Hamlet - Act 1, scene 4
Last updated: Tue, Jun 02, 2020
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Act 1, scene 4
While Claudius drinks away the night, Hamlet, Horatio, and Marcellus are visited by the Ghost. It signals to Hamlet. Hamlet’s friends try to stop his following the Ghost, but Hamlet will not be held back.Enter Hamlet, Horatio, and Marcellus.
0617 The air bites shrewdly; it is very cold.
0618 It is ⟨a⟩ nipping and an eager air.
HAMLET 0619 What hour now?
HORATIO 0620 I think it lacks of twelve.
MARCELLUS 0621 5No, it is struck.
0622 Indeed, I heard it not. It then draws near the season
0623 Wherein the spirit held his wont to walk.
A flourish of trumpets and two pieces goes off.
0624 What does this mean, my lord?
0625 The King doth wake tonight and takes his rouse,
0626 10 Keeps wassail, and the swagg’ring upspring reels;
0627 And, as he drains his draughts of Rhenish down,
0628 The kettledrum and trumpet thus bray out
0629 The triumph of his pledge.
HORATIO 0630 Is it a custom?
HAMLET 0631 15Ay, marry, is ’t,
0632 But, to my mind, though I am native here
0633 And to the manner born, it is a custom
0634 More honored in the breach than the observance.
0635 [This heavy-headed ⌜revel⌝ east and west
0636 20 Makes us traduced and taxed of other nations.
0637 They clepe us drunkards and with swinish phrase
0638 Soil our addition. And, indeed, it takes
0641 25 The pith and marrow of our attribute.
0642 So oft it chances in particular men
0643 That for some vicious mole of nature in them,
0644 As in their birth (wherein they are not guilty,
0645 Since nature cannot choose his origin),
0646 30 By ⌜the⌝ o’ergrowth of some complexion
0647 (Oft breaking down the pales and forts of reason),
0648 Or by some habit that too much o’erleavens
0649 The form of plausive manners—that these men,
0650 Carrying, I say, the stamp of one defect,
0651 35 Being nature’s livery or fortune’s star,
0652 His virtues else, be they as pure as grace,
0653 As infinite as man may undergo,
0654 Shall in the general censure take corruption
0655 From that particular fault. The dram of ⌜evil⌝
0656 40 Doth all the noble substance of a doubt
0657 To his own scandal.]
HORATIO 0658 Look, my lord, it comes.
0659 Angels and ministers of grace, defend us!
0660 Be thou a spirit of health or goblin damned,
0661 45 Bring with thee airs from heaven or blasts from
0663 Be thy intents wicked or charitable,
0664 Thou com’st in such a questionable shape
0665 That I will speak to thee. I’ll call thee “Hamlet,”
0666 50 “King,” “Father,” “Royal Dane.” O, answer me!
0667 Let me not burst in ignorance, but tell
0668 Why thy canonized bones, hearsèd in death,
0669 Have burst their cerements; why the sepulcher,
0670 Wherein we saw thee quietly interred,
0671 55 Hath oped his ponderous and marble jaws
0673 That thou, dead corse, again in complete steel,
0674 Revisits thus the glimpses of the moon,
0675 Making night hideous, and we fools of nature
0676 60 So horridly to shake our disposition
0677 With thoughts beyond the reaches of our souls?
0678 Say, why is this? Wherefore? What should we do?
0679 It beckons you to go away with it
0680 As if it some impartment did desire
0681 65 To you alone.
MARCELLUS 0682 Look with what courteous action
0683 It waves you to a more removèd ground.
0684 But do not go with it.
HORATIO 0685 No, by no means.
0686 70 It will not speak. Then I will follow it.
0687 Do not, my lord.
HAMLET 0688 Why, what should be the fear?
0689 I do not set my life at a pin’s fee.
0690 And for my soul, what can it do to that,
0691 75 Being a thing immortal as itself?
0692 It waves me forth again. I’ll follow it.
0693 What if it tempt you toward the flood, my lord?
0694 Or to the dreadful summit of the cliff
0695 That beetles o’er his base into the sea,
0696 80 And there assume some other horrible form
0697 Which might deprive your sovereignty of reason
0698 And draw you into madness? Think of it.
0699 [The very place puts toys of desperation,
0700 Without more motive, into every brain
0701 85 That looks so many fathoms to the sea
0702 And hears it roar beneath.]
0703 It waves me still.—Go on, I’ll follow thee.
0704 You shall not go, my lord.⌜They hold back Hamlet.⌝
HAMLET 0705 Hold off your hands.
0706 90 Be ruled. You shall not go.
HAMLET 0707 My fate cries out
0708 And makes each petty arture in this body
0709 As hardy as the Nemean lion’s nerve.
0710 Still am I called. Unhand me, gentlemen.
0711 95 By heaven, I’ll make a ghost of him that lets me!
0712 I say, away!—Go on. I’ll follow thee.
Ghost and Hamlet exit.
0713 He waxes desperate with imagination.
0714 Let’s follow. ’Tis not fit thus to obey him.
0715 Have after. To what issue will this come?
0716 100 Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.
0717 Heaven will direct it.
MARCELLUS 0718 Nay, let’s follow him.