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Navigate this workHamlet
Act 3, scene 1
After Rosencrantz and Guildenstern report their failure to find the cause of Hamlet’s madness, Polonius places Ophelia where he and Claudius may secretly observe a meeting between her and Hamlet. Hamlet is at first courteous to Ophelia, but suddenly he turns on her: he denies having loved her, asks where her father is, attacks womankind, and tells her she should enter a nunnery. After Hamlet exits, Claudius decides that Hamlet’s erratic behavior is not caused by love and announces a plan to send Hamlet on an embassy to England. Polonius persuades Claudius to take no action until Gertrude talks with Hamlet after the play, which is scheduled for that evening.Enter King, Queen, Polonius, Ophelia, Rosencrantz,
Guildenstern, ⟨and⟩ Lords.
1699 And can you by no drift of conference
1700 Get from him why he puts on this confusion,
1701 Grating so harshly all his days of quiet
1702 With turbulent and dangerous lunacy?
1703 5 He does confess he feels himself distracted,
1704 But from what cause he will by no means speak.
1705 Nor do we find him forward to be sounded,
1706 But with a crafty madness keeps aloof
1707 When we would bring him on to some confession
1708 10 Of his true state.
QUEEN 1709 Did he receive you well?
ROSENCRANTZ 1710 Most like a gentleman.
1711 But with much forcing of his disposition.
1712 Niggard of question, but of our demands
1713 15 Most free in his reply.
QUEEN 1714 Did you assay him to any pastime?
1715 Madam, it so fell out that certain players
1717 And there did seem in him a kind of joy
1718 20 To hear of it. They are here about the court,
1719 And, as I think, they have already order
1720 This night to play before him.
POLONIUS 1721 ’Tis most true,
1722 And he beseeched me to entreat your Majesties
1723 25 To hear and see the matter.
1724 With all my heart, and it doth much content me
1725 To hear him so inclined.
1726 Good gentlemen, give him a further edge
1727 And drive his purpose into these delights.
1728 30 We shall, my lord.Rosencrantz and Guildenstern
⌜and Lords⌝ exit.
KING 1729 Sweet Gertrude, leave us ⟨too,⟩
1730 For we have closely sent for Hamlet hither,
1731 That he, as ’twere by accident, may here
1732 Affront Ophelia.
1733 35 Her father and myself, ⟨lawful espials,⟩
1734 ⟨Will⟩ so bestow ourselves that, seeing unseen,
1735 We may of their encounter frankly judge
1736 And gather by him, as he is behaved,
1737 If ’t be th’ affliction of his love or no
1738 40 That thus he suffers for.
QUEEN 1739 I shall obey you.
1740 And for your part, Ophelia, I do wish
1741 That your good beauties be the happy cause
1742 Of Hamlet’s wildness. So shall I hope your virtues
1743 45 Will bring him to his wonted way again,
1744 To both your honors.
OPHELIA 1745 Madam, I wish it may.
1746 Ophelia, walk you here.—Gracious, so please you,
1748 50 book,
1749 That show of such an exercise may color
1750 Your ⟨loneliness.⟩—We are oft to blame in this
1751 (’Tis too much proved), that with devotion’s visage
1752 And pious action we do sugar o’er
1753 55 The devil himself.
KING, ⌜aside⌝ 1754 O, ’tis too true!
1755 How smart a lash that speech doth give my
1757 The harlot’s cheek beautied with plast’ring art
1758 60 Is not more ugly to the thing that helps it
1759 Than is my deed to my most painted word.
1760 O heavy burden!
1761 I hear him coming. ⟨Let’s⟩ withdraw, my lord.
1762 To be or not to be—that is the question:
1763 65 Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
1764 The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
1765 Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
1766 And, by opposing, end them. To die, to sleep—
1767 No more—and by a sleep to say we end
1768 70 The heartache and the thousand natural shocks
1769 That flesh is heir to—’tis a consummation
1770 Devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep—
1771 To sleep, perchance to dream. Ay, there’s the rub,
1772 For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
1773 75 When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
1774 Must give us pause. There’s the respect
1775 That makes calamity of so long life.
1776 For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
1777 Th’ oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
1779 The insolence of office, and the spurns
1780 That patient merit of th’ unworthy takes,
1781 When he himself might his quietus make
1782 With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear,
1783 85 To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
1784 But that the dread of something after death,
1785 The undiscovered country from whose bourn
1786 No traveler returns, puzzles the will
1787 And makes us rather bear those ills we have
1788 90 Than fly to others that we know not of?
1789 Thus conscience does make cowards ⟨of us all,⟩
1790 And thus the native hue of resolution
1791 Is ⟨sicklied⟩ o’er with the pale cast of thought,
1792 And enterprises of great pitch and moment
1793 95 With this regard their currents turn awry
1794 And lose the name of action.—Soft you now,
1795 The fair Ophelia.—Nymph, in thy orisons
1796 Be all my sins remembered.
OPHELIA 1797 Good my lord,
1798 100 How does your Honor for this many a day?
HAMLET 1799 I humbly thank you, well.
1800 My lord, I have remembrances of yours
1801 That I have longèd long to redeliver.
1802 I pray you now receive them.
1803 105 No, not I. I never gave you aught.
1804 My honored lord, you know right well you did,
1805 And with them words of so sweet breath composed
1806 As made ⟨the⟩ things more rich. Their perfume
1808 110 Take these again, for to the noble mind
1809 Rich gifts wax poor when givers prove unkind.
1810 There, my lord.
OPHELIA 1812 My lord?
HAMLET 1813 115Are you fair?
OPHELIA 1814 What means your Lordship?
HAMLET 1815 That if you be honest and fair, ⟨your honesty⟩
1816 should admit no discourse to your beauty.
OPHELIA 1817 Could beauty, my lord, have better commerce
1818 120 than with honesty?
HAMLET 1819 Ay, truly, for the power of beauty will sooner
1820 transform honesty from what it is to a bawd than
1821 the force of honesty can translate beauty into his
1822 likeness. This was sometime a paradox, but now
1823 125 the time gives it proof. I did love you once.
OPHELIA 1824 Indeed, my lord, you made me believe so.
HAMLET 1825 You should not have believed me, for virtue
1826 cannot so ⟨inoculate⟩ our old stock but we shall
1827 relish of it. I loved you not.
OPHELIA 1828 130I was the more deceived.
HAMLET 1829 Get thee ⟨to⟩ a nunnery. Why wouldst thou be
1830 a breeder of sinners? I am myself indifferent honest,
1831 but yet I could accuse me of such things that it
1832 were better my mother had not borne me: I am
1833 135 very proud, revengeful, ambitious, with more offenses
1834 at my beck than I have thoughts to put them
1835 in, imagination to give them shape, or time to act
1836 them in. What should such fellows as I do crawling
1837 between earth and heaven? We are arrant knaves
1838 140 ⟨all;⟩ believe none of us. Go thy ways to a nunnery.
1839 Where’s your father?
OPHELIA 1840 At home, my lord.
HAMLET 1841 Let the doors be shut upon him that he may
1842 play the fool nowhere but in ’s own house. Farewell.
OPHELIA 1843 145O, help him, you sweet heavens!
HAMLET 1844 If thou dost marry, I’ll give thee this plague
1845 for thy dowry: be thou as chaste as ice, as pure as
1846 snow, thou shalt not escape calumny. Get thee to a
1848 150 marry a fool, for wise men know well enough what
1849 monsters you make of them. To a nunnery, go, and
1850 quickly too. Farewell.
OPHELIA 1851 Heavenly powers, restore him!
HAMLET 1852 I have heard of your paintings ⟨too,⟩ well
1853 155 enough. God hath given you one face, and you
1854 make yourselves another. You jig and amble, and
1855 you ⟨lisp;⟩ you nickname God’s creatures and make
1856 your wantonness ⟨your⟩ ignorance. Go to, I’ll no
1857 more on ’t. It hath made me mad. I say we will have
1858 160 no more marriage. Those that are married already,
1859 all but one, shall live. The rest shall keep as they are.
1860 To a nunnery, go.He exits.
1861 O, what a noble mind is here o’erthrown!
1862 The courtier’s, soldier’s, scholar’s, eye, tongue,
1863 165 sword,
1864 ⟨Th’ expectancy⟩ and rose of the fair state,
1865 The glass of fashion and the mold of form,
1866 Th’ observed of all observers, quite, quite down!
1867 And I, of ladies most deject and wretched,
1868 170 That sucked the honey of his musicked vows,
1869 Now see ⟨that⟩ noble and most sovereign reason,
1870 Like sweet bells jangled, out of time and harsh;
1871 That unmatched form and stature of blown youth
1872 Blasted with ecstasy. O, woe is me
1873 175 T’ have seen what I have seen, see what I see!
KING, ⌜advancing with⌝ Polonius
1874 Love? His affections do not that way tend;
1875 Nor what he spake, though it lacked form a little,
1876 Was not like madness. There’s something in his soul
1877 O’er which his melancholy sits on brood,
1878 180 And I do doubt the hatch and the disclose
1879 Will be some danger; which for to prevent,
1880 I have in quick determination
1882 For the demand of our neglected tribute.
1883 185 Haply the seas, and countries different,
1884 With variable objects, shall expel
1885 This something-settled matter in his heart,
1886 Whereon his brains still beating puts him thus
1887 From fashion of himself. What think you on ’t?
1888 190 It shall do well. But yet do I believe
1889 The origin and commencement of his grief
1890 Sprung from neglected love.—How now, Ophelia?
1891 You need not tell us what Lord Hamlet said;
1892 We heard it all.—My lord, do as you please,
1893 195 But, if you hold it fit, after the play
1894 Let his queen-mother all alone entreat him
1895 To show his grief. Let her be round with him;
1896 And I’ll be placed, so please you, in the ear
1897 Of all their conference. If she find him not,
1898 200 To England send him, or confine him where
1899 Your wisdom best shall think.
KING 1900 It shall be so.
1901 Madness in great ones must not ⟨unwatched⟩ go.