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Navigate this workHamlet
Act 1, scene 2
In an audience chamber in Elsinore, Claudius, the new king of Denmark, holds court. After thanking his courtiers for their recent support, he dispatches ambassadors to Norway to halt a threatened attack from Fortinbras. He gives Laertes permission to return to France but denies Hamlet’s request to return to the university in Wittenberg. Hamlet, mourning for his father’s death, is left alone to vent his despair at what he regards as his mother’s all too hasty marriage to his uncle, Claudius. The audience learns that the marriage took place “within a month” of the former king’s death.
Horatio, Barnardo, and Marcellus arrive and tell Hamlet about the Ghost. Hamlet makes plans to join them that night.Flourish. Enter Claudius, King of Denmark, Gertrude the
Queen, ⌜the⌝ Council, as Polonius, and his son Laertes,
Hamlet, with others, ⌜among them Voltemand and
0191 Though yet of Hamlet our dear brother’s death
0192 The memory be green, and that it us befitted
0193 To bear our hearts in grief, and our whole kingdom
0194 To be contracted in one brow of woe,
0195 5 Yet so far hath discretion fought with nature
0196 That we with wisest sorrow think on him
0197 Together with remembrance of ourselves.
0198 Therefore our sometime sister, now our queen,
0199 Th’ imperial jointress to this warlike state,
0200 10 Have we (as ’twere with a defeated joy,
0201 With an auspicious and a dropping eye,
0202 With mirth in funeral and with dirge in marriage,
0203 In equal scale weighing delight and dole)
0204 Taken to wife. Nor have we herein barred
0205 15 Your better wisdoms, which have freely gone
0206 With this affair along. For all, our thanks.
0207 Now follows that you know. Young Fortinbras,
0208 Holding a weak supposal of our worth
0209 Or thinking by our late dear brother’s death
0210 20 Our state to be disjoint and out of frame,
0211 Colleaguèd with this dream of his advantage,
0212 He hath not failed to pester us with message
0213 Importing the surrender of those lands
0214 Lost by his father, with all bonds of law,
0215 25 To our most valiant brother—so much for him.
0216 Now for ourself and for this time of meeting.
0217 Thus much the business is: we have here writ
0218 To Norway, uncle of young Fortinbras,
0219 Who, impotent and bedrid, scarcely hears
0221 His further gait herein, in that the levies,
0222 The lists, and full proportions are all made
0223 Out of his subject; and we here dispatch
0224 You, good Cornelius, and you, Voltemand,
0225 35 For bearers of this greeting to old Norway,
0226 Giving to you no further personal power
0227 To business with the King more than the scope
0228 Of these dilated articles allow.
⌜Giving them a paper.⌝
0229 Farewell, and let your haste commend your duty.
0230 40 In that and all things will we show our duty.
0231 We doubt it nothing. Heartily farewell.
⟨Voltemand and Cornelius exit.⟩
0232 And now, Laertes, what’s the news with you?
0233 You told us of some suit. What is ’t, Laertes?
0234 You cannot speak of reason to the Dane
0235 45 And lose your voice. What wouldst thou beg,
0237 That shall not be my offer, not thy asking?
0238 The head is not more native to the heart,
0239 The hand more instrumental to the mouth,
0240 50 Than is the throne of Denmark to thy father.
0241 What wouldst thou have, Laertes?
LAERTES 0242 My dread lord,
0243 Your leave and favor to return to France,
0244 From whence though willingly I came to Denmark
0245 55 To show my duty in your coronation,
0246 Yet now I must confess, that duty done,
0247 My thoughts and wishes bend again toward France
0248 And bow them to your gracious leave and pardon.
0249 Have you your father’s leave? What says Polonius?
0250 60 Hath, my lord, [wrung from me my slow leave
0251 By laborsome petition, and at last
0252 Upon his will I sealed my hard consent.]
0253 I do beseech you give him leave to go.
0254 Take thy fair hour, Laertes. Time be thine,
0255 65 And thy best graces spend it at thy will.—
0256 But now, my cousin Hamlet and my son—
0257 A little more than kin and less than kind.
0258 How is it that the clouds still hang on you?
0259 Not so, my lord; I am too much in the sun.
0260 70 Good Hamlet, cast thy nighted color off,
0261 And let thine eye look like a friend on Denmark.
0262 Do not forever with thy vailèd lids
0263 Seek for thy noble father in the dust.
0264 Thou know’st ’tis common; all that lives must die,
0265 75 Passing through nature to eternity.
0266 Ay, madam, it is common.
QUEEN 0267 If it be,
0268 Why seems it so particular with thee?
0269 “Seems,” madam? Nay, it is. I know not “seems.”
0270 80 ’Tis not alone my inky cloak, ⟨good⟩ mother,
0271 Nor customary suits of solemn black,
0272 Nor windy suspiration of forced breath,
0273 No, nor the fruitful river in the eye,
0274 Nor the dejected havior of the visage,
0275 85 Together with all forms, moods, ⌜shapes⌝ of grief,
0276 That can ⟨denote⟩ me truly. These indeed “seem,”
0277 For they are actions that a man might play;
0279 These but the trappings and the suits of woe.
0280 90 ’Tis sweet and commendable in your nature,
0282 To give these mourning duties to your father.
0283 But you must know your father lost a father,
0284 That father lost, lost his, and the survivor bound
0285 95 In filial obligation for some term
0286 To do obsequious sorrow. But to persever
0287 In obstinate condolement is a course
0288 Of impious stubbornness. ’Tis unmanly grief.
0289 It shows a will most incorrect to heaven,
0290 100 A heart unfortified, ⟨a⟩ mind impatient,
0291 An understanding simple and unschooled.
0292 For what we know must be and is as common
0293 As any the most vulgar thing to sense,
0294 Why should we in our peevish opposition
0295 105 Take it to heart? Fie, ’tis a fault to heaven,
0296 A fault against the dead, a fault to nature,
0297 To reason most absurd, whose common theme
0298 Is death of fathers, and who still hath cried,
0299 From the first corse till he that died today,
0300 110 “This must be so.” We pray you, throw to earth
0301 This unprevailing woe and think of us
0302 As of a father; for let the world take note,
0303 You are the most immediate to our throne,
0304 And with no less nobility of love
0305 115 Than that which dearest father bears his son
0306 Do I impart toward you. For your intent
0307 In going back to school in Wittenberg,
0308 It is most retrograde to our desire,
0309 And we beseech you, bend you to remain
0310 120 Here in the cheer and comfort of our eye,
0311 Our chiefest courtier, cousin, and our son.
0312 Let not thy mother lose her prayers, Hamlet.
0313 I pray thee, stay with us. Go not to Wittenberg.
0314 I shall in all my best obey you, madam.
0315 125 Why, ’tis a loving and a fair reply.
0316 Be as ourself in Denmark.—Madam, come.
0317 This gentle and unforced accord of Hamlet
0318 Sits smiling to my heart, in grace whereof
0319 No jocund health that Denmark drinks today
0320 130 But the great cannon to the clouds shall tell,
0321 And the King’s rouse the heaven shall bruit again,
0322 Respeaking earthly thunder. Come away.
Flourish. All but Hamlet exit.
0323 O, that this too, too sullied flesh would melt,
0324 Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew,
0325 135 Or that the Everlasting had not fixed
0326 His canon ’gainst ⟨self-slaughter!⟩ O God, God,
0327 How ⟨weary,⟩ stale, flat, and unprofitable
0328 Seem to me all the uses of this world!
0329 Fie on ’t, ah fie! ’Tis an unweeded garden
0330 140 That grows to seed. Things rank and gross in nature
0331 Possess it merely. That it should come ⟨to this:⟩
0332 But two months dead—nay, not so much, not two.
0333 So excellent a king, that was to this
0334 Hyperion to a satyr; so loving to my mother
0335 145 That he might not beteem the winds of heaven
0336 Visit her face too roughly. Heaven and Earth,
0337 Must I remember? Why, she ⟨would⟩ hang on him
0338 As if increase of appetite had grown
0339 By what it fed on. And yet, within a month
0340 150 (Let me not think on ’t; frailty, thy name is woman!),
0341 A little month, or ere those shoes were old
0342 With which she followed my poor father’s body,
0344 (O God, a beast that wants discourse of reason
0345 155 Would have mourned longer!), married with my
0347 My father’s brother, but no more like my father
0348 Than I to Hercules. Within a month,
0349 Ere yet the salt of most unrighteous tears
0350 160 Had left the flushing in her gallèd eyes,
0351 She married. O, most wicked speed, to post
0352 With such dexterity to incestuous sheets!
0353 It is not, nor it cannot come to good.
0354 But break, my heart, for I must hold my tongue.
Enter Horatio, Marcellus, and Barnardo.
HORATIO 0355 165Hail to your Lordship.
HAMLET 0356 I am glad to see you well.
0357 Horatio—or I do forget myself!
0358 The same, my lord, and your poor servant ever.
0359 Sir, my good friend. I’ll change that name with you.
0360 170 And what make you from Wittenberg, Horatio?—
MARCELLUS 0362 My good lord.
0363 I am very glad to see you. ⌜To Barnardo.⌝ Good
0364 even, sir.—
0365 175 But what, in faith, make you from Wittenberg?
0366 A truant disposition, good my lord.
0367 I would not hear your enemy say so,
0368 Nor shall you do my ear that violence
0369 To make it truster of your own report
0370 180 Against yourself. I know you are no truant.
0371 But what is your affair in Elsinore?
0372 We’ll teach you to drink ⟨deep⟩ ere you depart.
0373 My lord, I came to see your father’s funeral.
0374 I prithee, do not mock me, fellow student.
0375 185 I think it was to ⟨see⟩ my mother’s wedding.
0376 Indeed, my lord, it followed hard upon.
0377 Thrift, thrift, Horatio. The funeral baked meats
0378 Did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables.
0379 Would I had met my dearest foe in heaven
0380 190 Or ever I had seen that day, Horatio!
0381 My father—methinks I see my father.
0382 Where, my lord?
HAMLET 0383 In my mind’s eye, Horatio.
0384 I saw him once. He was a goodly king.
0385 195 He was a man. Take him for all in all,
0386 I shall not look upon his like again.
0387 My lord, I think I saw him yesternight.
HAMLET 0388 Saw who?
0389 My lord, the King your father.
HAMLET 0390 200 The King my father?
0391 Season your admiration for a while
0392 With an attent ear, till I may deliver
0393 Upon the witness of these gentlemen
0394 This marvel to you.
HAMLET 0395 205 For God’s love, let me hear!
0396 Two nights together had these gentlemen,
0397 Marcellus and Barnardo, on their watch,
0399 Been thus encountered: a figure like your father,
0400 210 Armed at point exactly, cap-à-pie,
0401 Appears before them and with solemn march
0402 Goes slow and stately by them. Thrice he walked
0403 By their oppressed and fear-surprisèd eyes
0404 Within his truncheon’s length, whilst they, distilled
0405 215 Almost to jelly with the act of fear,
0406 Stand dumb and speak not to him. This to me
0407 In dreadful secrecy impart they did,
0408 And I with them the third night kept the watch,
0409 ⌜Where, as⌝ they had delivered, both in time,
0410 220 Form of the thing (each word made true and good),
0411 The apparition comes. I knew your father;
0412 These hands are not more like.
HAMLET 0413 But where was this?
0414 My lord, upon the platform where we watch.
0415 225 Did you not speak to it?
HORATIO 0416 My lord, I did,
0417 But answer made it none. Yet once methought
0418 It lifted up its head and did address
0419 Itself to motion, like as it would speak;
0420 230 But even then the morning cock crew loud,
0421 And at the sound it shrunk in haste away
0422 And vanished from our sight.
HAMLET 0423 ’Tis very strange.
0424 As I do live, my honored lord, ’tis true.
0425 235 And we did think it writ down in our duty
0426 To let you know of it.
HAMLET 0427 Indeed, sirs, but this troubles me.
0428 Hold you the watch tonight?
ALL 0429 We do, my lord.
0430 240 Armed, say you?
HAMLET 0432 From top to toe?
ALL 0433 My lord, from head to foot.
HAMLET 0434 Then saw you not his face?
0435 245 O, yes, my lord, he wore his beaver up.
HAMLET 0436 What, looked he frowningly?
0437 A countenance more in sorrow than in anger.
HAMLET 0438 Pale or red?
0439 Nay, very pale.
HAMLET 0440 250 And fixed his eyes upon you?
0441 Most constantly.
HAMLET 0442 I would I had been there.
HORATIO 0443 It would have much amazed you.
HAMLET 0444 Very like. Stayed it long?
0445 255 While one with moderate haste might tell a
BARNARDO/MARCELLUS 0447 Longer, longer.
0448 Not when I saw ’t.
HAMLET 0449 His beard was grizzled, no?
0450 260 It was as I have seen it in his life,
0451 A sable silvered.
HAMLET 0452 I will watch ⌜tonight.⌝
0453 Perchance ’twill walk again.
HORATIO 0454 I warrant it will.
0455 265 If it assume my noble father’s person,
0456 I’ll speak to it, though hell itself should gape
0457 And bid me hold my peace. I pray you all,
0458 If you have hitherto concealed this sight,
0460 270 And whatsomever else shall hap tonight,
0461 Give it an understanding but no tongue.
0462 I will requite your loves. So fare you well.
0463 Upon the platform, ’twixt eleven and twelve,
0464 I’ll visit you.
ALL 0465 275 Our duty to your Honor.
0466 Your loves, as mine to you. Farewell.
⌜All but Hamlet⌝ exit.
0467 My father’s spirit—in arms! All is not well.
0468 I doubt some foul play. Would the night were come!
0469 Till then, sit still, my soul. ⟨Foul⟩ deeds will rise,
0470 280 Though all the earth o’erwhelm them, to men’s