
Most free in his reply.
QUEEN    Did you assay him to any pastime?
ROSENCRANTZ    
Madam, it so fell out that certain players
We o’erraught on the way. Of these we told him,
And there did seem in him a kind of joy
To hear of it. They are here about the court,
And, as I think, they have already order
This night to play before him.
POLONIUS    ’Tis most true,
And he beseeched me to entreat your Majesties
To hear and see the matter.
KING    
With all my heart, and it doth much content me
To hear him so inclined.
Good gentlemen, give him a further edge
And drive his purpose into these delights.
ROSENCRANTZ    
We shall, my lord.Rosencrantz and Guildenstern and Lords exit.
KING    Sweet Gertrude, leave us too,
For we have closely sent for Hamlet hither,
That he, as ’twere by accident, may here
Affront Ophelia.
Her father and myself, lawful espials,
Will so bestow ourselves that, seeing unseen,
We may of their encounter frankly judge
And gather by him, as he is behaved,
If ’t be th’ affliction of his love or no
That thus he suffers for.
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. So shall I hope your virtues
Will bring him to his wonted way again,
To both your honors.
OPHELIA    Madam, I wish it may.
Queen exits.
POLONIUS    
Ophelia, walk you here.—Gracious, so please you,
We will bestow ourselves. To Ophelia. Read on this
book,
That show of such an exercise may color
Your loneliness.—We are oft to blame in this
(’Tis too much proved), that with devotion’s visage
And pious action we do sugar o’er
The devil himself.
KING , aside    O, ’tis too true!
How smart a lash that speech doth give my
conscience.
The harlot’s cheek beautied with plast’ring art
Is not more ugly to the thing that helps it
Than is my deed to my most painted word.
O heavy burden!
POLONIUS    
I hear him coming. Let’s withdraw, my lord.
They withdraw.

Enter Hamlet.

HAMLET    
To be or not to be—that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And, by opposing, end them. To die, to sleep—
No more—and by a sleep to say we end
The heartache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to—’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep—
To sleep, perchance to dream. Ay, there’s the rub,
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause. There’s the respect
That makes calamity of so long life.
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
Th’ oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law’s delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of th’ unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered country from whose bourn
No traveler returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pitch and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry
And lose the name of action.—Soft you now,
The fair Ophelia.—Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remembered.
OPHELIA    Good my lord,
How does your Honor for this many a day?
HAMLET    I humbly thank you, well.
OPHELIA    
My lord, I have remembrances of yours
That I have longèd 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,
And with them words of so sweet breath composed
As made the things more rich. Their perfume
lost,
Take these again, for to the noble mind
Rich gifts wax poor when givers prove unkind.
There, my lord.
HAMLET    Ha, ha, are you honest?
OPHELIA    My lord?
HAMLET    Are you fair?
OPHELIA    What means your Lordship?
HAMLET    That if you be honest and fair, your honesty
should admit no discourse to your beauty.
OPHELIA    Could beauty, my lord, have better commerce
than with honesty?
HAMLET    Ay, truly, for the power of beauty will sooner
transform honesty from what it is to a bawd than
the force of honesty can translate beauty into his
likeness. This was sometime a paradox, but now
the time gives it proof. I did love you once.
OPHELIA    Indeed, my lord, you made me believe so.
HAMLET    You should not have believed me, for virtue
cannot so inoculate our old stock but we shall
relish of it. 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: I am
very proud, revengeful, ambitious, with more offenses
at my beck than I have thoughts to put them
in, imagination to give them shape, or time to act
them in. What should such fellows as I do crawling
between earth and heaven? We are arrant knaves
all; believe none of us. Go thy ways to a nunnery.
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 dost marry, I’ll give thee this plague
for thy dowry: be thou as chaste as ice, as pure as
snow, thou shalt not escape calumny. Get thee to a
nunnery, farewell. Or if thou wilt needs marry,
marry a fool, for wise men know well enough what
monsters you make of them. To a nunnery, go, and
quickly too. Farewell.
OPHELIA    Heavenly powers, restore him!
HAMLET    I have heard of your paintings too, well
enough. God hath given you one face, and you
make yourselves another. You jig and amble, and
you lisp; you nickname God’s creatures and make
your wantonness your ignorance. Go to, I’ll no
more on ’t. It hath made me mad. I say we will have
no more marriage. Those that are married already,
all but one, shall live. The rest shall keep as they are.
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,
Th’ expectancy and rose of the fair state,
The glass of fashion and the mold of form,
Th’ observed of all observers, quite, quite down!
And I, of ladies most deject and wretched,
That sucked the honey of his musicked vows,
Now see that noble and most sovereign reason,
Like sweet bells jangled, out of time and harsh;
That unmatched form and stature of blown youth
Blasted with ecstasy. O, woe is me
T’ have seen what I have seen, see what I see!
KING , advancing with Polonius    
Love? His affections do not that way tend;
Nor what he spake, though it lacked form a little,
Was not like madness. There’s something in his soul
O’er which his melancholy sits on brood,
And I do doubt the hatch and the disclose
Will be some danger; which for to prevent,
I have in quick determination
Thus set it down: he shall with speed to England
For the demand of our neglected tribute.
Haply the seas, and countries different,
With variable objects, shall expel
This something-settled matter in his heart,
Whereon his brains still beating puts him thus
From fashion of himself. What think you on ’t?
POLONIUS    
It shall do well. But yet do I believe
The origin and commencement of his grief
Sprung from neglected love.—How now, Ophelia?
You need not tell us what Lord Hamlet said;
We heard it all.—My lord, do as you please,
But, if you hold it fit, after the play
Let his queen-mother all alone entreat him
To show his grief. Let her be round with him;
And I’ll be placed, so please you, in the ear
Of all their conference. If she find him not,
To England send him, or confine him where
Your wisdom best shall think.
KING    It shall be so.
Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.
They exit.
Scene 2
Enter Polonius, Guildenstern, and Rosencrantz.

How now, my lord, will the King hear this piece of
work?
POLONIUS    And the Queen too, and that presently.
HAMLET    Bid the players make haste.Polonius exits. Enter Trumpets and Kettle Drums. Enter King, Queen, Polonius, Ophelia, Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, and other Lords attendant with the King’s guard carrying torches.

KING    How fares our cousin Hamlet?
HAMLET    Excellent, i’ faith, of the chameleon’s dish. I
eat the air, promise-crammed. You cannot feed
capons so.
KING    I have nothing with this answer, Hamlet. These
words are not mine.
HAMLET    No, nor mine now. To Polonius. My lord, you
played once i’ th’ university, you say?
POLONIUS    That did I, my lord, and was accounted a
good actor.
HAMLET    What did you enact?
POLONIUS    I did enact Julius Caesar. I was killed i’ th’
Capitol. Brutus killed me.
HAMLET    It was a brute part of him to kill so capital a
calf there.—Be the players ready?
ROSENCRANTZ    Ay, my lord. They stay upon your
patience.
QUEEN    Come hither, my dear Hamlet, sit by me.
HAMLET    No, good mother. Here’s metal more
attractive.Hamlet takes a place near Ophelia.
POLONIUS , to the King    Oh, ho! Do you mark that?
HAMLET    Lady, shall I lie in your lap?
OPHELIA    No, my lord.
HAMLET    I mean, my head upon your lap?
OPHELIA    Ay, my lord.
HAMLET    Do you think I meant country matters?
OPHELIA    I think nothing, my lord.
HAMLET    That’s a fair thought to lie between maids’
legs.
OPHELIA    What is, my lord?
HAMLET    Nothing.
OPHELIA    You are merry, my lord.
HAMLET    Who, I?
OPHELIA    Ay, my lord.
HAMLET    O God, your only jig-maker. What should a
man do but be merry? For look you how cheerfully
my mother looks, and my father died within ’s two
hours.
OPHELIA    Nay, ’tis twice two months, my lord.
HAMLET    So long? Nay, then, let the devil wear black,
for I’ll have a suit of sables. O heavens, die two
months ago, and not forgotten yet? Then there’s
hope a great man’s memory may outlive his life half
a year. But, by ’r Lady, he must build churches, then,
or else shall he suffer not thinking on, with the
hobby-horse, whose epitaph is “For oh, for oh, the
hobby-horse is forgot.”
The trumpets sounds. Dumb show follows.

Enter a King and a Queen, very lovingly, the Queen embracing him and he her. She kneels and makes show of protestation unto him. He takes her up and declines his head upon her neck. He lies him down upon a bank of flowers. She, seeing him asleep, leaves him. Anon comes in 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 with some three or four come in again, seem to condole with 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    Marry, this is miching mallecho. It means
mischief.
OPHELIA    Belike this show imports the argument of the
play.

Enter Prologue.

HAMLET    We shall know by this fellow. The players
cannot keep counsel; they’ll tell all.
OPHELIA    Will he tell us what this show meant?
HAMLET    Ay, or any show that you will show him. Be
not you ashamed to show, he’ll not shame to tell you
what it means.
OPHELIA    You are naught, you are naught. I’ll mark the
play.
PROLOGUE    
For us and for our tragedy,
Here stooping to your clemency,
We beg your hearing patiently.He exits.
HAMLET    Is this a prologue or the posy of a ring?
OPHELIA    ’Tis brief, my lord.
HAMLET    As woman’s love.

Enter the Player King and Queen.

PLAYER KING    
Full thirty times hath Phoebus’ cart gone round
Neptune’s salt wash and Tellus’ orbèd ground,
And thirty dozen moons with borrowed sheen
About the world have times twelve thirties been
Since love our hearts and Hymen did our hands
Unite commutual in most sacred bands.
PLAYER QUEEN    
So many journeys may the sun and moon
Make us again count o’er ere love be done!
But woe is me! You are so sick of late,
So far from cheer and from your former state,
That I distrust you. Yet, though I distrust,
Discomfort you, my lord, it nothing must.
For women fear too much, even as they love,
And women’s fear and love hold quantity,
In neither aught, or in extremity.
Now what my love is, proof hath made you know,
And, as my love is sized, my fear is so:
Where love is great, the littlest doubts are fear;
Where little fears grow great, great love grows there.
PLAYER KING    
Faith, I must leave thee, love, and shortly too.
My operant powers their functions leave to do.
And thou shall live in this fair world behind,
Honored, beloved; and haply one as kind
For husband shalt thou—
PLAYER QUEEN    O, confound the rest!
Such love must needs be treason in my breast.
In second husband let me be accurst.
None wed the second but who killed the first.
HAMLET    That’s wormwood!
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,
But what we do determine oft we break.
Purpose is but the slave to memory,
Of violent birth, but poor validity,
Which now, the fruit unripe, sticks on the tree
But fall unshaken when they mellow be.
Most necessary ’tis that we forget
To pay ourselves what to ourselves is debt.
What to ourselves in passion we propose,
The passion ending, doth the purpose lose.
The violence of either grief or joy
Their own enactures with themselves destroy.
Where joy most revels, grief doth most lament;
Grief joys, joy grieves, on slender accident.
This world is not for aye, nor ’tis not strange
That even our loves should with our fortunes change;
For ’tis a question left us yet to prove
Whether love lead fortune or else fortune love.
The great man down, you mark his favorite flies;
The poor, advanced, makes friends of enemies.
And hitherto doth love on fortune tend,
For who not needs shall never lack a friend,
And who in want a hollow friend doth try
Directly seasons him his enemy.
But, orderly to end where I begun:
Our wills and fates do so contrary run
That our devices still are overthrown;
Our thoughts are ours, their ends none of our own.
So think thou wilt no second husband wed,
But die thy thoughts when thy first lord is dead.
PLAYER QUEEN    
Nor Earth to me give food, nor heaven light,
Sport and repose lock from me day and night,
To desperation turn my trust and hope,
An anchor’s cheer in prison be my scope.
Each opposite that blanks the face of joy
Meet what I would have well and it destroy.
Both here and hence pursue me lasting strife,
If, once a widow, ever I be wife.
HAMLET    If she should break it now!
PLAYER KING    
’Tis deeply sworn. Sweet, leave me here awhile.
My spirits grow dull, and fain I would beguile
The tedious day with sleep.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 argument? Is there no
offense in ’t?
HAMLET    No, no, they do but jest, poison in jest. No
offense i’ th’ world.
KING    What do you call the play?
HAMLET    The Mousetrap. Marry, how? Tropically.
This play is the image of a murder done in Vienna.
Gonzago is the duke’s name, his wife Baptista. You
shall see anon. ’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;
our withers are unwrung.

Enter Lucianus.

This is one Lucianus, nephew to the king.
OPHELIA    You are as good as a chorus, my lord.
HAMLET    I could interpret between you and your love,
if I could see the puppets dallying.
OPHELIA    You are keen, my lord, you are keen.
HAMLET    It would cost you a groaning to take off mine
edge.
OPHELIA    Still better and worse.
HAMLET    So you mis-take your husbands.—Begin,
murderer. Pox, leave thy damnable faces and
begin. Come, the croaking raven doth bellow for
revenge.
LUCIANUS    
Thoughts black, hands apt, drugs fit, and time
agreeing,
Confederate season, else no creature seeing,
Thou mixture rank, of midnight weeds collected,
With Hecate’s ban thrice blasted, thrice infected,
Thy natural magic and dire property
On wholesome life usurp immediately.
Pours the poison in his ears.
HAMLET    He poisons him i’ th’ garden for his estate. His
name’s Gonzago. The story is extant and written in
very choice Italian. You shall see anon how the
murderer gets the love of Gonzago’s wife.
Claudius rises.
OPHELIA    The King rises.
HAMLET    What, frighted with false fire?
QUEEN    How fares my lord?
POLONIUS    Give o’er the play.
KING    Give me some light. Away!
POLONIUS    Lights, lights, lights!
All but Hamlet and Horatio exit. Enter Polonius.

God bless you, sir.
POLONIUS    My lord, the Queen would speak with you,
and presently.
HAMLET    Do you see yonder cloud that’s almost in
shape of a camel?
POLONIUS    By th’ Mass, and ’tis like a camel indeed.
HAMLET    Methinks it is like a weasel.
POLONIUS    It is backed like a weasel.
HAMLET    Or like a whale.
POLONIUS    Very like a whale.
HAMLET    Then I will come to my mother by and by.
Aside. They fool me to the top of my bent.—I will
come by and by.
POLONIUS    I will say so.
HAMLET    “By and by” is easily said. Leave me,
friends.
All but Hamlet exit.
Scene 3
Enter Polonius.

POLONIUS    
My lord, he’s going to his mother’s closet.
Behind the arras I’ll convey myself
To hear the process. I’ll warrant she’ll tax him
home;
And, as you said (and wisely was it said),
’Tis meet that some more audience than a mother,
Since nature makes them partial, should o’erhear
The speech of vantage. Fare you well, my liege.
I’ll call upon you ere you go to bed
And tell you what I know.
KING    Thanks, dear my lord.
Polonius exits.
Scene 4
Enter Queen and Polonius.

POLONIUS    
He will come straight. Look you lay home to him.
Tell him his pranks have been too broad to bear
with
And that your Grace hath screened and stood
between
Much heat and him. I’ll silence me even here.
Pray you, be round with him.
HAMLET , within    Mother, mother, mother!
QUEEN    I’ll warrant you. Fear me not. Withdraw,
I hear him coming.
Polonius hides behind the arras.

Enter Hamlet.

HAMLET    Now, mother, what’s the matter?
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.
HAMLET    
Go, go, you question with a wicked tongue.
QUEEN    
Why, how now, Hamlet?
HAMLET    What’s the matter now?
QUEEN    
Have you forgot me?
HAMLET    No, by the rood, not so.
You are the Queen, your husband’s brother’s wife,
And (would it were not so) you are my mother.
QUEEN    
Nay, then I’ll set those to you that can speak.
HAMLET    
Come, come, and sit you down; you shall not budge.
You go not till I set you up a glass
Where you may see the inmost part of you.
QUEEN    
What wilt thou do? Thou wilt not murder me?
Help, ho!
POLONIUS , behind the arras    What ho! Help!
HAMLET    
How now, a rat? Dead for a ducat, dead.
He kills Polonius by thrusting a rapier through the arras.
POLONIUS , behind the arras    
O, I am slain!
QUEEN    O me, what hast thou done?
HAMLET    Nay, I know not. Is it the King?
QUEEN    
O, what a rash and bloody deed is this!
HAMLET    
A bloody deed—almost as bad, good mother,
As kill a king and marry with his brother.
QUEEN    
As kill a king?
HAMLET    Ay, lady, it was my word.
He pulls Polonius’ body from behind the arras.
Thou wretched, rash, intruding fool, farewell.
I took thee for thy better. Take thy fortune.
Thou find’st to be too busy is some danger.
To Queen. Leave wringing of your hands. Peace, sit
you down,
And let me wring your heart; for so I shall
If it be made of penetrable stuff,
If damnèd custom have not brazed it so
That it be proof and bulwark against sense.
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—O, such a deed
As from the body of contraction plucks
The very soul, and sweet religion makes
A rhapsody of words! Heaven’s face does glow
O’er this solidity and compound mass
With heated visage, as against the doom,
Is thought-sick at the act.
QUEEN    Ay me, what act
That roars so loud and thunders in the index?
HAMLET    
Look here upon this picture and on this,
The counterfeit presentment of two brothers.
See what a grace was seated on this brow,
Hyperion’s curls, the front of Jove himself,
An eye like Mars’ to threaten and command,
A station like the herald Mercury
New-lighted on a -kissing hill,
A combination and a form indeed
Where every god did seem to set his seal
To give the world assurance of a man.
This was your husband. Look you now what follows.
Here is your husband, like a mildewed ear
Blasting his wholesome brother. Have you eyes?
Could you on this fair mountain leave to feed
And batten on this moor? Ha! Have you eyes?
You cannot call it love, for at your age
The heyday in the blood is tame, it’s humble
And waits upon the judgment; and what judgment
Would step from this to this? Sense sure you have,
Else could you not have motion; but sure that sense
Is apoplexed; for madness would not err,
Nor sense to ecstasy was ne’er so thralled,
But it reserved some quantity of choice
To serve in such a difference. What devil was ’t
That thus hath cozened you at hoodman-blind?
Eyes without feeling, feeling without sight,
Ears without hands or eyes, smelling sans all,
Or but a sickly part of one true sense
Could not so mope. O shame, where is thy blush?
Rebellious hell,
If thou canst mutine in a matron’s bones,
To flaming youth let virtue be as wax
And melt in her own fire. Proclaim no shame
When the compulsive ardor gives the charge,
Since frost itself as actively doth burn,
And reason panders will.
QUEEN    O Hamlet, speak no more!
Thou turn’st my eyes into my very soul,
And there I see such black and grainèd spots
As will not leave their tinct.
HAMLET    Nay, but to live
In the rank sweat of an enseamèd bed,
Stewed in corruption, honeying and making love
Over the nasty sty!
QUEEN    O, speak to me no more!
These words like daggers enter in my ears.
No more, sweet Hamlet!
HAMLET    A murderer and a villain,
A slave that is not twentieth part the tithe
Of your precedent lord; a vice of kings,
A cutpurse of the empire and the rule,
That from a shelf the precious diadem stole
And put it in his pocket—
QUEEN    No more!
HAMLET    A king of shreds and patches—

Enter Ghost.

Save me and hover o’er me with your wings,
You heavenly guards!—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?
O, say!
GHOST    Do not forget. This visitation
Is but to whet thy almost blunted purpose.
But look, amazement on thy mother sits.
O, step between her and her fighting soul.
Conceit in weakest bodies strongest works.
Speak to her, Hamlet.
HAMLET    How is it with you, lady?
QUEEN    Alas, how is ’t with you,
That you do bend your eye on vacancy
And with th’ incorporal air do hold discourse?
Forth at your eyes your spirits wildly peep,
And, as the sleeping soldiers in th’ alarm,
Your bedded hair, like life in excrements,
Start up and stand an end. O gentle son,
Upon the heat and flame of thy distemper
Sprinkle cool patience! Whereon do you look?
HAMLET    
On him, on him! Look you how pale he glares.
His form and cause conjoined, preaching to stones,
Would make them capable. To the Ghost. Do not
look upon me,
Lest with this piteous action you convert
My stern effects. Then what I have to do
Will want true color—tears perchance for blood.
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!
Look where he goes even now out at the portal!
Ghost exits.
QUEEN    
This is the very coinage of your brain.
This bodiless creation ecstasy
Is very cunning in.
HAMLET    Ecstasy?
My pulse as yours doth temperately keep time
And makes as healthful music. It is not madness
That I have uttered. Bring me to the test,
And I the matter will reword, which madness
Would gambol from. Mother, for love of grace,
Lay not that flattering unction to your soul
That not your trespass but my madness speaks.
It will but skin and film the ulcerous place,
Whiles rank corruption, mining all within,
Infects unseen. Confess yourself to heaven,
Repent what’s past, avoid what is to come,
And do not spread the compost on the weeds
To make them ranker. Forgive me this my virtue,
For, in the fatness of these pursy times,
Virtue itself of vice must pardon beg,
Yea, curb and woo for leave to do him good.
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. But go not to my uncle’s bed.
Assume a virtue if you have it not.
That monster, custom, who all sense doth eat,
Of habits devil, is angel yet in this,
That to the use of actions fair and good
He likewise gives a frock or livery
That aptly is put on. Refrain tonight,
And that shall lend a kind of easiness
To the next abstinence, the next more easy;
For use almost can change the stamp of nature
And either the devil or throw him out
With wondrous potency. Once more, good night,
And, when you are desirous to be blest,
I’ll blessing beg of you. For this same lord
Pointing to Polonius.
I do repent; but heaven hath pleased it so
To punish me with this and this with me,
That I must be their scourge and minister.
I will bestow him and will answer well
The death I gave him. So, again, good night.
I must be cruel only to be kind.
This bad begins, and worse remains behind.
One word more, good lady.
QUEEN    What shall I do?
HAMLET    
Not this by no means that I bid you do:
Let the bloat king tempt you again to bed,
Pinch wanton on your cheek, call you his mouse,
And let him, for a pair of reechy kisses
Or paddling in your neck with his damned fingers,
Make you to ravel all this matter out
That I essentially am not in madness,
But mad in craft. ’Twere good you let him know,
For who that’s but a queen, fair, sober, wise,
Would from a paddock, from a bat, a gib,
Such dear concernings hide? Who would do so?
No, in despite of sense and secrecy,
Unpeg the basket on the house’s top,
Let the birds fly, and like the famous ape,
To try conclusions, in the basket creep
And break your own neck down.
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    
There’s letters sealed; and 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,
For ’tis the sport to have the enginer
Hoist with his own petard; and ’t shall go hard
But I will delve one yard below their mines
And blow them at the moon. O, ’tis most sweet
When in one line two crafts directly meet.
This man shall set me packing.
I’ll lug the guts into the neighbor room.
Mother, good night indeed. This counselor
Is now most still, most secret, and most grave,
Who was in life a foolish prating knave.—
Come, sir, to draw toward an end with you.—
Good night, mother.
They exit, Hamlet tugging in Polonius.