Scene 1
Enter Horatio and Marcellus.

I think I hear them.—Stand ho! Who is there?
HORATIO    Friends to this ground.
MARCELLUS    And liegemen to the Dane.
FRANCISCO    Give you good night.
O farewell, honest soldier. Who hath relieved
Barnardo hath my place. Give you good night.
Francisco exits.
MARCELLUS    Holla, Barnardo.
BARNARDO    Say, what, is Horatio there?
HORATIO    A piece of him.
Welcome, Horatio.—Welcome, good Marcellus.
What, has this thing appeared again tonight?
BARNARDO    I have seen nothing.
Horatio says ’tis but our fantasy
And will not let belief take hold of him
Touching this dreaded sight twice seen of us.
Therefore I have entreated him along
With us to watch the minutes of this night,
That, if again this apparition come,
He may approve our eyes and speak to it.
Tush, tush, ’twill not appear.
BARNARDO    Sit down awhile,
And let us once again assail your ears,
That are so fortified against our story,
What we have two nights seen.
HORATIO    Well, sit we down,
And let us hear Barnardo speak of this.
BARNARDO    Last night of all,
When yond same star that’s westward from the pole
Had made his course t’ illume that part of heaven
Where now it burns, Marcellus and myself,
The bell then beating one—
Enter Ghost.

Peace, break thee off! Look where it comes again.
In the same figure like the King that’s dead.
MARCELLUS , to Horatio    
Thou art a scholar. Speak to it, Horatio.
Looks he not like the King? Mark it, Horatio.
Most like. It harrows me with fear and wonder.
It would be spoke to.
MARCELLUS    Speak to it, Horatio.
What art thou that usurp’st this time of night,
Together with that fair and warlike form
In which the majesty of buried Denmark
Did sometimes march? By heaven, I charge thee,
It is offended.
BARNARDO    See, it stalks away.
Stay! speak! speak! I charge thee, speak!
Ghost exits.
MARCELLUS    ’Tis gone and will not answer.
How now, Horatio, you tremble and look pale.
Is not this something more than fantasy?
What think you on ’t?
Before my God, I might not this believe
Without the sensible and true avouch
Of mine own eyes.
MARCELLUS    Is it not like the King?
HORATIO    As thou art to thyself.
Such was the very armor he had on
When he the ambitious Norway combated.
So frowned he once when, in an angry parle,
He smote the sledded Polacks on the ice.
’Tis strange.
Thus twice before, and jump at this dead hour,
With martial stalk hath he gone by our watch.
In what particular thought to work I know not,
But in the gross and scope of mine opinion
This bodes some strange eruption to our state.
Good now, sit down, and tell me, he that knows,
Why this same strict and most observant watch
So nightly toils the subject of the land,
And why such daily cast of brazen cannon
And foreign mart for implements of war,
Why such impress of shipwrights, whose sore task
Does not divide the Sunday from the week.
What might be toward that this sweaty haste
Doth make the night joint laborer with the day?
Who is ’t that can inform me?
HORATIO    That can I.
At least the whisper goes so: our last king,
Whose image even but now appeared to us,
Was, as you know, by Fortinbras of Norway,
Thereto pricked on by a most emulate pride,
Dared to the combat; in which our valiant Hamlet
(For so this side of our known world esteemed him)
Did slay this Fortinbras, who by a sealed compact,
Well ratified by law and heraldry,
Did forfeit, with his life, all those his lands
Which he stood seized of, to the conqueror.
Against the which a moiety competent
Was gagèd by our king, which had returned
To the inheritance of Fortinbras
Had he been vanquisher, as, by the same comart
And carriage of the article designed,
His fell to Hamlet. Now, sir, young Fortinbras,
Of unimprovèd mettle hot and full,
Hath in the skirts of Norway here and there
Sharked up a list of lawless resolutes
For food and diet to some enterprise
That hath a stomach in ’t; which is no other
(As it doth well appear unto our state)
But to recover of us, by strong hand
And terms compulsatory, those foresaid lands
So by his father lost. And this, I take it,
Is the main motive of our preparations,
The source of this our watch, and the chief head
Of this posthaste and rummage in the land.
I think it be no other but e’en so.
Well may it sort that this portentous figure
Comes armèd through our watch so like the king
That was and is the question of these wars.
A mote it is to trouble the mind’s eye.
In the most high and palmy state of Rome,
A little ere the mightiest Julius fell,
The graves stood tenantless, and the sheeted dead
Did squeak and gibber in the Roman streets;
As stars with trains of fire and dews of blood,
Disasters in the sun; and the moist star,
Upon whose influence Neptune’s empire stands,
Was sick almost to doomsday with eclipse.
And even the like precurse of feared events,
As harbingers preceding still the fates
And prologue to the omen coming on,
Have heaven and Earth together demonstrated
Unto our climatures and countrymen.

Enter Ghost.

But soft, behold! Lo, where it comes again!
I’ll cross it though it blast me.—Stay, illusion!
It spreads his arms.
If thou hast any sound or use of voice,
Speak to me.
If there be any good thing to be done
That may to thee do ease and grace to me,
Speak to me.
If thou art privy to thy country’s fate,
Which happily foreknowing may avoid,
O, speak!
Or if thou hast uphoarded in thy life
Extorted treasure in the womb of earth,
For which, they say, you spirits oft walk in death,
Speak of it.The cock crows.
Stay and speak!—Stop it, Marcellus.
Shall I strike it with my partisan?
HORATIO    Do, if it will not stand.
BARNARDO    ’Tis here.
HORATIO    ’Tis here.
Ghost exits.
MARCELLUS    ’Tis gone.
We do it wrong, being so majestical,
To offer it the show of violence,
For it is as the air, invulnerable,
And our vain blows malicious mockery.
It was about to speak when the cock crew.
And then it started like a guilty thing
Upon a fearful summons. I have heard
The cock, that is the trumpet to the morn,
Doth with his lofty and shrill-sounding throat
Awake the god of day, and at his warning,
Whether in sea or fire, in earth or air,
Th’ extravagant and erring spirit hies
To his confine, and of the truth herein
This present object made probation.
It faded on the crowing of the cock.
Some say that ever ’gainst that season comes
Wherein our Savior’s birth is celebrated,
This bird of dawning singeth all night long;
And then, they say, no spirit dare stir abroad,
The nights are wholesome; then no planets strike,
No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm,
So hallowed and so gracious is that time.
So have I heard and do in part believe it.
But look, the morn in russet mantle clad
Walks o’er the dew of yon high eastward hill.
Break we our watch up, and by my advice
Let us impart what we have seen tonight
Unto young Hamlet; for, upon my life,
This spirit, dumb to us, will speak to him.
Do you consent we shall acquaint him with it
As needful in our loves, fitting our duty?
Let’s do ’t, I pray, and I this morning know
Where we shall find him most convenient.
They exit.
Scene 2
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.
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.
He waxes desperate with imagination.
Let’s follow. ’Tis not fit thus to obey him.
Have after. To what issue will this come?
Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.
Heaven will direct it.
MARCELLUS    Nay, let’s follow him.
They exit.
Scene 5
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 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.
Scene 5
Enter Horatio, Queen, and a Gentleman.

QUEEN    I will not speak with her.
GENTLEMAN    She is importunate,
Indeed distract; her mood will needs be pitied.
QUEEN    What would she have?
She speaks much of her father, says she hears
There’s tricks i’ th’ world, and hems, and beats her
Spurns enviously at straws, speaks things in doubt
That carry but half sense. Her speech is nothing,
Yet the unshapèd use of it doth move
The hearers to collection. They aim at it
And botch the words up fit to their own thoughts;
Which, as her winks and nods and gestures yield
Indeed would make one think there might be
Though nothing sure, yet much unhappily.
’Twere good she were spoken with, for she may
Dangerous conjectures in ill-breeding minds.
QUEEN    Let her come in.Gentleman exits.
Aside. To my sick soul (as sin’s true nature is),
Each toy seems prologue to some great amiss.
So full of artless jealousy is guilt,
It spills itself in fearing to be spilt.
Enter Ophelia distracted.

Where is the beauteous Majesty of Denmark?
QUEEN    How now, Ophelia?
OPHELIA sings    
How should I your true love know
From another one?
By his cockle hat and staff
And his sandal shoon.
Alas, sweet lady, what imports this song?
OPHELIA    Say you? Nay, pray you, mark.
Sings. He is dead and gone, lady,
He is dead and gone;
At his head a grass-green turf,
At his heels a stone.
Oh, ho!
QUEEN    Nay, but Ophelia—
OPHELIA    Pray you, mark.
Sings. White his shroud as the mountain snow—

Enter King.

QUEEN    Alas, look here, my lord.
OPHELIA sings    
Larded all with sweet flowers;
Which bewept to the ground did not go
With true-love showers.
KING    How do you, pretty lady?
OPHELIA    Well, God dild you. They say the owl was a
baker’s daughter. Lord, we know what we are but
know not what we may be. God be at your table.
KING    Conceit upon her father.
OPHELIA    Pray let’s have no words of this, but when
they ask you what it means, say you this:
Sings. Tomorrow is Saint Valentine’s day,
All in the morning betime,
And I a maid at your window,
To be your Valentine.
Then up he rose and donned his clothes
And dupped the chamber door,
Let in the maid, that out a maid
Never departed more.
KING    Pretty Ophelia—
Indeed, without an oath, I’ll make an end on ’t:
Sings. By Gis and by Saint Charity,
Alack and fie for shame,
Young men will do ’t, if they come to ’t;
By Cock, they are to blame.
Quoth she “Before you tumbled me,
You promised me to wed.”
He answers:
“So would I ’a done, by yonder sun,
An thou hadst not come to my bed.”
KING    How long hath she been thus?
OPHELIA    I hope all will be well. We must be patient,
but I cannot choose but weep to think they would
lay him i’ th’ cold ground. My brother shall know of
it. And so I thank you for your good counsel. Come,
my coach! Good night, ladies, good night, sweet
ladies, good night, good night.She exits.
Follow her close; give her good watch, I pray you.
Horatio exits.
Scene 6
Enter Horatio and others.

HORATIO    What are they that would speak with me?
GENTLEMAN    Seafaring men, sir. They say they have
letters for you.
HORATIO    Let them come in. Gentleman exits. I do not
know from what part of the world I should be
greeted, if not from Lord Hamlet.

Enter Sailors.

SAILOR    God bless you, sir.
HORATIO    Let Him bless thee too.
SAILOR    He shall, sir, an ’t please Him. There’s a letter
for you, sir. It came from th’ ambassador that was
bound for England—if your name be Horatio, as I
am let to know it is.He hands Horatio a letter.
HORATIO reads the letter    Horatio, when thou shalt have
overlooked this, give these fellows some means to the
King. They have letters for him. Ere we were two days
old at sea, a pirate of very warlike appointment gave
us chase. Finding ourselves too slow of sail, we put on
a compelled valor, and in the grapple I boarded them.
On the instant, they got clear of our ship; so I alone
became their prisoner. They have dealt with me like
thieves of mercy, but they knew what they did: I am to
do a good turn for them. Let the King have the letters
I have sent, and repair thou to me with as much speed
as thou wouldst fly death. I have words to speak in
thine ear will make thee dumb; yet are they much too
light for the bore of the matter. These good fellows
will bring thee where I am. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern
hold their course for England; of them I have
much to tell thee. Farewell.
He that thou knowest thine,
Come, I will give you way for these your letters
And do ’t the speedier that you may direct me
To him from whom you brought them.
They exit.
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.
I pray thee, good Horatio, wait upon him.
Horatio exits.
Scene 2
Enter Hamlet and Horatio.

So much for this, sir. Now shall you see the other.
You do remember all the circumstance?
HORATIO    Remember it, my lord!
Sir, in my heart there was a kind of fighting
That would not let me sleep. Methought I lay
Worse than the mutines in the bilboes. Rashly—
And praised be rashness for it: let us know,
Our indiscretion sometime serves us well
When our deep plots do pall; and that should learn
There’s a divinity that shapes our ends,
Rough-hew them how we will—
HORATIO    That is most
HAMLET    Up from my cabin,
My sea-gown scarfed about me, in the dark
Groped I to find out them; had my desire,
Fingered their packet, and in fine withdrew
To mine own room again, making so bold
(My fears forgetting manners) to unfold
Their grand commission; where I found, Horatio,
A royal knavery—an exact command,
Larded with many several sorts of reasons
Importing Denmark’s health and England’s too,
With—ho!—such bugs and goblins in my life,
That on the supervise, no leisure bated,
No, not to stay the grinding of the ax,
My head should be struck off.
HORATIO    Is ’t possible?
Here’s the commission. Read it at more leisure.
Handing him a paper.
But wilt thou hear now how I did proceed?
HORATIO    I beseech you.
Being thus benetted round with villainies,
Or I could make a prologue to my brains,
They had begun the play. I sat me down,
Devised a new commission, wrote it fair—
I once did hold it, as our statists do,
A baseness to write fair, and labored much
How to forget that learning; but, sir, now
It did me yeoman’s service. Wilt thou know
Th’ effect of what I wrote?
HORATIO    Ay, good my lord.
An earnest conjuration from the King,
As England was his faithful tributary,
As love between them like the palm might flourish,
As peace should still her wheaten garland wear
And stand a comma ’tween their amities,
And many suchlike es of great charge,
That, on the view and knowing of these contents,
Without debatement further, more or less,
He should those bearers put to sudden death,
Not shriving time allowed.
HORATIO    How was this sealed?
Why, even in that was heaven ordinant.
I had my father’s signet in my purse,
Which was the model of that Danish seal;
Folded the writ up in the form of th’ other,
Subscribed it, gave ’t th’ impression, placed it
The changeling never known. Now, the next day
Was our sea-fight; and what to this was sequent
Thou knowest already.
So Guildenstern and Rosencrantz go to ’t.
Why, man, they did make love to this employment.
They are not near my conscience. Their defeat
Does by their own insinuation grow.
’Tis dangerous when the baser nature comes
Between the pass and fell incensèd points
Of mighty opposites.
HORATIO    Why, what a king is this!
Does it not, think thee, stand me now upon—
He that hath killed my king and whored my mother,
Popped in between th’ election and my hopes,
Thrown out his angle for my proper life,
And with such cozenage—is ’t not perfect
To quit him with this arm? And is ’t not to be
To let this canker of our nature come
In further evil?
It must be shortly known to him from England
What is the issue of the business there.
It will be short. The interim’s mine,
And a man’s life’s no more than to say “one.”
But I am very sorry, good Horatio,
That to Laertes I forgot myself,
For by the image of my cause I see
The portraiture of his. I’ll court his favors.
But, sure, the bravery of his grief did put me
Into a tow’ring passion.
HORATIO    Peace, who comes here?

Enter Osric, a courtier.

OSRIC    Your Lordship is right welcome back to
HAMLET    I humbly thank you, sir. Aside to Horatio.
Dost know this waterfly?
HORATIO , aside to Hamlet    No, my good lord.
HAMLET , aside to Horatio    Thy state is the more gracious,
for ’tis a vice to know him. He hath much
land, and fertile. Let a beast be lord of beasts and his
crib shall stand at the king’s mess. ’Tis a chough,
but, as I say, spacious in the possession of dirt.
OSRIC    Sweet lord, if your Lordship were at leisure, I
should impart a thing to you from his Majesty.
HAMLET    I will receive it, sir, with all diligence of
spirit. Put your bonnet to his right use: ’tis for the
OSRIC    I thank your Lordship; it is very hot.
HAMLET    No, believe me, ’tis very cold; the wind is
OSRIC    It is indifferent cold, my lord, indeed.
HAMLET    But yet methinks it is very sultry and hot for
my complexion.
OSRIC    Exceedingly, my lord; it is very sultry, as
’twere—I cannot tell how. My lord, his Majesty
bade me signify to you that he has laid a great wager
on your head. Sir, this is the matter—
HAMLET    I beseech you, remember. He motions to Osric to put on his hat.
OSRIC    Nay, good my lord, for my ease, in good faith.
Sir, here is newly come to court Laertes—believe
me, an absolute gentleman, full of most excellent
differences, of very soft society and great showing.
Indeed, to speak feelingly of him, he is the card or
calendar of gentry, for you shall find in him the
continent of what part a gentleman would see.
HAMLET    Sir, his definement suffers no perdition in
you, though I know to divide him inventorially
would dozy th’ arithmetic of memory, and yet but
yaw neither, in respect of his quick sail. But, in the
verity of extolment, I take him to be a soul of great
article, and his infusion of such dearth and rareness
as, to make true diction of him, his semblable is his
mirror, and who else would trace him, his umbrage,
nothing more.
OSRIC    Your Lordship speaks most infallibly of him.
HAMLET    The concernancy, sir? Why do we wrap the
gentleman in our more rawer breath?
OSRIC    Sir?
HORATIO    Is ’t not possible to understand
in another
tongue? You will to ’t, sir, really.
HAMLET , to Osric    What imports the nomination of
this gentleman?
OSRIC    Of Laertes?
HORATIO    His purse is empty already; all ’s
golden words
are spent.
HAMLET    Of him, sir.
OSRIC    I know you are not ignorant—
HAMLET    I would you did, sir. Yet, in faith, if you did, it
would not much approve me. Well, sir?
OSRIC    You are not ignorant of what excellence Laertes
HAMLET    I dare not confess that, lest I should compare
with him in excellence. But to know a man well
were to know himself.
OSRIC    I mean, sir, for his weapon. But in the imputation
laid on him by them, in his meed he’s
HAMLET    What’s his weapon?
OSRIC    Rapier and dagger.
HAMLET    That’s two of his weapons. But, well—
OSRIC    The King, sir, hath wagered with him six Barbary
horses, against the which he has impawned, as I
take it, six French rapiers and poniards, with their
assigns, as girdle, hangers, and so. Three of the
carriages, in faith, are very dear to fancy, very
responsive to the hilts, most delicate carriages, and
of very liberal conceit.
HAMLET    What call you the “carriages”?
HORATIO    I knew you must be edified
by the margent
ere you had done.
OSRIC    The carriages, sir, are the hangers.
HAMLET    The phrase would be more germane to the
matter if we could carry a cannon by our sides. I
would it might be “hangers” till then. But on. Six
Barbary horses against six French swords, their
assigns, and three liberal-conceited carriages—
that’s the French bet against the Danish. Why is this
all “impawned,” as you call it?
OSRIC    The King, sir, hath laid, sir, that in a dozen
passes between yourself and him, he shall not
exceed you three hits. He hath laid on twelve for
nine, and it would come to immediate trial if your
Lordship would vouchsafe the answer.
HAMLET    How if I answer no?
OSRIC    I mean, my lord, the opposition of your person
in trial.
HAMLET    Sir, I will walk here in the hall. If it please his
Majesty, it is the breathing time of day with me. Let
the foils be brought, the gentleman willing, and the
King hold his purpose, I will win for him, an I can.
If not, I will gain nothing but my shame and the odd
OSRIC    Shall I deliver you e’en so?
HAMLET    To this effect, sir, after what flourish your
nature will.
OSRIC    I commend my duty to your Lordship.
HAMLET    Yours. Osric exits. He does well to commend
it himself. There are no tongues else for ’s
HORATIO    This lapwing runs away with the shell on his
HAMLET    He did comply, sir, with his dug before he
sucked it. Thus has he (and many more of the same
breed that I know the drossy age dotes on) only got
the tune of the time, and, out of an habit of
encounter, a kind of yeasty collection, which carries
them through and through the most fanned
and winnowed opinions; and do but blow them to
their trial, the bubbles are out.

Enter a Lord.

LORD    My lord, his Majesty commended him to you by
young Osric, who brings back to him that you
attend him in the hall. He sends to know if your
pleasure hold to play with Laertes, or that you will
take longer time.
HAMLET    I am constant to my purposes. They follow
the King’s pleasure. If his fitness speaks, mine is
ready now or whensoever, provided I be so able as
LORD    The King and Queen and all are coming down.
HAMLET    In happy time.
LORD    The Queen desires you to use some gentle
entertainment to Laertes before you fall to play.
HAMLET    She well instructs me.Lord exits.
HORATIO    You will lose, my lord.
HAMLET    I do not think so. Since he went into France, I
have been in continual practice. I shall win at the
odds; but thou wouldst not think how ill all’s here
about my heart. But it is no matter.
HORATIO    Nay, good my lord—
HAMLET    It is but foolery, but it is such a kind of
gaingiving as would perhaps trouble a woman.
HORATIO    If your mind dislike anything, obey it. I will
forestall their repair hither and say you are not fit.
HAMLET    Not a whit. We defy augury. There is a
special providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be
now, ’tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be
now; if it be not now, yet it will come. The
readiness is all. Since no man of aught he leaves
knows, what is ’t to leave betimes? Let be.

A table prepared. Enter Trumpets, Drums, and Officers with cushions, King, Queen, Osric, and all the state, foils, daggers, flagons of wine, and Laertes.

Come, Hamlet, come and take this hand from me.
He puts Laertes’ hand into Hamlet’s.
HAMLET , to Laertes    
Give me your pardon, sir. I have done you wrong;
But pardon ’t as you are a gentleman. This presence
And you must needs have heard, how I am punished
With a sore distraction. What I have done
That might your nature, honor, and exception
Roughly awake, I here proclaim was madness.
Was ’t Hamlet wronged Laertes? Never Hamlet.
If Hamlet from himself be ta’en away,
And when he’s not himself does wrong Laertes,
Then Hamlet does it not; Hamlet denies it.
Who does it, then? His madness. If ’t be so,
Hamlet is of the faction that is wronged;
His madness is poor Hamlet’s enemy.
Sir, in this audience
Let my disclaiming from a purposed evil
Free me so far in your most generous thoughts
That I have shot my arrow o’er the house
And hurt my brother.
LAERTES    I am satisfied in nature,
Whose motive in this case should stir me most
To my revenge; but in my terms of honor
I stand aloof and will no reconcilement
Till by some elder masters of known honor
I have a voice and precedent of peace
To keep my name ungored. But till that time
I do receive your offered love like love
And will not wrong it.
HAMLET    I embrace it freely
And will this brothers’ wager frankly play.—
Give us the foils. Come on.
LAERTES    Come, one for me.
I’ll be your foil, Laertes; in mine ignorance
Your skill shall, like a star i’ th’ darkest night,
Stick fiery off indeed.
LAERTES    You mock me, sir.
HAMLET    No, by this hand.
Give them the foils, young Osric. Cousin Hamlet,
You know the wager?
HAMLET    Very well, my lord.
Your Grace has laid the odds o’ th’ weaker side.
I do not fear it; I have seen you both.
But, since he is better, we have therefore odds.
This is too heavy. Let me see another.
This likes me well. These foils have all a length?
OSRIC    Ay, my good lord.
Prepare to play.
Set me the stoups of wine upon that table.—
If Hamlet give the first or second hit
Or quit in answer of the third exchange,
Let all the battlements their ordnance fire.
The King shall drink to Hamlet’s better breath,
And in the cup an union shall he throw,
Richer than that which four successive kings
In Denmark’s crown have worn. Give me the cups,
And let the kettle to the trumpet speak,
The trumpet to the cannoneer without,
The cannons to the heavens, the heaven to earth,
“Now the King drinks to Hamlet.” Come, begin.
And you, the judges, bear a wary eye.
Trumpets the while.
HAMLET    Come on, sir.
LAERTES    Come, my lord.They play.
HAMLET    One.
HAMLET    Judgment!
OSRIC    A hit, a very palpable hit.
LAERTES    Well, again.
Stay, give me drink.—Hamlet, this pearl is thine.
Here’s to thy health.
He drinks and then drops the pearl in the cup.
Drum, trumpets, and shot.
Give him the cup.
I’ll play this bout first. Set it by awhile.
Come. They play. Another hit. What say you?
A touch, a touch. I do confess ’t.
Our son shall win.
QUEEN    He’s fat and scant of breath.—
Here, Hamlet, take my napkin; rub thy brows.
The Queen carouses to thy fortune, Hamlet.
She lifts the cup.
HAMLET    Good madam.
KING    Gertrude, do not drink.
I will, my lord; I pray you pardon me.She drinks.
KING , aside    
It is the poisoned cup. It is too late.
I dare not drink yet, madam—by and by.
QUEEN    Come, let me wipe thy face.
LAERTES , to Claudius    
My lord, I’ll hit him now.
KING    I do not think ’t.
LAERTES , aside    
And yet it is almost against my conscience.
Come, for the third, Laertes. You do but dally.
I pray you pass with your best violence.
I am afeard you make a wanton of me.
LAERTES    Say you so? Come on.Play.
OSRIC    Nothing neither way.
LAERTES    Have at you now!
Laertes wounds Hamlet. Then in scuffling they change rapiers, and Hamlet wounds Laertes.
KING    Part them. They are incensed.
HAMLET    Nay, come again.
The Queen falls.
OSRIC    Look to the Queen there, ho!
They bleed on both sides.—How is it, my lord?
OSRIC    How is ’t, Laertes?
Why as a woodcock to mine own springe, Osric.
He falls.
I am justly killed with mine own treachery.
How does the Queen?
KING    She swoons to see them bleed.
No, no, the drink, the drink! O, my dear Hamlet!
The drink, the drink! I am poisoned.She dies.
O villainy! Ho! Let the door be locked.Osric exits.
Treachery! Seek it out.
It is here, Hamlet. Hamlet, thou art slain.
No med’cine in the world can do thee good.
In thee there is not half an hour’s life.
The treacherous instrument is in thy hand,
Unbated and envenomed. The foul practice
Hath turned itself on me. Lo, here I lie,
Never to rise again. Thy mother’s poisoned.
I can no more. The King, the King’s to blame.
The point envenomed too! Then, venom, to thy
work.Hurts the King.
ALL    Treason, treason!
O, yet defend me, friends! I am but hurt.
Here, thou incestuous, murd’rous, damnèd Dane,
Drink off this potion. Is thy union here?
Forcing him to drink the poison.
Follow my mother.King dies.
LAERTES    He is justly served.
It is a poison tempered by himself.
Exchange forgiveness with me, noble Hamlet.
Mine and my father’s death come not upon thee,
Nor thine on me.Dies.
Heaven make thee free of it. I follow thee.—
I am dead, Horatio.—Wretched queen, adieu.—
You that look pale and tremble at this chance,
That are but mutes or audience to this act,
Had I but time (as this fell sergeant, Death,
Is strict in his arrest), O, I could tell you—
But let it be.—Horatio, I am dead.
Thou livest; report me and my cause aright
To the unsatisfied.
HORATIO    Never believe it.
I am more an antique Roman than a Dane.
Here’s yet some liquor left.He picks up the cup.
HAMLET    As thou ’rt a man,
Give me the cup. Let go! By heaven, I’ll ha ’t.
O God, Horatio, what a wounded name,
Things standing thus unknown, shall I leave behind
If thou didst ever hold me in thy heart,
Absent thee from felicity awhile
And in this harsh world draw thy breath in pain
To tell my story.
A march afar off and shot within.
What warlike noise is this?

Enter Osric.

Young Fortinbras, with conquest come from Poland,
To th’ ambassadors of England gives
This warlike volley.
HAMLET    O, I die, Horatio!
The potent poison quite o’ercrows my spirit.
I cannot live to hear the news from England.
But I do prophesy th’ election lights
On Fortinbras; he has my dying voice.
So tell him, with th’ occurrents, more and less,
Which have solicited—the rest is silence.
O, O, O, O!Dies.
Now cracks a noble heart. Good night, sweet prince,
And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.
March within.
Why does the drum come hither?

Enter Fortinbras with the English Ambassadors with Drum, Colors, and Attendants.

FORTINBRAS    Where is this sight?
HORATIO    What is it you would see?
If aught of woe or wonder, cease your search.
This quarry cries on havoc. O proud Death,
What feast is toward in thine eternal cell
That thou so many princes at a shot
So bloodily hast struck?
AMBASSADOR    The sight is dismal,
And our affairs from England come too late.
The ears are senseless that should give us hearing
To tell him his commandment is fulfilled,
That Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead.
Where should we have our thanks?
HORATIO    Not from his
Had it th’ ability of life to thank you.
He never gave commandment for their death.
But since, so jump upon this bloody question,
You from the Polack wars, and you from England,
Are here arrived, give order that these bodies
High on a stage be placed to the view,
And let me speak to th’ yet unknowing world
How these things came about. So shall you hear
Of carnal, bloody, and unnatural acts,
Of accidental judgments, casual slaughters,
Of deaths put on by cunning and forced cause,
And, in this upshot, purposes mistook
Fall’n on th’ inventors’ heads. All this can I
Truly deliver.
FORTINBRAS    Let us haste to hear it
And call the noblest to the audience.
For me, with sorrow I embrace my fortune.
I have some rights of memory in this kingdom,
Which now to claim my vantage doth invite me.
Of that I shall have also cause to speak,
And from his mouth whose voice will draw on
But let this same be presently performed
Even while men’s minds are wild, lest more
On plots and errors happen.
FORTINBRAS    Let four captains
Bear Hamlet like a soldier to the stage,
For he was likely, had he been put on,
To have proved most royal; and for his passage,
The soldier’s music and the rite of war
Speak loudly for him.
Take up the bodies. Such a sight as this
Becomes the field but here shows much amiss.
Go, bid the soldiers shoot.
They exit, marching, after the which, a peal of ordnance are shot off.