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Act 3, Scene 1


hamlet original play and modern translation
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Original Play

Modern Translation

Enter CLAUDIUS, GERTRUDE, POLONIUS, OPHELIA, ROSENCRANTZ, and GUILDENSTERN

CLAUDIUS, GERTRUDE, POLONIUS, OPHELIA, ROSENCRANTZ, and GUILDENSTERN enter.

CLAUDIUS
And can you by no drift of conference
Get from him why he puts on this confusion,
Grating so harshly all his days of quiet
With turbulent and dangerous lunacy?

CLAUDIUS
And the two of you haven't been able to figure out why he's acting so oddly, with a dangerous lunacy that's such a huge shift from his earlier calm and quiet behavior?

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ROSENCRANTZ
He does confess he feels himself distracted.
But from what cause he will by no means speak.

ROSENCRANTZ
He admits he feels somewhat crazy, but won't talk about the cause.

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GUILDENSTERN
Nor do we find him forward to be sounded.
But with a crafty madness keeps aloof
When we would bring him on to some confession
Of his true state.

GUILDENSTERN
And he's not willing to be questioned. His madness is sly and smart, and he slips away from our questions when we try to get him to tell us about how he's feeling.

GERTRUDE
Did he receive you well?

GERTRUDE
Did he treat you well?

ROSENCRANTZ
Most like a gentleman.

ROSENCRANTZ
Yes, he treated us like a gentleman.

GUILDENSTERN
But with much forcing of his disposition.

GUILDENSTERN
But also as if he he had to force himself to act that way.

ROSENCRANTZ
Niggard of question, but of our demands
Most free in his reply.

ROSENCRANTZ
He didn't ask many questions, but answered our questions extensively.

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GERTRUDE
Did you assay him?
To any pastime?

GERTRUDE
Did you try to get him to do something fun?

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ROSENCRANTZ
Madam, it so fell out, that certain players
We o'erraught on the way. Of these we told him,
And there did seem in him a kind of joy
To hear of it. They are about the court,
And, as I think, they have already order
This night to play before him.

ROSENCRANTZ
Madam, as it happened we crossed paths with some actors on the way here. When we mentioned them to Hamlet, he seemed to feel a kind of joy. They are at the court now, and I think they've been told to perform for him tonight.

POLONIUS
'Tis most true,
And he beseeched me to entreat your Majesties
To hear and see the matter.

POLONIUS
That's true, and he asked me to beg both of you, your majesties, to come and watch.

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CLAUDIUS
With all my heart, and it doth much content me
To hear him so inclined.
Good gentlemen, give him a further edge,
And drive his purpose on to these delights.

CLAUDIUS
With all my heart, I'm glad to hear of his interest. Gentlemen, try to nurture this interest of his, and keep him focused on these amusements.

ROSENCRANTZ
We shall, my lord.

ROSENCRANTZ
We will, my lord.

Exeunt ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN

ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN exit.

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CLAUDIUS
Sweet Gertrude, leave us too,
For we have closely sent for Hamlet hither,
That he, as 'twere by accident, may here
Affront Ophelia.
Her father and myself (lawful espials)
Will so bestow ourselves that, seeing unseen,
We may of their encounter frankly judge,
And gather by him, as he is behaved,
If 't be the affliction of his love or no
That thus he suffers for.

CLAUDIUS
Dear Gertrude, please go as well. We've sent for Hamlet as a way to secretly set up an "accidental" meeting with Ophelia. Her father and I, spying for justifiable reasons, will place ourselves so that we can't be seen but can observe the encounter and judge from Hamlet's behavior whether love is the cause of his madness.

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GERTRUDE
I shall obey you.
And for your part, Ophelia, I do wish
That your good beauties be the happy cause
Of Hamlet's wildness. So shall I hope your virtues
Will bring him to his wonted way again,
To both your honors.

GERTRUDE
I'll do as you ask. As for you, Ophelia, I hope that your beauty is the reason for Hamlet's insane behavior. I hope also that your virtues will get him to return to normality, for both of your benefits.

OPHELIA
Madam, I wish it may.

OPHELIA
I hope it too, Madam.

Exit GERTRUDE

GERTRUDE exits.

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POLONIUS
Ophelia, walk you here. (to CLAUDIUS) Gracious, so please you,
We will bestow ourselves. (to OPHELIA)
Read on this book
That show of such an exercise may color
Your loneliness.—We are oft to blame in this,
'Tis too much proved, that with devotion's visage
And pious action we do sugar o'er
The devil himself.

POLONIUS
Ophelia, walk over here.—(to CLAUDIUS) Your Majesty, if you agree, let's go hide. (to OPHELIA)—Read this prayer book, to make you're being alone seem natural. You know, this is actually something people can be blamed for doing all the time—acting as if they're religious and devoted to God as a way to hide their bad deeds.

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CLAUDIUS
(aside) Oh, 'tis too true!
How smart a lash that speech doth give my conscience!
The harlot's cheek, beautied with plastering art,
Is not more ugly to the thing that helps it
Than is my deed to my most painted word.
O heavy burden!

CLAUDIUS
(to himself) Oh, it's true! His words are like a whip against my conscience! The whore's ugly cheek, prettied up with make-up, is no more terrible than the things I've done and hidden with fine words. Oh, what guilt!

POLONIUS
I hear him coming. Let's withdraw, my lord.

POLONIUS
I hear him coming. Quick, let's hide, my lord.

CLAUDIUS and POLONIUS withdraw

CLAUDIUS and POLONIUS hide.

Enter HAMLET

HAMLET enters.

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HAMLET
To be, or not to be? That is the question—
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And, by opposing, end them? To die, to sleep—
No more—and by a sleep to say we end
The heartache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to—'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished! To die, to sleep.
To sleep, perchance to dream—ay, there's the rub,
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause. There's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life.
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
Th' oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of th' unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered country from whose bourn
No traveler returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pitch and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.—Soft you now,
The fair Ophelia!—Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remembered.

HAMLET
To live, or to die. That is the question. Is it nobler to suffer through all the terrible things fate throws at you, or to fight off your troubles, and, in doing so, end them completely? To die, to sleep—because that's all dying is—and by a sleep I mean an end to all the heartache and the thousand injuries that we are vulnerable to—that's an end to be wished for! To die, to sleep. To sleep, perhaps to dream—yeah, but there's there's the catch. Because what dreams might come in that sleep of death, after you have left behind your mortal body, is something to make you anxious. That's the consideration that makes us suffer the calamities of life for so long. Because who would bear all the trials and tribulations of time—the oppression of the powerful, the insults from arrogant men, the pangs of unrequited love, the slowness of the justice, the disrespect of people in office, and the general abuse of good people by bad—when you could just settle all your debts using nothing more than a dagger? Who would bear his burdens, and grunt and sweat through an wearying life, if they weren't frightened of what might happen after death, that undiscovered country from which no visitor returns, which we wonder about and which makes us prefer the troubles we know rather than fly off to face the ones we don't? Thus fear of death makes cowards of us all, and our natural willingness to act is made weak by too much thinking, and actions of great urgency and importance because of this sort of thinking get thrown off course, and cease to be actions at all. Now quiet, here is the beautiful Ophelia. My dear, may you forgive all my sins in your prayers.


OPHELIA
Good my lord,
How does your honor for this many a day?

OPHELIA
Hello, my lord, how have you been doing these last few days?

HAMLET
I humbly thank you. Well, well, well.

HAMLET
Thank you for asking. Well, well, well.

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OPHELIA
My lord, I have remembrances of yours
That I have longèd long to redeliver.
I pray you now receive them.

OPHELIA
My lord, I have some mementos of yours that I've been wanting to return to you for a while. Please take them back.

HAMLET
No, not I. I never gave you aught.

HAMLET
No, it wasn't me. I never gave you anything.

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OPHELIA
My honored lord, you know right well you did,
And with them, words of so sweet breath composed
As made the things more rich. Their perfume lost,
Take these again, for to the noble mind
Rich gifts wax poor when givers prove unkind.
There, my lord.

OPHELIA
My lord, you know very well that you did, and along with those gifts wrote letters of such sweet words that made the gifts seem even more valuable. But now the joy they brought me is gone, so please take them back. Beautful gifts lose their value when the givers turn out not be unkind. There, my lord.

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HAMLET
Ha, ha, are you honest?

HAMLET
Ha ha, are you good?

OPHELIA
My lord?

OPHELIA
Excuse me?

HAMLET
Are you fair?

HAMLET
Are you beautiful?

OPHELIA
What means your lordship?

OPHELIA
What do you mean?

HAMLET
That if you be honest and fair, your honesty should admit no discourse to your beauty.

HAMLET
That if you're good and beautiful, your goodness should be unconnected to your beauty.

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OPHELIA
Could beauty, my lord, have better commerce than with honesty?

OPHELIA
But, my lord, could beauty be related to anything better than goodness?

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HAMLET
Ay, truly, for the power of beauty will sooner transform honesty from what it is to a bawd than the force of honesty can translate beauty into his likeness. This was sometime a paradox, but now the time gives it proof. I did love you once.

HAMLET
Yes, definitely, because the power of beauty is more likely to change a good girl into a whore than the power of goodness is likely to change a beautiful girl into a virgin. This used to be a great puzzle, but now I've solved it. I used to love you.

OPHELIA
Indeed, my lord, you made me believe so.

OPHELIA
Yes, my lord, you made me believe you did.

HAMLET
You should not have believed me, for virtue cannot so inoculate our old stock but we shall relish of it. I loved you not.

HAMLET
You shouldn't have believed me, because no matter how hard we try to be virtuous our natural sinfulness will always come out in the end. I didn't love you.

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OPHELIA
I was the more deceived.

OPHELIA
I fell for your trick, then.

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HAMLET
Get thee to a nunnery. Why wouldst thou be a breeder of sinners? I am myself indifferent honest, but yet I could accuse me of such things that it were better my mother had not borne me.
I am very proud, revengeful, ambitious, with more offences at my beck than I have thoughts to put them in, imagination to give them shape, or time to act them in. What should such fellows as I do crawling between earth and heaven? We are arrant knaves, all. Believe none of us. Go thy ways to a nunnery. Where's your father?

HAMLET
Go to a convent. Why would you want to give birth to sinners? I'm as good as the next guy, and yet I could accuse myself of such horrible crimes that it would've been better if my mother had never given birth to me. I'm arrogant, vengeful, ambitious, and have more criminal desires than I have thoughts or imagination to fit them in, or time in which to commit them. Why should people like me be allowed to crawl between heaven and earth? We're all absolute criminals. Don't believe any of us. Get yourself to to a convent. Where's your father?

OPHELIA
At home, my lord.

OPHELIA
He's at home, my lord.

HAMLET
Let the doors be shut upon him, that he may play the fool no where but in 's own house. Farewell.

HAMLET
May he get locked in, so he can play the fool in his own home only. Good-bye.

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OPHELIA
O, help him, you sweet heavens!

OPHELIA
Oh, dear God, please help him!

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HAMLET
If thou dost marry, I'll give thee this plague for thy dowry. Be thou as chaste as ice, as pure as snow, thou shalt not escape calumny. Get thee to a nunnery, go. Farewell. Or, if thou wilt needs marry, marry a fool, for wise men know well enough what monsters you make of them. To a nunnery, go, and quickly too. Farewell.

HAMLET
If you marry, I'll give you this curse as your wedding present—even if you are as clean as ice, as pure as snow, you'll still get a bad reputation. Get yourself to a convent, now. Good-bye. Or if you must get married, marry a fool, because wise men know that women will eventually cheat on them. Good-bye.

OPHELIA
Heavenly powers, restore him!

OPHELIA
Dear God, make him sane again!

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HAMLET
I have heard of your paintings too, well enough. God has given you one face and you make yourselves another. You jig and amble, and you lisp, you nickname God's creatures and make your wantonness your ignorance. Go to, I'll no more on 't. It hath made me mad. I say, we will have no more marriages. Those that are married already, all but one, shall live. The rest shall keep as they are. To a nunnery, go.

HAMLET
And I know all about you women and your make-up. God gives you one face, but you use make-up to give yourself another. You dance and sway as you walk, and talk all cutesy; you call God's creations by pet names; and claim you don't realize you're being seductive. No more. I won't allow it anymore. It has made me angry. I proclaim: we will have no more marriages. Of those who are married already—all but one person—will live on as couples. Everyone else will have to stay single. Go to a convent, now.

Exit HAMLET

HAMLET exits.

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OPHELIA
Oh, what a noble mind is here o'erthrown!—
The courtier's, soldier's, scholar's, eye, tongue, sword,
Th' expectancy and rose of the fair state,
The glass of fashion and the mould of form,
Th' observed of all observers, quite, quite down!
And I, of ladies most deject and wretched,
That sucked the honey of his music vows,
Now see that noble and most sovereign reason
Like sweet bells jangled, out of tune and harsh;
That unmatched form and feature of blown youth
Blasted with ecstasy. Oh, woe is me,
T' have seen what I have seen, see what I see!

OPHELIA
Oh, what a once great mind has gone inanse! He had a courtier's persuasiveness, a soldier's courage, a scholar's wisdom. He was the perfect rose and great hope of our country, the model of good manners, the setter of fashion, the center of attention. Now he's fallen so low! I am the most miserable of all the women who once enjoyed hearing his sweet words. A once noble and disciplined mind that sung like music is now harsh and out of tune. The unmatched beauty he had in the full bloom of his youth has been destroyed by madness. O, poor me, to have seen Hamlet as he was, and now to see him in this way!

CLAUDIUS and POLONIUS come forward

CLAUDIUS and POLONIUS come forward.

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CLAUDIUS
Love? His affections do not that way tend.
Nor what he spake, though it lacked form a little,
Was not like madness. There's something in his soul
O'er which his melancholy sits on brood,
And I do doubt the hatch and the disclose
Will be some danger—which for to prevent,
I have in quick determination
Thus set it down: he shall with speed to England
For the demand of our neglected tribute.
Haply the seas and countries different
With variable objects shall expel
This something-settled matter in his heart,
Whereon his brains still beating puts him thus
From fashion of himself. What think you on 't?

CLAUDIUS
Love? His feelings don't move in that direction. And his words, although they were a bit all over the place, weren't crazy. No, his sadness is like a bird sitting on an egg. And I think that whatever hatches is going to be dangerous. To prevent that danger, I've made a quick decision: he'll be sent to England to try to get back the tribute money they owe to us. Hopefully the sea and all the new things to see in a different country will push out these thoughts that have somehow taken root in his mind and made him like a stranger to his former self. What do you think?

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POLONIUS
It shall do well. But yet do I believe
The origin and commencement of his grief
Sprung from neglected love.—How now, Ophelia?
You need not tell us what Lord Hamlet said.
We heard it all.—My lord, do as you please.
But, if you hold it fit, after the play
Let his queen mother all alone entreat him
To show his grief. Let her be round with him,
And I'll be placed, so please you, in the ear
Of all their conference. If she find him not,
To England send him or confine him where
Your wisdom best shall think.

POLONIUS
It should work. But I still think that the cause of his madness was unrequited love.—Hello, Ophelia. You don't have to tell us what Lord Hamlet said. We heard it all.—My lord, do whatever you like, but if you think it's a good idea, after the play let his mother the queen get him alone and beg him to share the source of his grief. She should be blunt with him. Meanwhile, if you think it's okay, I'll hide and listen to what they say. If she can't find the source of his madness, send him to England or confine him wherever you think best.

CLAUDIUS
It shall be so.
Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.

CLAUDIUS
That's what we'll do. Madness in important people must be closely watched.

Exeunt

They all exit.

 

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