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Act 1, Scene 3


hamlet original play and modern translation
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Original Play

Modern Translation

Enter LAERTES and OPHELIA, his sister

LAERTES and his sister OPHELIA enter.

LAERTES
My necessaries are embarked. Farewell.
And, sister, as the winds give benefit
And convey is assistant, do not sleep,
But let me hear from you.

LAERTES
My belongings are on the ship. Good-bye. And, dear sister, as long as the winds are blowing and ships are traveling, make sure to send me news.

OPHELIA
Do you doubt that?

OPHELIA
Do you doubt I will?

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LAERTES
For Hamlet and the trifling of his favor,
Hold it a fashion and a toy in blood,
A violet in the youth of primy nature,
Forward, not permanent, sweet, not lasting,
The perfume and suppliance of a minute.
No more.

LAERTES
As for Hamlet and the attention he's given you, consider it no more than a passing thing, the product of his hot-blooded youth. Like a violet, it's sweet and beautiful, but won't last more than a single minute.

OPHELIA
No more but so?

OPHELIA
No more than a single minute?

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LAERTES
Think it no more.
For nature, crescent, does not grow alone
In thews and bulk, but, as this temple waxes,
The inward service of the mind and soul
Grows wide withal. Perhaps he loves you now,
And now no soil nor cautel doth besmirch
The virtue of his will, but you must fear.
His greatness weighed, his will is not his own,
For he himself is subject to his birth.
He may not, as unvalued persons do,
Carve for himself, for on his choice depends
The safety and health of this whole state.
And therefore must his choice be circumscribed
Unto the voice and yielding of that body
Whereof he is the head. Then if he says he loves you,
It fits your wisdom so far to believe it
As he in his particular act and place
May give his saying deed, which is no further
Than the main voice of Denmark goes withal.
Then weigh what loss your honor may sustain
If with too credent ear you list his songs,
Or lose your heart, or your chaste treasure open
To his unmastered importunity.
Fear it, Ophelia. Fear it, my dear sister,
And keep you in the rear of your affection,
Out of the shot and danger of desire.
The chariest maid is prodigal enough
If she unmask her beauty to the moon.
Virtue itself 'scapes not calumnious strokes.
The canker galls the infants of the spring
Too oft before their buttons be disclosed.
And in the morn and liquid dew of youth,
Contagious blastments are most imminent.
Be wary, then. Best safety lies in fear.
Youth to itself rebels, though none else near.

LAERTES
Act as if that was the truth. When a youth becomes a man, it's not just his body that grows in size. So do the responsibilities that weigh on his mind and soul. Perhaps he loves you now, and currently nothing stains the purity of that love, but you must take into account that he cannot make his own decisions. He is bound by the needs of the royal family, and can't just choose whoever he wants, because the choice he makes could affect the safety and security of the entire country. When making his choice he must do what is right for the the country that he leads. So if he says he loves you, it would be smart for you to understand that his words can't mean any more than what the needs of Denmark allow it to mean. Then think about how it would stain your reputation if you believe his words of love, or fall in love, or give up your virginity to him. Be careful, Ophelia. Be careful, my dear sister, and keep your feelings under control and yourself free from the danger of his desire. Avoid exposing your beauty, even to the moon. Your reputation can be ruined if other people even think that yo're doing something you shouldn't. Too often, worms or disease ruin flowers before they blossom, and young flowers are the most vulnerable. Be careful. You will be safest if you maintain a healthy fear. Young people can lose their self-control without any outside help.

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OPHELIA
I shall the effect of this good lesson keep
As watchman to my heart. But, good my brother,
Do not, as some ungracious pastors do,
Show me the steep and thorny way to heaven
Whiles, like a puffed and reckless libertine,
Himself the primrose path of dalliance treads
And recks not his own rede.

OPHELIA
I'll take your wise words and hold them close to my heart. But, my dear brother, don't be like a bad priest who does not follow his own advice, preaching about the need to follow the strict and righteous path to heaven while, like a reckless pleasure-lover, dances on the primrose path of sin.

LAERTES
O, fear me not.

LAERTES
Don't worry about me.

Enter POLONIUS

POLONIUS enters.

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I stay too long. But here my father comes.
A double blessing is a double grace.
Occasion smiles upon a second leave.

I should be on the ship by now. And here comes father. To have him bless my leaving a second time will give my journey double the luck.

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POLONIUS
Yet here, Laertes? Aboard, aboard, for shame!
The wind sits in the shoulder of your sail
And you are stayed for. There, my blessing with thee.
And these few precepts in thy memory
Look thou character. Give thy thoughts no tongue,
Nor any unproportioned thought his act.
Be thou familiar but by no means vulgar.
Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
Grapple them unto thy soul with hoops of steel,
But do not dull thy palm with entertainment
Of each new-hatched, unfledged comrade. Beware
Of entrance to a quarrel, but being in,
Bear 't that th' opposèd may beware of thee.
Give every man thy ear but few thy voice.
Take each man's censure but reserve thy judgment.
Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy,
But not expressed in fancy—rich, not gaudy,
For the apparel oft proclaims the man,
And they in France of the best rank and station
Are of a most select and generous chief in that.
Neither a borrower nor a lender be,
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.
This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Farewell. My blessing season this in thee.

POLONIUS
Still here, Laertes? Get going, get going—shame on you! The wind gusts in the sails of your ship, and yet it is forced to wait for you. Here, I give you my blessing. And I'll give you a few rules of character to live by. Keep quiet about your own thoughts, and don't act on any idea you haven't fully thought through. Be friendly but not too friendly. For those friends you have and know are trustworthy, hold onto them with all your heart. But don't go shaking hands with every new, unknown person you meet. Try not to get caught up in any fights or arguments, but once you are involved, act to make sure that those you're facing respect you. Listen to everyone, but give advice to few. Hear every man's opinions, but keep your own judgments to yourself. Buy the most expensive clothes you can afford, but buy clothes that are high-end, not gaudy, because clothes make the man. And that is especially true in France. Neither borrow money nor lend it, because lending money to a friend usually results in the loss of the money and the friend, while borrowing makes people reckless with money. Above all: be true to yourself, which carries with it the natural result that you then won't be false to anybody else. Good-bye. May my blessing help you remember my advice.

LAERTES
Most humbly do I take my leave, my lord.

LAERTES
I humbly shall be on my way, father.

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POLONIUS
The time invites you. Go. Your servants tend.

POLONIUS
The time is right. Go. Your servants await you.

LAERTES
Farewell, Ophelia, and remember well
What I have said to you.

LAERTES
Good-bye, Ophelia. Remember what I've told you.

OPHELIA
'Tis in my memory locked,
And you yourself shall keep the key of it.

OPHELIA
It's locked away in my memory, and you have the key.

LAERTES
Farewell.

LAERTES
Good-bye.

Exit LAERTES

LAERTES exits.

POLONIUS
What is 't, Ophelia, he hath said to you?

POLONIUS
What did he say to you, Ophelia?

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OPHELIA
So please you, something touching the Lord Hamlet.

OPHELIA
Something about the Lord Hamlet.

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POLONIUS
Marry, well bethought.
'Tis told me he hath very oft of late
Given private time to you, and you yourself
Have of your audience been most free and bounteous.
If it be so as so 'tis put on me—
And that in way of caution—I must tell you,
You do not understand yourself so clearly
As it behooves my daughter and your honor.
What is between you? Give me up the truth.

POLONIUS
He did? That's good. I've been told that recently Hamlet's spent a lot of his private time with you, and that you've been very open to his visits. If what I've been told is true—and they're only telling me this to warn me—then I must say, you're not acting in a way a daughter of mine should, and you endanger your honor. What's going on between you two? Tell me the truth.

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OPHELIA
He hath, my lord, of late made many tenders
Of his affection to me.

OPHELIA
Father, lately he has many times offered his affection for me.

POLONIUS
Affection! Pooh, you speak like a green girl,
Unsifted in such perilous circumstance.
Do you believe his "tenders," as you call them?

POLONIUS
"Affection!" Bah! You're talking like some innocent girl unlearned in the perilous ways of love and lust. Do you believe his "offers," as you call them?

OPHELIA
I do not know, my lord, what I should think.

OPHELIA
I don't know what I should think, father.

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POLONIUS
Marry, I'll teach you. Think yourself a baby
That you have ta'en these tenders for true pay,
Which are not sterling. Tender yourself more dearly,
Or—not to crack the wind of the poor phrase,
Running it thus—you'll tender me a fool.

POLONIUS
Then I'll explain to you. Think of yourself as a foolish child for believing that these "offers" are something real. Give yourself more respect, or—not to beat this phrase to death, continuing on like this—you'll "offer" me the chance to look like a fool.

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OPHELIA
My lord, he hath importuned me with love
In honorable fashion.

OPHELIA
Father, he's always talked about his love for me in an honorable fashionway—

POLONIUS
Ay, "fashion" you may call it. Go to, go to.

POLONIUS
Yes, "fashion," that's the right word for it. Come on now.

OPHELIA
And hath given countenance to his speech, my lord,
With almost all the holy vows of heaven.

OPHELIA
And he's backed up his words of love with nearly every holy vow.

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POLONIUS
Ay, springes to catch woodcocks. I do know,
When the blood burns, how prodigal the soul
Lends the tongue vows. These blazes, daughter,
Giving more light than heat, extinct in both
Even in their promise as it is a-making,
You must not take for fire. From this time
Be somewhat scanter of your maiden presence.
Set your entreatments at a higher rate
Than a command to parley. For Lord Hamlet,
Believe so much in him that he is young,
And with a larger tether may he walk
Than may be given you. In few, Ophelia,
Do not believe his vows, for they are brokers
Not of that dye which their investments show,
But mere implorators of unholy suits,
Breathing like sanctified and pious bawds,
The better to beguile. This is for all:
I would not, in plain terms, from this time forth,
Have you so slander any moment leisure,
As to give words or talk with the Lord Hamlet.
Look to 't, I charge you. Come your ways.

POLONIUS
Oh yeah, vows that are like traps for birds. I know that when a man's blood burns, he'll be quick to swear to anything. You should not mistake such blazes for the true fire of love. They give off more light than heat, and will go out entirely even before he's finished making his promises. From now on, make sure to spend less time with him, and make him do more than just ask to get you to talk with him. Do not forget that Hamlet is young, and that he has much more freedom to experiment and fool around than you do. In short, Ophelia, don't believe his vows, which are little more than pimps dressed up in good clothes and pretending to be pious in an effort to lead you into bad behavior. To summarize: From now on, don't waste even another moment of your time. Do not talk with Hamlet. Do as I say, I order you. Now come with me.

OPHELIA
I shall obey, my lord.

OPHELIA
I will obey, father.

Exeunt

They exit.

 

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