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Navigate this workHamlet
Act 5, scene 1
Hamlet, returned from his journey, comes upon a gravedigger singing as he digs. Hamlet tries to find out who the grave is for and reflects on the skulls that are being dug up. A funeral procession approaches. Hamlet soon realizes that the corpse is Ophelia’s. When Laertes in his grief leaps into her grave and curses Hamlet as the cause of Ophelia’s death, Hamlet comes forward. He and Laertes struggle, with Hamlet protesting his own love and grief for Ophelia.Enter ⌜Gravedigger and Another.⌝
⌜GRAVEDIGGER⌝ 3400 Is she to be buried in Christian burial,
3401 when she willfully seeks her own salvation?
OTHER 3402 I tell thee she is. Therefore make her grave
3403 straight. The crowner hath sat on her and finds it
3404 5 Christian burial.
⌜GRAVEDIGGER⌝ 3405 How can that be, unless she drowned
3406 herself in her own defense?
OTHER 3407 Why, ’tis found so.
⌜GRAVEDIGGER⌝ 3408 It must be ⟨se offendendo;⟩ it cannot be
3409 10 else. For here lies the point: if I drown myself
3410 wittingly, it argues an act, and an act hath three
3411 branches—it is to act, to do, to perform. ⟨Argal,⟩ she
3412 drowned herself wittingly.
OTHER 3413 Nay, but hear you, goodman delver—
⌜GRAVEDIGGER⌝ 3414 15Give me leave. Here lies the water;
3415 good. Here stands the man; good. If the man go to
3416 this water and drown himself, it is (will he, nill he)
3417 he goes; mark you that. But if the water come to him
3418 and drown him, he drowns not himself. Argal, he
3419 20 that is not guilty of his own death shortens not his
3420 own life.
OTHER 3421 But is this law?
⌜GRAVEDIGGER⌝ 3422 Ay, marry, is ’t—crowner’s ’quest law.
p. 241OTHER 3423 Will you ha’ the truth on ’t? If this had not been
3424 25 a gentlewoman, she should have been buried out o’
3425 Christian burial.
⌜GRAVEDIGGER⌝ 3426 Why, there thou sayst. And the more
3427 pity that great folk should have count’nance in this
3428 world to drown or hang themselves more than
3429 30 their even-Christian. Come, my spade. There is no
3430 ancient gentlemen but gard’ners, ditchers, and
3431 grave-makers. They hold up Adam’s profession.
OTHER 3432 Was he a gentleman?
⌜GRAVEDIGGER⌝ 3433 He was the first that ever bore arms.
⟨OTHER 3434 35Why, he had none.
⌜GRAVEDIGGER⌝ 3435 What, art a heathen? How dost thou
3436 understand the scripture? The scripture says Adam
3437 digged. Could he dig without arms?⟩ I’ll put another
3438 question to thee. If thou answerest me not to the
3439 40 purpose, confess thyself—
OTHER 3440 Go to!
⌜GRAVEDIGGER⌝ 3441 What is he that builds stronger than
3442 either the mason, the shipwright, or the carpenter?
OTHER 3443 The gallows-maker; for that ⟨frame⟩ outlives a
3444 45 thousand tenants.
⌜GRAVEDIGGER⌝ 3445 I like thy wit well, in good faith. The
3446 gallows does well. But how does it well? It does
3447 well to those that do ill. Now, thou dost ill to say the
3448 gallows is built stronger than the church. Argal, the
3449 50 gallows may do well to thee. To ’t again, come.
OTHER 3450 “Who builds stronger than a mason, a shipwright,
3451 or a carpenter?”
⌜GRAVEDIGGER⌝ 3452 Ay, tell me that, and unyoke.
OTHER 3453 Marry, now I can tell.
⌜GRAVEDIGGER⌝ 3454 55To ’t.
OTHER 3455 Mass, I cannot tell.
⟨Enter Hamlet and Horatio afar off.⟩
⌜GRAVEDIGGER⌝ 3456 Cudgel thy brains no more about it,
p. 2433457 for your dull ass will not mend his pace with
3458 beating. And, when you are asked this question
3459 60 next, say “a grave-maker.” The houses he makes
3460 lasts till doomsday. Go, get thee in, and fetch me a
3461 stoup of liquor.
⌜The Other Man exits
and the Gravedigger digs and sings.⌝
3462 In youth when I did love, did love,
3463 Methought it was very sweet
3464 65 To contract—O—the time for—a—my behove,
3465 O, methought there—a—was nothing—a—meet.
HAMLET 3466 Has this fellow no feeling of his business? He
3467 sings in grave-making.
HORATIO 3468 Custom hath made it in him a property of
3469 70 easiness.
HAMLET 3470 ’Tis e’en so. The hand of little employment
3471 hath the daintier sense.
3472 But age with his stealing steps
3473 Hath clawed me in his clutch,
3474 75 And hath shipped me into the land,
3475 As if I had never been such.
⌜He digs up a skull.⌝
HAMLET 3476 That skull had a tongue in it and could sing
3477 once. How the knave jowls it to the ground as if
3478 ’twere Cain’s jawbone, that did the first murder!
3479 80 This might be the pate of a politician which this ass
3480 now o’erreaches, one that would circumvent God,
3481 might it not?
HORATIO 3482 It might, my lord.
HAMLET 3483 Or of a courtier, which could say “Good
3484 85 morrow, sweet lord! How dost thou, sweet lord?”
3485 This might be my Lord Such-a-one that praised my
3486 Lord Such-a-one’s horse when he went to beg it,
3487 might it not?
HORATIO 3488 Ay, my lord.
p. 245HAMLET 3489 90Why, e’en so. And now my Lady Worm’s,
3490 chapless and knocked about the ⟨mazard⟩ with a
3491 sexton’s spade. Here’s fine revolution, an we had
3492 the trick to see ’t. Did these bones cost no more the
3493 breeding but to play at loggets with them? Mine
3494 95 ache to think on ’t.
3495 A pickax and a spade, a spade,
3496 For and a shrouding sheet,
3497 O, a pit of clay for to be made
3498 For such a guest is meet.
⌜He digs up more skulls.⌝
HAMLET 3499 100There’s another. Why may not that be the
3500 skull of a lawyer? Where be his quiddities now, his
3501 quillities, his cases, his tenures, and his tricks? Why
3502 does he suffer this mad knave now to knock him
3503 about the sconce with a dirty shovel and will not tell
3504 105 him of his action of battery? Hum, this fellow might
3505 be in ’s time a great buyer of land, with his statutes,
3506 his recognizances, his fines, his double vouchers,
3507 his recoveries. ⟨Is this the fine of his fines and the
3508 recovery of his recoveries,⟩ to have his fine pate full
3509 110 of fine dirt? Will ⟨his⟩ vouchers vouch him no more
3510 of his purchases, and ⟨double ones too,⟩ than the
3511 length and breadth of a pair of indentures? The very
3512 conveyances of his lands will scarcely lie in this box,
3513 and must th’ inheritor himself have no more, ha?
HORATIO 3514 115Not a jot more, my lord.
HAMLET 3515 Is not parchment made of sheepskins?
HORATIO 3516 Ay, my lord, and of calves’ skins too.
HAMLET 3517 They are sheep and calves which seek out
3518 assurance in that. I will speak to this fellow.—
3519 120 Whose grave’s this, sirrah?
⌜GRAVEDIGGER⌝ 3520 Mine, sir.
⌜Sings.⌝ 3521 ⟨O,⟩ a pit of clay for to be made
3522 ⟨For such a guest is meet.⟩
p. 247HAMLET 3523 I think it be thine indeed, for thou liest in ’t.
⌜GRAVEDIGGER⌝ 3524 125You lie out on ’t, sir, and therefore ’tis
3525 not yours. For my part, I do not lie in ’t, yet it is
HAMLET 3527 Thou dost lie in ’t, to be in ’t and say it is thine.
3528 ’Tis for the dead, not for the quick; therefore thou
3529 130 liest.
⌜GRAVEDIGGER⌝ 3530 ’Tis a quick lie, sir; ’twill away again
3531 from me to you.
HAMLET 3532 What man dost thou dig it for?
⌜GRAVEDIGGER⌝ 3533 For no man, sir.
HAMLET 3534 135What woman then?
⌜GRAVEDIGGER⌝ 3535 For none, neither.
HAMLET 3536 Who is to be buried in ’t?
⌜GRAVEDIGGER⌝ 3537 One that was a woman, sir, but, rest
3538 her soul, she’s dead.
HAMLET 3539 140How absolute the knave is! We must speak by
3540 the card, or equivocation will undo us. By the
3541 Lord, Horatio, this three years I have took note of
3542 it: the age is grown so picked that the toe of the
3543 peasant comes so near the heel of the courtier, he
3544 145 galls his kibe.—How long hast thou been
⌜GRAVEDIGGER⌝ 3546 Of ⟨all⟩ the days i’ th’ year, I came to ’t
3547 that day that our last King Hamlet overcame
HAMLET 3549 150How long is that since?
⌜GRAVEDIGGER⌝ 3550 Cannot you tell that? Every fool can
3551 tell that. It was that very day that young Hamlet
3552 was born—he that is mad, and sent into England.
HAMLET 3553 Ay, marry, why was he sent into England?
⌜GRAVEDIGGER⌝ 3554 155Why, because he was mad. He shall
3555 recover his wits there. Or if he do not, ’tis no great
3556 matter there.
HAMLET 3557 Why?
⌜GRAVEDIGGER⌝ 3558 ’Twill not be seen in him there. There
3559 160 the men are as mad as he.
p. 249HAMLET 3560 How came he mad?
⌜GRAVEDIGGER⌝ 3561 Very strangely, they say.
HAMLET 3562 How “strangely”?
⌜GRAVEDIGGER⌝ 3563 Faith, e’en with losing his wits.
HAMLET 3564 165Upon what ground?
⌜GRAVEDIGGER⌝ 3565 Why, here in Denmark. I have been
3566 sexton here, man and boy, thirty years.
HAMLET 3567 How long will a man lie i’ th’ earth ere he rot?
⌜GRAVEDIGGER⌝ 3568 Faith, if he be not rotten before he die
3569 170 (as we have many pocky corses ⟨nowadays⟩ that will
3570 scarce hold the laying in), he will last you some
3571 eight year or nine year. A tanner will last you nine
HAMLET 3573 Why he more than another?
⌜GRAVEDIGGER⌝ 3574 175Why, sir, his hide is so tanned with his
3575 trade that he will keep out water a great while; and
3576 your water is a sore decayer of your whoreson dead
3577 body. Here’s a skull now hath lien you i’ th’ earth
3578 three-and-twenty years.
HAMLET 3579 180Whose was it?
⌜GRAVEDIGGER⌝ 3580 A whoreson mad fellow’s it was.
3581 Whose do you think it was?
HAMLET 3582 Nay, I know not.
⌜GRAVEDIGGER⌝ 3583 A pestilence on him for a mad rogue!
3584 185 He poured a flagon of Rhenish on my head once.
3585 This same skull, sir, was, sir, Yorick’s skull, the
3586 King’s jester.
HAMLET 3587 This?
⌜GRAVEDIGGER⌝ 3588 E’en that.
HAMLET, ⌜taking the skull⌝ 3589 190⟨Let me see.⟩ Alas, poor
3590 Yorick! I knew him, Horatio—a fellow of infinite
3591 jest, of most excellent fancy. He hath bore me on his
3592 back a thousand times, and now how abhorred in
3593 my imagination it is! My gorge rises at it. Here hung
3594 195 those lips that I have kissed I know not how oft.
3595 Where be your gibes now? your gambols? your
p. 2513596 songs? your flashes of merriment that were wont to
3597 set the table on a roar? Not one now to mock your
3598 own grinning? Quite chapfallen? Now get you to my
3599 200 lady’s ⟨chamber,⟩ and tell her, let her paint an inch
3600 thick, to this favor she must come. Make her laugh
3601 at that.—Prithee, Horatio, tell me one thing.
HORATIO 3602 What’s that, my lord?
HAMLET 3603 Dost thou think Alexander looked o’ this
3604 205 fashion i’ th’ earth?
HORATIO 3605 E’en so.
HAMLET 3606 And smelt so? Pah!⌜He puts the skull down.⌝
HORATIO 3607 E’en so, my lord.
HAMLET 3608 To what base uses we may return, Horatio!
3609 210 Why may not imagination trace the noble dust of
3610 Alexander till he find it stopping a bunghole?
HORATIO 3611 ’Twere to consider too curiously to consider
HAMLET 3613 No, faith, not a jot; but to follow him thither,
3614 215 with modesty enough and likelihood to lead it, ⟨as
3615 thus:⟩ Alexander died, Alexander was buried, Alexander
3616 returneth to dust; the dust is earth; of earth
3617 we make loam; and why of that loam whereto he
3618 was converted might they not stop a beer barrel?
3619 220 Imperious Caesar, dead and turned to clay,
3620 Might stop a hole to keep the wind away.
3621 O, that that earth which kept the world in awe
3622 Should patch a wall t’ expel the ⟨winter’s⟩ flaw!
Enter King, Queen, Laertes, ⟨Lords attendant,⟩ and the
corpse ⌜of Ophelia, with a Doctor of Divinity.⌝
3623 But soft, but soft awhile! Here comes the King,
3624 225 The Queen, the courtiers. Who is this they follow?
3625 And with such maimèd rites? This doth betoken
3626 The corse they follow did with desp’rate hand
3627 Fordo its own life. ’Twas of some estate.
3628 Couch we awhile and mark.⌜They step aside.⌝
p. 253LAERTES 3629 230What ceremony else?
HAMLET 3630 That is Laertes, a very noble youth. Mark.
LAERTES 3631 What ceremony else?
3632 Her obsequies have been as far enlarged
3633 As we have warranty. Her death was doubtful,
3634 235 And, but that great command o’ersways the order,
3635 She should in ground unsanctified been lodged
3636 Till the last trumpet. For charitable prayers
3637 ⟨Shards,⟩ flints, and pebbles should be thrown on
3639 240 Yet here she is allowed her virgin crants,
3640 Her maiden strewments, and the bringing home
3641 Of bell and burial.
3642 Must there no more be done?
DOCTOR 3643 No more be done.
3644 245 We should profane the service of the dead
3645 To sing a requiem and such rest to her
3646 As to peace-parted souls.
LAERTES 3647 Lay her i’ th’ earth,
3648 And from her fair and unpolluted flesh
3649 250 May violets spring! I tell thee, churlish priest,
3650 A minist’ring angel shall my sister be
3651 When thou liest howling.
HAMLET, ⌜to Horatio⌝ 3652 What, the fair Ophelia?
QUEEN 3653 Sweets to the sweet, farewell!
⌜She scatters flowers.⌝
3654 255 I hoped thou shouldst have been my Hamlet’s wife;
3655 I thought thy bride-bed to have decked, sweet maid,
3656 And not have strewed thy grave.
LAERTES 3657 O, treble woe
3658 Fall ten times ⟨treble⟩ on that cursèd head
3659 260 Whose wicked deed thy most ingenious sense
3660 Deprived thee of!—Hold off the earth awhile,
3661 Till I have caught her once more in mine arms.
⟨Leaps in the grave.⟩
p. 2553662 Now pile your dust upon the quick and dead,
3663 Till of this flat a mountain you have made
3664 265 T’ o’ertop old Pelion or the skyish head
3665 Of blue Olympus.
3666 What is he whose grief
3667 Bears such an emphasis, whose phrase of sorrow
3668 Conjures the wand’ring stars and makes them stand
3669 270 Like wonder-wounded hearers? This is I,
3670 Hamlet the Dane.
LAERTES, ⌜coming out of the grave⌝
3671 The devil take thy soul!
HAMLET 3672 Thou pray’st not well.⌜They grapple.⌝
3673 I prithee take thy fingers from my throat,
3674 275 For though I am not splenitive ⟨and⟩ rash,
3675 Yet have I in me something dangerous,
3676 Which let thy wisdom fear. Hold off thy hand.
KING 3677 Pluck them asunder.
QUEEN 3678 Hamlet! Hamlet!
ALL 3679 280Gentlemen!
HORATIO 3680 Good my lord, be quiet.
⌜Hamlet and Laertes are separated.⌝
3681 Why, I will fight with him upon this theme
3682 Until my eyelids will no longer wag!
QUEEN 3683 O my son, what theme?
3684 285 I loved Ophelia. Forty thousand brothers
3685 Could not with all their quantity of love
3686 Make up my sum. What wilt thou do for her?
KING 3687 O, he is mad, Laertes!
QUEEN 3688 For love of God, forbear him.
HAMLET 3689 290’Swounds, show me what thou ’t do.
3690 Woo’t weep, woo’t fight, woo’t fast, woo’t tear
3692 Woo’t drink up eisel, eat a crocodile?
p. 2573693 I’ll do ’t. Dost ⟨thou⟩ come here to whine?
3694 295 To outface me with leaping in her grave?
3695 Be buried quick with her, and so will I.
3696 And if thou prate of mountains, let them throw
3697 Millions of acres on us, till our ground,
3698 Singeing his pate against the burning zone,
3699 300 Make Ossa like a wart. Nay, an thou ’lt mouth,
3700 I’ll rant as well as thou.
QUEEN 3701 This is mere madness;
3702 And ⟨thus⟩ awhile the fit will work on him.
3703 Anon, as patient as the female dove
3704 305 When that her golden couplets are disclosed,
3705 His silence will sit drooping.
HAMLET 3706 Hear you, sir,
3707 What is the reason that you use me thus?
3708 I loved you ever. But it is no matter.
3709 310 Let Hercules himself do what he may,
3710 The cat will mew, and dog will have his day.
3711 I pray thee, good Horatio, wait upon him.
3712 ⌜To Laertes.⌝ Strengthen your patience in our last
3713 night’s speech.
3714 315 We’ll put the matter to the present push.—
3715 Good Gertrude, set some watch over your son.—
3716 This grave shall have a living monument.
3717 An hour of quiet thereby shall we see.
3718 Till then in patience our proceeding be.