Hamlet - Act 5, scene 2
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Navigate this workHamlet - Act 5, scene 2
Act 5, scene 2
In the hall of the castle, Hamlet tells Horatio how he discovered the king’s plot against him and how he turned the tables on Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Osric enters to ask, on Claudius’s behalf, that Hamlet fence with Laertes. Hamlet agrees to the contest, despite his misgivings.
Hamlet is winning the match when Gertrude drinks from the poisoned cup that Claudius has prepared for Hamlet. Laertes then wounds Hamlet with the poisoned rapier. In the scuffle that follows, Hamlet forces an exchange of rapiers, and Hamlet wounds Laertes. As Gertrude dies, Laertes, himself dying, discloses his and Claudius’s plot against Hamlet. Hamlet kills Claudius. Before Hamlet dies, he asks Horatio to tell the full story that has led to these deaths and gives Fortinbras his support for the kingship. After Hamlet’s death, Fortinbras arrives, claims the crown, and orders a military funeral for Hamlet.Enter Hamlet and Horatio.
3719 So much for this, sir. Now shall you see the other.
3720 You do remember all the circumstance?
HORATIO 3721 Remember it, my lord!
3722 Sir, in my heart there was a kind of fighting
3723 5 That would not let me sleep. ⟨Methought⟩ I lay
3724 Worse than the mutines in the ⟨bilboes.⟩ Rashly—
3725 And praised be rashness for it; let us know,
3726 Our indiscretion sometime serves us well
3727 When our deep plots do pall; and that should learn
3728 10 us
3729 There’s a divinity that shapes our ends,
3730 Rough-hew them how we will—
HORATIO 3731 That is most
HAMLET 3733 15Up from my cabin,
3734 My sea-gown scarfed about me, in the dark
3735 Groped I to find out them; had my desire,
3736 Fingered their packet, and in fine withdrew
3737 To mine own room again, making so bold
3738 20 (My fears forgetting manners) to unfold
3739 Their grand commission; where I found, Horatio,
3740 A royal knavery—an exact command,
3741 Larded with many several sorts of reasons
3742 Importing Denmark’s health and England’s too,
3743 25 With—ho!—such bugs and goblins in my life,
3744 That on the supervise, no leisure bated,
3745 No, not to stay the grinding of the ax,
3746 My head should be struck off.
HORATIO 3747 Is ’t possible?
3748 30 Here’s the commission. Read it at more leisure.
⌜Handing him a paper.⌝
HORATIO 3750 I beseech you.
3751 Being thus benetted round with ⌜villainies,⌝
3752 Or I could make a prologue to my brains,
3753 35 They had begun the play. I sat me down,
3754 Devised a new commission, wrote it fair—
3755 I once did hold it, as our statists do,
3756 A baseness to write fair, and labored much
3757 How to forget that learning; but, sir, now
3758 40 It did me yeoman’s service. Wilt thou know
3759 Th’ effect of what I wrote?
HORATIO 3760 Ay, good my lord.
3761 An earnest conjuration from the King,
3762 As England was his faithful tributary,
3763 45 As love between them like the palm might flourish,
3764 As peace should still her wheaten garland wear
3765 And stand a comma ’tween their amities,
3766 And many suchlike ⌜ases⌝ of great charge,
3767 That, on the view and knowing of these contents,
3768 50 Without debatement further, more or less,
3769 He should those bearers put to sudden death,
3770 Not shriving time allowed.
HORATIO 3771 How was this sealed?
3772 Why, even in that was heaven ordinant.
3773 55 I had my father’s signet in my purse,
3774 Which was the model of that Danish seal;
3775 Folded the writ up in the form of th’ other,
3776 ⟨Subscribed⟩ it, gave ’t th’ impression, placed it
3778 60 The changeling never known. Now, the next day
3779 Was our sea-fight; and what to this was sequent
3780 Thou knowest already.
3781 So Guildenstern and Rosencrantz go to ’t.
3782 ⟨Why, man, they did make love to this employment.⟩
3783 65 They are not near my conscience. Their defeat
3784 Does by their own insinuation grow.
3785 ’Tis dangerous when the baser nature comes
3786 Between the pass and fell incensèd points
3787 Of mighty opposites.
HORATIO 3788 70Why, what a king is this!
3789 Does it not, think thee, stand me now upon—
3790 He that hath killed my king and whored my mother,
3791 Popped in between th’ election and my hopes,
3792 Thrown out his angle for my proper life,
3793 75 And with such cozenage—is ’t not perfect
3795 ⟨To quit him with this arm? And is ’t not to be
3797 To let this canker of our nature come
3798 80 In further evil?
3799 It must be shortly known to him from England
3800 What is the issue of the business there.
3801 It will be short. The interim’s mine,
3802 And a man’s life’s no more than to say “one.”
3803 85 But I am very sorry, good Horatio,
3804 That to Laertes I forgot myself,
3805 For by the image of my cause I see
3806 The portraiture of his. I’ll ⌜court⌝ his favors.
3807 But, sure, the bravery of his grief did put me
3808 90 Into a tow’ring passion.
HORATIO 3809 Peace, who comes here?⟩
Enter ⟨Osric,⟩ a courtier.
OSRIC 3810 Your Lordship is right welcome back to
3813 95 Dost know this waterfly?
HORATIO, ⌜aside to Hamlet⌝ 3814 No, my good lord.
HAMLET, ⌜aside to Horatio⌝ 3815 Thy state is the more gracious,
3816 for ’tis a vice to know him. He hath much
3817 land, and fertile. Let a beast be lord of beasts and his
3818 100 crib shall stand at the king’s mess. ’Tis a chough,
3819 but, as I say, spacious in the possession of dirt.
OSRIC 3820 Sweet lord, if your Lordship were at leisure, I
3821 should impart a thing to you from his Majesty.
HAMLET 3822 I will receive it, sir, with all diligence of
3823 105 spirit. ⟨Put⟩ your bonnet to his right use: ’tis for the
OSRIC 3825 I thank your Lordship; it is very hot.
HAMLET 3826 No, believe me, ’tis very cold; the wind is
OSRIC 3828 110It is indifferent cold, my lord, indeed.
HAMLET 3829 But yet methinks it is very ⟨sultry⟩ and hot ⟨for⟩
3830 my complexion.
OSRIC 3831 Exceedingly, my lord; it is very sultry, as
3832 ’twere—I cannot tell how. My lord, his Majesty
3833 115 bade me signify to you that he has laid a great wager
3834 on your head. Sir, this is the matter—
HAMLET 3835 I beseech you, remember. ⌜He motions to
Osric to put on his hat.⌝
OSRIC 3836 Nay, good my lord, for my ease, in good faith.
3837 [Sir, here is newly come to court Laertes—believe
3838 120 me, an absolute ⌜gentleman,⌝ full of most excellent
3839 differences, of very soft society and great showing.
3840 Indeed, to speak ⌜feelingly⌝ of him, he is the card or
3841 calendar of gentry, for you shall find in him the
3842 continent of what part a gentleman would see.
HAMLET 3843 125Sir, his definement suffers no perdition in
3844 you, though I know to divide him inventorially
3845 would dozy th’ arithmetic of memory, and yet but
3846 yaw neither, in respect of his quick sail. But, in the
3848 130 article, and his infusion of such dearth and rareness
3849 as, to make true diction of him, his semblable is his
3850 mirror, and who else would trace him, his umbrage,
3851 nothing more.
OSRIC 3852 Your Lordship speaks most infallibly of him.
HAMLET 3853 135The concernancy, sir? Why do we wrap the
3854 gentleman in our more rawer breath?
OSRIC 3855 Sir?
HORATIO 3856 Is ’t not possible to understand in another
3857 tongue? You will to ’t, sir, really.
HAMLET, ⌜to Osric⌝ 3858 140What imports the nomination of
3859 this gentleman?
OSRIC 3860 Of Laertes?
HORATIO 3861 His purse is empty already; all ’s golden words
3862 are spent.
HAMLET 3863 145Of him, sir.
OSRIC 3864 I know you are not ignorant—
HAMLET 3865 I would you did, sir. Yet, in faith, if you did, it
3866 would not much approve me. Well, sir?]
OSRIC 3867 You are not ignorant of what excellence Laertes
3868 150 is—
[HAMLET 3869 I dare not confess that, lest I should compare
3870 with him in excellence. But to know a man well
3871 were to know himself.
OSRIC 3872 I mean, sir, for ⌜his⌝ weapon. But in the imputation
3873 155 laid on him by them, in his meed he’s
HAMLET 3875 What’s his weapon?
OSRIC 3876 Rapier and dagger.
HAMLET 3877 That’s two of his weapons. But, well—
OSRIC 3878 160The King, sir, hath wagered with him six Barbary
3879 horses, against the which he has impawned, as I
3880 take it, six French rapiers and poniards, with their
3881 assigns, as girdle, ⟨hangers,⟩ and so. Three of the
3882 carriages, in faith, are very dear to fancy, very
3884 of very liberal conceit.
HAMLET 3885 What call you the “carriages”?
[HORATIO 3886 I knew you must be edified by the margent
3887 ere you had done.]
OSRIC 3888 170The ⟨carriages,⟩ sir, are the hangers.
HAMLET 3889 The phrase would be more germane to the
3890 matter if we could carry a cannon by our sides. I
3891 would it ⟨might⟩ be “hangers” till then. But on. Six
3892 Barbary horses against six French swords, their
3893 175 assigns, and three liberal-conceited carriages—
3894 that’s the French bet against the Danish. Why is this
3895 all ⌜“impawned,”⌝ ⟨as⟩ you call it?
OSRIC 3896 The King, sir, hath laid, sir, that in a dozen
3897 passes between yourself and him, he shall not
3898 180 exceed you three hits. He hath laid on twelve for
3899 nine, and it would come to immediate trial if your
3900 Lordship would vouchsafe the answer.
HAMLET 3901 How if I answer no?
OSRIC 3902 I mean, my lord, the opposition of your person
3903 185 in trial.
HAMLET 3904 Sir, I will walk here in the hall. If it please his
3905 Majesty, it is the breathing time of day with me. Let
3906 the foils be brought, the gentleman willing, and the
3907 King hold his purpose, I will win for him, an I can.
3908 190 If not, I will gain nothing but my shame and the odd
OSRIC 3910 Shall I deliver you ⟨e’en⟩ so?
HAMLET 3911 To this effect, sir, after what flourish your
3912 nature will.
OSRIC 3913 195I commend my duty to your Lordship.
HAMLET 3914 Yours. ⌜Osric exits.⌝ ⟨He⟩ does well to commend
3915 it himself. There are no tongues else for ’s
HORATIO 3917 This lapwing runs away with the shell on his
3918 200 head.
3920 sucked it. Thus has he (and many more of the same
3921 breed that I know the drossy age dotes on) only got
3922 the tune of the time, and, out of an habit of
3923 205 encounter, a kind of ⟨yeasty⟩ collection, which carries
3924 them through and through the most ⌜fanned⌝
3925 and ⟨winnowed⟩ opinions; and do but blow them to
3926 their trial, the bubbles are out.
[Enter a Lord.
LORD 3927 My lord, his Majesty commended him to you by
3928 210 young Osric, who brings back to him that you
3929 attend him in the hall. He sends to know if your
3930 pleasure hold to play with Laertes, or that you will
3931 take longer time.
HAMLET 3932 I am constant to my purposes. They follow
3933 215 the King’s pleasure. If his fitness speaks, mine is
3934 ready now or whensoever, provided I be so able as
LORD 3936 The King and Queen and all are coming down.
HAMLET 3937 In happy time.
LORD 3938 220The Queen desires you to use some gentle
3939 entertainment to Laertes before you fall to play.
HAMLET 3940 She well instructs me.⌜Lord exits.⌝]
HORATIO 3941 You will lose, my lord.
HAMLET 3942 I do not think so. Since he went into France, I
3943 225 have been in continual practice. I shall win at the
3944 odds; ⟨but⟩ thou wouldst not think how ill all’s here
3945 about my heart. But it is no matter.
HORATIO 3946 Nay, good my lord—
HAMLET 3947 It is but foolery, but it is such a kind of
3948 230 ⟨gaingiving⟩ as would perhaps trouble a woman.
HORATIO 3949 If your mind dislike anything, obey it. I will
3950 forestall their repair hither and say you are not fit.
HAMLET 3951 Not a whit. We defy augury. There is ⟨a⟩
3952 special providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be
3953 235 ⟨now,⟩ ’tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be
3955 readiness is all. Since no man of aught he leaves
3956 knows, what is ’t to leave betimes? Let be.
A table prepared. ⟨Enter⟩ Trumpets, Drums, and Officers
with cushions, King, Queen, ⌜Osric,⌝ and all the state,
foils, daggers, ⟨flagons of wine,⟩ and Laertes.
3957 Come, Hamlet, come and take this hand from me.
⌜He puts Laertes’ hand into Hamlet’s.⌝
HAMLET, ⌜to Laertes⌝
3958 240 Give me your pardon, sir. I have done you wrong;
3959 But pardon ’t as you are a gentleman. This presence
3961 And you must needs have heard, how I am punished
3962 With a sore distraction. What I have done
3963 245 That might your nature, honor, and exception
3964 Roughly awake, I here proclaim was madness.
3965 Was ’t Hamlet wronged Laertes? Never Hamlet.
3966 If Hamlet from himself be ta’en away,
3967 And when he’s not himself does wrong Laertes,
3968 250 Then Hamlet does it not; Hamlet denies it.
3969 Who does it, then? His madness. If ’t be so,
3970 Hamlet is of the faction that is wronged;
3971 His madness is poor Hamlet’s enemy.
3972 ⟨Sir, in this audience⟩
3973 255 Let my disclaiming from a purposed evil
3974 Free me so far in your most generous thoughts
3975 That I have shot my arrow o’er the house
3976 And hurt my brother.
LAERTES 3977 I am satisfied in nature,
3978 260 Whose motive in this case should stir me most
3979 To my revenge; but in my terms of honor
3980 I stand aloof and will no reconcilement
3981 Till by some elder masters of known honor
3982 I have a voice and precedent of peace
3983 265 To ⟨keep⟩ my name ungored. But ⟨till⟩ that time
3985 And will not wrong it.
HAMLET 3986 I embrace it freely
3987 And will this brothers’ wager frankly play.—
3988 270 Give us the foils. ⟨Come on.⟩
LAERTES 3989 Come, one for me.
3990 I’ll be your foil, Laertes; in mine ignorance
3991 Your skill shall, like a star i’ th’ darkest night,
3992 Stick fiery off indeed.
LAERTES 3993 275 You mock me, sir.
HAMLET 3994 No, by this hand.
3995 Give them the foils, young Osric. Cousin Hamlet,
3996 You know the wager?
HAMLET 3997 Very well, my lord.
3998 280 Your Grace has laid the odds o’ th’ weaker side.
3999 I do not fear it; I have seen you both.
4000 But, since he is better, we have therefore odds.
4001 This is too heavy. Let me see another.
4002 This likes me well. These foils have all a length?
OSRIC 4003 285Ay, my good lord.
⟨Prepare to play.⟩
4004 Set me the stoups of wine upon that table.—
4005 If Hamlet give the first or second hit
4006 Or quit in answer of the third exchange,
4007 Let all the battlements their ordnance fire.
4008 290 The King shall drink to Hamlet’s better breath,
4009 And in the cup an ⟨union⟩ shall he throw,
4010 Richer than that which four successive kings
4011 In Denmark’s crown have worn. Give me the cups,
4013 295 The trumpet to the cannoneer without,
4014 The cannons to the heavens, the heaven to earth,
4015 “Now the King drinks to Hamlet.” Come, begin.
4016 And you, the judges, bear a wary eye.
Trumpets the while.
HAMLET 4017 Come on, sir.
LAERTES 4018 300Come, my lord.⟨They play.⟩
HAMLET 4019 One.
LAERTES 4020 No.
HAMLET 4021 Judgment!
OSRIC 4022 A hit, a very palpable hit.
LAERTES 4023 305Well, again.
4024 Stay, give me drink.—Hamlet, this pearl is thine.
4025 Here’s to thy health.
⌜He drinks and then drops the pearl in the cup.⌝
Drum, trumpets, and shot.
4026 Give him the cup.
4027 I’ll play this bout first. Set it by awhile.
4028 310 Come. ⌜They play.⌝ Another hit. What say you?
4029 ⟨A touch, a touch.⟩ I do confess ’t.
4030 Our son shall win.
QUEEN 4031 He’s fat and scant of breath.—
4032 Here, Hamlet, take my napkin; rub thy brows.
4033 315 The Queen carouses to thy fortune, Hamlet.
⌜She lifts the cup.⌝
HAMLET 4034 Good madam.
KING 4035 Gertrude, do not drink.
4036 I will, my lord; I pray you pardon me.⌜She drinks.⌝
4037 It is the poisoned cup. It is too late.
4038 320 I dare not drink yet, madam—by and by.
QUEEN 4039 Come, let me wipe thy face.
LAERTES, ⌜to Claudius⌝
4040 My lord, I’ll hit him now.
KING 4041 I do not think ’t.
4042 And yet it is almost against my conscience.
4043 325 Come, for the third, Laertes. You do but dally.
4044 I pray you pass with your best violence.
4045 I am ⟨afeard⟩ you make a wanton of me.
LAERTES 4046 Say you so? Come on.⟨Play.⟩
OSRIC 4047 Nothing neither way.
LAERTES 4048 330Have at you now!
⌜Laertes wounds Hamlet. Then ⟨in scuffling they change
rapiers,⟩ and Hamlet wounds Laertes.⌝
KING 4049 Part them. They are incensed.
HAMLET 4050 Nay, come again.
⌜The Queen falls.⌝
OSRIC 4051 Look to the Queen there, ho!
4052 They bleed on both sides.—How is it, my lord?
OSRIC 4053 335How is ’t, Laertes?
4054 Why as a woodcock to mine own springe, Osric.
4055 I am justly killed with mine own treachery.
4056 How does the Queen?
KING 4057 She swoons to see them bleed.
4058 340 No, no, the drink, the drink! O, my dear Hamlet!
4059 The drink, the drink! I am poisoned.⌜She dies.⌝
4060 O villainy! Ho! Let the door be locked.⌜Osric exits.⌝
4061 Treachery! Seek it out.
4062 It is here, Hamlet. ⟨Hamlet,⟩ thou art slain.
4063 345 No med’cine in the world can do thee good.
4064 In thee there is not half an hour’s life.
4065 The treacherous instrument is in ⟨thy⟩ hand,
4066 Unbated and envenomed. The foul practice
4067 Hath turned itself on me. Lo, here I lie,
4068 350 Never to rise again. Thy mother’s poisoned.
4069 I can no more. The King, the King’s to blame.
4070 The point envenomed too! Then, venom, to thy
4071 work.⟨Hurts the King.⟩
ALL 4072 Treason, treason!
4073 355 O, yet defend me, friends! I am but hurt.
4074 Here, thou incestuous, ⟨murd’rous,⟩ damnèd Dane,
4075 Drink off this potion. Is ⟨thy union⟩ here?
⌜Forcing him to drink the poison.⌝
4076 Follow my mother.⟨King dies.⟩
LAERTES 4077 He is justly served.
4078 360 It is a poison tempered by himself.
4079 Exchange forgiveness with me, noble Hamlet.
4080 Mine and my father’s death come not upon thee,
4081 Nor thine on me.⟨Dies.⟩
4082 Heaven make thee free of it. I follow thee.—
4083 365 I am dead, Horatio.—Wretched queen, adieu.—
4084 You that look pale and tremble at this chance,
4085 That are but mutes or audience to this act,
4086 Had I but time (as this fell sergeant, Death,
4087 Is strict in his arrest), O, I could tell you—
4088 370 But let it be.—Horatio, I am dead.
4089 Thou livest; report me and my cause aright
4090 To the unsatisfied.
HORATIO 4091 Never believe it.
4093 375 Here’s yet some liquor left.⌜He picks up the cup.⌝
HAMLET 4094 As thou ’rt a man,
4095 Give me the cup. Let go! By heaven, I’ll ha ’t.
4096 O God, Horatio, what a wounded name,
4097 Things standing thus unknown, shall I leave behind
4098 380 me!
4099 If thou didst ever hold me in thy heart,
4100 Absent thee from felicity awhile
4101 And in this harsh world draw thy breath in pain
4102 To tell my story.
A march afar off ⟨and ⌜shot⌝ within.⟩
4103 385 What warlike noise is this?
4104 Young Fortinbras, with conquest come from Poland,
4105 To th’ ambassadors of England gives
4106 This warlike volley.
HAMLET 4107 O, I die, Horatio!
4108 390 The potent poison quite o’ercrows my spirit.
4109 I cannot live to hear the news from England.
4110 But I do prophesy th’ election lights
4111 On Fortinbras; he has my dying voice.
4112 So tell him, with th’ occurrents, more and less,
4113 395 Which have solicited—the rest is silence.
4114 ⟨O, O, O, O!⟩⟨Dies.⟩
4115 Now cracks a noble heart. Good night, sweet prince,
4116 And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.
4117 Why does the drum come hither?
Enter Fortinbras with the ⌜English⌝ Ambassadors ⟨with
Drum, Colors, and Attendants.⟩
FORTINBRAS 4118 400Where is this sight?
4120 If aught of woe or wonder, cease your search.
4121 This quarry cries on havoc. O proud Death,
4122 What feast is toward in thine eternal cell
4123 405 That thou so many princes at a shot
4124 So bloodily hast struck?
AMBASSADOR 4125 The sight is dismal,
4126 And our affairs from England come too late.
4127 The ears are senseless that should give us hearing
4128 410 To tell him his commandment is fulfilled,
4129 That Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead.
4130 Where should we have our thanks?
HORATIO 4131 Not from his
4133 415 Had it th’ ability of life to thank you.
4134 He never gave commandment for their death.
4135 But since, so jump upon this bloody question,
4136 You from the Polack wars, and you from England,
4137 Are here arrived, give order that these bodies
4138 420 High on a stage be placed to the view,
4139 And let me speak to ⟨th’⟩ yet unknowing world
4140 How these things came about. So shall you hear
4141 Of carnal, bloody, and unnatural acts,
4142 Of accidental judgments, casual slaughters,
4143 425 Of deaths put on by cunning and ⟨forced⟩ cause,
4144 And, in this upshot, purposes mistook
4145 Fall’n on th’ inventors’ heads. All this can I
4146 Truly deliver.
FORTINBRAS 4147 Let us haste to hear it
4148 430 And call the noblest to the audience.
4149 For me, with sorrow I embrace my fortune.
4150 I have some rights of memory in this kingdom,
4151 Which now to claim my vantage doth invite me.
4152 Of that I shall have also cause to speak,
4155 But let this same be presently performed
4156 Even while men’s minds are wild, lest more
4158 440 On plots and errors happen.
FORTINBRAS 4159 Let four captains
4160 Bear Hamlet like a soldier to the stage,
4161 For he was likely, had he been put on,
4162 To have proved most royal; and for his passage,
4163 445 The soldier’s music and the rite of war
4164 Speak loudly for him.
4165 Take up the bodies. Such a sight as this
4166 Becomes the field but here shows much amiss.
4167 Go, bid the soldiers shoot.
They exit, ⟨marching, after the which, a peal of
ordnance are shot off.⟩