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Navigate this workHamlet
Act 3, scene 4
In Gertrude’s room, Polonius hides behind a tapestry. Hamlet’s entrance so alarms Gertrude that she cries out for help. Polonius echoes her cry, and Hamlet, thinking Polonius to be Claudius, stabs him to death. Hamlet then verbally attacks his mother for marrying Claudius. In the middle of Hamlet’s attack, the Ghost returns to remind Hamlet that his real purpose is to avenge his father’s death. Gertrude cannot see the Ghost and pities Hamlet’s apparent madness. After the Ghost exits, Hamlet urges Gertrude to abandon Claudius’s bed. He then tells her about Claudius’s plan to send him to England and reveals his suspicions that the journey is a plot against him, which he resolves to counter violently. He exits dragging out Polonius’s body.Enter ⟨Queen⟩ and Polonius.
2437 He will come straight. Look you lay home to him.
2438 Tell him his pranks have been too broad to bear
2440 And that your Grace hath screened and stood
2441 5 between
2442 Much heat and him. I’ll silence me even here.
2443 Pray you, be round ⟨with him.
HAMLET, within 2444 Mother, mother, mother!⟩
QUEEN 2445 I’ll ⟨warrant⟩ you. Fear me not. Withdraw,
2446 10 I hear him coming.
⌜Polonius hides behind the arras.⌝
HAMLET 2447 Now, mother, what’s the matter?
2448 Hamlet, thou hast thy father much offended.
2449 Mother, you have my father much offended.
2450 Come, come, you answer with an idle tongue.
2451 15 Go, go, you question with a wicked tongue.
2452 Why, how now, Hamlet?
HAMLET 2453 What’s the matter now?
2454 Have you forgot me?
HAMLET 2455 No, by the rood, not so.
2456 20 You are the Queen, your husband’s brother’s wife,
2457 And (would it were not so) you are my mother.
2458 Nay, then I’ll set those to you that can speak.
2459 Come, come, and sit you down; you shall not budge.
2460 You go not till I set you up a glass
2461 25 Where you may see the ⟨inmost⟩ part of you.
2462 What wilt thou do? Thou wilt not murder me?
2463 Help, ho!
POLONIUS, ⌜behind the arras⌝ 2464 What ho! Help!
2465 How now, a rat? Dead for a ducat, dead.
⌜He ⟨kills Polonius⟩ by thrusting a rapier
through the arras.⌝
POLONIUS, ⌜behind the arras⌝
2466 30 O, I am slain!
QUEEN 2467 O me, what hast thou done?
HAMLET 2468 Nay, I know not. Is it the King?
2469 O, what a rash and bloody deed is this!
2470 A bloody deed—almost as bad, good mother,
2471 35 As kill a king and marry with his brother.
2472 As kill a king?
⌜He pulls Polonius’ body from behind the arras.⌝
2474 Thou wretched, rash, intruding fool, farewell.
2475 I took thee for thy better. Take thy fortune.
2476 40 Thou find’st to be too busy is some danger.
2477 ⌜To Queen.⌝ Leave wringing of your hands. Peace, sit
2478 you down,
2479 And let me wring your heart; for so I shall
2480 If it be made of penetrable stuff,
2481 45 If damnèd custom have not brazed it so
2482 That it be proof and bulwark against sense.
2483 What have I done, that thou dar’st wag thy tongue
2484 In noise so rude against me?
HAMLET 2485 Such an act
2486 50 That blurs the grace and blush of modesty,
2487 Calls virtue hypocrite, takes off the rose
2488 From the fair forehead of an innocent love
2489 And sets a blister there, makes marriage vows
2490 As false as dicers’ oaths—O, such a deed
2491 55 As from the body of contraction plucks
2492 The very soul, and sweet religion makes
2493 A rhapsody of words! Heaven’s face does glow
2494 O’er this solidity and compound mass
2495 With heated visage, as against the doom,
2496 60 Is thought-sick at the act.
QUEEN 2497 Ay me, what act
2498 That roars so loud and thunders in the index?
2499 Look here upon this picture and on this,
2500 The counterfeit presentment of two brothers.
2501 65 See what a grace was seated on this brow,
2502 Hyperion’s curls, the front of Jove himself,
2503 An eye like Mars’ to threaten and command,
2504 A station like the herald Mercury
2505 New-lighted on a ⟨heaven⟩-kissing hill,
2507 Where every god did seem to set his seal
2508 To give the world assurance of a man.
2509 This was your husband. Look you now what follows.
2510 Here is your husband, like a mildewed ear
2511 75 Blasting his wholesome brother. Have you eyes?
2512 Could you on this fair mountain leave to feed
2513 And batten on this moor? Ha! Have you eyes?
2514 You cannot call it love, for at your age
2515 The heyday in the blood is tame, it’s humble
2516 80 And waits upon the judgment; and what judgment
2517 Would step from this to this? [Sense sure you have,
2518 Else could you not have motion; but sure that sense
2519 Is apoplexed; for madness would not err,
2520 Nor sense to ecstasy was ne’er so thralled,
2521 85 But it reserved some quantity of choice
2522 To serve in such a difference.] What devil was ’t
2523 That thus hath cozened you at hoodman-blind?
2524 [Eyes without feeling, feeling without sight,
2525 Ears without hands or eyes, smelling sans all,
2526 90 Or but a sickly part of one true sense
2527 Could not so mope.] O shame, where is thy blush?
2528 Rebellious hell,
2529 If thou canst mutine in a matron’s bones,
2530 To flaming youth let virtue be as wax
2531 95 And melt in her own fire. Proclaim no shame
2532 When the compulsive ardor gives the charge,
2533 Since frost itself as actively doth burn,
2534 And reason ⟨panders⟩ will.
QUEEN 2535 O Hamlet, speak no more!
2536 100 Thou turn’st my eyes into my ⟨very⟩ soul,
2537 And there I see such black and ⟨grainèd⟩ spots
2538 As will ⟨not⟩ leave their tinct.
HAMLET 2539 Nay, but to live
2540 In the rank sweat of an enseamèd bed,
2541 105 Stewed in corruption, honeying and making love
2542 Over the nasty sty!
2544 These words like daggers enter in my ears.
2545 No more, sweet Hamlet!
HAMLET 2546 110 A murderer and a villain,
2547 A slave that is not twentieth part the ⟨tithe⟩
2548 Of your precedent lord; a vice of kings,
2549 A cutpurse of the empire and the rule,
2550 That from a shelf the precious diadem stole
2551 115 And put it in his pocket—
QUEEN 2552 No more!
HAMLET 2553 A king of shreds and patches—
2554 Save me and hover o’er me with your wings,
2555 You heavenly guards!—What would your gracious
2556 120 figure?
QUEEN 2557 Alas, he’s mad.
2558 Do you not come your tardy son to chide,
2559 That, lapsed in time and passion, lets go by
2560 Th’ important acting of your dread command?
2561 125 O, say!
GHOST 2562 Do not forget. This visitation
2563 Is but to whet thy almost blunted purpose.
2564 But look, amazement on thy mother sits.
2565 O, step between her and her fighting soul.
2566 130 Conceit in weakest bodies strongest works.
2567 Speak to her, Hamlet.
HAMLET 2568 How is it with you, lady?
QUEEN 2569 Alas, how is ’t with you,
2570 That you do bend your eye on vacancy
2571 135 And with th’ incorporal air do hold discourse?
2572 Forth at your eyes your spirits wildly peep,
2573 And, as the sleeping soldiers in th’ alarm,
2574 Your bedded hair, like life in excrements,
2575 Start up and stand an end. O gentle son,
2577 Sprinkle cool patience! Whereon do you look?
2578 On him, on him! Look you how pale he glares.
2579 His form and cause conjoined, preaching to stones,
2580 Would make them capable. ⌜To the Ghost.⌝ Do not
2581 145 look upon me,
2582 Lest with this piteous action you convert
2583 My stern effects. Then what I have to do
2584 Will want true color—tears perchance for blood.
QUEEN 2585 To whom do you speak this?
HAMLET 2586 150Do you see nothing there?
2587 Nothing at all; yet all that is I see.
HAMLET 2588 Nor did you nothing hear?
QUEEN 2589 No, nothing but ourselves.
2590 Why, look you there, look how it steals away!
2591 155 My father, in his habit as he lived!
2592 Look where he goes even now out at the portal!
2593 This is the very coinage of your brain.
2594 This bodiless creation ecstasy
2595 Is very cunning in.
HAMLET 2596 160 ⟨Ecstasy?⟩
2597 My pulse as yours doth temperately keep time
2598 And makes as healthful music. It is not madness
2599 That I have uttered. Bring me to the test,
2600 And ⟨I⟩ the matter will reword, which madness
2601 165 Would gambol from. Mother, for love of grace,
2602 Lay not that flattering unction to your soul
2603 That not your trespass but my madness speaks.
2604 It will but skin and film the ulcerous place,
2605 Whiles rank corruption, mining all within,
2606 170 Infects unseen. Confess yourself to heaven,
2608 And do not spread the compost on the weeds
2609 To make them ranker. Forgive me this my virtue,
2610 For, in the fatness of these pursy times,
2611 175 Virtue itself of vice must pardon beg,
2612 Yea, curb and woo for leave to do him good.
2613 O Hamlet, thou hast cleft my heart in twain!
2614 O, throw away the worser part of it,
2615 And ⟨live⟩ the purer with the other half!
2616 180 Good night. But go not to my uncle’s bed.
2617 Assume a virtue if you have it not.
2618 [That monster, custom, who all sense doth eat,
2619 Of habits devil, is angel yet in this,
2620 That to the use of actions fair and good
2621 185 He likewise gives a frock or livery
2622 That aptly is put on.] Refrain ⟨tonight,⟩
2623 And that shall lend a kind of easiness
2624 To the next abstinence, [the next more easy;
2625 For use almost can change the stamp of nature
2626 190 And either ⌜…⌝ the devil or throw him out
2627 With wondrous potency.] Once more, good night,
2628 And, when you are desirous to be blest,
2629 I’ll blessing beg of you. For this same lord
⌜Pointing to Polonius.⌝
2630 I do repent; but heaven hath pleased it so
2631 195 To punish me with this and this with me,
2632 That I must be their scourge and minister.
2633 I will bestow him and will answer well
2634 The death I gave him. So, again, good night.
2635 I must be cruel only to be kind.
2636 200 This bad begins, and worse remains behind.
2637 [One word more, good lady.]
QUEEN 2638 What shall I do?
2639 Not this by no means that I bid you do:
2640 Let the bloat king tempt you again to bed,
2641 205 Pinch wanton on your cheek, call you his mouse,
2642 And let him, for a pair of reechy kisses
2643 Or paddling in your neck with his damned fingers,
2644 Make you to ravel all this matter out
2645 That I essentially am not in madness,
2646 210 But mad in craft. ’Twere good you let him know,
2647 For who that’s but a queen, fair, sober, wise,
2648 Would from a paddock, from a bat, a gib,
2649 Such dear concernings hide? Who would do so?
2650 No, in despite of sense and secrecy,
2651 215 Unpeg the basket on the house’s top,
2652 Let the birds fly, and like the famous ape,
2653 To try conclusions, in the basket creep
2654 And break your own neck down.
2655 Be thou assured, if words be made of breath
2656 220 And breath of life, I have no life to breathe
2657 What thou hast said to me.
2658 I must to England, you know that.
QUEEN 2659 Alack,
2660 I had forgot! ’Tis so concluded on.
2661 225 [There’s letters sealed; and my two schoolfellows,
2662 Whom I will trust as I will adders fanged,
2663 They bear the mandate; they must sweep my way
2664 And marshal me to knavery. Let it work,
2665 For ’tis the sport to have the enginer
2666 230 Hoist with his own petard; and ’t shall go hard
2667 But I will delve one yard below their mines
2668 And blow them at the moon. O, ’tis most sweet
2669 When in one line two crafts directly meet.]
2670 This man shall set me packing.
2672 Mother, good night indeed. This counselor
2673 Is now most still, most secret, and most grave,
2674 Who was in life a foolish prating knave.—
2675 Come, sir, to draw toward an end with you.—
2676 240 Good night, mother.
⌜They⌝ exit, ⟨Hamlet tugging in Polonius.⟩