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Hamlet - Act 4, scene 4
Last updated: Tue, Jun 02, 2020
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Navigate this workHamlet - Act 4, scene 4
Act 4, scene 4
Fortinbras and his army cross Hamlet’s path on their way to Poland. Hamlet finds in Fortinbras’s vigorous activity a model for himself in avenging his father’s murder; Hamlet resolves upon bloody action.Enter Fortinbras with his army over the stage.
2831 Go, Captain, from me greet the Danish king.
2832 Tell him that by his license Fortinbras
2833 Craves the conveyance of a promised march
2834 Over his kingdom. You know the rendezvous.
p. 2012835 5 If that his Majesty would aught with us,
2836 We shall express our duty in his eye;
2837 And let him know so.
CAPTAIN 2838 I will do ’t, my lord.
FORTINBRAS 2839 Go softly on.⌜All but the Captain exit.⌝
[Enter Hamlet, Rosencrantz, ⌜Guildenstern,⌝ and others.
HAMLET 2840 10Good sir, whose powers are these?
CAPTAIN 2841 They are of Norway, sir.
HAMLET 2842 How purposed, sir, I pray you?
CAPTAIN 2843 Against some part of Poland.
HAMLET 2844 Who commands them, sir?
2845 15 The nephew to old Norway, Fortinbras.
2846 Goes it against the main of Poland, sir,
2847 Or for some frontier?
2848 Truly to speak, and with no addition,
2849 We go to gain a little patch of ground
2850 20 That hath in it no profit but the name.
2851 To pay five ducats, five, I would not farm it;
2852 Nor will it yield to Norway or the Pole
2853 A ranker rate, should it be sold in fee.
2854 Why, then, the Polack never will defend it.
2855 25 Yes, it is already garrisoned.
2856 Two thousand souls and twenty thousand ducats
2857 Will not debate the question of this straw.
2858 This is th’ impostume of much wealth and peace,
2859 That inward breaks and shows no cause without
2860 30 Why the man dies.—I humbly thank you, sir.
CAPTAIN 2861 God be wi’ you, sir.⌜He exits.⌝
ROSENCRANTZ 2862 Will ’t please you go, my lord?
2863 I’ll be with you straight. Go a little before.
⌜All but Hamlet exit.⌝
2864 How all occasions do inform against me
2865 35 And spur my dull revenge. What is a man
2866 If his chief good and market of his time
2867 Be but to sleep and feed? A beast, no more.
2868 Sure He that made us with such large discourse,
2869 Looking before and after, gave us not
2870 40 That capability and godlike reason
2871 To fust in us unused. Now whether it be
2872 Bestial oblivion or some craven scruple
2873 Of thinking too precisely on th’ event
2874 (A thought which, quartered, hath but one part
2875 45 wisdom
2876 And ever three parts coward), I do not know
2877 Why yet I live to say “This thing’s to do,”
2878 Sith I have cause, and will, and strength, and means
2879 To do ’t. Examples gross as Earth exhort me:
2880 50 Witness this army of such mass and charge,
2881 Led by a delicate and tender prince,
2882 Whose spirit with divine ambition puffed
2883 Makes mouths at the invisible event,
2884 Exposing what is mortal and unsure
2885 55 To all that fortune, death, and danger dare,
2886 Even for an eggshell. Rightly to be great
2887 Is not to stir without great argument,
2888 But greatly to find quarrel in a straw
2889 When honor’s at the stake. How stand I, then,
2890 60 That have a father killed, a mother stained,
2891 Excitements of my reason and my blood,
2892 And let all sleep, while to my shame I see
2893 The imminent death of twenty thousand men
2894 That for a fantasy and trick of fame
2895 65 Go to their graves like beds, fight for a plot
2896 Whereon the numbers cannot try the cause,
p. 2052897 Which is not tomb enough and continent
2898 To hide the slain? O, from this time forth
2899 My thoughts be bloody or be nothing worth!