a) Good Hamlet, cast thy nighted color off,
And let thine eye look like a friend on Denmark.
Do not forever with thy vailèd lids
Seek for thy noble father in the dust.
Thou know'st 'tis common. All that lives must die,
Passing through nature to eternity.
b) Ay, madam, it is common.
a) If it be,
b) Why seems it so particular with thee?
"Seems," madam? Nay, it is. I know not "seems."
'Tis not alone my inky cloak, good mother,
Nor customary suits of solemn black,
Nor windy suspiration of forced breath,
No, nor the fruitful river in the eye,
Nor the dejected 'havior of the visage,
Together with all forms, moods, shapes of grief,
That can denote me truly. These indeed "seem,"
For they are actions that a man might play.
But I have that within which passeth show,
These but the trappings and the suits of woe.
'Tis sweet and commendable in your nature, Hamlet,
To give these mourning duties to your father.
But you must know your father lost a father,
That father lost, lost his, and the survivor bound
In filial obligation for some term
To do obsequious sorrow. But to persever
In obstinate condolement is a course
Of impious stubbornness. 'Tis unmanly grief.
It shows a will most incorrect to heaven,
A heart unfortified, a mind impatient,
An understanding simple and unschooled.
For what we know must be and is as common
As any the most vulgar thing to sense,
Why should we in our peevish opposition
Take it to heart? Fie! 'Tis a fault to heaven,
A fault against the dead, a fault to nature,
To reason most absurd, whose common theme
Is death of fathers, and who still hath cried,
From the first corse till he that died today,
"This must be so." We pray you, throw to earth
This unprevailing woe, and think of us
As of a father. For let the world take note,
You are the most immediate to our throne,
And with no less nobility of love
Than that which dearest father bears his son
Do I impart toward you. For your intent
In going back to school in Wittenberg,
It is most retrograde to our desire.
And we beseech you, bend you to remain
Here in the cheer and comfort of our eye,
Our chiefest courtier, cousin, and our son.
Oh, that this too, too sullied flesh would melt,
Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew,
Or that the Everlasting had not fixed
His canon 'gainst self-slaughter! O God, God!
How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable
Seem to me all the uses of this world!
Fie on 't, ah fie! 'Tis an unweeded garden
That grows to seed. Things rank and gross in nature
Possess it merely. That it should come to this.
But two months dead—nay, not so much, not two.
So excellent a king, that was to this
Hyperion to a satyr. So loving to my mother
That he might not beteem the winds of heaven
Visit her face too roughly.—Heaven and earth,
Must I remember? Why, she would hang on him
As if increase of appetite had grown
By what it fed on, and yet, within a month—
Let me not think on 't. Frailty, thy name is woman!—
A little month, or ere those shoes were old
With which she followed my poor father's body,
Like Niobe, all tears. Why she, even she—
O God, a beast that wants discourse of reason
Would have mourned longer!—married with my 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 gallèd eyes,
She married. O most wicked speed, to post
With such dexterity to incestuous sheets!
It is not nor it cannot come to good,
But break, my heart, for I must hold my tongue.
a) But what is your affair in Elsinore?
We'll teach you to drink deep ere you depart.
b) My lord, I came to see your father's funeral.
a) I pray thee, do not mock me, fellow student.
I think it was to see my mother's wedding.
b) Indeed, my lord, it followed hard upon.
a) 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.
b) Where, my lord?
a) In my mind's eye, Horatio.
b) I saw him once. He was a goodly king.
a) He was a man. Take him for all in all.
I shall not look upon his like again.
Think it no more.
For nature, crescent, does not grow alone
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.
His greatness weighed, 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.
And therefore must his choice be circumscribed
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
May give his saying deed, which is no further
Than the main voice of Denmark goes withal.
Then weigh what loss your honor may sustain
If with too credent ear you list his songs,
Or lose your heart, or your chaste treasure open
To his unmastered 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
If she unmask her beauty to the moon.
Virtue itself 'scapes not calumnious strokes.
The canker galls the infants of the spring
Too oft before their buttons be disclosed.
And in the morn and liquid dew of youth,
Contagious blastments are most imminent.
Be wary, then. Best safety lies in fear.
Youth to itself rebels, though none else near.
Yet here, Laertes? Aboard, aboard, for shame!
The wind sits in the shoulder of your sail
And you are stayed for. There, my blessing with thee.
And these few precepts in thy memory
Look thou character. Give thy thoughts no tongue,
Nor any unproportioned thought his act.
Be thou familiar but by no means vulgar.
Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
Grapple them unto thy soul with hoops of steel,
But do not dull thy palm with entertainment
Of each new-hatched, unfledged comrade. Beware
Of entrance to a quarrel, but being in,
Bear 't that th' opposèd may beware of thee.
Give every man thy ear but few thy voice.
Take each man's censure but reserve thy judgment.
Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy,
But not expressed in fancy—rich, not gaudy,
For the apparel oft proclaims the man,
And they in France of the best rank and station
Are of a most select and generous chief in that.
Neither a borrower nor a lender be,
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.
This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Farewell. My blessing season this in thee.
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 height,
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,
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 evil
Doth all the noble substance of a doubt
To his own scandal.
O all you host of heaven! O earth! What else?
And shall I couple hell? Oh, fie! Hold, hold, my heart,
And you, my sinews, grow not instant old,
But bear me stiffly up. Remember thee!
Ay, thou poor ghost, whiles memory holds a seat
In this distracted globe. Remember thee!
Yea, from the table of my memory
I'll wipe away all trivial fond records,
All saws of books, all forms, all pressures past
That youth and observation copied there,
And thy commandment all alone shall live
Within the book and volume of my brain,
Unmixed with baser matter. Yes, by heaven!
O most pernicious woman!
O villain, villain, smiling, damnèd villain!
My tables!—Meet it is I set it down
That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain.
At least I'm 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.
a) My lord, as I was sewing in my closet,
Lord Hamlet, with his doublet all unbraced;
No hat upon his head; his stockings fouled,
Ungartered, and down-gyvèd to his ankle;
Pale as his shirt; his knees knocking each other;
And with a look so piteous in purport
As if he had been loosèd out of hell
To speak of horrors—he comes before me.
b) Mad for thy love?
a) My lord, I do not know.
But truly, I do fear it.
b) What said he?
a) He took me by the wrist and held me hard.
Then goes he to the length of all his arm,
And, with his other hand thus o'er his brow,
He falls to such perusal of my face
As he would draw it. Long stayed he so.
At last, a little shaking of mine arm
And thrice his head thus waving up and down,
He raised a sigh so piteous and profound
As it did seem to shatter all his bulk
And end his being. That done, he lets me go,
And, with his head over his shoulder turned,
He seemed to find his way without his eyes,
For out o' doors he went without their helps,
And to the last bended their light on me.
a) How does my good Lord Hamlet?
b) Well, God-'a'-mercy
a) Do you know me, my lord?
b) Excellent well. You are a fishmonger.
a) Not I, my lord.
b) Then I would you were so honest a man.
a) Honest, my lord?
b) Ay, sir. To be honest, as this world goes, is to be one man picked out of ten thousand.
a) That's very true, my lord.
b) For if the sun breed maggots in a dead dog, being a good kissing carrion— Have you a daughter?
a) I have, my lord.
b) Let her not walk i' th' sun. Conception is a blessing, but, as your daughter may conceive—Friend, look to 't.
a) (aside) How say you by that? Still harping on my daughter. Yet he knew me not at first. He said I was a fishmonger. He is far gone, far gone. And truly in my youth I suffered much extremity for love, very near this. I'll speak to him again.— What do you read, my lord?
b) Words, words, words.
a) What is the matter, my lord?
b) Between who?
a) I mean, the matter that you read, my lord.
b) Slanders, sir. For the satirical rogue says here that old men have gray beards, that their faces are wrinkled, their eyes purging thick amber and plum-tree gum, and that they have a plentiful lack of wit, together with most weak hams—all which, sir, though I most powerfully and potently believe, yet I hold it not honesty to have it thus set down; for yourself, sir, should be old as I am, if like a crab you could go backward.
a) (aside) Though this be madness, yet there is method in 't.—Will you walk out of the air, my lord?
b) Into my grave.
a) Indeed, that is out of the air. (aside) How pregnant sometimes his replies are. A happiness that often madness hits on, which reason and sanity could not so prosperously be delivered of. I will leave him and suddenly contrive the means of meeting between him and my daughter.—(to HAMLET) My honorable lord, I will most humbly take my leave of you.
b) You cannot, sir, take from me any thing that I will more willingly part withal—except my life, except my life, except my life.
a) Fare you well, my lord.
b) (aside) These tedious old fools!
a) My honored lord!
b) My most dear lord!
c) My excellent good friends! How dost thou,
Ah, Rosencrantz! Good lads, how do you both?
b) As the indifferent children of the earth
a) Happy, in that we are not overhappy.
On Fortune's cap we are not the very button.
c) Denmark's a prison.
b) Then is the world one.
c) A goodly one, in which there are many confines, wards, and dungeons, Denmark being one o' th' worst.
a) We think not so, my lord.
c) Why, then, 'tis none to you, for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. To me it is a prison.
a) Why then, your ambition makes it one. 'Tis too narrow for your mind.
c) O God, I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams.
a) Which dreams indeed are ambition, for the very substance of the ambitious is merely the shadow of a dream.
c) A dream itself is but a shadow.
a) Truly, and I hold ambition of so airy and light a quality that it is but a shadow's shadow.
c) Then are our beggars bodies, and our monarchs and outstretched heroes the beggars' shadows. Shall we to th' court? For by my fay, I cannot reason.
c) Why, any thing, but to th' purpose. You were sent for, and there is a kind of confession in your looks which your modesties have not craft enough to color. I know the good king and queen have sent for you.
b) To what end, my lord?\
c) That you must teach me. But let me conjure you, by the rights of our fellowship, by the consonancy of our youth, by the obligation of our ever-preserved love, and by what more dear a better proposer could charge you withal: be even and direct with me whether you were sent for or no.
c) 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; this most excellent canopy, the air—look you, this brave o'erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire—why, it appears no other thing to me than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapors. What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty! 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.
O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I!
Is it not monstrous that this player here,
But in a fiction, in a dream of passion,
Could force his soul so to his own conceit
That from her working all his visage wann'd,
Tears in his eyes, distraction in's aspect,
A broken voice, and his whole function suiting
With forms to his conceit? and all for nothing!
What's Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba,
That he should weep for her? What would he do,
Had he the motive and the cue for passion
That I have? He would drown the stage with tears
And cleave the general ear with horrid speech,
Make mad the guilty and appal the free,
Confound the ignorant, and amaze indeed
The very faculties of eyes and ears. Yet I,
A dull and muddy-mettled rascal, peak,
Like John-a-dreams, unpregnant of my cause,
And can say nothing; no, not for a king,
Upon whose property and most dear life
A damn'd defeat was made. Am I a coward?
Who calls me villain? breaks my pate across?
Plucks off my beard, and blows it in my face?
Tweaks me by the nose? gives me the lie i' the throat,
As deep as to the lungs? who does me this?
'Swounds, I should take it: for it cannot be
But I am pigeon-liver'd and lack gall
To make oppression bitter, or ere this
I should have fatted all the region kites
With this slave's offal: bloody, bawdy villain!
Remorseless, treacherous, lecherous, kindless villain!
Why, what an ass am I! This is most brave,
That I, the son of a dear father murder'd,
Prompted to my revenge by heaven and hell,
Must, like a whore, unpack my heart with words,
And fall a-cursing, like a very drab,
Fie upon't! foh! About, my brain! I have heard
That guilty creatures sitting at a play
Have by the very cunning of the scene
Been struck so to the soul that presently
They have proclaim'd their malefactions;
For murder, though it have no tongue, will speak
With most miraculous organ. I'll have these players
Play something like the murder of my father
Before mine uncle: I'll observe his looks;
I'll tent him to the quick: if he but blench,
I know my course. The spirit that I have seen
May be the devil: and the devil hath power
To assume a pleasing shape; yea, and perhaps
Out of my weakness and my melancholy,
As he is very potent with such spirits,
Abuses me to damn me: I'll have grounds
More relative than this: the play 's the thing
Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king.
May be the devil, and the devil hath power
T' assume a pleasing shape. Yea, and perhaps
Out of my weakness and my melancholy,
As he is very potent with such spirits,
Abuses me to damn me. I'll have grounds
More relative than this. The play's the thing
Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king.
1. Hamlet soliloquy
3. Oh, what a mean low-life I am! It's awful that this actor could force his soul to feel made-up feelings in a work of make-believe. He grew pale, shed real tears, became overwhelmed, his voice breaking with feeling and his whole being, even, meeting the needs of his act—and all for nothing. For Hecuba! What is Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba, that he would weep for her? Just imagine what he would do if he had the cause for feeling that I do. He would drown the stage with his tears and burst the audience's ears with his terrible words, drive the guilty spectators crazy, terrify the innocent ones, confuse the ignorant ones, and astound absolutely everyone's eyes and ears. But what do I, a grim and uncourageous rascal, do? Mope around like a dreamer, not even bothering with plans for revenge, and I can say nothing—nothing at all—on behalf of a king whose dear life was stolen. Am I a coward? Is there anyone out there who'll call me "villain" and slap me hard? Pull off my beard? Pinch my nose? Call me the worst liar? By God, if someone would do that to me, I'd take it, because I'm a lily-livered man—otherwise, I would've fattened up the local vultures with the intestines of that low-life king a long time ago. Bloody, inhuman villain! Remorseless, treacherous, sex-obsessed, unnatural villain! Ah, revenge! What an ass I am. I'm so damn brave. My dear father's been murdered, and I've been urged to seek revenge by heaven and hell, and yet all I can do is stand around cursing like a whore in the streets. Damn it! I need to get myself together here! Hmm.... I've heard that guilty people watching a play have been so affected by the artistry of the scene that they are driven to confess their crimes out loud. Murder has no tongue, but miraculously it still finds a way to speak. I'll have these actors perform something like my father's murder in front of my uncle. I'll watch my uncle. I'll probe his conscience and see if he flinches. If he becomes pale, I know what to do. The ghost I saw may be the devil, and the devil has the power to assume a pleasing disguise, and so he may be taking advantage of my weakness and sadness to bring about my damnation. I need better evidence than the ghost to work with. The play's the thing to uncover the conscience of the king.
4. Beginning of Hamlet's plan to put on play to prove Claudius's guilt. Laments that others can act pained based on no previous experiences, and are willing to take action whereas he, who has plenty justification to act, doesn't do so.
To be, or not to be? That is the question—
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And, by opposing, end them? To die, to sleep—
No more—and by a sleep to say we end
The heartache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to—'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished! To die, to sleep.
To sleep, perchance to dream—ay, there's the rub,
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause. There's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life.
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
Th' oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of th' unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered country from whose bourn
No traveler returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.
1. Hamlet is speaking
2. Thinks he is alone in speaking, while in actuality Claudius and Polonius are listening
3. The question is: is it better to be alive or dead? Is it nobler to put up with all the nasty things that luck throws your way, or to fight against all those troubles by simply putting an end to them once and for all? Dying, sleeping—that's all dying is—a sleep that ends all the heartache and shocks that life on earth gives us—that's an achievement to wish for. To die, to sleep—to sleep, maybe to dream. Ah, but there's the catch: in death's sleep who knows what kind of dreams might come, after we've put the noise and commotion of life behind us. That's certainly something to worry about. That's the consideration that makes us stretch out our sufferings so long. After all, who would put up with all life's humiliations—the abuse from superiors, the insults of arrogant men, the pangs of unrequited love, the inefficiency of the legal system, the rudeness of people in office, and the mistreatment good people have to take from bad—when you could simply take out your knife and call it quits? Who would choose to grunt and sweat through an exhausting life, unless they were afraid of something dreadful after death, the undiscovered country from which no visitor returns, which we wonder about without getting any answers from and which makes us stick to the evils we know rather than rush off to seek the ones we don't? Fear of death makes us all cowards, and our natural boldness becomes weak with too much thinking. Actions that should be carried out at once get misdirected, and stop being actions at all.
4. Central question of the play: why live? Hamlet, among others answers this question throughout the play, perhaps best so when he himself is dying. Addresses one of humanity's greatest questions, and Hamlet is on the verge of suicide when it happens. He is not pretending to be insane, but there is some depression/insanity to his soliloquy.
a) Ha, ha, are you honest?
b) My lord?
a) Are you fair?
b) What means your lordship?
a) That if you be honest and fair, your honesty should admit no discourse to your beauty.
b) Could beauty, my lord, have better commerce than with honesty?
a) 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.
b) Indeed, my lord, you made me believe so.
a) You should not have believed me, for virtue cannot so inoculate our old stock but we shall relish of it. I loved you not.
b) I was the more deceived.
a) Get thee to a nunnery. Why wouldst thou be a breeder of sinners? I am myself indifferent honest, but yet I could accuse me of such things that it were better my mother had not borne me. I am very proud, revengeful, ambitious, with more offences at my beck than I have thoughts to put them in, imagination to give them shape, or time to act them in. What should such fellows as I do crawling between earth and heaven? We are arrant knaves, all. Believe none of us. Go thy ways to a nunnery. Where's your father?
b) At home, my lord.
a) Let the doors be shut upon him, that he may play the fool no where but in 's own house. Farewell.
b) O, help him, you sweet heavens!
a) If thou dost marry, I'll give thee this plague for thy dowry. Be thou as chaste as ice, as pure as snow, thou shalt not escape calumny. Get thee to a nunnery, 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.
b) Heavenly powers, restore him!
a) I have heard of your paintings too, well enough. God has given you one face and you make yourselves another. You jig and amble, and you lisp, you nickname God's creatures and make your wantonness your ignorance. Go to, I'll no more on 't. It hath made me mad. I say, we will have no more marriages. Those that are married already, all but one, shall live. The rest shall keep as they are. To a nunnery, go.
a) Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to you, trippingly on the tongue. But if you mouth it, as many of your players do, I had as lief the town crier spoke my lines. Nor do not saw the air too much with your hand thus, but use all gently, for in the very torrent, tempest, and (as I may say) whirlwind of passion, you must acquire and beget a temperance that may give it smoothness. Oh, it offends me to the soul to hear a robustious periwig-pated fellow tear a passion to tatters, to very rags, to split the ears of the groundlings, who for the most part are capable of nothing but inexplicable dumb-shows and noise. I would have such a fellow whipped for o'erdoing Termagant. It out-Herods Herod. Pray you, avoid it.
b) I warrant your honor.
a) Be not too tame neither, but let your own discretion be your tutor. Suit the action to the word, the word to the action, with this special observance that you o'erstep not the modesty of nature. For anything so overdone is from the purpose of playing, whose end, both at the first and now, was and is to hold, as 'twere, the mirror up to nature, to show virtue her own feature, scorn her own image, and the very age and body of the time his form and pressure. Now this overdone or come tardy off, though it make the unskillful laugh, cannot but make the judicious grieve, the censure of the which one must in your allowance o'erweigh a whole theatre of others. Oh, there be players that I have seen play and heard others praise (and that highly), not to speak it profanely, that, neither having th' accent of Christians nor the gait of Christian, pagan, nor man, have so strutted and bellowed that I have thought some of nature's journeymen had made men and not made them well, they imitated humanity so abominably.
b) I hope we have reformed that indifferently with us, sir.
a) O, reform it altogether! And let those that play your clowns speak no more than is set down for them, for there be of them that will themselves laugh to set on some quantity of barren spectators to laugh too, though in the meantime some necessary question of the play be then to be considered. That's villainous, and shows a most pitiful ambition in the fool that uses it. Go, make you ready.
1. Hamlet is speaking
2. He is speaking to the players
3. Perform the speech just as I taught you, musically and smoothly. If you exaggerate the words the way some actors do, I might as well have some newscaster read the lines. Don't use too many hand gestures; just do a few, gently, like this. When you get into a whirlwind of passion on stage, remember to keep the emotion moderate and smooth. I hate it when I hear a blustery actor in a wig tear a passion to shreds, bursting everyone's eardrums so as to impress the audience on the lower levels of the playhouse, who for the most part can only appreciate loud noises and pantomime shows. I would whip a guy for making a tyrant sound too tyrannical. That's as bad as those old plays in which King Herod ranted. Please avoid doing that...But don't be too tame, either—let your good sense guide you. Fit the action to the word and the word to the action. Act natural at all costs. Exaggeration has no place in the theater, where the purpose is to represent reality, holding a mirror up to virtue, to vice, and to the spirit of the times. If you handle this badly, it just makes ignorant people laugh while regular theater-goers are miserable—and they're the ones you should be keeping happy. I've seen actors who are highly praised, but who—not to be too rude here—can't even talk or walk like human beings. They bellow and strut about like weird animals that were made to look like men, but very badly... Make sure that the clowns do not ad-lib, since some of them will make certain dumb audience members laugh mindlessly at them, while an important issue in the play needs to be addressed. It's bad behavior for an actor, anyway, and displays a pitiful ambition to hog the limelight on stage.
4. Hamlet desperately tells the actors how to act on the stage, i.e. not too dramatic and not to tame. Hamlet gives these directions in a way ironic to the audience, as we are the receiving end of the "how to act" tutorial. Perhaps commentary of Shakespearian acting itself and not just Hamlet's efforts to improve the realism of the play intended to catch his uncle.
1. Hamlet is speaking
3. This is the time of night when witches come out, when graveyards yawn open and the stench of hell seeps out. I could drink hot blood and do such terrible deeds that people would tremble even in the daylight. But I've got to go see my mother.—Oh, heart, don't grow weak, like Nero Let me be cruel, but not inhuman. I'll speak as sharp as a dagger to her, but I won't use one on her. And so, my words and thoughts will be at odds.
4. "Hamlet bitterly tells the dark and hellish actions he is capable of doing, then, somewhat abruptly, assures himself that he may "speak daggers" to is mother, but never put those words into action. His saying this reflects both his consuming and pointed towards his mother and his ability to restrain himself from transforming anger into physical harm towards his mother. This is a self assurance that he still has the control to prevent irrational actions.
Oh, my offence is rank. It smells to heaven.
It hath the primal eldest curse upon 't,
A brother's murder. Pray can I not.
Though inclination be as sharp as will,
My stronger guilt defeats my strong intent,
And, like a man to double business bound,
I stand in pause where I shall first begin,
And both neglect. What if this cursèd hand
Were thicker than itself with brother's blood?
Is there not rain enough in the sweet heavens
To wash it white as snow? Whereto serves mercy
But to confront the visage of offence?
And what's in prayer but this twofold force,
To be forestallèd ere we come to fall
Or pardoned being down? Then I'll look up.
My fault is past. But oh, what form of prayer
Can serve my turn, "Forgive me my foul murder"?
That cannot be, since I am still possessed
Of those effects for which I did the murder:
My crown, mine own ambition, and my queen.
May one be pardoned and retain th' offense?
In the corrupted currents of this world
Offense's gilded hand may shove by justice,
And oft 'tis seen the wicked prize itself
Buys out the law. But 'tis not so above.
There is no shuffling. There the action lies
In his true nature, and we ourselves compelled,
Even to the teeth and forehead of our faults,
To give in evidence. What then? What rests?
Try what repentance can. What can it not?
Yet what can it when one can not repent?
O wretched state! O bosom black as death!
O limèd soul that, struggling to be free,
Art more engaged! Help, angels. Make assay.
Bow, stubborn knees, and, heart with strings of steel,
Be soft as sinews of the newborn babe.
All may be well.
1. Claudius is speaking
3. Oh, my crime is so rotten it stinks all the way to heaven. It has the mark of Cain on it, a brother's murder. I can't pray, though I want to desperately. My guilt is stronger even than my intentions. And like a person with two opposite things to do at once, I stand paralyzed and neglect them both. So what if this cursed hand of mine is coated with my brother's blood? Isn't there enough rain in heaven to wash it clean as snow? Isn't that what God's mercy is for? And doesn't prayer serve these two purposes—to keep us from sinning and to bring us forgiveness when we have sinned? So I'll pray. I've already committed my sin. But, oh, what kind of prayer is there for me? "Dear Lord, forgive me for my horrible murder"? That won't work, since I'm still reaping the rewards of that murder: my crown and my queen. Can a person be forgiven and still keep the fruits of his crime? In this wicked world, criminals often take the money they stole and use it to buy off the law, shoving justice aside. But not in heaven. Up there, every action is judged for exactly what it's worth, and we're forced to confront our crimes. So what can I do? What is there left to do? Offer whatever repentance I can—that couldn't hurt. But it can't help either! Oh, what a lousy situation I'm in. My heart's as black as death. My soul is stuck to sin, and the more it struggles to break free, the more it sticks. Help me, angels! C'mon, make an effort. Bend, stubborn knees. Steely heart, be soft as a newborn babe, so I can pray. Perhaps everything will turn out okay after all.
4. Claudius bemoans the seriousness of his crime and attempts (fails) to pray away crime. He wonders if prayer even can wash away crime, and questions the purpose of prayer. He again attempts to pray, but is suddenly unsure of means of it. He wonders about forgiveness while he still retains prizes of his crime. It is a circular argument and Claudius is constantly questioning.
Now might I do it pat. Now he is a-praying.
And now I'll do 't. And so he goes to heaven.
And so am I revenged.—That would be scanned.
A villain kills my father, and, for that,
I, his sole son, do this same villain send
Oh, this is hire and salary, not revenge.
He took my father grossly, full of bread,
With all his crimes broad blown, as flush as May.
And how his audit stands who knows save heaven?
But in our circumstance and course of thought
'Tis heavy with him. And am I then revenged
To take him in the purging of his soul
When he is fit and seasoned for his passage?
Up, sword, and know thou a more horrid hent.
When he is drunk asleep, or in his rage,
Or in th' incestuous pleasure of his bed,
At game a-swearing, or about some act
That has no relish of salvation in 't—
Then trip him, that his heels may kick at heaven,
And that his soul may be as damned and black
As hell, whereto it goes. My mother stays
This physic but prolongs thy sickly days.
1. Hamlet is speaking
3. I could do it easily now. He's praying now. And now I'll do it. (he draws out his sword) And there he goes, off to heaven. And that's my revenge. I'd better think about this more carefully. A villain kills my father, and I, my father's only son, send this same villain to heaven. Seems like I just did him a favor. He killed my father when my father was enjoying life, with all his sins in full bloom, before my father could repent for any of them. Only God knows how many sins my father has to pay for. As for me, I don't think his prospects look so good. So is it really revenge for me if I kill Claudius right when he is confessing his sins, in perfect condition for a trip to heaven? No. Away, sword, and wait for a better moment to kill him. (he puts his sword away) When he's sleeping off some drunken orgy, or having incestuous sex, or swearing while he gambles, or committing some other act that has no goodness about it—that's when I'll trip him up and send him to hell with his heels kicking up at heaven. My mother's waiting. The king's trying to cure himself with prayer, but all he's doing is keeping himself alive a little longer.
4. Hamlet, ready to kill Claudius while he is praying, decides instead to kill him when he is less ready to go to heaven. The irony of this is that Claudius did not manage to pray, and the audience sees the dramatic irony that Hamlet is inches away from his goal. The "to be or not to be" is questioned here again because he is preparing for heaven, therefore the circumstances of death matter for after death.
a) What have I done, that thou darest wag thy tongue
In noise so rude against me?
b) uch an act
That blurs the grace and blush of modesty,
Calls virtue hypocrite, takes off the rose
From the fair forehead of an innocent love
And sets a blister there, makes marriage vows
As false as dicers' oaths—oh, such a deed
As from the body of contraction plucks
The very soul, and sweet religion makes
A rhapsody of words. Heaven's face doth glow
O'er this solidity and compound mass
With tristful visage, as against the doom,
Is thought-sick at the act.
a) Ay me, what act
That roars so loud and thunders in the index?
b) 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 mildewed ear
Blasting his wholesome brother. Have you eyes?
Could you on this fair mountain leave to feed
And batten on this moor? Ha, have you eyes?
You cannot call it love, for at your age
The heyday in the blood is tame, it's humble,
And waits upon the judgment. And what judgment
Would step from this to this? Sense sure you have,
Else could you not have motion. But sure that sense
Is apoplexed, for madness would not err,
Nor sense to ecstasy was ne'er so thralled,
But it reserved some quantity of choice
To serve in such a difference. What devil was 't
That thus hath cozened you at hoodman-blind?
Eyes without feeling, feeling without sight,
Ears without hands or eyes, smelling sans all,
Or but a sickly part of one true sense
Could not so mope. O shame, where is thy blush?
If thou canst mutine in a matron's bones,
To flaming youth let virtue be as wax
And melt in her own fire. Proclaim no shame
When the compulsive ardor gives the charge,
Since frost itself as actively doth burn,
And reason panders will.
a) O Hamlet, speak no more!
Thou turn'st mine eyes into my very soul,
And there I see such black and grainèd spots
As will not leave their tinct.
b) Nay, but to live
In the rank sweat of an enseamèd bed,
Stewed in corruption, honeying and making love
Over the nasty sty—
a) O, speak to me no more!
These words like daggers enter in my ears.
No more, sweet Hamlet.
b) A murderer and a villain,
A slave that is not twentieth part the tithe
Of your precedent lord, a vice of kings,
A cutpurse of the empire and the rule,
That from a shelf the precious diadem stole,
And put it in his pocket—
a) No more!
b) A king of shreds and patches—
Save me and hover o'er me with your wings,
You heavenly guards!—What would your gracious figure?
3/4. Hamlet interrupts mother's line, indicated urgency. "O, such a deed"--starts with this because says all bad thing. Heavy is portrayed as angry, embarrassed, disgusted. "Look here" is a switch in tactics, shows picture of father and Claudius and brings back father to shift blame to her. In 1.2, Hamlet says father is a man, not a god, now he is a god. In line 73, no enjambment b/c there is a finality to his statement. "Have you eyes" repetition shows shock, panicked anguish. 78-91 talks both to self and mother--angry at self, saying even if you were mad, you would have some judgement. Hamlet keeps pushing even though mother is already vulnerable.
My pulse as yours doth temperately keep time
And makes as healthful music. It is not madness
That I have uttered. Bring me to the test,
And I the matter will reword, which madness
Would gambol from. Mother, for love of grace,
Lay not that flattering unction to your soul
That not your trespass but my madness speaks.
It will but skin and film the ulcerous place
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. Forgive me this my virtue,
For in the fatness of these pursy times
Virtue itself of vice must pardon beg,
Yea, curb and woo for leave to do him good.
b) O Hamlet, thou hast cleft my heart in twain.
a) Oh, throw away the worser part of it,
And live the purer with the other half.
Good night—but go not to mine uncle's bed.
Assume a virtue if you have it not.
That monster, custom, who all sense doth eat,
Of habits devil, is angel yet in this:
That to the use of actions fair and good
He likewise gives a frock or livery
That aptly is put on. Refrain tonight,
And that shall lend a kind of easiness
To the next abstinence, the next more easy. For use almost can change the stamp of nature,
And either rein the devil or throw him out
With wondrous potency. Once more, good night,
And when you are desirous to be blessed,
I'll blessing beg of you. (points to POLONIUS)
For this same lord,
I do repent. But heaven hath pleased it so,
To punish me with this and this with me,
That I must be their scourge and minister.
I will bestow him and will answer well
The death I gave him. So, again, good night.
I must be cruel only to be kind.
Thus bad begins and worse remains behind.
a) I have sent to seek him and to find the body.
How dangerous is it that this man goes loose!
Yet must not we put the strong law on him.
He's loved of the distracted multitude,
Who like not in their judgment, but their eyes.
And where 'tis so, th' offender's scourge is weighed,
But never the offense. To bear all smooth and even,
This sudden sending him away must seem
Deliberate pause. Diseases desperate grown
By desperate appliance are relieved,
Or not at all.
How now, what hath befall'n?
b) Where the dead body is bestowed, my lord,
We cannot get from him.
a) But where is he?
b) Without, my lord; guarded, to know your pleasure.
a) Bring him before us.
b) Ho, Guildenstern! Bring in my lord.
a) Now, Hamlet, where's Polonius?
c) At supper.
a) At supper where?
c) Not where he eats, but where he is eaten. A certain convocation of politic worms are e'en at him. Your worm is your only emperor for diet. We fat all creatures else to fat us, and we fat ourselves for maggots. Your fat king and your lean beggar is but variable service—two dishes, but to one table. That's the end.
a) Alas, alas!
c) A man may fish with the worm that hath eat of a king, and eat of the fish that hath fed of that worm.
a) What dost you mean by this?
c) Nothing but to show you how a king may go a progress through the guts of a beggar.
a) Where is Polonius?
c) In heaven. Send hither to see. If your messenger find him not there, seek him i' th' other place yourself. But if indeed you find him not within this month, you shall nose him as you go up the stairs into the lobby.
a) (to attendants) Go seek him there.
c) He will stay till ye come.
a) Hamlet, this deed, for thine especial safety—
Which we do tender as we dearly grieve
For that which thou hast done—must send thee hence
With fiery quickness. Therefore prepare thyself.
The bark is ready and the wind at help,
Th' associates tend, and everything is bent
c) For England?
a) Ay, Hamlet,
a) So is it, if thou knew'st our purposes.
c) I see a cherub that sees them. But come, for England.
Farewell, dear mother.
a) Thy loving father, Hamlet.
c) My mother. Father and mother is man and wife, man and wife is one flesh, and so, my mother.—Come, for England!
a) Follow him at foot. Tempt him with speed aboard.
Delay it not. I'll have him hence tonight.
Away! For everything is sealed and done
That else leans on the affair. Pray you, make haste.
And, England, if my love thou hold'st at aught—
As my great power thereof may give thee sense,
Since yet thy cicatrice looks raw and red
After the Danish sword and thy free awe
Pays homage to us—thou mayst not coldly set
Our sovereign process, which imports at full,
By letters congruing to that effect,
The present death of Hamlet. Do it, England,
For like the hectic in my blood he rages,
And thou must cure me. Till I know 'tis done,
Howe'er my haps, my joys were ne'er begun.
How all occasions do inform against me,
And spur my dull revenge! What is a man
If his chief good and market of his time
Be but to sleep and feed? A beast, no more.
Sure, he that made us with such large discourse,
Looking before and after, gave us not
That capability and godlike reason
To fust in us unused. Now, whether it be
Bestial oblivion, or some craven scruple
Of thinking too precisely on th' event—
A thought which, quartered, hath but one part wisdom
And ever three parts coward—I do not know
Why yet I live to say "This thing's to do,"
Sith I have cause and will and strength and means
To do 't. Examples gross as earth exhort me.
Witness this army of such mass and charge
Led by a delicate and tender prince,
Whose spirit with divine ambition puffed
Makes mouths at the invisible event,
Exposing what is mortal and unsure
To all that fortune, death, and danger dare,
Even for an eggshell. Rightly to be great
Is not to stir without great argument,
But greatly to find quarrel in a straw
When honor's at the stake. How stand I then,
That have a father killed, a mother stained,
Excitements of my reason and my blood,
And let all sleep—while, to my shame, I see
The imminent death of twenty thousand men,
That for a fantasy and trick of fame
Go to their graves like beds, fight for a plot
Whereon the numbers cannot try the cause,
Which is not tomb enough and continent
To hide the slain? Oh, from this time forth,
My thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth!
a) How came he dead? I'll not be juggled with.
To hell, allegiance! Vows, to the blackest devil!
Conscience and grace, to the profoundest pit!
I dare damnation. To this point I stand
That both the worlds I give to negligence.
Let come what comes, only I'll be revenged
Most thoroughly for my father.
b) Who shall stay you?
a) My will, not all the world.
And for my means, I'll husband them so well,
They shall go far with little.
b) Good Laertes,
If you desire to know the certainty
Of your dear father's death, is 't writ in your revenge,
That, swoopstake, you will draw both friend and foe,
Winner and loser?
a) None but his enemies.
b) Will you know them then?
a) To his good friends thus wide I'll ope my arms
And, like the kind life-rendering pelican,
Repast them with my blood.
3. L: How did he end up dead? Don't mess with me. To hell with my vows of allegiance to you! Vows can go to hell! Conscience, too! I don't care if I'm damned. I don't care what happens to me in this world or the next. Whatever happens, happens, but I'll get revenge for my father's murder.
C: Who's stopping you?
L: Only my free will—nothing else. What little means I have, I'll use against you.
C: My dear Laertes, in your eagerness to know the truth about your father's death, are you determined to hurt your father's friends and enemies alike?
L: No, only his enemies.
C: Do you want to know who they are, then?
L: I'll open my arms wide to his true friends, and like a mother pelican with her brood, I'll even give my life for them.
4. Laertes a foil to Hamlet, a man of action. Pelican: feeding with own blood.
Caseura vs. enjambment here.
a) O heat, dry up my brains! Tears seven times salt,
Burn out the sense and virtue of mine eye!
By heaven, thy madness shall be paid by weight,
Till our scale turn the beam. O rose of May,
Dear maid, kind sister, sweet Ophelia!
O heavens, is 't possible a young maid's wits
Should be as mortal as an old man's life?
Nature is fine in love, and where 'tis fine,
It sends some precious instance of itself
After the thing it loves.
b) They bore him barefaced on the bier,
Hey, non nonny, nonny, hey, nonny,
And in his grave rained many a tear.
Fare you well, my dove.
a) Hadst thou thy wits, and didst persuade revenge,
It could not move thus.
b) You must sing A-down a-down—And you, Call him a- down-a—Oh, how the wheel becomes it! It is the false steward that stole his master's daughter.
a) This nothing's more than matter.
b) There's rosemary, that's for remembrance. Pray you, love, remember. And there is pansies, that's for thoughts.
a) A document in madness. Thoughts and remembrance fitted.
b) There's fennel for you, and columbines.—There's rue for you, and here's some for me. We may call it "herb of grace" o' Sundays.—Oh, you must wear your rue with a difference.—There's a daisy. I would give you some violets, but they withered all when my father died. They say he made a good end (sings) For bonny sweet Robin is all my joy—
a) Thought and affliction, passion, hell itself,
She turns to favor and to prettiness.
And will he not come again?
And will he not come again?
No, no, he is dead,
Go to thy deathbed.
He never will come again.
His beard was as white as snow,
All flaxen was his poll.
He is gone, he is gone,
And we cast away moan,
God ha' mercy on his soul.—
And of all Christian souls, I pray God. God be wi' ye.
3. First part: Oh, heat, dry up my brains! Salty tears, burn my eyes! By heaven, I'll get revenge for your madness! Oh, you springtime rose, dear maiden, kind sister, sweet Ophelia! Is it possible that a young woman's mind could fade away as easily as an old man's life? Human nature is refined and thoughtful—person graciously gives a valuable part of herself away to her beloved, as Ophelia has sent off her sanity to her dead father.
4. "Oh heat, dry up my brains...tears seven times salt:" sad, dramatic in and of itself. "Burn out..mine eye:" woe is me, tears to blind him, and recognizes O's complete madness. "By heaven...the beam:" angry, will get much revenged until the scales are balanced. "O rose of May...sweet Ophelia:" exclaiming, praising who she used to be. "Wits vs. life:" seeks answer from universe, you are changed when you give away wits for love. "More than matter:" madness more telling than real matter. When is this true?
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
Clambering 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 a while they bore her up,
Which time she chanted snatches of old lauds
As one incapable of her own distress,
Or like a creature native and indued
Unto that element. But long it could not be
Till that her garments, heavy with their drink,
Pulled the poor wretch from her melodious lay
To muddy death.
2. Laertes and Claudius
3. There's a willow that leans over the brook, dangling its white leaves over the glassy water. Ophelia made wild wreaths out of those leaves, braiding in crowflowers, thistles, daisies, and the orchises that vulgar shepherds have an obscene name for, but which pure-minded girls call "dead men's fingers." Climbing into the tree to hang the wreath of weeds on the hanging branches, she and her flowers fell into the gurgling brook. Her clothes spread out wide in the water, and buoyed her up for a while as she sang bits of old hymns, acting like someone who doesn't realize the danger she's in, or like someone completely accustomed to danger. But it was only a matter of time before her clothes, heavy with the water they absorbed, pulled the poor thing out of her song, down into the mud at the bottom of the brook.
4. Makes the death beautiful, calm, Ophelia is not struggling. Represents own fragility, beauty, innocence as she dies. Flowers back to her giving flowers before she died.
a) Whose grave's this, sirrah?
b) Mine, sir.
Oh, a pit of clay for to be made
For such a guest is meet.
a) I think it be thine, indeed, for thou liest in 't.
b) You lie out on 't, sir, and therefore it is not yours. For my part, I do not lie in 't, and yet it is mine.
a) Thou dost lie in 't, to be in 't and say it is thine. 'Tis for the dead, not for the quick. Therefore thou liest.
b) 'Tis a quick lie, sir. 'Twill away gain from me to you.
a) What man dost thou dig it for?
b) For no man, sir.
a) What woman, then?
b) For none, neither.
a) Who is to be buried in 't?
b) One that was a woman, sir, but, rest her soul, she's dead.
a) How absolute the knave is! We must speak by the card, or equivocation will undo us. By the Lord, Horatio, these three years I have taken a 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 a grave-maker?
b) Of all the days i' the year, I came to 't that day that our last
King Hamlet overcame Fortinbras.
a) How long is that since?
b) Cannot you tell that? Every fool can tell that. It was the very day that young Hamlet was born, he that is mad and sent into England.
a) Ay, marry, why was he sent into England?
b) Why, because he was mad. He shall recover his wits there, or, if he do not, it's no great matter there.
b) 'Twill not be seen in him there. There the men are as mad as he.
a) How came he mad?
b) Very strangely, they say.
a) How "strangely"?
b) Faith, e'en with losing his wits.
a) Upon what ground?
b) Why, here in Denmark. I have been sexton here, man and boy, thirty years.
a) How long will a man lie i' the earth ere he rot?
b) 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 year.
a) Why he more than another?
b) 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. (indicates a skull) Here's a skull now. This skull has lain in the earth three-and-twenty years.
a) Whose was it?
b) A whoreson mad fellow's it was. Whose do you think it was?
a) A whoreson mad fellow's it was. Whose do you think it was?
b) A pestilence on him for a mad rogue! He poured a flagon of Rhenish on my head once. This same skull, sir, was Yorick's skull, the king's jester.
b) E'en that.
a) Let me see.
a) Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio, a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy. He hath borne 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.
b) What's that, my lord?
a) Dost thou think Alexander looked o' this fashion i' th' earth?
b) E'en so.
a) And smelt so? Pah!
b) E'en so, my lord.
a) 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?
b) 'Twere to consider too curiously, to consider so.
a) 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.
Oh, that that earth, which kept the world in awe,
Should patch a wall t' expel the winter's flaw!
3. (Part 1) Ham: Oh, poor Yorick! I used to know him, Horatio—a very funny guy, and with an excellent imagination. He carried me on his back a thousand times, and now—how terrible—this is him. It makes my stomach turn. I don't know how many times I kissed the lips that used to be right here. Where are your jokes now? Your pranks? Your songs?
Your flashes of wit that used to set the whole table laughing? You don't make anybody smile now. Are you sad about that? You need to go to my lady's room and tell her that no matter how much makeup she slathers on, she'll end up just like you some day. That'll make her laugh. Horatio, tell me something.
Horat: What's that, my lord?
Ham: Do you think Alexander the Great looked like this when he was buried?
4. Hamlet literally comes face to face to death in this scene, talking to old Jester Yorrick and seeing literally what he has become. He sees the logic that Yorrick, Alexander the Great, and Caesar all turn to dust and are therefore indistinguishable in death. He is fascinated by this, and it is somewhat of an answer to "to be or not to be." Is there anything after death? Because now, all look the same.
a) Why, I will fight with him upon this theme
Until my eyelids will no longer wag.
b) O my son, what theme?
a) I loved Ophelia. Forty thousand brothers
Could not with all their quantity of love
Make up my sum. What wilt thou do for her?
c) O, he is mad, Laertes.
b)For love of God, forbear him.
a) 'Swounds, show me what thou'lt do.
Woo't weep? Woo't fight? Woo't fast? Woo't tear thyself?
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.
b) This is mere madness.
And thus a while 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.
a) 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.
1. Hamlet is speaking
2. Gertrude, Claudius, Laertes
3. (first part) Damn it, show me what you're going to do for her. Will you cry? Fight? Stop eating? Cut yourself? Drink vinegar? Eat a crocodile? I'll do all that. Did you come here to whine? To outdo me by jumping into her grave so theatrically? To be buried alive with her? So will I. And if you rattle on about mountains, then let them throw millions of acres over us. It will be so high a peak that it scrapes against heaven and makes Mount Ossa look like a wart. See? I can talk crazy as well as you.
4. Hamlet wants to prove to Laertes that he too is a man of action and loved Ophelia. He may or may not be sincere, but this is a different Hamlet than the one who left for England. He claims to act and that he loved Ophelia, even though he was using her. Gertrude tries to cut in to stand up for Hamlet's lunacy, but Hamlet wants to fight own battles. The end is kind of return to the old Hamlet. There is a vague threat at the end as he decides to end the conversation and leave, which implies scheming, not action. Still, as he calms down and doesn't continue to rise agains Laertes like he did against his mother in the closet scene.
a) 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.
b) Never believe it.
I am more an antique Roman than a Dane.
Here's yet some liquor left.
(lifts the poisoned cup)
a) As thou'rt a man,
Give me the cup. Let go! By heaven, I'll have 't.
(takes cup from HORATIO)
O God, 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 a while,
And in this harsh world draw thy breath in pain
To tell my story.
What warlike noise is this?
c) Young Fortinbras, with conquest come from Poland,
To th' ambassadors of England gives
This warlike volley.
a) 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 the 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.
b) Now cracks a noble heart.—Good night, sweet prince,
And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!
2. Horatio, later Osric
3. God will free you from blame. I'll follow you to heaven in a minute.—I'm dying, Horatio.—Goodbye, miserable queen.—And all you people watching, pale and trembling, speechless spectators of these acts, I could tell you a thing or two if I had the time (though this cruel officer, Death, doesn't allow much free time). Let it be.—Horatio, I'm dying. You're alive. Tell everyone what happened; set the story straight...Please, give me that goblet, if you love me. Let go of it! I'll get it from you, I swear. Oh God, Horatio, what a damaged reputation I'm leaving behind me, as no one knows the truth. If you ever loved me, then please postpone the sweet relief of death awhile, and stay in this harsh world long enough to tell my story...Oh, I'm dying, Horatio! This strong poison's overpowering me. I will not live to hear the news from England. But I bet Fortinbras will win the election to the Danish crown. He's got my vote as I die. So tell him that, given the recent events here—oh, the rest is silence.
4. Wants death to be told, ironic to the viewer since we know his story. Hamlet very calm in death, accepting; takes dying to realize what is important--not where he goes, but what he is leaving behind. He wants to say he hasn't given up on humanity or heaven, but he also doesn't want the kingdom to return to happiness. There is a contrast of death to harsh labor in living.