Please wait

The text you requested is loading.
This shouldn't take more than a minute, depending on
the speed of your Internet connection.

progress graphic

For sufferance is the badge of all our tribe.

      — The Merchant of Venice, Act I Scene 3

The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark

Act I

print/save print/save view

Scene 1. Elsinore. A platform before the Castle.

Scene 2. Elsinore. A room of state in the Castle.

Scene 3. Elsinore. A room in the house of Polonius.

Scene 4. Elsinore. The platform before the Castle.

Scene 5. Elsinore. The Castle. Another part of the fortifications.

---
       

Act I, Scene 1

Elsinore. A platform before the Castle.

      next scene .
---

Enter two Sentinels-[first,] Francisco, [who paces up and down at his post; then] Bernardo, [who approaches him].

  • Francisco. Nay, answer me. Stand and unfold yourself.
  • Francisco. You come most carefully upon your hour.
  • Bernardo. 'Tis now struck twelve. Get thee to bed, Francisco.
  • Francisco. For this relief much thanks. 'Tis bitter cold,
    And I am sick at heart. 10
  • Bernardo. Well, good night.
    If you do meet Horatio and Marcellus,
    The rivals of my watch, bid them make haste. 15

Enter Horatio and Marcellus.

  • Francisco. I think I hear them. Stand, ho! Who is there?
  • Marcellus. O, farewell, honest soldier.
    Who hath reliev'd you?
  • Francisco. Bernardo hath my place.
    Give you good night. Exit.
  • Bernardo. Say-
    What, is Horatio there ?
  • Bernardo. Welcome, Horatio. Welcome, good Marcellus.
  • Marcellus. What, has this thing appear'd again to-night? 30
  • Marcellus. 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, 35
    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, 40
    And let us once again assail your ears,
    That are so fortified against our story,
    What we two nights have seen.
  • Horatio. Well, sit we down,
    And let us hear Bernardo speak of this. 45
  • Bernardo. 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- 50

Enter Ghost.

  • Marcellus. Peace! break thee off! Look where it comes again!
  • Bernardo. In the same figure, like the King that's dead.
  • Marcellus. Thou art a scholar; speak to it, Horatio.
  • Bernardo. Looks it not like the King? Mark it, Horatio. 55
  • Horatio. Most like. It harrows me with fear and wonder.
  • Horatio. What art thou that usurp'st this time of night
    Together with that fair and warlike form 60
    In which the majesty of buried Denmark
    Did sometimes march? By heaven I charge thee speak!
  • Horatio. Stay! Speak, speak! I charge thee speak! 65

Exit Ghost.

  • Bernardo. How now, Horatio? You tremble and look pale.
    Is not this something more than fantasy?
    What think you on't? 70
  • Horatio. Before my God, I might not this believe
    Without the sensible and true avouch
    Of mine own eyes.
  • Horatio. As thou art to thyself. 75
    Such was the very armour he had on
    When he th' ambitious Norway combated.
    So frown'd he once when, in an angry parle,
    He smote the sledded Polacks on the ice.
    'Tis strange. 80
  • 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. 85
  • Marcellus. 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; 90
    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-labourer with the day?
    Who is't that can inform me? 95
  • Horatio. That can I.
    At least, the whisper goes so. Our last king,
    Whose image even but now appear'd to us,
    Was, as you know, by Fortinbras of Norway,
    Thereto prick'd on by a most emulate pride, 100
    Dar'd to the combat; in which our valiant Hamlet
    (For so this side of our known world esteem'd him)
    Did slay this Fortinbras; who, by a seal'd compact,
    Well ratified by law and heraldry,
    Did forfeit, with his life, all those his lands 105
    Which he stood seiz'd of, to the conqueror;
    Against the which a moiety competent
    Was gaged by our king; which had return'd
    To the inheritance of Fortinbras,
    Had he been vanquisher, as, by the same cov'nant 110
    And carriage of the article design'd,
    His fell to Hamlet. Now, sir, young Fortinbras,
    Of unimproved mettle hot and full,
    Hath in the skirts of Norway, here and there,
    Shark'd up a list of lawless resolutes, 115
    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 120
    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 post-haste and romage in the land.
  • Bernardo. I think it be no other but e'en so. 125
    Well may it sort that this portentous figure
    Comes armed through our watch, so like the King
    That was and is the question of these wars.
  • Horatio. A mote it is to trouble the mind's eye.
    In the most high and palmy state of Rome, 130
    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 135
    Upon whose influence Neptune's empire stands
    Was sick almost to doomsday with eclipse.
    And even the like precurse of fierce events,
    As harbingers preceding still the fates
    And prologue to the omen coming on, 140
    Have heaven and earth together demonstrated
    Unto our climature and countrymen.
    [Enter Ghost again.]
    But soft! behold! Lo, where it comes again!
    I'll cross it, though it blast me.- Stay illusion! 145
    [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, 150
    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 155
    Extorted treasure in the womb of earth
    (For which, they say, you spirits oft walk in death),
    [The cock crows.]
    Speak of it! Stay, and speak!- Stop it, Marcellus!
  • Marcellus. Shall I strike at it with my partisan? 160
  • Horatio. Do, if it will not stand.
  • Marcellus. 'Tis gone!
    [Exit Ghost.] 165
    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.
  • Bernardo. It was about to speak, when the cock crew. 170
  • Horatio. 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, 175
    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.
  • Marcellus. It faded on the crowing of the cock. 180
    Some say that ever, 'gainst that season comes
    Wherein our Saviour's birth is celebrated,
    The bird of dawning singeth all night long;
    And then, they say, no spirit dare stir abroad,
    The nights are wholesome, then no planets strike, 185
    No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm,
    So hallow'd and so gracious is the time.
  • Horatio. 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. 190
    Break we our watch up; and by my advice
    Let us impart what we have seen to-night
    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, 195
    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 conveniently.

Exeunt.

---
. previous scene      

Act I, Scene 2

Elsinore. A room of state in the Castle.

      next scene .
---

Flourish. [Enter Claudius, King of Denmark, Gertrude the Queen, Hamlet, Polonius, Laertes and his sister Ophelia, [Voltemand, Cornelius,] Lords Attendant.

  • Claudius. 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 205
    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, 210
    With an auspicious, and a dropping eye,
    With mirth in funeral, and with dirge in marriage,
    In equal scale weighing delight and dole,
    Taken to wife; nor have we herein barr'd
    Your better wisdoms, which have freely gone 215
    With this affair along. For all, our thanks.
    Now follows, that you know, young Fortinbras,
    Holding a weak supposal of our worth,
    Or thinking by our late dear brother's death
    Our state to be disjoint and out of frame, 220
    Colleagued with this dream of his advantage,
    He hath not fail'd to pester us with message
    Importing the surrender of those lands
    Lost by his father, with all bands of law,
    To our most valiant brother. So much for him. 225
    Now for ourself and for this time of meeting.
    Thus much the business is: we have here writ
    To Norway, uncle of young Fortinbras,
    Who, impotent and bedrid, scarcely hears
    Of this his nephew's purpose, to suppress 230
    His further gait herein, in that the levies,
    The lists, and full proportions are all made
    Out of his subject; and we here dispatch
    You, good Cornelius, and you, Voltemand,
    For bearers of this greeting to old Norway, 235
    Giving to you no further personal power
    To business with the King, more than the scope
    Of these dilated articles allow. [Gives a paper.]
    Farewell, and let your haste commend your duty.
  • Cornelius. [with Voltemand] In that, and all things, will we show our duty. 240
  • Claudius. We doubt it nothing. Heartily farewell.
    [Exeunt Voltemand and Cornelius.]
    And now, Laertes, what's the news with you?
    You told us of some suit. What is't, Laertes?
    You cannot speak of reason to the Dane 245
    And lose your voice. What wouldst thou beg, Laertes,
    That shall not be my offer, not thy asking?
    The head is not more native to the heart,
    The hand more instrumental to the mouth,
    Than is the throne of Denmark to thy father. 250
    What wouldst thou have, Laertes?
  • Laertes. My dread lord,
    Your leave and favour to return to France;
    From whence though willingly I came to Denmark
    To show my duty in your coronation, 255
    Yet now I must confess, that duty done,
    My thoughts and wishes bend again toward France
    And bow them to your gracious leave and pardon.
  • Claudius. Have you your father's leave? What says Polonius?
  • Polonius. He hath, my lord, wrung from me my slow leave 260
    By laboursome petition, and at last
    Upon his will I seal'd my hard consent.
    I do beseech you give him leave to go.
  • Claudius. Take thy fair hour, Laertes. Time be thine,
    And thy best graces spend it at thy will! 265
    But now, my cousin Hamlet, and my son-
  • Hamlet. [aside] A little more than kin, and less than kind!
  • Claudius. How is it that the clouds still hang on you?
  • Hamlet. Not so, my lord. I am too much i' th' sun.
  • Gertrude. Good Hamlet, cast thy nighted colour off, 270
    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. 275
  • Hamlet. Ay, madam, it is common.
  • Gertrude. If it be,
    Why seems it so particular with thee?
  • Hamlet. Seems, madam, Nay, it is. I know not 'seems.'
    'Tis not alone my inky cloak, good mother, 280
    Nor customary suits of solemn black,
    Nor windy suspiration of forc'd breath,
    No, nor the fruitful river in the eye,
    Nor the dejected havior of the visage,
    Together with all forms, moods, shapes of grief, 285
    'That can denote me truly. These indeed seem,
    For they are actions that a man might play;
    But I have that within which passeth show-
    These but the trappings and the suits of woe.
  • Claudius. 'Tis sweet and commendable in your nature, Hamlet, 290
    To give these mourning duties to your father;
    But you must know, your father lost a father;
    That father lost, lost his, and the survivor bound
    In filial obligation for some term
    To do obsequious sorrow. But to persever 295
    In obstinate condolement is a course
    Of impious stubbornness. 'Tis unmanly grief;
    It shows a will most incorrect to heaven,
    A heart unfortified, a mind impatient,
    An understanding simple and unschool'd; 300
    For what we know must be, and is as common
    As any the most vulgar thing to sense,
    Why should we in our peevish opposition
    Take it to heart? Fie! 'tis a fault to heaven,
    A fault against the dead, a fault to nature, 305
    To reason most absurd, whose common theme
    Is death of fathers, and who still hath cried,
    From the first corse till he that died to-day,
    'This must be so.' We pray you throw to earth
    This unprevailing woe, and think of us 310
    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 315
    In going back to school in Wittenberg,
    It is most retrograde to our desire;
    And we beseech you, bend you to remain
    Here in the cheer and comfort of our eye,
    Our chiefest courtier, cousin, and our son. 320
  • Gertrude. 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.
  • Claudius. Why, 'tis a loving and a fair reply.
    Be as ourself in Denmark. Madam, come. 325
    This gentle and unforc'd accord of Hamlet
    Sits smiling to my heart; in grace whereof,
    No jocund health that Denmark drinks to-day
    But the great cannon to the clouds shall tell,
    And the King's rouse the heaven shall bruit again, 330
    Respeaking earthly thunder. Come away.

Flourish. 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 335
    His canon 'gainst self-slaughter! O God! God!
    How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable
    Seem to me all the uses of this world!
    Fie on't! ah, fie! 'Tis an unweeded garden
    That grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature 340
    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 345
    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!- 350
    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 my uncle; 355
    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 360
    With such dexterity to incestuous sheets!
    It is not, nor it cannot come to good.
    But break my heart, for I must hold my tongue!

Enter Horatio, Marcellus, and Bernardo.

  • Horatio. Hail to your lordship! 365
  • 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. Sir, my good friend- I'll change that name with you.
    And what make you from Wittenberg, Horatio? 370
    Marcellus?
  • Hamlet. I am very glad to see you.- [To Bernardo] Good even, sir.-
    But what, in faith, make you from Wittenberg?
  • Horatio. A truant disposition, good my lord. 375
  • Hamlet. 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? 380
    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 followed hard upon. 385
  • Hamlet. Thrift, thrift, Horatio! The funeral bak'd 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. 390
  • Hamlet. In my mind's eye, Horatio.
  • Horatio. I saw him once. He was a goodly king.
  • Hamlet. He was a man, take him for all in all.
    I shall not look upon his like again. 395
  • Horatio. My lord, I think I saw him yesternight.
  • Horatio. My lord, the King your father.
  • Horatio. Season your admiration for a while 400
    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!
  • Horatio. Two nights together had these gentlemen 405
    (Marcellus and Bernardo) on their watch
    In the dead vast and middle of the night
    Been thus encount'red. A figure like your father,
    Armed at point exactly, cap-a-pe,
    Appears before them and with solemn march 410
    Goes slow and stately by them. Thrice he walk'd
    By their oppress'd and fear-surprised eyes,
    Within his truncheon's length; whilst they distill'd
    Almost to jelly with the act of fear,
    Stand dumb and speak not to him. This to me 415
    In dreadful secrecy impart they did,
    And I with them the third night kept the watch;
    Where, as they had deliver'd, both in time,
    Form of the thing, each word made true and good,
    The apparition comes. I knew your father. 420
    These hands are not more like.
  • Marcellus. My lord, upon the platform where we watch'd.
  • Hamlet. Did you not speak to it?
  • Horatio. My lord, I did; 425
    But answer made it none. Yet once methought
    It lifted up it 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 430
    And vanish'd from our sight.
  • Horatio. As I do live, my honour'd lord, 'tis true;
    And we did think it writ down in our duty
    To let you know of it. 435
  • Hamlet. Indeed, indeed, sirs. But this troubles me.
    Hold you the watch to-night?
  • Marcellus. [with Bernardo] Arm'd, my lord. 440
  • Marcellus. [with Bernardo] My lord, from head to foot.
  • Hamlet. Then saw you not his face?
  • Horatio. O, yes, my lord! He wore his beaver up.
  • Hamlet. What, look'd he frowningly. 445
  • Horatio. A countenance more in sorrow than in anger.
  • Hamlet. And fix'd his eyes upon you?
  • Hamlet. I would I had been there.
  • Horatio. It would have much amaz'd you.
  • Hamlet. Very like, very like. Stay'd it long?
  • Horatio. While one with moderate haste might tell a hundred.
  • Marcellus. [with Bernardo] Longer, longer. 455
  • Hamlet. His beard was grizzled- no?
  • Horatio. It was, as I have seen it in his life,
    A sable silver'd.
  • Hamlet. I will watch to-night. 460
    Perchance 'twill walk again.
  • Hamlet. 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, 465
    If you have hitherto conceal'd this sight,
    Let it be tenable in your silence still;
    And whatsoever else shall hap to-night,
    Give it an understanding but no tongue.
    I will requite your loves. So, fare you well. 470
    Upon the platform, 'twixt eleven and twelve,
    I'll visit you.
  • All. Our duty to your honour.
  • Hamlet. Your loves, as mine to you. Farewell.
    [Exeunt [all but Hamlet].] 475
    My father's spirit- in arms? All is not well.
    I doubt some foul play. Would the night were come!
    Till then sit still, my soul. Foul deeds will rise,
    Though all the earth o'erwhelm them, to men's eyes.

Exit.

---
. previous scene      

Act I, Scene 3

Elsinore. A room in the house of Polonius.

      next scene .
---

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. 485
  • 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; 490
    The perfume and suppliance of a minute;
    No more.
  • Laertes. Think it no more.
    For nature crescent does not grow alone 495
    In thews and bulk; but as this temple waxes,
    The inward service of the mind and soul
    Grows wide withal. Perhaps he loves you now,
    And now no soil nor cautel doth besmirch
    The virtue of his will; but you must fear, 500
    His greatness weigh'd, his will is not his own;
    For he himself is subject to his birth.
    He may not, as unvalued persons do,
    Carve for himself, for on his choice depends
    The safety and health of this whole state, 505
    And therefore must his choice be circumscrib'd
    Unto the voice and yielding of that body
    Whereof he is the head. Then if he says he loves you,
    It fits your wisdom so far to believe it
    As he in his particular act and place 510
    May give his saying deed; which is no further
    Than the main voice of Denmark goes withal.
    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 515
    To his unmast'red 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.
    The chariest maid is prodigal enough 520
    If she unmask her beauty to the moon.
    Virtue itself scopes not calumnious strokes.
    The canker galls the infants of the spring
    Too oft before their buttons be disclos'd,
    And in the morn and liquid dew of youth 525
    Contagious blastments are most imminent.
    Be wary then; best safety lies in fear.
    Youth to itself rebels, though none else near.
  • Ophelia. I shall th' effect of this good lesson keep
    As watchman to my heart. But, good my brother, 530
    Do not as some ungracious pastors do,
    Show me the steep and thorny way to heaven,
    Whiles, like a puff'd and reckless libertine,
    Himself the primrose path of dalliance treads
    And recks not his own rede. 535
  • Laertes. O, fear me not!
    [Enter Polonius. ]
    I stay too long. But here my father comes.
    A double blessing is a double grace;
    Occasion smiles upon a second leave. 540
  • Polonius. Yet here, Laertes? Aboard, aboard, for shame!
    The wind sits in the shoulder of your sail,
    And you are stay'd for. There- my blessing with thee!
    And these few precepts in thy memory
    Look thou character. Give thy thoughts no tongue, 545
    Nor any unproportion'd thought his act.
    Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar:
    Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
    Grapple them unto thy soul with hoops of steel;
    But do not dull thy palm with entertainment 550
    Of each new-hatch'd, unfledg'd comrade. Beware
    Of entrance to a quarrel; but being in,
    Bear't that th' opposed may beware of thee.
    Give every man thine ear, but few thy voice;
    Take each man's censure, but reserve thy judgment. 555
    Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy,
    But not express'd in fancy; rich, not gaudy;
    For the apparel oft proclaims the man,
    And they in France of the best rank and station
    Are most select and generous, chief in that. 560
    Neither a borrower nor a lender be;
    For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
    And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.
    This above all- to thine own self be true,
    And it must follow, as the night the day, 565
    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 570
    What I have said to you.
  • Ophelia. 'Tis in my memory lock'd,
    And you yourself shall keep the key of it.
  • Polonius. What is't, Ophelia, he hath said to you? 575
  • Ophelia. So please you, something touching the Lord Hamlet.
  • Polonius. Marry, well bethought!
    'Tis told me he hath very oft of late
    Given private time to you, and you yourself
    Have of your audience been most free and bounteous. 580
    If it be so- as so 'tis put on me,
    And that in way of caution- I must tell you
    You do not understand yourself so clearly
    As it behooves my daughter and your honour.
    What is between you? Give me up the truth. 585
  • Ophelia. He hath, my lord, of late made many tenders
    Of his affection to me.
  • Polonius. Affection? Pooh! You speak like a green girl,
    Unsifted in such perilous circumstance.
    Do you believe his tenders, as you call them? 590
  • Ophelia. I do not know, my lord, what I should think,
  • Polonius. Marry, I will teach you! Think yourself a baby
    That you have ta'en these tenders for true pay,
    Which are not sterling. Tender yourself more dearly,
    Or (not to crack the wind of the poor phrase, 595
    Running it thus) you'll tender me a fool.
  • Ophelia. My lord, he hath importun'd me with love
    In honourable fashion.
  • Polonius. Ay, fashion you may call it. Go to, go to!
  • Ophelia. And hath given countenance to his speech, my lord, 600
    With almost all the holy vows of heaven.
  • Polonius. Ay, springes to catch woodcocks! I do know,
    When the blood burns, how prodigal the soul
    Lends the tongue vows. These blazes, daughter,
    Giving more light than heat, extinct in both 605
    Even in their promise, as it is a-making,
    You must not take for fire. From this time
    Be something scanter of your maiden presence.
    Set your entreatments at a higher rate
    Than a command to parley. For Lord Hamlet, 610
    Believe so much in him, that he is young,
    And with a larger tether may he walk
    Than may be given you. In few, Ophelia,
    Do not believe his vows; for they are brokers,
    Not of that dye which their investments show, 615
    But mere implorators of unholy suits,
    Breathing like sanctified and pious bawds,
    The better to beguile. This is for all:
    I would not, in plain terms, from this time forth
    Have you so slander any moment leisure 620
    As to give words or talk with the Lord Hamlet.
    Look to't, I charge you. Come your ways.

Exeunt.

---
. previous scene      

Act I, Scene 4

Elsinore. The platform before the Castle.

      next scene .
---

Enter Hamlet, Horatio, and Marcellus.

  • Hamlet. The air bites shrewdly; it is very cold.
  • Horatio. It is a nipping and an eager air.
  • Horatio. I think it lacks of twelve.
  • Horatio. 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 go off.]
    What does this mean, my lord?
  • Hamlet. The King doth wake to-night and takes his rouse, 635
    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.
  • Hamlet. Ay, marry, is't;
    But to my mind, though I am native here
    And to the manner born, it is a custom
    More honour'd in the breach than the observance.
    This heavy-headed revel east and west 645
    Makes us traduc'd and tax'd of other nations;
    They clip us drunkards and with swinish phrase
    Soil our addition; and indeed it takes
    From our achievements, though perform'd at height,
    The pith and marrow of our attribute. 650
    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, 655
    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, 660
    Their 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 e'il
    Doth all the noble substance often dout To his own scandal. 665

Enter Ghost.

  • Hamlet. Angels and ministers of grace defend us!
    Be thou a spirit of health or goblin damn'd,
    Bring with thee airs from heaven or blasts from hell, 670
    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 675
    Why thy canoniz'd bones, hearsed in death,
    Have burst their cerements; why the sepulchre
    Wherein we saw thee quietly inurn'd,
    Hath op'd his ponderous and marble jaws
    To cast thee up again. What may this mean 680
    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? 685
    Say, why is this? wherefore? What should we do?

Ghost beckons Hamlet.

  • Horatio. It beckons you to go away with it,
    As if it some impartment did desire
    To you alone. 690
  • Marcellus. Look with what courteous action
    It waves you to a more removed ground.
    But do not go with it!
  • Hamlet. It will not speak. Then will I follow it. 695
  • 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? 700
    It waves me forth again. I'll follow it.
  • Horatio. 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 705
    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 fadoms to the sea 710
    And hears it roar beneath.
  • Hamlet. It waves me still.
    Go on. I'll follow thee.
  • Hamlet. Hold off your hands! 715
  • Horatio. Be rul'd. You shall not go.
  • Hamlet. My fate cries out
    And makes each petty artire in this body
    As hardy as the Nemean lion's nerve.
    [Ghost beckons.] 720
    Still am I call'd. Unhand me, gentlemen.
    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.

  • Horatio. He waxes desperate with imagination. 725
  • Marcellus. Let's follow. 'Tis not fit thus to obey him.
  • Horatio. Have after. To what issue will this come?
  • Marcellus. Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.

Exeunt.

---
. previous scene      

Act I, Scene 5

Elsinore. The Castle. Another part of the fortifications.

       
---

Enter Ghost and Hamlet.

  • Hamlet. Whither wilt thou lead me? Speak! I'll go no further.
  • Father's Ghost. My hour is almost come,
    When I to sulph'rous and tormenting flames
    Must render up myself.
  • Father's Ghost. Pity me not, but lend thy serious hearing 740
    To what I shall unfold.
  • Hamlet. Speak. I am bound to hear.
  • Father's Ghost. I am thy father's spirit, 745
    Doom'd for a certain term to walk the night,
    And for the day confin'd to fast in fires,
    Till the foul crimes done in my days of nature
    Are burnt and purg'd away. But that I am forbid
    To tell the secrets of my prison house, 750
    I could a tale unfold whose lightest word
    Would harrow up thy soul, freeze thy young blood,
    Make thy two eyes, like stars, start from their spheres,
    Thy knotted and combined locks to part,
    And each particular hair to stand on end 755
    Like quills upon the fretful porcupine.
    But this eternal blazon must not be
    To ears of flesh and blood. List, list, O, list!
    If thou didst ever thy dear father love-
  • Father's Ghost. Murther 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 765
    As meditation or the thoughts of love,
    May sweep to my revenge.
  • Father's Ghost. I find thee apt;
    And duller shouldst thou be than the fat weed
    That rots itself in ease on Lethe wharf, 770
    Wouldst thou not stir in this. Now, Hamlet, hear.
    'Tis given out that, sleeping in my orchard,
    A serpent stung me. So the whole ear of Denmark
    Is by a forged process of my death
    Rankly abus'd. But know, thou noble youth, 775
    The serpent that did sting thy father's life
    Now wears his crown.
  • Hamlet. O my prophetic soul!
    My uncle?
  • Father's Ghost. Ay, that incestuous, that adulterate beast, 780
    With witchcraft of his wit, with traitorous gifts-
    O wicked wit and gifts, that have the power
    So to seduce!- won to his shameful lust
    The will of my most seeming-virtuous queen.
    O Hamlet, what a falling-off was there, 785
    From me, whose love was of that dignity
    That it went hand in hand even with the vow
    I made to her in marriage, and to decline
    Upon a wretch whose natural gifts were poor
    To those of mine! 790
    But virtue, as it never will be mov'd,
    Though lewdness court it in a shape of heaven,
    So lust, though to a radiant angel link'd,
    Will sate itself in a celestial bed
    And prey on garbage. 795
    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 hebona in a vial, 800
    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, 805
    And with a sudden vigour it doth posset
    And curd, like eager droppings into milk,
    The thin and wholesome blood. So did it mine;
    And a most instant tetter bark'd about,
    Most lazar-like, with vile and loathsome crust 810
    All my smooth body.
    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, 815
    No reckoning made, but sent to my account
    With all my imperfections on my head.
  • Hamlet. O, horrible! O, horrible! most horrible!
  • Father's Ghost. If thou hast nature in thee, bear it not.
    Let not the royal bed of Denmark be 820
    A couch for luxury and damned incest.
    But, howsoever thou pursuest 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 825
    To prick and sting her. Fare thee well at once.
    The glowworm shows the matin to be near
    And gins to pale his uneffectual fire.
    Adieu, adieu, adieu! Remember me. Exit.
  • Hamlet. O all you host of heaven! O earth! What else? 830
    And shall I couple hell? Hold, hold, my heart!
    And you, my sinews, grow not instant old,
    But bear me stiffly up. Remember thee?
    Ay, thou poor ghost, while memory holds a seat
    In this distracted globe. Remember thee? 835
    Yea, from the table of my memory
    I'll wipe away all trivial fond records,
    All saws of books, all forms, all pressures past
    That youth and observation copied there,
    And thy commandment all alone shall live 840
    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!
    My tables! Meet it is I set it down 845
    That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain;
    At least I am sure it may be so in Denmark. [Writes.]
    So, uncle, there you are. Now to my word:
    It is 'Adieu, adieu! Remember me.'
    I have sworn't. 850
  • Horatio. [within] My lord, my lord!

Enter Horatio and Marcellus.

  • Hamlet. Hillo, ho, ho, boy! Come, bird, come.
  • Hamlet. No, you will reveal it.
  • Horatio. Not I, my lord, by heaven!
  • Hamlet. How say you then? Would heart of man once think it? 865
    But you'll be secret?
  • Marcellus. [with Horatio] Ay, by heaven, my lord.
  • Hamlet. There's neer a villain dwelling in all Denmark
    But he's an arrant knave.
  • Horatio. There needs no ghost, my lord, come from the grave 870
    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 desires shall point you, 875
    For every man hath business and desire,
    Such as it is; and for my own poor part,
    Look you, I'll go pray.
  • Horatio. These are but wild and whirling words, my lord.
  • Hamlet. I am sorry they offend you, heartily; 880
    Yes, faith, heartily.
  • Horatio. There's no offence, my lord.
  • Hamlet. Yes, by Saint Patrick, but there is, Horatio,
    And much offence too. Touching this vision here,
    It is an honest ghost, that let me tell you. 885
    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. 890
  • Hamlet. Never make known what you have seen to-night.
  • Marcellus. [with Horatio] My lord, we will not.
  • Horatio. In faith,
    My lord, not I. 895
  • Hamlet. Indeed, upon my sword, indeed.

Ghost cries under the stage.

  • Hamlet. Aha boy, say'st thou so? Art thou there, truepenny?
    Come on! You hear this fellow in the cellarage.
    Consent to swear.
  • Horatio. Propose the oath, my lord. 905
  • Hamlet. Never to speak of this that you have seen.
    Swear by my sword.
  • Hamlet. Hic et ubique? Then we'll shift our ground.
    Come hither, gentlemen, 910
    And lay your hands again upon my sword.
    Never to speak of this that you have heard:
    Swear by my sword.
  • Hamlet. Well said, old mole! Canst work i' th' earth so fast? 915
    A worthy pioner! Once more remove, good friends."
  • Horatio. O day and night, but this is wondrous strange!
  • Hamlet. And therefore as a stranger give it welcome.
    There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
    Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. 920
    But come!
    Here, as before, never, so help you mercy,
    How strange or odd soe'er I bear myself
    (As I perchance hereafter shall think meet
    To put an antic disposition on), 925
    That you, at such times seeing me, never shall,
    With arms encumb'red thus, or this head-shake,
    Or by pronouncing of some doubtful phrase,
    As 'Well, well, we know,' or 'We could, an if we would,'
    Or 'If we list to speak,' or 'There be, an if they might,' 930
    Or such ambiguous giving out, to note
    That you know aught of me- this is not to do,
    So grace and mercy at your most need help you,
    Swear.

[They swear.]

  • Hamlet. Rest, rest, perturbed 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, 940
    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 cursed spite
    That ever I was born to set it right!
    Nay, come, let's go together. 945

Exeunt.

Plays + Sonnets + Poems + Concordance + Character Search + Advanced Search + About OSS