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.

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.
In that and all things will we show our duty.
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,
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.
Have you your father’s leave? What says 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.
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.
How is it that the clouds still hang on you?
Not so, my lord; I am too much in the sun.
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.
Ay, madam, it is common.
QUEEN    If it be,
Why seems it so particular with thee?
“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.
’Tis sweet and commendable in your nature,
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.
Let not thy mother lose her prayers, Hamlet.
I pray thee, stay with us. Go not to Wittenberg.
I shall in all my best obey you, madam.
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.
O, that this too, too sullied flesh would melt,
Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew,
Or that the Everlasting had not fixed
His canon ’gainst self-slaughter! O God, God,
How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable
Seem to me all the uses of this world!
Fie on ’t, ah fie! ’Tis an unweeded garden
That grows to seed. Things rank and gross in nature
Possess it merely. That it should come to this:
But two months dead—nay, not so much, not two.
So excellent a king, that was to this
Hyperion to a satyr; so loving to my mother
That he might not beteem the winds of heaven
Visit her face too roughly. Heaven and Earth,
Must I remember? Why, she would hang on him
As if increase of appetite had grown
By what it fed on. And yet, within a month
(Let me not think on ’t; frailty, thy name is woman!),
A little month, or ere those shoes were old
With which she followed my poor father’s body,
Like Niobe, all tears—why she, even she
(O God, a beast that wants discourse of reason
Would have mourned longer!), married with my
My father’s brother, but no more like my father
Than I to Hercules. Within a month,
Ere yet the salt of most unrighteous tears
Had left the flushing in her gallèd eyes,
She married. O, most wicked speed, to post
With such dexterity to incestuous sheets!
It is not, nor it cannot come to good.
But break, my heart, for I must hold my tongue.

Enter Horatio, Marcellus, and Barnardo.

HORATIO    Hail to your Lordship.
HAMLET    I am glad to see you well.
Horatio—or I do forget myself!
The same, my lord, and your poor servant ever.
Sir, my good friend. I’ll change that name with you.
And what make you from Wittenberg, Horatio?—
MARCELLUS    My good lord.
I am very glad to see you. To Barnardo. Good
even, sir.—
But what, in faith, make you from Wittenberg?
A truant disposition, good my lord.
I would not hear your enemy say so,
Nor shall you do my ear that violence
To make it truster of your own report
Against yourself. I know you are no truant.
But what is your affair in Elsinore?
We’ll teach you to drink deep ere you depart.
My lord, I came to see your father’s funeral.
I prithee, do not mock me, fellow student.
I think it was to see my mother’s wedding.
Indeed, my lord, it followed hard upon.
Thrift, thrift, Horatio. The funeral baked meats
Did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables.
Would I had met my dearest foe in heaven
Or ever I had seen that day, Horatio!
My father—methinks I see my father.
Where, my lord?
HAMLET    In my mind’s eye, Horatio.
I saw him once. He was a goodly king.
He was a man. Take him for all in all,
I shall not look upon his like again.
My lord, I think I saw him yesternight.
HAMLET    Saw who?
My lord, the King your father.
HAMLET    The King my father?
Season your admiration for a while
With an attent ear, till I may deliver
Upon the witness of these gentlemen
This marvel to you.
HAMLET    For God’s love, let me hear!
Two nights together had these gentlemen,
Marcellus and Barnardo, on their watch,
In the dead waste and middle of the night,
Been thus encountered: a figure like your father,
Armed at point exactly, cap-à-pie,
Appears before them and with solemn march
Goes slow and stately by them. Thrice he walked
By their oppressed and fear-surprisèd eyes
Within his truncheon’s length, whilst they, distilled
Almost to jelly with the act of fear,
Stand dumb and speak not to him. This to me
In dreadful secrecy impart they did,
And I with them the third night kept the watch,
Where, as they had delivered, both in time,
Form of the thing (each word made true and good),
The apparition comes. I knew your father;
These hands are not more like.
HAMLET    But where was this?
My lord, upon the platform where we watch.
Did you not speak to it?
HORATIO    My lord, I did,
But answer made it none. Yet once methought
It lifted up its head and did address
Itself to motion, like as it would speak;
But even then the morning cock crew loud,
And at the sound it shrunk in haste away
And vanished from our sight.
HAMLET    ’Tis very strange.
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.
Armed, say you?
ALL    Armed, my lord.
HAMLET    From top to toe?
ALL    My lord, from head to foot.
HAMLET    Then saw you not his face?
O, yes, my lord, he wore his beaver up.
HAMLET    What, looked he frowningly?
A countenance more in sorrow than in anger.
HAMLET    Pale or red?
Nay, very pale.
HAMLET    And fixed his eyes upon you?
Most constantly.
HAMLET    I would I had been there.
HORATIO    It would have much amazed you.
HAMLET    Very like. Stayed it long?
While one with moderate haste might tell a
BARNARDO/MARCELLUS    Longer, longer.
Not when I saw ’t.
HAMLET    His beard was grizzled, no?
It was as I have seen it in his life,
A sable silvered.
HAMLET    I will watch tonight.
Perchance ’twill walk again.
HORATIO    I warrant it will.
If it assume my noble father’s person,
I’ll speak to it, though hell itself should gape
And bid me hold my peace. I pray you all,
If you have hitherto concealed this sight,
Let it be tenable in your silence still;
And whatsomever else shall hap tonight,
Give it an understanding but no tongue.
I will requite your loves. So fare you well.
Upon the platform, ’twixt eleven and twelve,
I’ll visit you.
ALL    Our duty to your Honor.
Your loves, as mine to you. Farewell.
All but Hamlet exit.
My father’s spirit—in arms! All is not well.
I doubt some foul play. Would the night were come!
Till then, sit still, my soul. Foul deeds will rise,
Though all the earth o’erwhelm them, to men’s
He exits.
Scene 4
Enter Hamlet, Horatio, and Marcellus.

The air bites shrewdly; it is very cold.
It is a nipping and an eager air.
HAMLET    What hour now?
HORATIO    I think it lacks of twelve.
MARCELLUS    No, it is struck.
Indeed, I heard it not. It then draws near the season
Wherein the spirit held his wont to walk.
A flourish of trumpets and two pieces goes off.
What does this mean, my lord?
The King doth wake tonight and takes his rouse,
Keeps wassail, and the swagg’ring upspring reels;
And, as he drains his draughts of Rhenish down,
The kettledrum and trumpet thus bray out
The triumph of his pledge.
HORATIO    Is it a custom?
HAMLET    Ay, marry, is ’t,
But, to my mind, though I am native here
And to the manner born, it is a custom
More honored in the breach than the observance.
This heavy-headed revel east and west
Makes us traduced and taxed of other nations.
They clepe us drunkards and with swinish phrase
Soil our addition. And, indeed, it takes
From our achievements, though performed at
The pith and marrow of our attribute.
So oft it chances in particular men
That for some vicious mole of nature in them,
As in their birth (wherein they are not guilty,
Since nature cannot choose his origin),
By the o’ergrowth of some complexion
(Oft breaking down the pales and forts of reason),
Or by some habit that too much o’erleavens
The form of plausive manners—that these men,
Carrying, I say, the stamp of one defect,
Being nature’s livery or fortune’s star,
His virtues else, be they as pure as grace,
As infinite as man may undergo,
Shall in the general censure take corruption
From that particular fault. The dram of evil
Doth all the noble substance of a doubt
To his own scandal.

Enter Ghost.

HORATIO    Look, my lord, it comes.
Angels and ministers of grace, defend us!
Be thou a spirit of health or goblin damned,
Bring with thee airs from heaven or blasts from
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, but tell
Why thy canonized bones, hearsèd in death,
Have burst their cerements; why the sepulcher,
Wherein we saw thee quietly interred,
Hath oped his ponderous and marble jaws
To cast thee up again. What may this mean
That thou, dead corse, again in complete steel,
Revisits thus the glimpses of the moon,
Making night hideous, and we fools of nature
So horridly to shake our disposition
With thoughts beyond the reaches of our souls?
Say, why is this? Wherefore? What should we do?
Ghost beckons.
It beckons you to go away with it
As if it some impartment did desire
To you alone.
MARCELLUS    Look with what courteous action
It waves you to a more removèd ground.
But do not go with it.
HORATIO    No, by no means.
It will not speak. Then I will follow it.
Do not, my lord.
HAMLET    Why, what should be the fear?
I do not set my life at a pin’s fee.
And for my soul, what can it do to that,
Being a thing immortal as itself?
It waves me forth again. I’ll follow it.
What if it tempt you toward the flood, my lord?
Or to the dreadful summit of the cliff
That beetles o’er his base into the sea,
And there assume some other horrible form
Which might deprive your sovereignty of reason
And draw you into madness? Think of it.
The very place puts toys of desperation,
Without more motive, into every brain
That looks so many fathoms to the sea
And hears it roar beneath.
It waves me still.—Go on, I’ll follow thee.
You shall not go, my lord.They hold back Hamlet.
HAMLET    Hold off your hands.
Be ruled. You shall not go.
HAMLET    My fate cries out
And makes each petty arture in this body
As hardy as the Nemean lion’s nerve.
Still am I called. Unhand me, gentlemen.
By heaven, I’ll make a ghost of him that lets me!
I say, away!—Go on. I’ll follow thee.
Ghost and Hamlet exit.
Scene 5
Enter Ghost and Hamlet.

Whither wilt thou lead me? Speak. I’ll go no
Mark me.
HAMLET    I will.
GHOST    My hour is almost come
When I to sulf’rous and tormenting flames
Must render up myself.
HAMLET    Alas, poor ghost!
Pity me not, but lend thy serious hearing
To what I shall unfold.
HAMLET    Speak. I am bound to hear.
So art thou to revenge, when thou shalt hear.
HAMLET    What?
GHOST    I am thy father’s spirit,
Doomed for a certain term to walk the night
And for the day confined to fast in fires
Till the foul crimes done in my days of nature
Are burnt and purged away. But that I am forbid
To tell the secrets of my prison house,
I could a tale unfold whose lightest word
Would harrow up thy soul, freeze thy young blood,
Make thy two eyes, like stars, start from their
Thy knotted and combinèd locks to part,
And each particular hair to stand an end,
Like quills upon the fearful porpentine.
But this eternal blazon must not be
To ears of flesh and blood. List, list, O list!
If thou didst ever thy dear father love—
HAMLET    O God!
Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder.
HAMLET    Murder?
Murder most foul, as in the best it is,
But this most foul, strange, and unnatural.
Haste me to know ’t, that I, with wings as swift
As meditation or the thoughts of love,
May sweep to my revenge.
GHOST    I find thee apt;
And duller shouldst thou be than the fat weed
That roots itself in ease on Lethe wharf,
Wouldst thou not stir in this. Now, Hamlet, hear.
’Tis given out that, sleeping in my orchard,
A serpent stung me. So the whole ear of Denmark
Is by a forgèd process of my death
Rankly abused. But know, thou noble youth,
The serpent that did sting thy father’s life
Now wears his crown.
HAMLET    O, my prophetic soul! My uncle!
Ay, that incestuous, that adulterate beast,
With witchcraft of his wits, with traitorous gifts—
O wicked wit and gifts, that have the power
So to seduce!—won to his shameful lust
The will of my most seeming-virtuous queen.
O Hamlet, what a falling off was there!
From me, whose love was of that dignity
That it went hand in hand even with the vow
I made to her in marriage, and to decline
Upon a wretch whose natural gifts were poor
To those of mine.
But virtue, as it never will be moved,
Though lewdness court it in a shape of heaven,
So, lust, though to a radiant angel linked,
Will sate itself in a celestial bed
And prey on garbage.
But soft, methinks I scent the morning air.
Brief let me be. Sleeping within my orchard,
My custom always of the afternoon,
Upon my secure hour thy uncle stole,
With juice of cursèd hebona in a vial
And in the porches of my ears did pour
The leprous distilment, whose effect
Holds such an enmity with blood of man
That swift as quicksilver it courses through
The natural gates and alleys of the body,
And with a sudden vigor it doth posset
And curd, like eager droppings into milk,
The thin and wholesome blood. So did it mine,
And a most instant tetter barked about,
Most lazar-like, with vile and loathsome crust
All my smooth body.
Thus was I, sleeping, by a brother’s hand
Of life, of crown, of queen at once dispatched,
Cut off, even in the blossoms of my sin,
Unhouseled, disappointed, unaneled,
No reck’ning made, but sent to my account
With all my imperfections on my head.
O horrible, O horrible, most horrible!
If thou hast nature in thee, bear it not.
Let not the royal bed of Denmark be
A couch for luxury and damnèd incest.
But, howsomever thou pursues this act,
Taint not thy mind, nor let thy soul contrive
Against thy mother aught. Leave her to heaven
And to those thorns that in her bosom lodge
To prick and sting her. Fare thee well at once.
The glowworm shows the matin to be near
And ’gins to pale his uneffectual fire.
Adieu, adieu, adieu. Remember me.He exits.
O all you host of heaven! O Earth! What else?
And shall I couple hell? O fie! Hold, hold, my heart,
And you, my sinews, grow not instant old,
But bear me stiffly up. Remember thee?
Ay, thou poor ghost, whiles memory holds a seat
In this distracted globe. Remember thee?
Yea, from the table of my memory
I’ll wipe away all trivial, fond records,
All saws of books, all forms, all pressures past,
That youth and observation copied there,
And thy commandment all alone shall live
Within the book and volume of my brain,
Unmixed with baser matter. Yes, by heaven!
O most pernicious woman!
O villain, villain, smiling, damnèd villain!
My tables—meet it is I set it down
That one may smile and smile and be a villain.
At least I am sure it may be so in Denmark.
He writes.
So, uncle, there you are. Now to my word.
It is “adieu, adieu, remember me.”
I have sworn ’t.

Enter Horatio and Marcellus.

HORATIO    My lord, my lord!
MARCELLUS    Lord Hamlet.
HORATIO    Heavens secure him!
HAMLET    So be it.
MARCELLUS    Illo, ho, ho, my lord!
HAMLET    Hillo, ho, ho, boy! Come, bird, come!
How is ’t, my noble lord?
HORATIO    What news, my lord?
HAMLET    O, wonderful!
Good my lord, tell it.
HAMLET    No, you will reveal it.
Not I, my lord, by heaven.
MARCELLUS    Nor I, my lord.
How say you, then? Would heart of man once think
But you’ll be secret?
HORATIO/MARCELLUS     Ay, by heaven, my lord.
There’s never a villain dwelling in all Denmark
But he’s an arrant knave.
There needs no ghost, my lord, come from the grave
To tell us this.
HAMLET    Why, right, you are in the right.
And so, without more circumstance at all,
I hold it fit that we shake hands and part,
You, as your business and desire shall point you
(For every man hath business and desire,
Such as it is), and for my own poor part,
I will go pray.
These are but wild and whirling words, my lord.
I am sorry they offend you, heartily;
Yes, faith, heartily.
HORATIO    There’s no offense, my lord.
Yes, by Saint Patrick, but there is, Horatio,
And much offense, too. Touching this vision here,
It is an honest ghost—that let me tell you.
For your desire to know what is between us,
O’ermaster ’t as you may. And now, good friends,
As you are friends, scholars, and soldiers,
Give me one poor request.
HORATIO    What is ’t, my lord? We will.
Never make known what you have seen tonight.
HORATIO/MARCELLUS     My lord, we will not.
HAMLET    Nay, but swear ’t.
HORATIO    In faith, my lord, not I.
MARCELLUS    Nor I, my lord, in faith.
Upon my sword.
MARCELLUS    We have sworn, my lord, already.
HAMLET    Indeed, upon my sword, indeed.
GHOST cries under the stage    Swear.
Ha, ha, boy, sayst thou so? Art thou there,
Come on, you hear this fellow in the cellarage.
Consent to swear.
HORATIO    Propose the oath, my lord.
Never to speak of this that you have seen,
Swear by my sword.
GHOST , beneath    Swear.
Hic et ubique? Then we’ll shift our ground.
Come hither, gentlemen,
And lay your hands again upon my sword.
Swear by my sword
Never to speak of this that you have heard.
GHOST , beneath    Swear by his sword.
Well said, old mole. Canst work i’ th’ earth so fast?—
A worthy pioner! Once more remove, good friends.
O day and night, but this is wondrous strange.
And therefore as a stranger give it welcome.
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. But come.
Here, as before, never, so help you mercy,
How strange or odd some’er I bear myself
(As I perchance hereafter shall think meet
To put an antic disposition on)
That you, at such times seeing me, never shall,
With arms encumbered thus, or this headshake,
Or by pronouncing of some doubtful phrase,
As “Well, well, we know,” or “We could an if we
Or “If we list to speak,” or “There be an if they
Or such ambiguous giving-out, to note
That you know aught of me—this do swear,
So grace and mercy at your most need help you.
GHOST , beneath    Swear.
Rest, rest, perturbèd spirit.—So, gentlemen,
With all my love I do commend me to you,
And what so poor a man as Hamlet is
May do t’ express his love and friending to you,
God willing, shall not lack. Let us go in together,
And still your fingers on your lips, I pray.
The time is out of joint. O cursèd spite
That ever I was born to set it right!
Nay, come, let’s go together.
They exit.
Scene 2
Enter Hamlet reading on a book.

But look where sadly the poor wretch comes
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
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
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.
GUILDENSTERN    My honored lord.
ROSENCRANTZ    My most dear lord.
HAMLET    My excellent good friends! How dost thou,
Guildenstern? Ah, Rosencrantz! Good lads, how do
you both?
As the indifferent children of the earth.
Happy in that we are not overhappy.
On Fortune’s cap, we are not the very button.
HAMLET    Nor the soles of her shoe?
ROSENCRANTZ    Neither, my lord.
HAMLET    Then you live about her waist, or in the
middle of her favors?
GUILDENSTERN    Faith, her privates we.
HAMLET    In the secret parts of Fortune? O, most true!
She is a strumpet. What news?
ROSENCRANTZ    None, my lord, but that the world’s
grown honest.
HAMLET    Then is doomsday near. But your news is not
true. Let me question more in particular. 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    Then is the world one.
HAMLET    A goodly one, in which there are many confines,
wards, and dungeons, Denmark being one o’
th’ worst.
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.
’Tis too narrow for your mind.
HAMLET    O God, 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, and I hold ambition of so airy
and light a quality that it is but a shadow’s shadow.
HAMLET    Then are our beggars bodies, and our monarchs
and outstretched heroes the beggars’ shadows.
Shall we to th’ court? For, by my fay, I cannot
ROSENCRANTZ/GUILDENSTERN    We’ll wait upon you.
HAMLET    No such matter. I will not sort you with the
rest of my servants, for, to speak to you like an
honest man, I am most dreadfully attended. But,
in the beaten way of friendship, what make you at
ROSENCRANTZ    To visit you, my lord, no other occasion.
HAMLET    Beggar that I am, I am even poor in thanks;
but I thank you, and sure, dear friends, my thanks
are too dear a halfpenny. Were you not sent for?
Is it your own inclining? Is it a free visitation?
Come, come, deal justly with me. Come, come; nay,
GUILDENSTERN    What should we say, my lord?
HAMLET    Anything but to th’ purpose. You were sent
for, and there is a kind of confession in your looks
which your modesties have not craft enough to
color. I know the good king and queen have sent for
ROSENCRANTZ    To what end, my lord?
HAMLET    That you must teach me. But let me conjure
you by the rights of our fellowship, by the consonancy
of our youth, by the obligation of our ever-preserved
love, and by what more dear a better
proposer can charge you withal: be even and direct
with me whether you were sent for or no.
ROSENCRANTZ , to Guildenstern    What say you?
HAMLET , aside    Nay, then, I have an eye of you.—If
you love me, hold not off.
GUILDENSTERN    My lord, we were sent for.
HAMLET    I will tell you why; so shall my anticipation
prevent your discovery, and your secrecy to the
King and Queen molt no feather. I have of late, but
wherefore I know not, lost all my mirth, forgone all
custom of exercises, and, indeed, it goes so heavily
with my disposition that this goodly frame, the
Earth, seems to me a sterile promontory; this most
excellent canopy, the air, look you, this brave o’erhanging
firmament, this majestical roof, fretted
with golden fire—why, it appeareth nothing to me
but a foul and pestilent congregation of vapors.
What a piece of work is a man, how noble in
reason, how infinite in faculties, in form and moving
how express and admirable; in action how like
an angel, in apprehension how like a god: the
beauty of the world, the paragon of animals—and
yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust? Man
delights not me, no, nor women neither, though by
your smiling you seem to say so.
ROSENCRANTZ    My lord, there was no such stuff in my
HAMLET    Why did you laugh, then, when I said “man
delights not me”?
ROSENCRANTZ    To think, my lord, if you delight not in
man, what Lenten entertainment the players shall
receive from you. We coted them on the way, and
hither are they coming to offer you service.
HAMLET    He that plays the king shall be welcome—his
Majesty shall have tribute on me. The adventurous
knight shall use his foil and target, the lover shall
not sigh gratis, the humorous man shall end his
part in peace, the clown shall make those laugh
whose lungs are tickle o’ th’ sear, and the lady
shall say her mind freely, or the blank verse shall
halt for ’t. What players are they?
ROSENCRANTZ    Even those you were wont to take such
delight in, the tragedians of the city.
HAMLET    How chances it they travel? Their residence,
both in reputation and profit, was better both ways.
ROSENCRANTZ    I think their inhibition comes by the
means of the late innovation.
HAMLET    Do they hold the same estimation they did
when I was in the city? Are they so followed?
ROSENCRANTZ    No, indeed are they not.
HAMLET    How comes it? Do they grow rusty?
ROSENCRANTZ    Nay, their endeavor keeps in the wonted
pace. But there is, sir, an aerie of children, little
eyases, that cry out on the top of question and are
most tyrannically clapped for ’t. These are now the
fashion and so berattle the common stages (so
they call them) that many wearing rapiers are afraid
of goose quills and dare scarce come thither.
HAMLET    What, are they children? Who maintains ’em?
How are they escoted? Will they pursue the quality
no longer than they can sing? Will they not say
afterwards, if they should grow themselves to common
players (as it is most like, if their means are
no better), their writers do them wrong to make
them exclaim against their own succession?
ROSENCRANTZ    Faith, there has been much to-do on
both sides, and the nation holds it no sin to tar
them to controversy. There was for a while no
money bid for argument unless the poet and the
player went to cuffs in the question.
HAMLET    Is ’t possible?
GUILDENSTERN    O, there has been much throwing
about of brains.
HAMLET    Do the boys carry it away?
ROSENCRANTZ    Ay, that they do, my lord—Hercules
and his load too.
HAMLET    It is not very strange; for my uncle is King of
Denmark, and those that would make mouths at
him while my father lived give twenty, forty, fifty,
hundred ducats apiece for his picture in little.
’Sblood, there is something in this more than natural,
if philosophy could find it out.
A flourish for the Players.
GUILDENSTERN    There are the players.
HAMLET    Gentlemen, you are welcome to Elsinore.
Your hands, come then. Th’ appurtenance of welcome
is fashion and ceremony. Let me comply
with you in this garb, lest my extent to the players,
which, I tell you, must show fairly outwards, should
more appear like entertainment than yours. You are
welcome. But my uncle-father and aunt-mother are
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.

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.
But who, ah woe, had seen the moblèd queen—
HAMLET    “The moblèd queen”?
POLONIUS    That’s good. “Moblèd queen” is good.
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
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
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. Dost thou hear me, old friend? Can
you play The Murder of Gonzago?
FIRST PLAYER    Ay, my lord.
HAMLET    We’ll ha ’t tomorrow night. You could, for a
need, study a speech of some dozen or sixteen
lines, which I would set down and insert in ’t,
could you not?
FIRST PLAYER    Ay, my lord.
HAMLET    Very well. Follow that lord—and look you
mock him not. First Player exits. My good friends,
I’ll leave you till night. You are welcome to Elsinore.
ROSENCRANTZ    Good my lord.
Ay, so, good-bye to you.
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern exit.
Now I am alone.
O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I!
Is it not monstrous that this player here,
But in a fiction, in a dream of passion,
Could force his soul so to his own conceit
That from her working all his visage wanned,
Tears in his eyes, distraction in his aspect,
A broken voice, and his whole function suiting
With forms to his conceit—and all for nothing!
For Hecuba!
What’s Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba,
That he should weep for her? What would he do
Had he the motive and the cue for passion
That I have? He would drown the stage with tears
And cleave the general ear with horrid speech,
Make mad the guilty and appall the free,
Confound the ignorant and amaze indeed
The very faculties of eyes and ears. Yet I,
A dull and muddy-mettled rascal, peak
Like John-a-dreams, unpregnant of my cause,
And can say nothing—no, not for a king
Upon whose property and most dear life
A damned defeat was made. Am I a coward?
Who calls me “villain”? breaks my pate across?
Plucks off my beard and blows it in my face?
Tweaks me by the nose? gives me the lie i’ th’ throat
As deep as to the lungs? Who does me this?
Ha! ’Swounds, I should take it! For it cannot be
But I am pigeon-livered and lack gall
To make oppression bitter, or ere this
I should have fatted all the region kites
With this slave’s offal. Bloody, bawdy villain!
Remorseless, treacherous, lecherous, kindless
O vengeance!
Why, what an ass am I! This is most brave,
That I, the son of a dear father murdered,
Prompted to my revenge by heaven and hell,
Must, like a whore, unpack my heart with words
And fall a-cursing like a very drab,
A stallion! Fie upon ’t! Foh!
About, my brains!—Hum, I have heard
That guilty creatures sitting at a play
Have, by the very cunning of the scene,
Been struck so to the soul that presently
They have proclaimed their malefactions;
For murder, though it have no tongue, will speak
With most miraculous organ. I’ll have these players
Play something like the murder of my father
Before mine uncle. I’ll observe his looks;
I’ll tent him to the quick. If he do blench,
I know my course. The spirit that I have seen
May be a devil, and the devil hath power
T’ assume a pleasing shape; yea, and perhaps,
Out of my weakness and my melancholy,
As he is very potent with such spirits,
Abuses me to damn me. I’ll have grounds
More relative than this. The play’s the thing
Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the King.
He exits.
Scene 1
Enter 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.
My lord, I have remembrances of yours
That I have longèd long to redeliver.
I pray you now receive them.
No, not I. I never gave you aught.
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
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.
Scene 2
Enter Hamlet and three of the Players.

HAMLET    Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced
it to you, trippingly on the tongue; but if you mouth
it, as many of our players do, I had as lief the
town-crier spoke my lines. Nor do not saw the air
too much with your hand, thus, but use all gently;
for in the very torrent, tempest, and, as I may say,
whirlwind of your passion, you must acquire and
beget a temperance that may give it smoothness. O,
it offends me to the soul to hear a robustious,
periwig-pated fellow tear a passion to tatters, to very
rags, to split the ears of the groundlings, who for the
most part are capable of nothing but inexplicable
dumb shows and noise. I would have such a fellow
whipped for o’erdoing Termagant. It out-Herods
Herod. Pray you, avoid it.
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, with this special
observance, that you o’erstep not the modesty of
nature. For anything so o’erdone is from the purpose
of playing, whose end, both at the first and
now, was and is to hold, as ’twere, the mirror up to
nature, to show virtue her own feature, scorn her
own image, and the very age and body of the time
his form and pressure. Now this overdone or come
tardy off, though it makes the unskillful laugh,
cannot but make the judicious grieve, the censure
of the which one must in your allowance o’erweigh
a whole theater of others. O, there be players that I
have seen play and heard others praise (and that
highly), not to speak it profanely, that, neither
having th’ accent of Christians nor the gait of
Christian, pagan, nor man, 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. And let those that play
your clowns speak no more than is set down for
them, for there be of them that will themselves
laugh, to set on some quantity of barren spectators
to laugh too, though in the meantime some necessary
question of the play be then to be considered.
That’s villainous and shows a most pitiful ambition
in the fool that uses it. Go make you ready.
Players exit.

Enter Polonius, Guildenstern, and Rosencrantz.

How now, my lord, will the King hear this piece of
POLONIUS    And the Queen too, and that presently.
HAMLET    Bid the players make haste.Polonius exits.
Will you two help to hasten them?
ROSENCRANTZ    Ay, my lord.They exit.
HAMLET    What ho, Horatio!

Enter Horatio.

HORATIO    Here, sweet lord, at your service.
Horatio, thou art e’en as just a man
As e’er my conversation coped withal.
O, my dear lord—
HAMLET    Nay, do not think I flatter,
For what advancement may I hope from thee
That no revenue hast but thy good spirits
To feed and clothe thee? Why should the poor be
No, let the candied tongue lick absurd pomp
And crook the pregnant hinges of the knee
Where thrift may follow fawning. Dost thou hear?
Since my dear soul was mistress of her choice
And could of men distinguish, her election
Hath sealed thee for herself. For thou hast been
As one in suffering all that suffers nothing,
A man that Fortune’s buffets and rewards
Hast ta’en with equal thanks; and blessed are those
Whose blood and judgment are so well
That they are not a pipe for Fortune’s finger
To sound what stop she please. Give me that man
That is not passion’s slave, and I will wear him
In my heart’s core, ay, in my heart of heart,
As I do thee.—Something too much of this.—
There is a play tonight before the King.
One scene of it comes near the circumstance
Which I have told thee of my father’s death.
I prithee, when thou seest that act afoot,
Even with the very comment of thy soul
Observe my uncle. If his occulted guilt
Do not itself unkennel in one speech,
It is a damnèd ghost that we have seen,
And my imaginations are as foul
As Vulcan’s stithy. Give him heedful note,
For I mine eyes will rivet to his face,
And, after, we will both our judgments join
In censure of his seeming.
HORATIO    Well, my lord.
If he steal aught the whilst this play is playing
And ’scape detecting, I will pay the theft.
Sound a flourish.
HAMLET    They are coming to the play. I must be idle.
Get you a place.

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
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’
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
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
OPHELIA    Belike this show imports the argument of the

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
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.

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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
’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
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
Thoughts black, hands apt, drugs fit, and time
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.
Why, let the strucken deer go weep,
The hart ungallèd play.
For some must watch, while some must sleep:
Thus runs the world away.
Would not this, sir, and a forest of feathers (if the
rest of my fortunes turn Turk with me) with two
Provincial roses on my razed shoes, get me a
fellowship in a cry of players?
HORATIO    Half a share.
HAMLET    A whole one, I.
For thou dost know, O Damon dear,
This realm dismantled was
Of Jove himself, and now reigns here
A very very—pajock.
HORATIO    You might have rhymed.
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.
HAMLET    Ah ha! Come, some music! Come, the
For if the King like not the comedy,
Why, then, belike he likes it not, perdy.
Come, some music!

Enter Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.

GUILDENSTERN    Good my lord, vouchsafe me a word
with you.
HAMLET    Sir, a whole history.
GUILDENSTERN    The King, sir—
HAMLET    Ay, sir, what of him?
GUILDENSTERN    Is in his retirement marvelous
HAMLET    With drink, sir?
GUILDENSTERN    No, my lord, with choler.
HAMLET    Your wisdom should show itself more richer
to signify this to the doctor, for for me to put him to
his purgation would perhaps plunge him into more
GUILDENSTERN    Good my lord, put your discourse into
some frame and start not so wildly from my
HAMLET    I am tame, sir. Pronounce.
GUILDENSTERN    The Queen your mother, in most great
affliction of spirit, hath sent me to you.
HAMLET    You are welcome.
GUILDENSTERN    Nay, good my lord, this courtesy is not
of the right breed. If it shall please you to make me
a wholesome answer, I will do your mother’s
commandment. If not, your pardon and my return
shall be the end of my business.
HAMLET    Sir, I cannot.
ROSENCRANTZ    What, my lord?
HAMLET    Make you a wholesome answer. My wit’s
diseased. But, sir, such answer as I can make, you
shall command—or, rather, as you say, my mother.
Therefore no more but to the matter. My mother,
you 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!
But is there no sequel at the heels of this
mother’s admiration? Impart.
ROSENCRANTZ    She desires to speak with you in her
closet ere you go to bed.
HAMLET    We shall obey, were she ten times our mother.
Have you any further trade with us?
ROSENCRANTZ    My lord, you once did love me.
HAMLET    And do still, by these pickers and stealers.
ROSENCRANTZ    Good my lord, what is your cause of
distemper? You do surely bar the door upon your
own liberty if you deny your griefs to your friend.
HAMLET    Sir, I lack advancement.
ROSENCRANTZ    How can that be, when you have the
voice of the King himself for your succession in
HAMLET    Ay, sir, but “While the grass grows”—the
proverb is something musty.

Enter the Players with recorders.

O, the recorders! Let me see one. He takes a recorder and turns to Guildenstern. To withdraw
with you: why do you go about to recover the wind
of me, as if you would drive me into a toil?
GUILDENSTERN    O, my lord, if my duty be too bold, my
love is too unmannerly.
HAMLET    I do not well understand that. Will you play
upon this pipe?
GUILDENSTERN    My lord, I cannot.
HAMLET    I pray you.
GUILDENSTERN    Believe me, I cannot.
HAMLET    I do beseech you.
GUILDENSTERN    I know no touch of it, my lord.
HAMLET    It is as easy as lying. Govern these ventages
with your fingers and thumb, give it breath with
your mouth, and it will discourse most eloquent
music. Look you, these are the stops.
GUILDENSTERN    But these cannot I command to any
utt’rance of harmony. I have not the skill.
HAMLET    Why, look you now, how unworthy a thing
you make of me! You would play upon me, you
would seem to know my stops, you would pluck
out the heart of my mystery, you would sound me
from my lowest note to the top of my compass;
and there is much music, excellent voice, in this
little organ, yet cannot you make it speak. ’Sblood,
do you think I am easier to be played on than a pipe?
Call me what instrument you will, though you can
fret me, you cannot play upon me.

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,
All but Hamlet exit.
’Tis now the very witching time of night,
When churchyards yawn and hell itself breathes
Contagion to this world. Now could I drink hot
And do such bitter business as the day
Would quake to look on. Soft, now to my mother.
O heart, lose not thy nature; let not ever
The soul of Nero enter this firm bosom.
Let me be cruel, not unnatural.
I will speak daggers to her, but use none.
My tongue and soul in this be hypocrites:
How in my words somever she be shent,
To give them seals never, my soul, consent.
He exits.
Scene 3
Enter Hamlet.

Now might I do it pat, now he is a-praying,
And now I’ll do ’t.He draws his sword.
And so he goes to heaven,
And so am I revenged. That would be scanned:
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.
He took my father grossly, full of bread,
With all his crimes broad blown, as flush as May;
And how his audit stands who knows save heaven.
But in our circumstance and course of thought
’Tis heavy with him. And am I then revenged
To take him in the purging of his soul,
When he is fit and seasoned for his passage?
Up sword, and know thou a more horrid hent.
He sheathes his sword.
When he is drunk asleep, or in his rage,
Or in th’ incestuous pleasure of his bed,
At game, a-swearing, or about some act
That has no relish of salvation in ’t—
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. My mother stays.
This physic but prolongs thy sickly days.
Hamlet exits.
Scene 4
Enter Hamlet.

HAMLET    Now, mother, what’s the matter?
Hamlet, thou hast thy father much offended.
Mother, you have my father much offended.
Come, come, you answer with an idle tongue.
Go, go, you question with a wicked tongue.
Why, how now, Hamlet?
HAMLET    What’s the matter now?
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.
Nay, then I’ll set those to you that can speak.
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.
What wilt thou do? Thou wilt not murder me?
Help, ho!
POLONIUS , behind the arras    What ho! Help!
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?
O, what a rash and bloody deed is this!
A bloody deed—almost as bad, good mother,
As kill a king and marry with his brother.
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.
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?
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
QUEEN    Alas, he’s mad.
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?
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?
Nothing at all; yet all that is I see.
HAMLET    Nor did you nothing hear?
QUEEN    No, nothing but ourselves.
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.
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.
O Hamlet, thou hast cleft my heart in twain!
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?
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.
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.
I must to England, you know that.
QUEEN    Alack,
I had forgot! ’Tis so concluded on.
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.
Scene 2
Enter Hamlet.

HAMLET    Safely stowed.
GENTLEMEN , within    Hamlet! Lord Hamlet!
HAMLET    But soft, what noise? Who calls on Hamlet?
O, here they come.

Enter Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, and others.

What have you done, my lord, with the dead body?
Compounded it with dust, whereto ’tis kin.
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 countenance,
his rewards, his authorities. But such officers do the
King best service in the end. He keeps them like an
ape an apple in the corner of his jaw, first mouthed,
to be last swallowed. 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 sleeps 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. Bring me to him. Hide fox, and
all after!
They exit.
Scene 3
They enter with Hamlet.

KING    Now, Hamlet, where’s Polonius?
HAMLET    At supper.
KING    At supper where?
HAMLET    Not where he eats, but where he is eaten. A
certain convocation of politic worms are e’en at
him. Your worm is your only emperor for diet. We
fat all creatures else to fat us, and we fat ourselves
for maggots. Your fat king and your lean beggar is
but variable service—two dishes but to one table.
That’s the end.
KING    Alas, alas!
HAMLET    A man may fish with the worm that hath eat
of a king and eat of the fish that hath fed of that
KING    What dost thou mean by this?
HAMLET    Nothing but to show you how a king may go a
progress through the guts of a beggar.
KING    Where is Polonius?
HAMLET    In heaven. Send thither to see. If your messenger
find him not there, seek him i’ th’ other
place yourself. But if, indeed, you find him not
within this month, you shall nose him as you go up
the stairs into the lobby.
KING , to Attendants.    Go, seek him there.
HAMLET    He will stay till you come.Attendants exit.
Hamlet, this deed, for thine especial safety
(Which we do tender, as we dearly grieve
For that which thou hast done) must send thee
With fiery quickness. Therefore prepare thyself.
The bark is ready, and the wind at help,
Th’ associates tend, and everything is bent
For England.
HAMLET    For England?
KING    Ay, Hamlet.
HAMLET    Good.
So is it, if thou knew’st our purposes.
I see a cherub that sees them. But come, for
Farewell, dear mother.
KING    Thy loving father, Hamlet.
My mother. Father and mother is man and wife,
Man and wife is one flesh, and so, my mother.—
Come, for England.He exits.
Scene 4
Enter Hamlet, Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, and others.

HAMLET    Good sir, whose powers are these?
CAPTAIN    They are of Norway, sir.
HAMLET    How purposed, sir, I pray you?
CAPTAIN    Against some part of Poland.
HAMLET    Who commands them, sir?
The nephew to old Norway, Fortinbras.
Goes it against the main of Poland, sir,
Or for some frontier?
Truly to speak, and with no addition,
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;
Nor will it yield to Norway or the Pole
A ranker rate, should it be sold in fee.
Why, then, the Polack never will defend it.
Yes, it is already garrisoned.
Two thousand souls and twenty thousand ducats
Will not debate the question of this straw.
This is th’ impostume of much wealth and peace,
That inward breaks and shows no cause without
Why the man dies.—I humbly thank you, sir.
CAPTAIN    God be wi’ you, sir.He exits.
ROSENCRANTZ    Will ’t please you go, my lord?
I’ll be with you straight. Go a little before.
All but Hamlet exit.
How all occasions do inform against me
And spur my dull revenge. What is a man
If his chief good and market of his time
Be but to sleep and feed? A beast, no more.
Sure He that made us with such large discourse,
Looking before and after, gave us not
That capability and godlike reason
To fust in us unused. Now whether it be
Bestial oblivion or some craven scruple
Of thinking too precisely on th’ event
(A thought which, quartered, hath but one part
And ever three parts coward), I do not know
Why yet I live to say “This thing’s to do,”
Sith I have cause, and will, and strength, and means
To do ’t. Examples gross as Earth exhort me:
Witness this army of such mass and charge,
Led by a delicate and tender prince,
Whose spirit with divine ambition puffed
Makes mouths at the invisible event,
Exposing what is mortal and unsure
To all that fortune, death, and danger dare,
Even for an eggshell. Rightly to be great
Is not to stir without great argument,
But greatly to find quarrel in a straw
When honor’s at the stake. How stand I, then,
That have a father killed, a mother stained,
Excitements of my reason and my blood,
And let all sleep, while to my shame I see
The imminent death of twenty thousand men
That for a fantasy and trick of fame
Go to their graves like beds, fight for a plot
Whereon the numbers cannot try the cause,
Which is not tomb enough and continent
To hide the slain? O, from this time forth
My thoughts be bloody or be nothing worth!
He exits.
Scene 1
Enter Hamlet and Horatio afar off.

GRAVEDIGGER    Cudgel thy brains no more about it,
for your dull ass will not mend his pace with
beating. And, when you are asked this question
next, say “a grave-maker.” The houses he makes
lasts till doomsday. Go, get thee in, and fetch me a
stoup of liquor.
The Other Man exits and the Gravedigger digs and sings.
In youth when I did love, did love,
Methought it was very sweet
To contract—O—the time for—a—my behove,
O, methought there—a—was nothing—a—meet.
HAMLET    Has this fellow no feeling of his business? He
sings in grave-making.
HORATIO    Custom hath made it in him a property of
HAMLET    ’Tis e’en so. The hand of little employment
hath the daintier sense.
But age with his stealing steps
Hath clawed me in his clutch,
And hath shipped me into the land,
As if I had never been such.
He digs up a skull.
HAMLET    That skull had a tongue in it and could sing
once. How the knave jowls it to the ground as if
’twere Cain’s jawbone, that did the first murder!
This might be the pate of a politician which this ass
now o’erreaches, one that would circumvent God,
might it not?
HORATIO    It might, my lord.
HAMLET    Or of a courtier, which could say “Good
morrow, sweet lord! How dost thou, sweet lord?”
This might be my Lord Such-a-one that praised my
Lord Such-a-one’s horse when he went to beg it,
might it not?
HORATIO    Ay, my lord.
HAMLET    Why, e’en so. And now my Lady Worm’s,
chapless and knocked about the mazard with a
sexton’s spade. Here’s fine revolution, an we had
the trick to see ’t. Did these bones cost no more the
breeding but to play at loggets with them? Mine
ache to think on ’t.
A pickax and a spade, a spade,
For and a shrouding sheet,
O, a pit of clay for to be made
For such a guest is meet.
He digs up more skulls.
HAMLET    There’s another. Why may not that be the
skull of a lawyer? Where be his quiddities now, his
quillities, his cases, his tenures, and his tricks? Why
does he suffer this mad knave now to knock him
about the sconce with a dirty shovel and will not tell
him of his action of battery? Hum, this fellow might
be in ’s time a great buyer of land, with his statutes,
his recognizances, his fines, his double vouchers,
his recoveries. Is this the fine of his fines and the
recovery of his recoveries, to have his fine pate full
of fine dirt? Will his vouchers vouch him no more
of his purchases, and double ones too, than the
length and breadth of a pair of indentures? The very
conveyances of his lands will scarcely lie in this box,
and must th’ inheritor himself have no more, ha?
HORATIO    Not a jot more, my lord.
HAMLET    Is not parchment made of sheepskins?
HORATIO    Ay, my lord, and of calves’ skins too.
HAMLET    They are sheep and calves which seek out
assurance in that. I will speak to this fellow.—
Whose grave’s this, sirrah?
GRAVEDIGGER    Mine, sir.
Sings. O, a pit of clay for to be made
For such a guest is meet.
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
HAMLET    Thou dost lie in ’t, to be in ’t and say it is thine.
’Tis for the dead, not for the quick; therefore thou
GRAVEDIGGER    ’Tis a quick lie, sir; ’twill away again
from me to you.
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 ’t?
GRAVEDIGGER    One that was a woman, sir, but, rest
her soul, she’s dead.
HAMLET    How absolute the knave is! We must speak by
the card, or equivocation will undo us. By the
Lord, Horatio, this three years I have took note of
it: the age is grown so picked that the toe of the
peasant comes so near the heel of the courtier, he
galls his kibe.—How long hast thou been
GRAVEDIGGER    Of all the days i’ th’ year, I came to ’t
that day that our last King Hamlet overcame
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    ’Twill not be seen in him there. There
the men are as mad as he.
HAMLET    How came he mad?
GRAVEDIGGER    Very strangely, they say.
HAMLET    How “strangely”?
GRAVEDIGGER    Faith, e’en with losing his wits.
HAMLET    Upon what ground?
GRAVEDIGGER    Why, here in Denmark. I have been
sexton here, man and boy, thirty years.
HAMLET    How long will a man lie i’ th’ earth ere he rot?
GRAVEDIGGER    Faith, if he be not rotten before he die
(as we have many pocky corses nowadays that will
scarce hold the laying in), he will last you some
eight year or nine year. A tanner will last you nine
HAMLET    Why he more than another?
GRAVEDIGGER    Why, sir, his hide is so tanned with his
trade that he will keep out water a great while; and
your water is a sore decayer of your whoreson dead
body. Here’s a skull now hath lien you i’ th’ earth
three-and-twenty years.
HAMLET    Whose was it?
GRAVEDIGGER    A whoreson mad fellow’s it was.
Whose do you think it was?
HAMLET    Nay, I know not.
GRAVEDIGGER    A pestilence on him for a mad rogue!
He poured a flagon of Rhenish on my head once.
This same skull, sir, was, sir, Yorick’s skull, the
King’s jester.
HAMLET    This?
GRAVEDIGGER    E’en that.
HAMLET , taking the skull    Let me see. Alas, poor
Yorick! I knew him, Horatio—a fellow of infinite
jest, of most excellent fancy. He hath bore me on his
back a thousand times, and now how abhorred in
my imagination it is! My gorge rises at it. Here hung
those lips that I have kissed I know not how oft.
Where be your gibes now? your gambols? your
songs? your flashes of merriment that were wont to
set the table on a roar? Not one now to mock your
own grinning? Quite chapfallen? Now get you to my
lady’s chamber, and tell her, let her paint an inch
thick, to this favor she must come. Make her laugh
at that.—Prithee, Horatio, tell me one thing.
HORATIO    What’s that, my lord?
HAMLET    Dost thou think Alexander looked o’ this
fashion i’ th’ earth?
HORATIO    E’en so.
HAMLET    And smelt so? Pah!He puts the skull down.
HORATIO    E’en so, my lord.
HAMLET    To what base uses we may return, Horatio!
Why may not imagination trace the noble dust of
Alexander till he find it stopping a bunghole?
HORATIO    ’Twere to consider too curiously to consider
HAMLET    No, faith, not a jot; but to follow him thither,
with modesty enough and likelihood to lead it, as
thus: Alexander died, Alexander was buried, Alexander
returneth to dust; the dust is earth; of earth
we make loam; and why of that loam whereto he
was converted might they not stop a beer barrel?
Imperious Caesar, dead and turned to clay,
Might stop a hole to keep the wind away.
O, that that earth which kept the world in awe
Should patch a wall t’ expel the winter’s flaw!

Enter King, Queen, Laertes, Lords attendant, and the corpse of Ophelia, with a Doctor of Divinity.

But soft, but soft awhile! Here comes the King,
The Queen, the courtiers. Who is this they follow?
And with such maimèd rites? This doth betoken
The corse they follow did with desp’rate hand
Fordo its own life. ’Twas of some estate.
Couch we awhile and mark.They step aside.
LAERTES    What ceremony else?
HAMLET    That is Laertes, a very noble youth. Mark.
LAERTES    What ceremony else?
Her obsequies have been as far enlarged
As we have warranty. Her death was doubtful,
And, but that great command o’ersways the order,
She should in ground unsanctified been lodged
Till the last trumpet. For charitable prayers
Shards, flints, and pebbles should be thrown on
Yet here she is allowed her virgin crants,
Her maiden strewments, and the bringing home
Of bell and burial.
Must there no more be done?
DOCTOR    No more be done.
We should profane the service of the dead
To sing a requiem and such rest to her
As to peace-parted souls.
LAERTES    Lay her i’ th’ earth,
And from her fair and unpolluted flesh
May violets spring! I tell thee, churlish priest,
A minist’ring angel shall my sister be
When thou liest howling.
HAMLET , to Horatio    What, the fair Ophelia?
QUEEN    Sweets to the sweet, farewell!
She scatters flowers.
I hoped thou shouldst have been my Hamlet’s wife;
I thought thy bride-bed to have decked, sweet maid,
And not have strewed thy grave.
LAERTES    O, treble woe
Fall ten times treble on that cursèd head
Whose wicked deed thy most ingenious sense
Deprived thee of!—Hold off the earth awhile,
Till I have caught her once more in mine arms.
Leaps in the grave.
Now pile your dust upon the quick and dead,
Till of this flat a mountain you have made
T’ o’ertop old Pelion or the skyish head
Of blue Olympus.
HAMLET , advancing    
What is he whose grief
Bears such an emphasis, whose phrase of sorrow
Conjures the wand’ring stars and makes them stand
Like wonder-wounded hearers? This is I,
Hamlet the Dane.
LAERTES , coming out of the grave    
The devil take thy soul!
HAMLET    Thou pray’st not well.They grapple.
I prithee take thy fingers from my throat,
For though I am not splenitive and rash,
Yet have I in me something dangerous,
Which let thy wisdom fear. Hold off thy hand.
KING    Pluck them asunder.
QUEEN    Hamlet! Hamlet!
ALL    Gentlemen!
HORATIO    Good my lord, be quiet.
Hamlet and Laertes are separated.
Why, I will fight with him upon this theme
Until my eyelids will no longer wag!
QUEEN    O my son, what theme?
I loved Ophelia. Forty thousand brothers
Could not with all their quantity of love
Make up my sum. What wilt thou do for her?
KING    O, he is mad, Laertes!
QUEEN    For love of God, forbear him.
HAMLET    ’Swounds, show me what thou ’t do.
Woo’t weep, woo’t fight, woo’t fast, woo’t tear
Woo’t drink up eisel, eat a crocodile?
I’ll do ’t. Dost thou come here to whine?
To outface me with leaping in her grave?
Be buried quick with her, and so will I.
And if thou prate of mountains, let them throw
Millions of acres on us, till our ground,
Singeing his pate against the burning zone,
Make Ossa like a wart. Nay, an thou ’lt mouth,
I’ll rant as well as thou.
QUEEN    This is mere madness;
And thus awhile the fit will work on him.
Anon, as patient as the female dove
When that her golden couplets are disclosed,
His silence will sit drooping.
HAMLET    Hear you, sir,
What is the reason that you use me thus?
I loved you ever. But it is no matter.
Let Hercules himself do what he may,
The cat will mew, and dog will have his day.
Hamlet exits.