Indeed? I heard it not. It then draws near the season
Wherein the spirit held his wont to walk.
Really? I didn't hear it. So it's getting close to the time when the ghost usually appears.
A flourish of trumpets and two pieces of ordnance goes off
Trumpets sound, and two cannons fire.
What does this mean, my lord?
What does that mean, sir?
The king doth wake tonight and takes his rouse,
Keeps wassail and the swaggering upspring reels,
And, as he drains his draughts of Rhenish down,
The kettle-drum and trumpet thus bray out
The triumph of his pledge.
The king is staying up late partying, and as he carouses, and dances, and guzzles his German wine, the musicians play the drum and trumpet to mark each time he drinks another cup.
Ay, marry, is 't.
But to my mind, though I am native here
And to the manner born, it is a custom
More honored in the breach than the observance.
This heavy-headed revel east and west
Makes us traduced and taxed of other nations.
They clepe us drunkards and with swinish phrase
Soil our addition. And indeed it takes
From our achievements, though performed at height,
The pith and marrow of our attribute.
So oft it chances in particular men
That for some vicious mole of nature in them—
As in their birth (wherein they are not guilty,
Since nature cannot choose his origin),
By the o'ergrowth of some complexion,
Oft breaking down the pales and forts of reason,
Or by some habit that too much o'erleavens
The form of plausive manners—that these men,
Carrying, I say, the stamp of one defect,
Being nature's livery or fortune's star,
Their virtues else (be they as pure as grace,
As infinite as man may undergo)
Shall in the general censure take corruption
From that particular fault. The dram of evil
Doth all the noble substance of a doubt
To his own scandal.
It is. But in my opinion, though I was born here and should think it natural, I'd say it's a custom that we'd be better off ignoring rather than observing. Countries to the east and west mock and criticize us for our partying. They call us drunks and pigs, staining our reputation. And they're right—our behavior does reduce our achievements, despite their greatness, because it is a flaw in our core qualities. It's similar to what happens to certain people who are born with some terrible defect (a defect for which they bear no responsibility, since no one can choose his own beginning), or some excess of a more normal trait, or some kind of obsessive compulsion that makes it impossible for them to act in a way that pleases others. For such men as these, even if they are kind or limiltlessly talented, this single defect, whether they were born with it or got it through some misfortune, will result in others always seeing them as corrupt or evil. That tiny bit of evil casts doubt on all their good qualities and wrecks their reputations.
The GHOST enters.
Look, my lord, it comes!
Look, my lord, it comes!
* * * *
45 * * * *
50 * * * *
55 * * * *
Angels and ministers of grace defend us!
Be thou a spirit of health or goblin damned,
Bring with thee airs from heaven or blasts from hell,
Be thy intents wicked or charitable,
Thou comest in such a questionable shape
That I will speak to thee. I'll call thee "Hamlet,"
"King," "Father," "royal Dane." O, answer me!
Let me not burst in ignorance, but tell
Why thy canonized bones, hearsed in death,
Have burst their cerements; why the sepulcher,
Wherein we saw thee quietly interred,
Hath oped his ponderous and marble jaws
To cast thee up again. What may this mean,
That thou, dead corse, again in complete steel
Revisits thus the glimpses of the moon,
Making night hideous and we fools of nature,
So horridly to shake our disposition
With thoughts beyond the reaches of our souls?
Say why is this? Wherefore? What should we do?
Angels protect us! Whether you're a good spirit bringing breezes from heaven or an evil demon wielding hell fire, whether your intentions are wicked or friendly, you appear in a shape that invites so many questions that I must speak to you. I'll call you "Hamlet," "King," "Father," "royal Dane." Oh, answer me! Don't make me explode from curiosity. Tell me why your bones, which were blessed and sanctified in burial rites, have burst out of their coffin, and why your tomb, in whose quiet we buried you, has opened up its weighty marble jaws to spit you out again. What does it mean that you, dead corpse, once again walk beneath the moon in full armor, making the night terrifying and forcing on us mere mortals to face thoughts that are beyond our ability to understand? Tell me why? Why? What should we do?
GHOST beckons HAMLET
The GHOST motions for HAMLET to follow it.
It beckons you to go away with it,
As if it some impartment did desire
To you alone.
It motions you to go off with it, as if it wants to say something to you alone.
* * *
Look, with what courteous action
It waves you to a more removèd ground.
But do not go with it.
Look how politely it's directing you to go to a spot that's farther away. But don't go with it.
No, by no means.
No, by all means do not.
It will not speak. Then I will follow it.
It's not going to speak here. So I will follow it.
Do not, my lord.
Don't, my lord.
* * * *
Why, what should be the fear?
I do not set my life in a pin's fee,
And for my soul—what can it do to that,
Being a thing immortal as itself?
It waves me forth again. I'll follow it.
Why, what should I fear? I don't value my life at event he price of a pin. And as for my soul, what can the ghost do to that, since it's as immortal as the ghost is? It's waving for me to come after it again. I'll follow it.
75 * * * *
What if it tempt you toward the flood, my lord,
Or to the dreadful summit of the cliff
That beetles o'er his base into the sea,
And there assume some other horrible form,
Which might deprive your sovereignty of reason
And draw you into madness? Think of it.
The very place puts toys of desperation,
Without more motive, into every brain
That looks so many fathoms to the sea
And hears it roar beneath.
What if it leads you toward the sea, my lord, or to the high cliff that overhangs the ocean, and then morphs into a beast so horrible that seeing it drives you insane. Think about it. That cliff edge over the sea, with its view into those watery depths and the roar of the crashing waves, makes people feel despair even when they have no reason to.
It waves me still.
—Go on. I'll follow thee.
It's still waving to me. —(to the GHOST) Go on, I'll follow you.
You shall not go, my lord.
You're not going, sir.
MARCELLUS and HORATIO try to hold HAMLET back
MARCELLUS and HORATIO try to hold HAMLET back.
Hold off your hands.
Let go of me.
Be ruled. You shall not go.
Listen to us. You must not go.
* * * * * *
My fate cries out
And makes each petty artery in this body
As hardy as the Nemean lion's nerve.
Still am I called.—Unhand me, gentlemen. (draws his sword)
By heaven, I'll make a ghost of him that lets me.
I say, away!—Go on. I'll follow thee.
My fate calls out to me, making every sinew of my body as taut as those of the legendary Nemean lion. Still it motions for me. Let go of me, gentlemen. (draws his sword) By god, I'll make a ghost of any of you who holds me back! I say, move away!—(to the GHOST) Go on. I'll follow you.
Exeunt GHOST and HAMLET
The GHOST and HAMLET exit.
He waxes desperate with imagination.
His wild thoughts have made him desperate.
Let's follow. 'Tis not fit thus to obey him.
Let's follow him. It's not right for us to obey his orders to stay away.
Have after. To what issue will this come?
Let's go after. But what does all this mean?
Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.
That something is rotten in the state of Denmark.
Heaven will direct it.
God will determine what will come of all this.