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Navigate this workHamlet
Act 3, scene 2
Hamlet gives direction to the actors and asks Horatio to help him observe Claudius’s reaction to the play. When the court arrive, Hamlet makes bawdy and bitter comments to Ophelia. The traveling actors perform, in dumb show and then with dialogue, a story that includes many elements of Claudius’s alleged seduction of Gertrude and murder of King Hamlet. At the moment that the Player King is murdered in his garden by his nephew, Claudius stops the play and rushes out. Hamlet is exuberant that the Ghost’s word has been proved true. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern return to tell Hamlet that Claudius is furious and that Gertrude wishes to see Hamlet at once in her sitting room. Hamlet promises himself that he will not harm her, though he will “speak daggers.”Enter Hamlet and three of the Players.
HAMLET 1902 Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced
1903 it to you, trippingly on the tongue; but if you mouth
1904 it, as many of our players do, I had as lief the
1905 town-crier spoke my lines. Nor do not saw the air
1906 5 too much with your hand, thus, but use all gently;
1907 for in the very torrent, tempest, and, as I may say,
1908 whirlwind of your passion, you must acquire and
1909 beget a temperance that may give it smoothness. O,
1911 10 periwig-pated fellow tear a passion to tatters, to very
1912 rags, to split the ears of the groundlings, who for the
1913 most part are capable of nothing but inexplicable
1914 dumb shows and noise. I would have such a fellow
1915 whipped for o’erdoing Termagant. It out-Herods
1916 15 Herod. Pray you, avoid it.
PLAYER 1917 I warrant your Honor.
HAMLET 1918 Be not too tame neither, but let your own
1919 discretion be your tutor. Suit the action to the
1920 word, the word to the action, with this special
1921 20 observance, that you o’erstep not the modesty of
1922 nature. For anything so o’erdone is from the purpose
1923 of playing, whose end, both at the first and
1924 now, was and is to hold, as ’twere, the mirror up to
1925 nature, to show virtue her ⟨own⟩ feature, scorn her
1926 25 own image, and the very age and body of the time
1927 his form and pressure. Now this overdone or come
1928 tardy off, though it makes the unskillful laugh,
1929 cannot but make the judicious grieve, the censure
1930 of ⟨the⟩ which one must in your allowance o’erweigh
1931 30 a whole theater of others. O, there be players that I
1932 have seen play and heard others ⟨praise⟩ (and that
1933 highly), not to speak it profanely, that, neither
1934 having th’ accent of Christians nor the gait of
1935 Christian, pagan, nor man, have so strutted and
1936 35 bellowed that I have thought some of nature’s
1937 journeymen had made men, and not made them
1938 well, they imitated humanity so abominably.
PLAYER 1939 I hope we have reformed that indifferently
1940 with us, ⟨sir.⟩
HAMLET 1941 40O, reform it altogether. And let those that play
1942 your clowns speak no more than is set down for
1943 them, for there be of them that will themselves
1944 laugh, to set on some quantity of barren spectators
1945 to laugh too, though in the meantime some necessary
1947 That’s villainous and shows a most pitiful ambition
1948 in the fool that uses it. Go make you ready.
Enter Polonius, Guildenstern, and Rosencrantz.
1949 How now, my lord, will the King hear this piece of
POLONIUS 1951 50And the Queen too, and that presently.
HAMLET 1952 Bid the players make haste.⟨Polonius exits.⟩
1953 Will you two help to hasten them?
ROSENCRANTZ 1954 Ay, my lord.They exit.
HAMLET 1955 What ho, Horatio!
HORATIO 1956 55Here, sweet lord, at your service.
1957 Horatio, thou art e’en as just a man
1958 As e’er my conversation coped withal.
1959 O, my dear lord—
⟨HAMLET⟩ 1960 Nay, do not think I flatter,
1961 60 For what advancement may I hope from thee
1962 That no revenue hast but thy good spirits
1963 To feed and clothe thee? Why should the poor be
1965 No, let the candied tongue lick absurd pomp
1966 65 And crook the pregnant hinges of the knee
1967 Where thrift may follow fawning. Dost thou hear?
1968 Since my dear soul was mistress of her choice
1969 And could of men distinguish, her election
1970 Hath sealed thee for herself. For thou hast been
1971 70 As one in suffering all that suffers nothing,
1972 A man that Fortune’s buffets and rewards
1973 Hast ta’en with equal thanks; and blessed are those
1974 Whose blood and judgment are so well
1977 To sound what stop she please. Give me that man
1978 That is not passion’s slave, and I will wear him
1979 In my heart’s core, ay, in my heart of heart,
1980 As I do thee.—Something too much of this.—
1981 80 There is a play tonight before the King.
1982 One scene of it comes near the circumstance
1983 Which I have told thee of my father’s death.
1984 I prithee, when thou seest that act afoot,
1985 Even with the very comment of thy soul
1986 85 Observe my uncle. If his occulted guilt
1987 Do not itself unkennel in one speech,
1988 It is a damnèd ghost that we have seen,
1989 And my imaginations are as foul
1990 As Vulcan’s stithy. Give him heedful note,
1991 90 For I mine eyes will rivet to his face,
1992 And, after, we will both our judgments join
1993 In censure of his seeming.
HORATIO 1994 Well, my lord.
1995 If he steal aught the whilst this play is playing
1996 95 And ’scape ⟨detecting⟩, I will pay the theft.
⟨Sound a flourish.⟩
HAMLET 1997 They are coming to the play. I must be idle.
1998 Get you a place.
Enter Trumpets and Kettle Drums. ⟨Enter⟩ King, Queen,
Polonius, Ophelia, ⟨Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, and other
Lords attendant with ⌜the King’s⌝ guard carrying
KING 1999 How fares our cousin Hamlet?
HAMLET 2000 Excellent, i’ faith, of the chameleon’s dish. I
2001 100 eat the air, promise-crammed. You cannot feed
2002 capons so.
KING 2003 I have nothing with this answer, Hamlet. These
2004 words are not mine.
HAMLET 2005 No, nor mine now. ⌜To Polonius.⌝ My lord, you
2006 105 played once i’ th’ university, you say?
2008 good actor.
HAMLET 2009 What did you enact?
POLONIUS 2010 I did enact Julius Caesar. I was killed i’ th’
2011 110 Capitol. Brutus killed me.
HAMLET 2012 It was a brute part of him to kill so capital a
2013 calf there.—Be the players ready?
ROSENCRANTZ 2014 Ay, my lord. They stay upon your
QUEEN 2016 115Come hither, my dear Hamlet, sit by me.
HAMLET 2017 No, good mother. Here’s metal more
2018 attractive.⌜Hamlet takes a place near Ophelia.⌝
POLONIUS, ⌜to the King⌝ 2019 Oh, ho! Do you mark that?
HAMLET 2020 Lady, shall I lie in your lap?
OPHELIA 2021 120No, my lord.
⟨HAMLET 2022 I mean, my head upon your lap?
OPHELIA 2023 Ay, my lord.⟩
HAMLET 2024 Do you think I meant country matters?
OPHELIA 2025 I think nothing, my lord.
HAMLET 2026 125That’s a fair thought to lie between maids’
OPHELIA 2028 What is, my lord?
HAMLET 2029 Nothing.
OPHELIA 2030 You are merry, my lord.
HAMLET 2031 130Who, I?
OPHELIA 2032 Ay, my lord.
HAMLET 2033 O God, your only jig-maker. What should a
2034 man do but be merry? For look you how cheerfully
2035 my mother looks, and my father died within ’s two
2036 135 hours.
OPHELIA 2037 Nay, ’tis twice two months, my lord.
HAMLET 2038 So long? Nay, then, let the devil wear black,
2039 for I’ll have a suit of sables. O heavens, die two
2040 months ago, and not forgotten yet? Then there’s
2041 140 hope a great man’s memory may outlive his life half
2042 a year. But, by ’r Lady, he must build churches, then,
2044 hobby-horse, whose epitaph is “For oh, for oh, the
2045 hobby-horse is forgot.”
The trumpets sounds. Dumb show follows.
2046 145Enter a King and a Queen, ⟨very lovingly,⟩ the Queen
2047 embracing him and he her. ⟨She kneels and makes show of
2048 protestation unto him.⟩ He takes her up and declines his
2049 head upon her neck. He lies him down upon a bank of
2050 flowers. She, seeing him asleep, leaves him. Anon
2051 150⟨comes⟩ in another man, takes off his crown, kisses it, pours
2052 poison in the sleeper’s ears, and leaves him. The Queen
2053 returns, finds the King dead, makes passionate action. The
2054 poisoner with some three or four come in again, seem to
2055 condole with her. The dead body is carried away. The
2056 155poisoner woos the Queen with gifts. She seems harsh
2057 awhile but in the end accepts ⟨his⟩ love.
OPHELIA 2058 What means this, my lord?
HAMLET 2059 Marry, this ⟨is miching⟩ mallecho. It means
OPHELIA 2061 160Belike this show imports the argument of the
HAMLET 2063 We shall know by this fellow. The players
2064 cannot keep ⟨counsel;⟩ they’ll tell all.
OPHELIA 2065 Will he tell us what this show meant?
HAMLET 2066 165Ay, or any show that you will show him. Be
2067 not you ashamed to show, he’ll not shame to tell you
2068 what it means.
OPHELIA 2069 You are naught, you are naught. I’ll mark the
2071 170 For us and for our tragedy,
2072 Here stooping to your clemency,
2073 We beg your hearing patiently.⌜He exits.⌝
OPHELIA 2075 ’Tis brief, my lord.
HAMLET 2076 175As woman’s love.
Enter ⌜the Player⌝ King and Queen.
2077 Full thirty times hath Phoebus’ cart gone round
2078 Neptune’s salt wash and Tellus’ ⟨orbèd⟩ ground,
2079 And thirty dozen moons with borrowed sheen
2080 About the world have times twelve thirties been
2081 180 Since love our hearts and Hymen did our hands
2082 Unite commutual in most sacred bands.
2083 So many journeys may the sun and moon
2084 Make us again count o’er ere love be done!
2085 But woe is me! You are so sick of late,
2086 185 So far from cheer and from ⟨your⟩ former state,
2087 That I distrust you. Yet, though I distrust,
2088 Discomfort you, my lord, it nothing must.
2089 [For women fear too much, even as they love,]
2090 And women’s fear and love hold quantity,
2091 190 In neither aught, or in extremity.
2092 Now what my ⟨love⟩ is, proof hath made you know,
2093 And, as my love is sized, my fear is so:
2094 [Where love is great, the littlest doubts are fear;
2095 Where little fears grow great, great love grows there.]
2096 195 Faith, I must leave thee, love, and shortly too.
2097 My operant powers their functions leave to do.
2098 And thou shalt live in this fair world behind,
2099 Honored, beloved; and haply one as kind
2100 For husband shalt thou—
PLAYER QUEEN 2101 200 O, confound the rest!
2102 Such love must needs be treason in my breast.
2103 In second husband let me be accurst.
2104 None wed the second but who killed the first.
2106 205 The instances that second marriage move
2107 Are base respects of thrift, but none of love.
2108 A second time I kill my husband dead
2109 When second husband kisses me in bed.
2110 I do believe you think what now you speak,
2111 210 But what we do determine oft we break.
2112 Purpose is but the slave to memory,
2113 Of violent birth, but poor validity,
2114 Which now, the fruit unripe, sticks on the tree
2115 But fall unshaken when they mellow be.
2116 215 Most necessary ’tis that we forget
2117 To pay ourselves what to ourselves is debt.
2118 What to ourselves in passion we propose,
2119 The passion ending, doth the purpose lose.
2120 The violence of either grief or joy
2121 220 Their own enactures with themselves destroy.
2122 Where joy most revels, grief doth most lament;
2123 Grief ⟨joys,⟩ joy grieves, on slender accident.
2124 This world is not for aye, nor ’tis not strange
2125 That even our loves should with our fortunes change;
2126 225 For ’tis a question left us yet to prove
2127 Whether love lead fortune or else fortune love.
2128 The great man down, you mark his favorite flies;
2129 The poor, advanced, makes friends of enemies.
2130 And hitherto doth love on fortune tend,
2131 230 For who not needs shall never lack a friend,
2132 And who in want a hollow friend doth try
2133 Directly seasons him his enemy.
2134 But, orderly to end where I begun:
2135 Our wills and fates do so contrary run
2136 235 That our devices still are overthrown;
2137 Our thoughts are ours, their ends none of our own.
2138 So think thou wilt no second husband wed,
2139 But die thy thoughts when thy first lord is dead.
2140 Nor Earth to me give food, nor heaven light,
2141 240 Sport and repose lock from me day and night,
2142 [To desperation turn my trust and hope,
2143 ⌜An⌝ anchor’s cheer in prison be my scope.]
2144 Each opposite that blanks the face of joy
2145 Meet what I would have well and it destroy.
2146 245 Both here and hence pursue me lasting strife,
2147 If, once a widow, ever I be wife.
HAMLET 2148 If she should break it now!
2149 ’Tis deeply sworn. Sweet, leave me here awhile.
2150 My spirits grow dull, and fain I would beguile
2151 250 The tedious day with sleep.⟨Sleeps.⟩
PLAYER QUEEN 2152 Sleep rock thy brain,
2153 And never come mischance between us twain.
⌜Player Queen exits.⌝
HAMLET 2154 Madam, how like you this play?
QUEEN 2155 The lady doth protest too much, methinks.
HAMLET 2156 255O, but she’ll keep her word.
KING 2157 Have you heard the argument? Is there no
2158 offense in ’t?
HAMLET 2159 No, no, they do but jest, poison in jest. No
2160 offense i’ th’ world.
KING 2161 260What do you call the play?
HAMLET 2162 “The Mousetrap.” Marry, how? Tropically.
2163 This play is the image of a murder done in Vienna.
2164 Gonzago is the duke’s name, his wife Baptista. You
2165 shall see anon. ’Tis a knavish piece of work, but
2166 265 what of that? Your Majesty and we that have free
2167 souls, it touches us not. Let the galled jade wince;
2168 our withers are unwrung.
2169 This is one Lucianus, nephew to the king.
OPHELIA 2170 You are as good as a chorus, my lord.
2172 if I could see the puppets dallying.
OPHELIA 2173 You are keen, my lord, you are keen.
HAMLET 2174 It would cost you a groaning to take off mine
OPHELIA 2176 275Still better and worse.
HAMLET 2177 So you mis-take your husbands.—Begin,
2178 murderer. ⟨Pox,⟩ leave thy damnable faces and
2179 begin. Come, the croaking raven doth bellow for
2181 280 Thoughts black, hands apt, drugs fit, and time
2183 ⟨Confederate⟩ season, else no creature seeing,
2184 Thou mixture rank, of midnight weeds collected,
2185 With Hecate’s ban thrice blasted, thrice ⟨infected,⟩
2186 285 Thy natural magic and dire property
2187 On wholesome life ⟨usurp⟩ immediately.
⟨Pours the poison in his ears.⟩
HAMLET 2188 He poisons him i’ th’ garden for his estate. His
2189 name’s Gonzago. The story is extant and written in
2190 very choice Italian. You shall see anon how the
2191 290 murderer gets the love of Gonzago’s wife.
OPHELIA 2192 The King rises.
⟨HAMLET 2193 What, frighted with false fire?⟩
QUEEN 2194 How fares my lord?
POLONIUS 2195 Give o’er the play.
KING 2196 295Give me some light. Away!
POLONIUS 2197 Lights, lights, lights!
All but Hamlet and Horatio exit.
2198 Why, let the strucken deer go weep,
2199 The hart ungallèd play.
2200 For some must watch, while some must sleep:
2201 300 Thus runs the world away.
2203 rest of my fortunes turn Turk with me) with ⟨two⟩
2204 Provincial roses on my razed shoes, get me a
2205 fellowship in a cry of players?
HORATIO 2206 305Half a share.
HAMLET 2207 A whole one, I.
2208 For thou dost know, O Damon dear,
2209 This realm dismantled was
2210 Of Jove himself, and now reigns here
2211 310 A very very—pajock.
HORATIO 2212 You might have rhymed.
HAMLET 2213 O good Horatio, I’ll take the ghost’s word for
2214 a thousand pound. Didst perceive?
HORATIO 2215 Very well, my lord.
HAMLET 2216 315Upon the talk of the poisoning?
HORATIO 2217 I did very well note him.
HAMLET 2218 Ah ha! Come, some music! Come, the
2220 For if the King like not the comedy,
2221 320 Why, then, belike he likes it not, perdy.
2222 Come, some music!
Enter Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.
GUILDENSTERN 2223 Good my lord, vouchsafe me a word
2224 with you.
HAMLET 2225 Sir, a whole history.
GUILDENSTERN 2226 325The King, sir—
HAMLET 2227 Ay, sir, what of him?
GUILDENSTERN 2228 Is in his retirement marvelous
HAMLET 2230 With drink, sir?
GUILDENSTERN 2231 330No, my lord, with choler.
HAMLET 2232 Your wisdom should show itself more richer
2233 to signify this to the doctor, for for me to put him to
2234 his purgation would perhaps plunge him into more
2237 some frame and ⟨start⟩ not so wildly from my
HAMLET 2239 I am tame, sir. Pronounce.
GUILDENSTERN 2240 The Queen your mother, in most great
2241 340 affliction of spirit, hath sent me to you.
HAMLET 2242 You are welcome.
GUILDENSTERN 2243 Nay, good my lord, this courtesy is not
2244 of the right breed. If it shall please you to make me
2245 a wholesome answer, I will do your mother’s
2246 345 commandment. If not, your pardon and my return
2247 shall be the end of ⟨my⟩ business.
HAMLET 2248 Sir, I cannot.
ROSENCRANTZ 2249 What, my lord?
HAMLET 2250 Make you a wholesome answer. My wit’s
2251 350 diseased. But, sir, such answer as I can make, you
2252 shall command—or, rather, as you say, my mother.
2253 Therefore no more but to the matter. My mother,
2254 you say—
ROSENCRANTZ 2255 Then thus she says: your behavior hath
2256 355 struck her into amazement and admiration.
HAMLET 2257 O wonderful son that can so ’stonish a mother!
2258 But is there no sequel at the heels of this
2259 mother’s admiration? Impart.
ROSENCRANTZ 2260 She desires to speak with you in her
2261 360 closet ere you go to bed.
HAMLET 2262 We shall obey, were she ten times our mother.
2263 Have you any further trade with us?
ROSENCRANTZ 2264 My lord, you once did love me.
HAMLET 2265 And do still, by these pickers and stealers.
ROSENCRANTZ 2266 365Good my lord, what is your cause of
2267 distemper? You do surely bar the door upon your
2268 own liberty if you deny your griefs to your friend.
HAMLET 2269 Sir, I lack advancement.
ROSENCRANTZ 2270 How can that be, when you have the
2271 370 voice of the King himself for your succession in
2274 proverb is something musty.
Enter the Players with recorders.
2275 O, the recorders! Let me see one. ⌜He takes a
recorder and turns to Guildenstern.⌝ 2276 375To withdraw
2277 with you: why do you go about to recover the wind
2278 of me, as if you would drive me into a toil?
GUILDENSTERN 2279 O, my lord, if my duty be too bold, my
2280 love is too unmannerly.
HAMLET 2281 380I do not well understand that. Will you play
2282 upon this pipe?
GUILDENSTERN 2283 My lord, I cannot.
HAMLET 2284 I pray you.
GUILDENSTERN 2285 Believe me, I cannot.
HAMLET 2286 385I do beseech you.
GUILDENSTERN 2287 I know no touch of it, my lord.
HAMLET 2288 It is as easy as lying. Govern these ventages
2289 with your fingers and ⟨thumb,⟩ give it breath with
2290 your mouth, and it will discourse most eloquent
2291 390 music. Look you, these are the stops.
GUILDENSTERN 2292 But these cannot I command to any
2293 utt’rance of harmony. I have not the skill.
HAMLET 2294 Why, look you now, how unworthy a thing
2295 you make of me! You would play upon me, you
2296 395 would seem to know my stops, you would pluck
2297 out the heart of my mystery, you would sound me
2298 from my lowest note to ⟨the top of⟩ my compass;
2299 and there is much music, excellent voice, in this
2300 little organ, yet cannot you make it speak. ’Sblood,
2301 400 do you think I am easier to be played on than a pipe?
2302 Call me what instrument you will, though you ⟨can⟩
2303 fret me, you cannot play upon me.
2304 God bless you, sir.
2306 405 and presently.
HAMLET 2307 Do you see yonder cloud that’s almost in
2308 shape of a camel?
POLONIUS 2309 By th’ Mass, and ’tis like a camel indeed.
HAMLET 2310 Methinks it is like a weasel.
POLONIUS 2311 410It is backed like a weasel.
HAMLET 2312 Or like a whale.
POLONIUS 2313 Very like a whale.
⟨HAMLET⟩ 2314 Then I will come to my mother by and by.
2315 ⌜Aside.⌝ They fool me to the top of my bent.—I will
2316 415 come by and by.
⟨POLONIUS⟩ 2317 I will say so.
⟨HAMLET⟩ 2318 “By and by” is easily said. Leave me,
⌜All but Hamlet exit.⌝
2320 ’Tis now the very witching time of night,
2321 420 When churchyards yawn and hell itself ⟨breathes⟩
2323 Contagion to this world. Now could I drink hot
2325 And do such ⟨bitter⟩ business as the day
2326 425 Would quake to look on. Soft, now to my mother.
2327 O heart, lose not thy nature; let not ever
2328 The soul of Nero enter this firm bosom.
2329 Let me be cruel, not unnatural.
2330 I will speak ⟨daggers⟩ to her, but use none.
2331 430 My tongue and soul in this be hypocrites:
2332 How in my words somever she be shent,
2333 To give them seals never, my soul, consent.