- HAMLET, PRINCE OF DENMARK
- a one-act play version of the play by William Shakespeare
edited and condensed by J. P. Crabb
The following one-act play version of William Shakespeare's Hamlet is in the public domain and may be performed without paying royalties.
- Claudius, King of Denmark.
- Hamlet, Son to the former, and Nephew to the present King.
- Polonius, Lord Chamberlain.
- Horatio, Friend to Hamlet.
- Laertes, Son to Polonius.
- Rosencrantz, Courtier.
- Guildenstern, Courtier.
- Osric, Courtier.
- A Gentleman, Courtier.
- A Priest.
- Marcellus, Officer.
- Bernardo, Officer.
- Francisco, a Soldier
- Ghost of Hamlet's Father.
- Gertrude, Queen of Denmark, and Mother of Hamlet.
- Ophelia, Daughter to Polonius.
- Lords, Ladies, Officers, Soldiers, Danes, Messengers, and other
Scene I. Elsinore. A platform before the Castle.
[Francisco at his post. Enter Bernardo.]
BERNARDO: Who's there?
FRANCISCO: Nay, answer me: stand, and unfold yourself.
BERNARDO: Long live the king!
BERNARDO: Have you had quiet guard?
FRANCISCO: Not a mouse stirring.
- BERNARDO: If you meet Horatio and Marcellus,
- The rivals of my watch, bid them make haste.
FRANCISCO: I think I hear them.Stand, ho! Who’s there?
[Enter Horatio and Marcellus.]
HORATIO: Friends to this ground.
MARCELLUS: And liegemen to the Dane.
BERNARDO: Welcome, Horatio:Welcome, good Marcellus.
MARCELLUS: Has this thing appear'd again to-night?
BERNARDO: I have seen nothing.
- MARCELLUS: Horatio says 'tis but our fantasy,
- And will not let belief take hold of him.
- 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.
HORATIO: Tush, tush, 'twill not appear.
BERNARDO: Sit down awhile.
MARCELLUS: Peace, break thee off; look where it comes again!
[Enter Ghost, armed.]
BERNARDO: In the same figure, like the king that's dead.
MARCELLUS: Thou art a scholar; speak to it, Horatio.
- 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, speak!
MARCELLUS: It is offended.
BERNARDO: See, it stalks away!
HORATIO: Stay! speak, speak! I charge thee speak!
MARCELLUS: 'Tis gone, and will not answer.
- BERNARDO: How now, Horatio! You tremble and look pale:
- Is not this something more than fantasy?
MARCELLUS: Is it not like the King?
- HORATIO: As thou art to thyself:
- 'Tis strange.
- MARCELLUS: Thus twice before, and jump at this dead hour,
- With martial stalk hath he gone by our watch.
- HORATIO: In what particular thought to work I know not;
- But, in the gross and scope of my opinion,
- This bodes some strange eruption to our state.
Scene II. Elsinore. A room of state in the Castle.
[Enter the King, Queen, Hamlet, Polonius, Laertes, Lords, and Attendant.]
- KING: Though yet of Hamlet our dear brother's death
- The memory be green, and that it us befitted
- To bear our hearts in grief, and our whole kingdom
- To be contracted in one brow of woe;
- Yet so far hath discretion fought with nature
- That we with wisest sorrow think on him,
- Together with remembrance of ourselves.
- Therefore our sometime sister, now our queen,
- Th' imperial jointress to this warlike state,
- Have we, as 'twere with a defeated joy,
- With an auspicious and one 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 barr'd
- Your better wisdoms, which have freely gone
- With this affair along:or all, our thanks.
- And now, Laertes, what's the news with you?
- You told us of some suit; what is't, Laertes?
- What wouldst thou have?
- LAERTES: Dread my lord,
- Your leave and favour to return to France.
KING: Have you your father's leave? What says Polonius?
- POLONIUS: He hath, my lord.
- I do beseech you, give him leave to go.
- KING: Take thy fair hour, Laertes; time be thine,
- And thy best graces spend it at thy will!
- But now, my cousin Hamlet, and my son
HAMLET: [Aside.] A little more than kin, and less than kind!
KING: How is it that the clouds still hang on you?
- QUEEN: Good Hamlet, cast thy nighted colour off,
- And let thine eye look like a friend on Denmark.
- Do not for ever with thy vailed lids
- Seek for thy noble father in the dust:
- Thou know'st 'tis common,all that lives must die,
- Passing through nature to eternity.
HAMLET: Ay, madam, it is common.
- QUEEN: If it be,
- Why seems it so particular with thee?
HAMLET: Seems, madam! Nay, it is; I know not seems.
- KING: 'Tis sweet and commendable in your nature, Hamlet,
- To give these mourning duties to your father;
- But, you must know, your father lost a father;
- That father lost, lost his; and the survivor bound,
- In filial obligation, for some term
- To do obsequious sorrow: but to persevere
- In obstinate condolement is a course
- Of impious stubbornness; 'tis unmanly grief;
- 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 to remain
- Here in the cheer and comfort of our eye,
- Our chiefest courtier, cousin, and our son.
- QUEEN: Let not thy mother lose her prayers, Hamlet:
- I pray thee stay with us; go not to Wittenberg.
HAMLET: I shall in all my best obey you, madam.
- KING: Why, 'tis a loving and a fair reply:
- Be as ourself in Denmark.Madam, come.
[Exeunt all but Hamlet.]
- HAMLET: O that this too too solid flesh would melt,
- Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew!
- Or that the Everlasting had not fix'd
- His canon 'gainst self-slaughter! O God! O God!
- How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable
- Seem to me all the uses of this world!
- Fie on't! O 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 mourn'd longer,married with mine uncle,
- 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 galled eyes,
- She married: O, most wicked speed, to post
- With such dexterity to incestuous sheets!
[Enter Horatio, Marcellus, and Bernardo.]
HORATIO: Hail to your lordship!
- HAMLET: I am glad to see you well:
- Horatio,or I do forget myself.
HORATIO: The same, my lord, and your poor servant ever.
- HAMLET: What is your affair in Elsinore?
- We'll teach you to drink deep ere you depart.
HORATIO: My lord, I came to see your father's funeral.
- HAMLET: I prithee do not mock me, fellow-student.
- I think it was to see my mother's wedding.
HORATIO: Indeed, my lord, it follow'd hard upon.
- HAMLET: Thrift, thrift, Horatio! The funeral bak'd meats
- Did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables.
- My father,methinks I see my father.
HORATIO: Where, my lord?
HAMLET: In my mind's eye, Horatio.
HORATIO: My lord, I think I saw him yesternight.
HAMLET: Saw who?
HORATIO: My lord, the king your father.
HAMLET: The King my father!
- HORATIO: Season your admiration for awhile
- 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.
Scene III. A room in Polonius's house.
[Enter Laertes and Ophelia.]
- LAERTES: My necessaries are embark'd: farewell:
- And, sister, as the winds give benefit
- And convoy is assistant, do not sleep,
- But let me hear from you.
OPHELIA: Do you doubt that?
- LAERTES: For Hamlet, and the trifling of his favour,
- Hold it a fashion, and a toy in blood:
- A violet in the youth of primy nature,
- Forward, not permanent, sweet, not lasting;
- The perfume and suppliance of a minute;
- No more.
OPHELIA: No more but so?
- LAERTES: Think it no more: Perhaps he loves you now;
- And now no soil nor cautel doth besmirch
- The virtue of his will: but you must fear,
- His greatness weigh'd, his will is not his own;
- For he himself is subject to his birth:
- He may not, as unvalu'd persons do,
- Carve for himself; for on his choice depends
- The safety and health of this whole state;
- Then weigh what loss your honour may sustain
- If with too credent ear you list his songs,
- Or lose your heart, or your chaste treasure open
- To his unmaster'd importunity.
- Fear it, Ophelia, fear it, my dear sister;
- And keep you in the rear of your affection,
- Out of the shot and danger of desire.
- OPHELIA: I shall th' effect of this good lesson keep
- As watchman to my heart.
LAERTES: I stay too long:but here my father comes.
POLONIUS: Yet here, Laertes! aboard, aboard, for shame!
[Laying his hand on Laertes's head.]
- And this precept in thy memory look
- Thou character: To thine own self be true;
- And it must follow, as the night the day,
- Thou canst not then be false to any man.
- Farewell: my blessing season this in thee!
LAERTES: Most humbly do I take my leave, my lord.
POLONIUS: The time invites you; go, your servants tend.
- LAERTES: Farewell, Ophelia; and remember well
- What I have said to you.
- OPHELIA: 'Tis in my memory lock'd,
- And you yourself shall keep the key of it.
Scene IV. The platform.
[Enter Hamlet, Horatio, and Marcellus.]
HAMLET: The air bites shrewdly. What hour now?
HORATIO: I think it lacks of twelve.
MARCELLUS: No, it is struck.
- HORATIO: Indeed? I heard it not: then draws near the season
- Wherein the spirit held his wont to walk.
- Look, my lord, it comes!
- HAMLET: Angels and ministers of grace defend us!
- King, father, royal Dane; O, answer me!
- Let me not burst in ignorance; but tell
- Why thy canoniz'd bones, hearsed in death,
- Have burst their cerements; why the sepulchre,
- Wherein we saw thee quietly in-urn'd,
- Hath op'd his ponderous and marble jaws
- To cast thee up again!
[Ghost beckons Hamlet.]
HORATIO: It beckons you to go away with it.
MARCELLUS: Do not go!
HORATIO: No, by no means.
HAMLET: It will not speak; then will I follow it.
HORATIO: Do not, my lord.
- HAMLET: Why, what should be the fear?
- I do not set my life at a pin's fee.
- HORATIO: What if it tempt you toward the flood, my lord,
- And there assume some other horrible form
- Which might deprive your sovereignty of reason,
- And draw you into madness
- HAMLET: It waves me still.
- Go on; I'll follow thee.
MARCELLUS: You shall not go, my lord.
HAMLET: Hold off your hands.
HORATIO: Be rul'd; you shall not
HAMLET: Unhand me, gentlemen!
[Breaking free from them.]
- By heaven, I'll make a ghost of him that lets me!
- I say, away!Go on; I'll follow thee.
[Exeunt Ghost and Hamlet.]
Scene V. A more remote part of the Castle.
[Enter Ghost and Hamlet.]
HAMLET: Whither wilt thou lead me? speak! I'll go no further.
- GHOST: My hour is almost come,
- When I to sulph'uous and tormenting flames
- Must render up myself.
- Pity me not, but lend thy serious hearing
- To what I shall unfold.
HAMLET: Speak;I am bound to hear.
- GHOST: If thou didst ever thy dear father love
- Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder.
- GHOST: Murder most foul, as in the best it is;
- But this most foul, strange, and unnatural.
- HAMLET: Haste me to know't, that I, with wings as swift
- As meditation or the thoughts of love,
- May sweep to my revenge.
- GHOST: 'Tis given out that, sleeping in my orchard,
- A serpent stung me; so the whole ear of Denmark
- Is by a forged process of my death
- Rankly abus'd; but know, thou noble youth,
- The serpent that did sting thy father's life
- Now wears his crown.
- HAMLET: O my prophetic soul!
- Mine uncle!
- GHOST: Ay, that incestuous, that adulterate beast,
- With witchcraft of his wit, with traitorous gifts,
- Won to his shameful lust
- The will of my most seeming-virtuous queen:
- 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 cursed hebenon in a vial,
- And in the porches of my ears did pour
- The leperous 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 vigour it doth posset
- And curd, like eager droppings into milk,
- The thin and wholesome blood.
- Thus was I, sleeping, by a brother's hand,
- Of life, of crown, of queen, at once dispatch'd:
- Cut off even in the blossoms of my sin,
- Unhous'led, disappointed, unanel'd;
- No reckoning 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 damned incest.
- But, howsoever thou pursu'st 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!
- Adieu, adieu! Hamlet, remember me.
- HAMLET: Remember thee!
- Ay, thou poor ghost, while 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,
- And thy commandment all alone shall live
- Within the book and volume of my brain,
- Unmix'd with baser matter: yes, by heaven!
- O most pernicious woman!
- O villain, villain, smiling, damned villain!
Scene VI. A room in Polonius's house.
[Polonius discovered. Enter Ophelia.]
POLONIUS: How now, Ophelia! what's the matter?
OPHELIA: Alas, my lord, I have been so affrighted!
POLONIUS: With what?
- OPHELIA: My lord, as I was sewing in my chamber,
- Lord Hamlet,with his doublet all unbrac'd;
- Pale as his shirt; his knees knocking each other;
- And with a look so piteous in purport
- As if he had been loosed out of hell
- To speak of horrors,he comes before me.
POLONIUS: Mad for thy love?
- OPHELIA: My lord, I do not know;
- But truly I do fear it.
POLONIUS: What said he?
- OPHELIA: He took me by the wrist, and held me hard;
- Then goes he to the length of all his arm;
- And with his other hand thus o'er his brow,
- He falls to such perusal of my face
- As he would draw it. Long stay'd he so;
- At last,--a little shaking of mine arm,
- And thrice his head thus waving up and down,
- He rais'd a sigh so piteous and profound
- As it did seem to shatter all his bulk
- And end his being: that done, he lets me go:
- And, with his head over his shoulder turn'd
- He seem'd to find his way without his eyes;
- For out o' doors he went without their help,
- And to the last bended their light on me.
- POLONIUS: Come, go with me: I will go seek the king.
- This must be known.
Scene VII. A room in the Castle.
[Enter King, Queen, Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, and Attendants.]
- KING: Welcome, dear Rosencrantz and Guildenstern!
- Something have you heard
- Of Hamlet's transformation; What it should be,
- More than his father's death, that thus hath put him
- So much from the understanding of himself,
- I cannot dream of: I entreat you both
- That, being of so young days brought up with him,
- That you vouchsafe your rest here in our court
- Some little time: so by your companies
- To draw him on to pleasures, and to gather,
- So much as from occasion you may glean,
- Whether aught, to us unknown, afflicts him thus,
- That, open'd, lies within our remedy.
- QUEEN: For the supply and profit of our hope,
- Your visitation shall receive such thanks
- As fits a king's remembrance.
GUILDENSTERN: We both obey.
- QUEEN: I beseech you instantly to visit
- My too-much-changed son.
- GUILDENSTERN: Heavens make our presence and our practices
- Pleasant and helpful to him!
QUEEN: Ay, amen!
[Exeunt Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, and some Attendants].
- POLONIUS: My good liege,
- I do think,that I have found
- The very cause of Hamlet's lunacy.
KING: O, speak of that; that do I long to hear.
- QUEEN: I doubt it is no other but the main,
- His father's death and our o'erhasty marriage.
- POLONIUS: I will be brief:your noble son is mad:
- Mad call I it; for to define true madness,
- What is't but to be nothing else but mad?
QUEEN: More matter, with less art.
- POLONIUS: Madam, I swear I use no art at all.
- That he is mad, 'tis true: 'tis true 'tis pity;
- Mad let us grant him then: and now remains
- That we find out the cause of this effect;
- I have a daughter,have whilst she is mine,
- Who, in her duty and obedience, mark,
- Hath given me this: now gather, and surmise.
- 'To the celestial, and my soul's idol, the most beautified
QUEEN: Came this from Hamlet to her?
POLONIUS: Good madam, stay awhile; I will be faithful.
- 'Doubt thou the stars are fire;
- Doubt that the sun doth move;
- Doubt truth to be a liar;
- But never doubt I love.
- This, in obedience, hath my daughter show'd me;
- And more above, hath his solicitings,
- As they fell out by time, by means, and place,
- All given to mine ear.
KING: But how hath she receiv'd his love?
- POLONIUS: To my young mistress thus I did bespeak:
- 'Lord Hamlet is a prince, out of thy sphere;
- This must not be:' and then I precepts gave her,
- That she should lock herself from his resort,
- Admit no messengers, receive no tokens.
- And he, repulsed,a short tale to make,
- Fell into a sadness; then into a fast;
- Thence to a watch; and, by this declension,
- Into the madness wherein now he raves.
KING: Do you think 'tis this?
QUEEN: It may be, very likely.
- POLONIUS: Hath there been such a time,I'd fain know that
- That I have positively said ''Tis so,'
- When it prov'd otherwise?
- KING: Not that I know.
- How may we try it further?
- POLONIUS: You know sometimes he walks for hours
- Here in the lobby.
QUEEN: So he does indeed.
- POLONIUS: At such a time I'll loose my daughter to him:
- Be you and I behind an arras then;
- Mark the encounter: if he love her not,
- And he not from his reason fall'n thereon
- Let me be no assistant for a state,
- But keep a farm and carters.
KING: We will try it.
Scene VIII. A room in the Castle.
[Hamlet sits. Enter Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.]
GUILDENSTERN: My honoured lord!
ROSENCRANTZ: My most dear lord!
- HAMLET: My excellent good friends! How dost thou, Guildenstern? Ah,
- Rosencrantz! Good lads, how do ye both?
ROSENCRANTZ: As the indifferent children of the earth.
- GUILDENSTERN: Happy in that we are not over-happy;
- On fortune's cap we are not the very button.
HAMLET: Nor the soles of her shoe?
ROSENCRANTZ: Neither, my lord.
HAMLET: What make you at Elsinore?
ROSENCRANTZ: To visit you, my lord; no other occasion.
HAMLET: Were you not sent for? Is it your own inclining? Is it a free visitation? Come, deal justly with me: come, come; nay, speak.
GUILDENSTERN: What should we say, my lord?
HAMLET: Why, anythingbut to the purpose. You were sent for; and there is a kind of confession in your looks, which your modesties have not craft enough to colour: I know the good king and queen have sent for you.
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, be even and direct with me, whether you were sent for or no.
ROSENCRANTZ: [To Guildenstern.] What say you?
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 moult 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. What a piece of work is 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 woman neither, though by your smiling you seem to say so.
ROSENCRANTZ: My lord, there was no such stuff in my thoughts.
HAMLET: Gentlemen, you are welcome to Elsinore. You are welcome: but my uncle-father and aunt-mother are deceived.
GUILDENSTERN: In what, my dear lord?
HAMLET: I am but mad north-north-west: when the wind is southerly I know a hawk from a handsaw.
Scene IX. A room in the Castle.
[King, Queen, Polonius, and Ophelia.]
- KING: Sweet Gertrude, leave us;
- For we have closely sent for Hamlet hither,
- That he, as 'twere by accident, may here
- Affront Ophelia: Her father and myself,
- Will so bestow ourselves that, seeing, unseen,
- We may of their encounter frankly judge;
- And gather by him, as he is behav'd,
- If't be the affliction of his love or no
- That thus he suffers for.
- QUEEN: I shall obey:
- And for your part, Ophelia, I do wish
- That your good beauties be the happy cause
- Of Hamlet's wildness: so shall I hope your virtues
- Will bring him to his wonted way again.
OPHELIA: Madam, I wish it may.
- POLONIUS: Ophelia, walk you here.Gracious, so please you,
- We will bestow ourselves. [To Ophelia.] Read on this book;
- That show of such an exercise may colour Your loneliness.
- I hear him coming: let's withdraw, my lord.
[Exeunt King and Polonius.]
- 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 wish'd. To die,to sleep;
- To sleep! perchance to dream:ay, there's the rub;
- For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
- When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
- Must give us pause...
- OPHELIA: Good my lord,
- How does your honour for this many a day?
HAMLET: I humbly thank you; well, well, well.
- OPHELIA: My lord, I have remembrances of yours
- That I have longed long to re-deliver.
- I pray you, now receive them.
- HAMLET: No, not I;
- I never gave you aught.
- OPHELIA: My honour'd lord, you know right well you did;
- 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 believ'd 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: 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: Get thee to a nunnery, go: 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: O heavenly powers, restore him!
HAMLET: God hath given you one face, and you make yourselves another. Go to, I'll no more on't; We will have no more marriages: those that are married already, all but one, shall live; the rest shall keep as they are. To a nunnery, go.
OPHELIA: O, what a noble mind is here o'erthrown!
[Re-enter King and Polonius.]
- KING: Love! his affections do not that way tend;
- Nor what he spake, though it lack'd form a little,
- Was not like madness. There's something in his soul
- O'er which his melancholy sits on brood;
- And I do doubt the hatch and the disclose
- Will be some danger: which for to prevent,
- He shall with speed to England
- What think you on't?
- POLONIUS: It shall do well: but yet do I believe
- The origin and commencement of his grief
- Sprung from neglected love.How now, Ophelia!
- You need not tell us what Lord Hamlet said;
- We heard it all.My lord, do as you please;
- But let his queen mother all alone entreat him
- To show his grief: let her be round with him;
- And I'll be plac'd, so please you, in the ear
- Of all their conference. If she find him not,
- To England send him; or confine him where
- Your wisdom best shall think.
- KING: It shall be so:
- Madness in great ones must not unwatch'd go.
Scene X. A room in the Castle.
[Hamlet discovered. Enter Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.]
GUILDENSTERN: Good my lord, vouchsafe me a word with you. The queen, your mother, in most great affliction of spirit, hath sent me to you.
ROSENCRATNZ: 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?
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 so I 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: 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: 'Tis as easy as lying: govern these ventages with your finger 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 utterance 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.
Scene XI. A room in the Castle.
[Enter King, Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern.]
- KING: I like him not; nor stands it safe with us
- To let his madness range. Therefore prepare you;
- I your commission will forthwith dispatch,
- And he to England shall along with you:
ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN: We will haste us.
[Exeunt Ros. and Guil.]
- POLONIUS: My lord, he's going to his mother's closet:
- Behind the arras I'll convey myself
- To hear the process; I'll warrant she'll tax him home:
- I'll call upon you ere you go to bed,
- And tell you what I know.
KING: Thanks, dear my lord.
- O, my offence is rank, it smells to heaven;
- It hath the primal eldest curse upon't,
- A brother's murder!What if this cursed hand
- Were thicker than itself with brother's blood,
- Is there not rain enough in the sweet heavens
- To wash it white as snow? O, what form of prayer
- Can serve my turn? Forgive me my foul murder!
- That cannot be; since I am still possess'd
- Of those effects for which I did the murder,
- My crown, mine own ambition, and my queen.
- May one be pardon'd and retain the offence?
- O wretched state! O bosom black as death!
- O limed soul, that, struggling to be free,
- Art more engag'd! Help, angels! Make assay:
- Bow, stubborn knees! All may be well.
[Retires and kneels.]
- HAMLET: Now might I do it; now he is praying;
- And so he goes to heaven; am I, then, reveng'd,
- To take him in the purging of his soul,
- When he is fit and season'd for his passage? No.
- Up, sword, and know thou a more horrid hent:
- When he is drunk asleep; or in his rage;
- Or in the incestuous pleasure of his bed;
- At gaming, 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 damn'd and black
- As hell, whereto it goes.
Scene XII. Another room in the castle.
[Enter Queen and Polonius.]
- POLONIUS: He will come straight. Look you lay home to him:
- Tell him his pranks have been too broad to bear with,
- And that your grace
HAMLET: [Within.] Mother, mother, mother!
- QUEEN: I'll warrant you:
- Fear me not:withdraw; I hear him coming.
[Polonius goes behind the arras.]
QUEEN: Hamlet, thou hast thy father much offended.
HAMLET: Mother, you have my father much offended.
QUEEN: Come, come, you answer with an idle tongue.
HAMLET: Go, go, you question with a wicked tongue.
QUEEN: Nay, then, I'll set those to you that can speak.
- HAMLET: You go not till I set you up a glass
- Where you may see the inmost part of you.
- QUEEN: What wilt thou do? thou wilt not murder me?
- Help, help, ho!
POLONIUS: [Behind.] What, ho! help, help, help!
HAMLET: How now? a rat?
[Draws. Makes a pass through the arras.]
POLONIUS: [Behind.] O, I am slain!
[Falls and dies.]
QUEEN: What hast thou done?
HAMLET: Nay, I know not: is it the king?
[Draws forth Polonius.]
QUEEN: O, what a rash and bloody deed is this!
- HAMLET: A bloody deed!almost as bad, good mother,
- As kill a king and marry with his brother.
QUEEN: As kill a king!
- HAMLET: Ay, lady, 'twas my word.
- 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.
- 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 heaven-kissing hill:
- A combination and a form, indeed,
- Where every god did seem to set his seal,
- To give the world assurance of a man;
- This was your husband.Look you now what follows:
- Here is your husband, like a milldew'd ear
- Blasting his wholesome brother. Have you eyes?
- Could you on this fair mountain leave to feed,
- And batten on this moor?
- QUEEN: O Hamlet, speak no more:
- These words like daggers enter in mine ears;
- No more, sweet Hamlet.
HAMLET: A murderer and a villain;
QUEEN: No more.
HAMLET: A king of shreds and patches!--
- Save me and hover o'er me with your wings,
- You heavenly guards!What would your gracious figure?
- 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,
- 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 the incorporal air do hold discourse?
- Whereon do you look?
- HAMLET: On him, on him! Look you how pale he glares!
- Do you see nothing there?
QUEEN: Nothing at all.
HAMLET: Nor did you nothing hear?
QUEEN: No, nothing but ourselves.
- HAMLET: Why, look you there! look how it steals away!
- My father, in his habit as he liv'd!
- Look, where he goes, even now out at the portal!
- QUEEN: This is the very coinage of your brain:
- This bodiless creation ecstasy
- Is very cunning in.
- HAMLET: Ecstasy!
- My pulse, as yours, doth temperately keep time,
- And makes as healthful music: it is not madness
- That I have utter'd: bring me to the test,
- And I the matter will re-word; 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,
- Whilst 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.
QUEEN: O Hamlet, thou hast cleft my heart in twain.
- HAMLET: O, throw away the worser part of it,
- And live the purer with the other half.
- Go not to mine uncle's bed;
- Assume a virtue, if you have it not.
- Refrain to-night;
- 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 curb the devil, or throw him out
- With wondrous potency.For this same lord
[Pointing to Polonius.]
- I do repent; but heaven hath pleas'd it so,
- To punish me with this, and this with me,
- That I must be their scourge and minister.
- One word more, good lady.
- Let not the bloat king tempt you again to bed;
- Pinch wanton on your cheek; call you his mouse;
- And let him, for a pair of reechy kisses,
- Or paddling in your neck with his damn'd fingers,
- Make you to ravel all this matter out,
- 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.
[Exit Hamlet, dragging out Polonius.]
Scene XIII. A room in the Castle.
[A noise within.]
KING: Alack, what noise is this?
[Enter a Gentleman.]
What is the matter?
- GENTLEMAN: Save yourself, my lord:
- Young Laertes, in a riotous head,
- O'erbears your offices. The rabble call him lord;
- They cry 'Choose we! Laertes shall be king!'
- Caps, hands, and tongues applaud it to the clouds,
- 'Laertes shall be king! Laertes king!'
[A noise within.]
KING: The doors are broke.
[Enter Laertes, armed; Danes following.]
LAERTES: Where is this king?Sirs, stand you all without.
DANES: No, let's come in.
LAERTES: I pray you, give me leave.
DANES: We will, we will.
[They retire without the door.]
- LAERTES: I thank you:keep the door.O thou vile king,
- Give me my father!
KING: Calmly, good Laertes.
- LAERTES: That drop of blood that's calm proclaims me bastard;
- Cries cuckold to my father; brands the harlot
- Even here, between the chaste unsmirched brow
- Of my true mother.
- KING: What is the cause, Laertes,
- That thy rebellion looks so giant-like?
LAERTES: Where is my father?
- LAERTES: How came he dead? I'll not be juggled with:
- To hell, allegiance! vows, to the blackest devil!
- I dare damnation:only I'll be reveng'd
- Most throughly for my father.
- KING: Why, now you speak
- Like a good child and a true gentleman.
- That I am guiltless of your father's death,
- And am most sensibly in grief for it,
- It shall as level to your judgment pierce
- As day does to your eye.
- For he which hath your noble father slain
- Pursu'd my life.
- LAERTES: If that be so, then tell me why
- You have proceeded not against these feats,
- So crimeful and so capital in nature.
- KING: O, for two special reasons;
- Which may to you, perhaps, seem much unsinew'd,
- But yet to me they are strong. The queen his mother
- Lives almost by his looks. The other motive,
- Why to a public court I might not go,
- Is the great love the general gender bear him;
- Who, dipping all his faults in their affection,
- Would, like the spring that turneth wood to stone,
- Convert his gyves to graces; so that my arrows,
- Too slightly timber'd for so loud a wind,
- Would have reverted to my bow again,
- And not where I had aim'd them.
- LAERTES: And so have I a noble father lost;
- A sister driven into desperate terms,
- but my revenge will come.
- KING: If it be so, Laertes,
- As how should it be so? how otherwise?
- Will you be rul'd by me?
- LAERTES: Ay, my lord;
- So you will not o'errule me to a peace.
- KING: To thine own peace. I will work him
- To exploit, now ripe in my device,
- Under the which he shall not choose but fall:
- And for his death no wind shall breathe;
- But even his mother shall uncharge the practice
- And call it accident.
- LAERTES: My lord, I will be rul'd;
- The rather if you could devise it so
- That I might be the organ.
- KING: It falls right.
- You have been talk'd of since your travel much,
- And that in Hamlet's hearing, for a quality
- Wherein they say you shine: your sum of parts
- Did not together pluck such envy from him
- As did that one.
LAERTES: What part is that, my lord?
- KING: Two months since,
- Here was a gentleman of Normandy,
- He made confession of you;
- And gave you such a masterly report
- For art and exercise in your defence,
- And for your rapier most especially,
- That he cried out, 'twould be a sight indeed
- If one could match you: the scrimers of their nation
- He swore, had neither motion, guard, nor eye,
- If you oppos'd them. Sir, this report of his
- Did Hamlet so envenom with his envy
- That he could nothing do but wish and beg
- Your sudden coming o'er, to play with him.
LAERTES: What out of this, my lo
- KING: Good Laertes, keep close within your chamber.
- Hamlet soon shall know you are come home:
- We'll bring you in fine together
- And wager on your heads: he, being remiss,
- Most generous, and free from all contriving,
- Will not peruse the foils; so that with ease,
- Or with a little shuffling, you may choose
- A sword unbated, and, in a pass of practice,
- Requite him for your father.
- LAERTES: I will do't:
- And for that purpose I'll anoint my sword.
- I bought an unction of a mountebank,
- So mortal that, but dip a knife in it,
- Where it draws blood no cataplasm so rare,
- Collected from all simples that have virtue
- Under the moon, can save the thing from death
- This is but scratch'd withal: I'll touch my point
- With this contagion, that, if I gall him slightly,
- It may be death.
- KING: When in your motion you are hot and dry,
- As make your bouts more violent to that end,
- And that he calls for drink, I'll have prepar'd him
- A chalice for the nonce; whereon but sipping,
- If he by chance escape your venom'd stuck,
- Our purpose may hold there.
How now, sweet queen!
- QUEEN: One woe doth tread upon another's heel,
- So fast they follow:your sister's drown'd, Laertes.
LAERTES: Drown'd! O, where?
- QUEEN: There is a willow grows aslant a brook,
- That shows his hoar leaves in the glassy stream;
- There with fantastic garlands did she come
- Of crowflowers, nettles, daisies, and long purples,
- That liberal shepherds give a grosser name,
- But our cold maids do dead men's fingers call them.
- There, on the pendant boughs her coronet weeds
- Clamb'ring to hang, an envious sliver broke;
- When down her weedy trophies and herself
- Fell in the weeping brook. Her clothes spread wide;
- And, mermaid-like, awhile they bore her up;
- Which time she chaunted snatches of old tunes;
- As one incapable of her own distress,
- Or like a creature native and indu'd
- Unto that element: but long it could not be
- Till that her garments, heavy with their drink,
- Pull'd the poor wretch from her melodious lay
- To muddy death.
LAERTES: Alas, then she is drown'd?
QUEEN: Drown'd, drown'd.
- LAERTES: Too much of water hast thou, poor Ophelia,
- And therefore I forbid my tears:Adieu, my lord:
- I have a speech of fire, that fain would blaze,
- But that this folly douts it.
- KING: Let's follow, Gertrude;
- How much I had to do to calm his rage!
- Now fear I this will give it start again;
- Therefore let's follow.
Scene XIV. A churchyard.
[Enter Priests &c, in procession; the corpse of Ophelia, Laertes, and Mourners following; Hamlet, King, Queen, their Trains &c.]
LAERTES: What ceremony else?
What ceremony else?
- PRIEST: Her obsequies have been as far enlarg'd
- As we have warranties: her death was doubtful;
- And, but that great command o'ersways the order,
- She should in ground unsanctified have lodg'd
- Till the last trumpet; for charitable prayers,
- Shards, flints, and pebbles should be thrown on her,
- Yet here she is allowed her virgin rites,
- Her maiden strewments, and the bringing home
- Of bell and burial.
LAERTES: Must there no more be done?
- PRIEST: 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' the earth;
- And from her fair and unpolluted flesh
- May violets spring!I tell thee, churlish priest,
- A ministering angel shall my sister be
- When thou liest howling.
QUEEN: Sweets to the sweet: farewell.
- I hop'd thou shouldst have been my Hamlet's wife;
- I thought thy bride-bed to have deck'd, sweet maid,
- And not have strew'd thy grave.
- LAERTES: O, treble woe
- Fall ten times treble on that cursed head
- Whose wicked deed thy most ingenious sense
- Depriv'd thee of!Hold off the earth awhile,
- Till I have caught her once more in mine arms:
[Leaps into the grave.]
- Now pile your dust upon the quick and dead,
- Till of this flat a mountain you have made,
- To o'ertop old Pelion or the skyish head
- Of blue Olympus.
The devil take thy soul!
[Grappling with him.]
- HAMLET: Thou pray'st not well.
- I pr'ythee, take thy fingers from my throat!
KING: Pluck them asunder.
QUEEN: Hamlet! Hamlet!
[The Attendants part them, and they come out of the grave.]
- HAMLET: I lov'd 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'lt do:
- Woul't weep? woul't fight? woul't fast? woul't tear thyself?
- Woul'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!
QUEEN: This is mere madness:
- HAMLET: Hear you, sir;
- What is the reason that you use me thus?
- I lov'd you ever: but it is no matter;
- Let Hercules himself do what he may,
- The cat will mew, and dog will have his day.
Scene XV. A hall in the Castle.
[Enter Horatio and Hamlet.]
HORATIO: You will lose this wager, my lord.
HAMLET: I do not think so; since he went to 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: 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's 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.
[Enter King, Queen, Laertes, Osric, Lords, and Attendants with foils.]
KING: Come, Hamlet, come, and take this hand from me.
[The King puts Laertes' hand into Hamlet's.]
- HAMLET: Give me your pardon, sir: I have done you wrong:
- But pardon't, as you are a gentleman.
- Let my disclaiming from a purpos'd 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,
- I do receive your offer'd love like love,
- And will not wrong it.
- HAMLET: I embrace it freely;
- And will this brother's wager frankly play.
- Give us the foils; come on.
LAERTES: Come, one for me.
- HAMLET: I'll be your foil, Laertes; in mine ignorance
- Your skill shall, like a star in the darkest night,
- Stick fiery off indeed.
LAERTES: You mock me, sir.
HAMLET: No, by this hand.
KING: Give them the foils. Hamlet, you know the wager?
- HAMLET: Very well, my lord;
- Your grace has laid the odds o' the weaker side.
LAERTES: This is too heavy, let me see another.
HAMLET: This likes me well. These foils have all a length?
OSRIC: Ay, my good lord.
[They prepare to play.]
- KING: Set me the stoups of wine upon that table,
- Now the king drinks to Hamlet.Come, begin:
- And you, the judges, bear a wary eye.
HAMLET: Come on, sir.
LAERTES: Come, my lord.
OSRIC: A hit, a very palpable hit.
- KING: Stay, give me drink.Hamlet, this pearl is thine;
- Here's to thy health.Give him the cup.
- HAMLET: I'll play this bout first; set it by awhile.
- Come.Another hit; what say you?
LAERTES: A touch, a touch, I do confess.
KING: Our son shall win.
- QUEEN: He's scant of breath.
- Here, Hamlet, take my napkin, rub thy brows:
- The queen carouses to thy fortune, Hamlet.
HAMLET: Good madam!
KING: Gertrude, do not drink.
QUEEN: I will, my lord; I pray you pardon me.
KING: [Aside.] It is the poison'd cup; it is too late.
HAMLET: I dare not drink yet, madam; by-and-by.
QUEEN: Come, let me wipe thy face.
LAERTES: My lord, I'll hit him now.
KING: I do not think't.
- HAMLET: Come, for the third, Laertes: you 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. Have at you now!
[Laertes wounds Hamlet; then, in scuffling, they change rapiers, and Hamlet wounds Laertes.]
KING: Part them; they are incens'd.
HAMLET: Nay, come again!
[The Queen falls.]
OSRIC: Look to the queen there, ho!
HORATIO: They bleed on both sides.How is it, my lord?
OSRIC: How is't, Laertes?
- LAERTES: Why, as a woodcock to my own springe, Osric;
- I am justly kill'd with mine own treachery.
HAMLET: How does the Queen?
KING: She swoons to see them bleed.
- QUEEN: No, no! the drink, the drink!O my dear Hamlet!
- The drink, the drink!I am poison'd.
- HAMLET: O villany!Ho! let the door be lock'd:
- Treachery! seek it out.
- LAERTES: It is here, Hamlet: thou art slain;
- No medicine in the world can do thee good;
- In thee there is not half an hour of life;
- The treacherous instrument is in thy hand,
- Unbated and envenom'd: the foul practice
- Hath turn'd itself on me; lo, here I lie,
- Never to rise again: thy mother's poison'd:
- I can no more:the king, the king's to blame.
- HAMLET: The point envenom'd too!
- Then, venom, to thy work.
[Stabs the King.]
OSRIC and LORDS: Treason! treason!
KING: O, yet defend me, friends! I am but hurt.
- HAMLET: Here, thou incestuous, murderous, damned Dane,
- Drink off this potion.Is thy union here?
- Follow my mother.
- LAERTES: He is justly serv'd;
- It is a poison temper'd by himself.
- Exchange forgiveness with me, noble Hamlet:
- Mine and my father's death come not upon thee,
- Nor thine on me!
- HAMLET: Heaven make thee free of it! I follow thee.
- I am dead, Horatio.
- O good Horatio, what a wounded name,
- Things standing thus unknown, shall live behind me!
- 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.
- HORATIO: Now cracks a noble heart.Good night, sweet prince,
- And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!
[Exeunt, bearing off the dead bodies.]