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Act 3, Scene 2


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Original Play

Modern Translation

Enter HAMLET and PLAYERS

HAMLET and the PLAYERS enter.

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HAMLET
Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to you, trippingly on the tongue. But if you mouth it, as many of our players do, I had as lief the town crier spoke my lines. Nor do not saw the air too much with your hand thus, but use all gently, for in the very torrent, tempest, and (as I may say) whirlwind of passion, you must acquire and beget a temperance that may give it smoothness. Oh, it offends me to the soul to hear a robustious periwig-pated fellow tear a passion to tatters, to very rags, to split the ears of the groundlings, who for the most part are capable of nothing but inexplicable dumb-shows and noise. I would have such a fellow whipped for o'erdoing Termagant. It out-Herods Herod. Pray you, avoid it.

HAMLET
Please repeat the speech just as I said it to you, smoothly and easily. If you exaggerate it, the way so many current actors do, I'd rather have the town crier say the lines. Don't make huge gestures with yours hands, like this. Gesture just a bit, because to truly communicate a whirlwind of passion you must present it in a way that's smooth and real. Oh, I absolutely hate it when I hear some overexcited actor in a wig shout his "passionate" lines, splitting the audience's eardrums in an effort to impress the unsophisticated watchers standing just in front of the stage who for the most part can only appreciate loud noises and pantomime shows. I would whip a guy for overdoing a tyrant. That's worse than those old plays in which King Herod ranted. Please, don't do that.

FIRST PLAYER
I warrant your honor.

FIRST PLAYER
I'll do as you ask.

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HAMLET
Be not too tame neither, but let your own discretion be your tutor. Suit the action to the word, the word to the action, with this special observance that you o'erstep not the modesty of nature. For anything so overdone is from the purpose of playing, whose end, both at the first and now, was and is to hold, as 'twere, the mirror up to nature, to show virtue her own feature, scorn her own image, and the very age and body of the time his form and pressure. Now this overdone or come tardy off, though it make the unskillful laugh, cannot but make the judicious grieve, the censure of the which one must in your allowance o'erweigh a whole theatre of others. Oh, there be players that I have seen play and heard others praise (and that highly), not to speak it profanely, that, neither having th' accent of Christians nor the gait of Christian, pagan, nor man, have so strutted and bellowed that I have thought some of nature's journeymen had made men and not made them well, they imitated humanity so abominably.

HAMLET
Don't be too tame, either. Insead, let your judgment guide you. Fit the action to the word and the word to the action, and never overact in a way that seems unnatural. Exaggerated overacting is the opposite of what acting should be, where the purpose, both when it began and now, is to hold a mirror up to nature, virtue, vice, and to the spirit of the times. If you overact or have bad timing, it may make the unknowledgeable laugh, but will make those who know theater grieve—and you should care more about a single knowledgeable theater lover than an entire theater of the uninformed. I've seen actors perform who are highly praised by others, but who—not to be rude—can't perform a credible Christian, a pagan, or even a man. They strut and bellow about like beasts that had been made by some apprentice God to look like men, but extremely badly.

FIRST PLAYER
I hope we have reformed that indifferently with us, sir.

FIRST PLAYER
I hope we've removed that fault almost entirely from our company, sir.

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HAMLET
O, reform it altogether! And let those that play your clowns speak no more than is set down for them, for there be of them that will themselves laugh to set on some quantity of barren spectators to laugh too, though in the meantime some necessary question of the play be then to be considered. That's villainous, and shows a most pitiful ambition in the fool that uses it. Go, make you ready.

HAMLET
Oh, get rid of it completely. And make sure that the clowns speak exactly the lines written for them, because some of them will laugh in order to to get some stupid spectators to laugh, while in the meantime an important part of the plot is then unfolding. That's villainous, and displays a pitiful ambition in the offending fool to get noticed at the expense of the play. Go, get ready.

Exeunt PLAYERS

The PLAYERS exit.

Enter POLONIUS, ROSENCRANTZ, and GUILDENSTERN

POLONIUS, GUILDENSTERN, and ROSENCRANTZ enter.

How now, my lord! Will the king hear this piece of work? What's the news, my lord? Will the king come to see the performance?

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POLONIUS
And the queen too, and that presently.

POLONIUS
Yes, the queen too, and soon.

HAMLET
Bid the players make haste.

HAMLET
Tell the actors to hurry.

Exit POLONIUS

POLONIUS exits.

Will you two help to hasten them? Will you two help to speed the actors along?

ROSENCRANTZ
Ay, my lord.

ROSENCRANTZ
Yes, my lord.

Exeunt ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN

ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN exit.

HAMLET
What ho, Horatio!

HAMLET
Hello, Horatio!

Enter HORATIO

HORATIO enters.

HORATIO
Here, sweet lord, at your service.

HORATIO
My dear lord, here I am at your service.

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HAMLET
Horatio, thou art e'en as just a man
As e'er my conversation coped withal.

HAMLET
Horatio, you are as much what a man should be as any I have ever met.

HORATIO
O my dear lord—

HORATIO
Oh, my dear lord—

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HAMLET
Nay, do not think I flatter.
For what advancement may I hope from thee
That no revenue hast but thy good spirits,
To feed and clothe thee? Why should the poor be flattered?
No, let the candied tongue lick absurd pomp,
And crook the pregnant hinges of the knee
Where thrift may follow fawning. Dost thou hear?
Since my dear soul was mistress of her choice
And could of men distinguish, her election
Hath sealed thee for herself, for thou hast been—
As one in suffering all that suffers nothing—
A man that Fortune's buffets and rewards
Hast ta'en with equal thanks. And blessed are those
Whose blood and judgment are so well commingled,
That they are not a pipe for Fortune's finger
To sound what stop she please. Give me that man
That is not passion's slave, and I will wear him
In my heart's core, ay, in my heart of heart,
As I do thee.—Something too much of this.—
There is a play tonight before the king.
One scene of it comes near the circumstance
Which I have told thee of my father's death.
I prithee, when thou seest that act afoot,
Even with the very comment of thy soul
Observe mine uncle. If his occulted guilt
Do not itself unkennel in one speech,
It is a damnèd ghost that we have seen,
And my imaginations are as foul
As Vulcan's stithy. Give him heedful note.
For I mine eyes will rivet to his face,
And after we will both our judgments join
In censure of his seeming.

HAMLET
No, don't think I'm flattering you. What could I hope to get from you, who has nothing other than your good graces to support you? Why would anyone flatter a poor person? No, only flatter the rich, or bow to those who might respond to your fawning with money or favors. Do you understand me? Since I have the power and ability to distinguish between men, my soul has chosen you for a friend because you are—as one who endures everything, and therefore allows nothing to make you suffer—a man who accepts all the twists and turns of fate, positive or negative, with the same calm thankfulness. Blessed are those who have a perfect balance of passion and reason, because they cannot be simply played by Fate any which way she chooses. Show me a man who is not a slave to his emotions, and I will keep him close to my heart, yes, in my heart of hearts, as I do you. Ah, but I've said too much. A play will be performed tonight in front of the king. One of the scenes in it comes close to showing the circumstances I told you about regarding my father's death. Please, during that scene, watch my uncle with all of your care and attention. If his hidden guilt does is not revealed during the scene, then that ghost was a demon, and my ideas about my uncle were dirty and wrong. Watch him carefully, as will I. Afterward we'll meet and come to a joint conclusion about whether he is guilty.

HORATIO
Well, my lord.
If he steal aught the whilst this play is playing,
And 'scape detecting, I will pay the theft.

HORATIO
Well, my lord, I'll watch him so closely that if he manages to steal anything and I don't notice it, I promise to pay the cost of the stolen item.

Danish march. Sound a flourish. Enter King CLAUDIUS, Queen GERTRUDE, POLONIUS, OPHELIA, ROSENCRANTZ, GUILDENSTERN and other lords attendant with CLAUDIUS's; guard carrying torches

A Danish march plays. Trumpets play. CLAUDIUS enters with GERTRUDE, POLONIUS, OPHELIA, ROSENCRANTZ, GUILDENSTERN, and other lords attendant with CLAUDIUS 's guard carrying torches.

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HAMLET
They are coming to the play. I must be idle.
Get you a place.

HAMLET
They're coming. I must look like I'm doing nothing. Find a seat.

CLAUDIUS
How fares our cousin Hamlet?

CLAUDIUS
How do you fare, my nephew Hamlet?

HAMLET
Excellent, i' faith, of the chameleon's dish. I eat the air, promise-crammed. You cannot feed capons so.

HAMLET
Excellent! In fact, I eat the air, full as it is of promise, just as chameleons do. That's no way to feed a capon (a male chicken castrated in youth to result in tender meat).

CLAUDIUS
I have nothing with this answer, Hamlet. These words are not mine.

CLAUDIUS
I don't know what you're saying, Hamlet. These words don't answer my question.

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HAMLET
No, nor mine now. (to POLONIUS) My lord, you played once i' th' university, you say?

HAMLET
No, nor mine. (to POLONIUS) My lord, you were in plays during college, right?

POLONIUS
That did I, my lord, and was accounted a good actor.

POLONIUS
That I did, my lord, and I was considered to be a good actor.

HAMLET
What did you enact?

HAMLET
What role did you play?

POLONIUS
I did enact Julius Caesar. I was killed i' th' Capitol. Brutus killed me.

POLONIUS
I played Julius Caesar. I was killed in the Capitol. Brutus killed me.

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HAMLET
It was a brute part of him to kill so capital a calf there.—Be the players ready?

HAMLET
That was brutish of him to kill so capital a guy. —Are the actors ready?

ROSENCRANTZ
Ay, my lord. They stay upon your patience.

ROSENCRANTZ
Yes, my lord. They wait only for you to call them.

GERTRUDE
Come hither, my dear Hamlet, sit by me.

GERTRUDE
Come here, my dear Hamlet. Sit by me.

HAMLET
No, good mother. Here's metal more attractive. (sits next to OPHELIA )

HAMLET
No thanks, my good mother. Here's something more attractive. (he sits down near OPHELIA )

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POLONIUS
(to CLAUDIUS) Oh, ho, do you mark that?

POLONIUS
(to CLAUDIUS) Oh ho! Did you notice that?

HAMLET
Lady, shall I lie in your lap?

HAMLET
My lady, should I lie in your lap?

OPHELIA
No, my lord.

OPHELIA
No, my lord.

HAMLET
I mean, my head upon your lap?

HAMLET
I mean, put my head in your lap?

OPHELIA
Ay, my lord.

OPHELIA
Yes, my lord.

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HAMLET
Do you think I meant country matters?

HAMLET
Did you think I was talking about sex?

OPHELIA
I think nothing, my lord.

OPHELIA
I think nothing, my lord.

HAMLET
That's a fair thought to lie between maids' legs.

HAMLET
That's a nice thought to lie between a girl's legs.

OPHELIA
What is, my lord?

OPHELIA
What is, my lord?

HAMLET
Nothing.

HAMLET
Nothing.

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OPHELIA
You are merry, my lord.

OPHELIA
You're happy tonight, my lord.

HAMLET
Who, I?

HAMLET
Who, me?

OPHELIA
Ay, my lord.

OPHELIA
Yes, my lord.

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HAMLET
O God, your only jig-maker. What should a man do but be merry? For, look you, how cheerfully my mother looks, and my father died within these two hours.

HAMLET
Oh God—the ultimate puppeteer. What else can a man do but be happy? For example, look how cheerful my mother is, and my father's been dead for just two hours.

OPHELIA
Nay, 'tis twice two months, my lord.

OPHELIA
No, my lord, it's been four months.

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HAMLET
So long? Nay then, let the devil wear black, for I'll have a suit of sables. O heavens! Die two months ago and not forgotten yet? Then there's hope a great man's memory may outlive his life half a year. But, by 'r Lady, he must build churches then, or else shall he suffer not thinking on, with the hobby-horse, whose epitaph is "For, oh, for, oh, the hobby-horse is forgot."

HAMLET
That long? Well, then may the devil wear black mourning clothes, while I go about in a suit of fine fur. Heaven forbid! He's been dead for two months already and hasn't been forgotten yet? I guess there's hope that memories of a great man may outlive him by six months. But, my lady, he must build churches for that to happen, or else he'll have to put up with being forgotten, like the hobby-horse in the popular song: "Hey-ho, hey-ho, the hobby-horse is forgotten."

Trumpets sound. The dumb show begins
Enter a King and a Queen very lovingly, the Queen embracing him and he her. She kneels and makes show of protestation unto him. He takes her up and declines his head upon her neck, lays him down upon a bank of flowers. She, seeing him asleep, leaves him. Anon comes in a fellow, takes off his crown, kisses it, pours poison in the King's ears, and exits. The Queen returns, finds the King dead, and makes passionate action. The Poisoner, with some two or three Mutes, comes in again, seeming to lament with her. The dead body is carried away. The Poisoner woos the Queen with gifts. She seems loath and unwilling awhile, but in the end accepts his love
Trumpets play. The pantomime begins. A king and queen enter and embrace each other lovingly. She kneels before him and makes a show of her devotion to him. He lifts her up and rests his head on her neck, then lies down on a bank of flowers. She sees he is asleep, and leaves. Soon another man enters, takes the crown off the sleeping king's head and kisses it, then pours poison in the king's ear, and exits. The queen returns and finds the king dead. She weeps passionately. The killer returns, along with three others, and pretends to grieve with the queen. The dead body is carried away. The killer woos the queen with gifts. For a while she is cold and unwilling, but eventually accepts his advances.

Exeunt PLAYERS

The PLAYERS exit.

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OPHELIA
What means this, my lord?

OPHELIA
What does this mean, my lord?

HAMLET
Marry, this is miching malhecho. It means mischief.

HAMLET
This means we're having some mischievous fun.

OPHELIA
Belike this show imports the argument of the play.

OPHELIA
This pantomime most likely gives a sense of the plot of the play.

Enter PROLOGUE

The actor who will introduce the play enters.

HAMLET
We shall know by this fellow. The players cannot keep counsel. They'll tell all.

HAMLET
We'll learn the truth from this fellow. Actors can't keep secrets. They'll tell all.

OPHELIA
Will he tell us what this show meant?

OPHELIA
Will he tell us what that pantomime meant?

HAMLET
Ay, or any show that you will show him. Be not you ashamed to show, he'll not shame to tell you what it means.

HAMLET
Sure, or anything else you show him. If you're not ashamed to show it, he won't be ashamed to tell you what it means.

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OPHELIA
You are naught, you are naught. I'll mark the play.

OPHELIA
You're just naughty, naughty. I'm watching the play.

PROLOGUE
For us and for our tragedy,
Here stooping to your clemency,
We beg your hearing patiently
.

PROLOGUE
Appealing to your forgiving nature,
We beg you patiently watch
Us perform our tragedy

Exit PROLOGUE

The PROLOGUE exits.

HAMLET
Is this a prologue or the posy of a ring?

HAMLET
Was that a prologue or the inscription on a ring?

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OPHELIA
'Tis brief, my lord.

OPHELIA
It was short, my lord.

HAMLET
As woman's love.

HAMLET
As short as a woman's love.

Enter PLAYER KING and PLAYER QUEEN

Actors playing the roles of KING and QUEEN enter.

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PLAYER KING
Full thirty times hath Phoebus' cart gone round
Neptune's salt wash and Tellus' orbèd ground,
And thirty dozen moons with borrowed sheen
About the world have times twelve thirties been,
Since love our hearts and Hymen did our hands
Unite commutual in most sacred bands
.

PLAYER KING
The earth circled the sun thirty times,
And the moon has waxed and waned
Over the ocean and the earth
For thirty times twelve months
Since our love and hearts joined our hands
In the sacred bonds of marriage.

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PLAYER QUEEN
So many journeys may the sun and moon
Make us again count o'er ere love be done.
But woe is me! You are so sick of late,
So far from cheer and from your former state,
That I distrust you. Yet though I distrust,
Discomfort you, my lord, it nothing must.
For women fear too much, even as they love,
And women's fear and love hold quantity,
In neither aught, or in extremity.
Now what my love is, proof hath made you know,
And as my love is sized, my fear is so:
Where love is great, the littlest doubts are fear.
Where little fears grow great, great love grows there
.

PLAYER QUEEN
May we continue to love each other
For another thirty years
But I am sad. You've been so sick recently,
So different from your former cheerful self, That I worry about you. But though I worry, Don't let it upset you, my lord
Because women in love are always afraid
In women, love and fear go hand in hand,
Whether there is reason to worry or not.
I've proven the quality of my love
And as my love is deep, so is my fear
When someone's love is great, little worries become big.
Little fears grown big are a sign of great love
.

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PLAYER KING
Faith, I must leave thee, love, and shortly too.
My operant powers their functions leave to do.
And thou shalt live in this fair world behind,
Honored, beloved, and haply one as kind
For husband shalt thou—

PLAYER KING
In truth, I will soon have to leave you, love
My body is growing weak, ceasing to function.
I will leave you behind in this beautiful world, My honored beloved. Perhaps you'll find another husband

PLAYER QUEEN
Oh, confound the rest!
Such love must needs be treason in my breast.
In second husband let me be accursed!
None wed the second but who killed the first
.

PLAYER QUEEN
Oh, damn everyone else!
Loving another would be treason in my heart
May I be cursed if I take a second husband
Only a woman who killed her first husband would marry a second
.

HAMLET
(aside)Wormwood, wormwood.

HAMLET
(to himself) That's bitter!

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PLAYER QUEEN
The instances that second marriage move
Are base respects of thrift, but none of love.
A second time I kill my husband dead
When second husband kisses me in bed
.

PLAYER QUEEN
The reasons for a second marriage
Might be money, but never love
When my second husband kissed me in bed
It would be like killing my first husband again
.

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PLAYER KING
I do believe you think what now you speak,
But what we do determine oft we break.
Purpose is but the slave to memory,
Of violent birth, but poor validity,
Which now, like fruit unripe, sticks on the tree,
But fall, unshaken, when they mellow be.
Most necessary 'tis that we forget
To pay ourselves what to ourselves is debt.
What to ourselves in passion we propose,
The passion ending, doth the purpose lose.
The violence of either grief or joy
Their own enactures with themselves destroy.
Where joy most revels, grief doth most lament.
Grief joys, joy grieves on slender accident.
This world is not for aye, nor 'tis not strange
That even our loves should with our fortunes change.
For 'tis a question left us yet to prove,
Whether love lead fortune, or else fortune love.
The great man down, you mark his favorite flies.
The poor advanced makes friends of enemies.
And hitherto doth love on fortune tend,
For who not needs shall never lack a friend,
And who in want a hollow friend doth try,
Directly seasons him his enemy.
But, orderly to end where I begun,
Our wills and fates do so contrary run
That our devices still are overthrown.
Our thoughts are ours, their ends none of our own.
So think thou wilt no second husband wed,
But die thy thoughts when thy first lord is dead
.

PLAYER KING
I believe that's what you think now
But what we swear we'll do we often don't
Intentions are driven by memory,
And are strong at first, but fade over time,
Like an unripe apple that sticks to the tree,
But falls on its own to the ground when ripe.
It's necessary for us to forget to meet
The obligation we impose on ourselves
What we promise to do in moments of passion
We forget when the passion fades.
Grief or joy might spur us to action
But that spur fades along with the grief or joy.
Grief becomes joy, and joy turns to grief, Based on little twists of fate
The world won't last forever, so it's not odd
That even love can change as our fate changes
It remains an open question
Whether love propels your fate, or vice versa
When the great man falls, he is deserted
When a poor man rises, enemies become friends
Love is similarly dependend on fortune
A person with money will never lack friends, While a friend who asks another for money,
Will make that friend an enemy
Back to the point on which I began
Our desires and our fates will never match
So our plans never end up as we hope
What we want to happen, and what happens, will never be the same
So you think you'll never marry again
But those thoughts will die when I do.

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PLAYER QUEEN
Nor earth to me give food, nor heaven light.
Sport and repose lock from me day and night.
To desperation turn my trust and hope.
An anchor's cheer in prison be my scope.
Each opposite that blanks the face of joy
Meet what I would have well and it destroy.
Both here and hence pursue me lasting strife
If, once a widow, ever I be wife
!

PLAYER QUEEN
May the earth give me no food,the sky no light
May I have no rest or leisure day or night
May my trust and hope turn to despair
May cheap prison food be all the comfort I can hope for
May all the forces that turn joy to sadness
Destory all of my desires
For now and forever may I know no peace
If, after becoming a widow, I ever again become a wife
.

HAMLET
If she should break it now!

HAMLET
What if she breaks that vow?

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PLAYER KING
'Tis deeply sworn. Sweet, leave me here awhile.
My spirits grow dull, and fain I would beguile
The tedious day with sleep
.

PLAYER KING
You swear sincerely. Love, leave me alone awhile
I'm getting sleepy, and I would like to escape this tiresome day by going to sleep
.

The PLAYER KING sleeps

The PLAYER KING sleeps.

PLAYER QUEEN
Sleep rock thy brain,
And never come mischance between us twain
.

PLAYER QUEEN
Sleep gently rock you, and may no twist of fate ever come between us.

Exit PLAYER QUEEN

The PLAYER QUEEN exits.

HAMLET
Madam, how like you this play?

HAMLET
Madam, how do you like this play?

GERTRUDE
The lady protests too much, methinks.

GERTRUDE
The lady's promising a bit much, I think.

HAMLET
Oh, but she'll keep her word.

HAMLET
Oh, but she'll keep her word.

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CLAUDIUS
Have you heard the argument? Is there no offense in 't?

CLAUDIUS
Do you know the plot? Is there anything offensive in it?

HAMLET
No, no, they do but jest. Poison in jest. No offense i' th' world.

HAMLET
No, no, it's just pretend, just a little joke. Not offensive at all.

CLAUDIUS
What do you call the play?

CLAUDIUS
What's the title of the play?

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HAMLET
The Mousetrap. Marry, how? Tropically. This play is the image of a murder done in Vienna. Gonzago is the duke's name, his wife Baptista. You shall see anon. 'Tis a knavish piece of work, but what o' that? Your majesty and we that have free souls, it touches us not. Let the galled jade wince, our withers are unwrung.

HAMLET
The Mousetrap. Why? It's a metaphor. This play re-enacts a murder committed in Vienna. Gonzago is the duke's name, and his wife is Baptista. You'll see soon. It's really a nasty piece of work, but who cares? You and I have clear consciences, so it doesn't concern us. Let the guilty flinch. We can watch without being bothered.

Enter LUCIANUS

LUCIANUS enters.

This is one Lucianus, nephew to the king. This is Lucianus, the king's.

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OPHELIA
You are as good as a chorus, my lord.

OPHELIA
You're as good as a play-by-play announces, my lord.

HAMLET
I could interpret between you and your love, if I could see the puppets dallying.

HAMLET
I could do a play-play between you and your lover if you put on a little puppet show for me.

OPHELIA
You are keen, my lord, you are keen.

OPHELIA
You are witty, my lord, and sharp.

HAMLET
It would cost you a groaning to take off mine edge.

HAMLET
You could take my edge off, but doing it might make you moan.

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OPHELIA
Still better and worse.

OPHELIA
Youre jokes get better, even as your manners get worse.

HAMLET
So you must take your husbands.—Begin, murderer. Pox, leave thy damnable faces, and begin. Come, "The croaking raven doth bellow for revenge—"

HAMLET
"For better, for worse"—that's the vow you take when you take a husband. Get moving, murderer! Curses, stop making those stupid faces and begin. Come on, "We're all waiting for the revenge!"

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LUCIANUS
Thoughts black, hands apt, drugs fit, and time agreeing,
Confederate season, else no creature seeing,
Thou mixture rank, of midnight weeds collected,
With Hecate's ban thrice blasted, thrice infected,
Thy natural magic and dire property
On wholesome life usurp immediately.
(pours poison into PLAYER KING 's ears)

LUCIANUS
Evil thoughts, willing hands, the perfect poison, and the opportunity to act. The darkness of the night protects me: no one can see me. You foul mixture of deadly weeds, which Hecate, goddess of witchcraft, has cursed and infected, use your deadly properties to steal away health and life. (pours the poison into the PLAYER KING 's ears)

HAMLET
He poisons him i' th' garden for 's estate. His name's Gonzago. The story is extant, and writ in choice Italian. You shall see anon how the murderer gets the love of Gonzago's wife.

HAMLET
He poisons the king in the garden to get the kingdom. The king's name is Gonzago. The original story was written in Italian. You'll see shortly how the murderer wins the love of Gonzago's wife.

CLAUDIUS stands up

CLAUDIUS stands up.

*
250

OPHELIA
The king rises.

OPHELIA
The king is standing up.

HAMLET
What, frighted with false fire?

HAMLET
What—is he scared of a gun firing a blank?

GERTRUDE
How fares my lord?

GERTRUDE
My lord, how are you feeling?

POLONIUS
Give o'er the play.

POLONIUS
Stop the play.

CLAUDIUS
Give me some light, away!

CLAUDIUS
Turn on the lights. I'm leaving!

*
255

POLONIUS
Lights, lights, lights!

POLONIUS
Lights, lights, lights!

Commotion. Exeunt all but HAMLET and HORATIO

Everyone except HAMLET and HORATIO exits.

*
*
*
*
*
260

HAMLET
Why, let the stricken deer go weep,
The hart ungallèd play.
For some must watch while some must sleep.
So runs the world away
.
Would not this, sir, and a forest of feathers—if the rest of my fortunes turn Turk with me—with two Provincial roses on my razed shoes, get me a fellowship in a cry of players?

HAMLET
Let the deer that's been shot go weep alone,
While the uninjured deer plays.
For some must watch while must sleep,
That's the way of the world
.
Don't you think with my acting skill, if I wore some plumes of feathers and had decorative flowers on my shoes, I could get a job in a troupe of actors (if things went bad in the rest of my life)?

HORATIO
Half a share.

HORATIO
They'd probably give you half a share of the company.

*
265

HAMLET
A whole one, I.
For thou dost know, O Damon dear,
This realm dismantled was
Of Jove himself. And now reigns here
A very, very—pajock
.

HAMLET
A whole share.
For you know, my dearest Damon,
That this kingdom lost
Its Jove-like king. And now who rules?
A big, big – peacock
.

*
270

HORATIO
You might have rhymed.

HORATIO
You could have at least rhymed.

HAMLET
O good Horatio, I'll take the ghost's word for a thousand pound. Didst perceive?

HAMLET
Oh, Horatio. I'd wager a thousand dollars the ghost spoke the truth. Did you see?

HORATIO
Very well, my lord.

HORATIO
Very well, my lord.

HAMLET
Upon the talk of the poisoning?

HAMLET
When the actors mentioned the poison?

*
275

HORATIO
I did very well note him.

HORATIO
I watched him closely.

HAMLET
Ah ha! Come, some music! Come, the recorders!
For if the king like not the comedy,
Why then, belike, he likes it not, perdy
.
Come, some music!

HAMLET
Ah ha! Hey, some music please! Play your flutes!
For if the king does not like the play,
Then, that's it, he does not like it, I say
.
Come on now, music!

Enter ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN

ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN enter.

*
280

GUILDENSTERN
Good my lord, vouchsafe me a word with you.

GUILDENSTERN
My lord, might I have a word with you?

HAMLET
Sir, a whole history.

HAMLET
You can have a whole story.

GUILDENSTERN
The king, sir—

GUILDENSTERN
The king, sir—

HAMLET
Ay, sir, what of him?

HAMLET
Yes, what about him?

GUILDENSTERN
Is in his retirement marvelous distempered.

GUILDENSTERN
He's in his chambers now, and very upset.

*
285

HAMLET
With drink, sir?

HAMLET
He has an upset stomach from drinking too much?

GUILDENSTERN
No, my lord, with choler.

GUILDENSTERN
No, my lord, he's angry.

*
*
*
290

HAMLET
Your wisdom should show itself more richer to signify this to the doctor. For, for me to put him to his purgation would perhaps plunge him into far more choler.

HAMLET
You'd be a lot smarter if you told this to a doctor. If I were to treat him he would only end up angrier.

GUILDENSTERN
Good my lord, put your discourse into some frame and start not so wildly from my affair.

GUILDENSTERN
My lord, please try to make sense and not to veer on such wild tangents from the point of my question.

HAMLET
I am tame, sir. Pronounce.

HAMLET
I'll behave, sir. Speak.

GUILDENSTERN
The queen your mother, in most great affliction of spirit, hath sent me to you.

GUILDENSTERN
The queen your mother, who is extremely unhappy, has sent me to see you.

*
295

HAMLET
You are welcome.

HAMLET
You are very welcome here.

*
*
*
*
*
300

GUILDENSTERN
Nay, good my lord, this courtesy is not of the right breed. If it shall please you to make me a wholesome answer, I will do your mother's commandment. If not, your pardon and my return shall be the end of my business.

GUILDENSTERN
No, my lord, your polite words don't make any sense in this situation. If you'd be so kind as to give me a real answer, I'll carry out your mother's request. If not, I'll say goodbye and that'll be the end of my business.

HAMLET
Sir, I cannot.

HAMLET
Sir, I can't.

GUILDENSTERN
What, my lord?

GUILDENSTERN
Can't what, my lord?

*
*
*
305

HAMLET
Make you a wholesome answer. My wit's diseased. But, sir, such answer as I can make, you shall command. Or, rather, as you say, my mother. Therefore no more but to the matter. My mother, you say—

HAMLET
Give you a real answer. My mind is not right. But I'll try to give the best answer I can to you—or rather, to my mother. Therefore, let's get to the point. My mother, you say …?

ROSENCRANTZ
Then thus she says: your behavior hath struck her into amazement and admiration.

ROSENCRANTZ
She says: your behavior has shocked astonished her.

*
*
310

HAMLET
O wonderful son that can so 'stonish a mother! But is there no sequel at the heels of this mother's admiration? Impart.

HAMLET
Oh, what a wonderful son I am to be able to impress my mother! But what are the details of my mother's admiration? Explain.

ROSENCRANTZ
She desires to speak with you in her closet ere you go to bed.

ROSENCRANTZ
She wants to speak with you in her bedroom before you go to bed.

HAMLET
We shall obey, were she ten times our mother. Have you any further trade with us?

HAMLET
I will obey, as if she were ten times my mother. Have you any other business with me?

*
315

ROSENCRANTZ
My lord, you once did love me.

ROSENCRANTZ
My lord, you once liked me.

HAMLET
And do still, by these pickers and stealers.

HAMLET
And still do, I swear by my hands.

ROSENCRANTZ
Good my lord, what is your cause of distemper? You do surely bar the door upon your own liberty if you deny your griefs to your friend.

ROSENCRANTZ
My lord, what's the cause of your anger? You're locking yourself into a prison by refusing to tell your problems to your friends.

*
320

HAMLET
Sir, I lack advancement.

HAMLET
Sir, I have no future prospects.

ROSENCRANTZ
How can that be, when you have the voice of the king himself for your succession in Denmark?

ROSENCRANTZ
How can that be, when the king himself has proclaimed you the heir to the Danish throne?

Reenter the PLAYERS with recorders

The PLAYERS enter with recorders .

*
*
*
325

HAMLET
Ay, sir, but "While the grass grows—" The proverb is something musty—Oh, the recorders! Let me see one. (takes a recorder) (aside to ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN ) To withdraw with you, why do you go about to recover the wind of me as if you would drive me into a toil?

HAMLET
Yes, but as the proverb goes, "While the grass grows…" Though that is an old, stale proverb. Oh, the recorders! Let me see one.(he takes a recorder and says to ROSENKRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN ) Step back. Why are you moving around me, as if to ambush me into a trap?

GUILDENSTERN
O my lord, if my duty be too bold, my love is too unmannerly.

GUILDENSTERN
Oh, my lord, if I'm being too bold, it's only because I care about you too much to show good manners.

*
330

HAMLET
I do not well understand that. Will you play upon this pipe?

HAMLET
I don't understand you. Will you play this recorder?

GUILDENSTERN
My lord, I cannot.

GUILDENSTERN
My lord, I can't.

HAMLET
I pray you.

HAMLET
Please.

GUILDENSTERN
Believe me, I cannot.

GUILDENSTERN
Believe me, I can't.

*
335

HAMLET
I do beseech you.

HAMLET
I beg you.

GUILDENSTERN
I know no touch of it, my lord.

GUILDENSTERN
I don't know how, my lord.

*
*
*
*
340

HAMLET
It is as easy as lying. Govern these ventages with your fingers and thumb, give it breath with your mouth, and it will discourse most eloquent music. Look you, these are the stops.

HAMLET
It's as easy as lying. Cover these holes with your fingers and thumb and blow into it, and it will produce the most beautiful music. See, here are the holes.

GUILDENSTERN
But these cannot I command to any utterance of harmony.
I have not the skill.

GUILDENSTERN
But I can't play any kind of song or melody. I don't have the skill.

*
*
*
345
*
*
*
*
350

HAMLET
Why, look you now, how unworthy a thing you make of me! You would play upon me. You would seem to know my stops. You would pluck out the heart of my mystery. You would sound me from my lowest note to the top of my compass. And there is much music, excellent voice, in this little organ, yet cannot you make it speak? 'Sblood, do you think I am easier to be played on than a pipe? Call me what instrument you will, though you can fret me, yet you cannot play upon me.

HAMLET
Well, look at that, how you treat me like such a fool. You keep trying to play me, as if you knew exactly where to put your fingers, to tease out my mystery, playing the full scale of all my notes. There is so much music in this little instrument, and yet you can't make it speak? God's blood, do you think I'm easier to play than a recorder? Call me whatever instrument you want and try to push my buttons, but you can't play me.

Enter POLONIUS

POLONIUS enters.

God bless you, sir. God bless you, sir.

POLONIUS
My lord, the queen would speak with you, and presently.

POLONIUS
My lord, the queen would like to speak with you right away.

HAMLET
Do you see yonder cloud that's almost in shape of a camel?

HAMLET
Do you see the cloud over there that looks kind of like a camel?

*
355

POLONIUS
By th' mass, and 'tis like a camel indeed.

POLONIUS
By God, it does look like a camel.

HAMLET
Methinks it is like a weasel.

HAMLET
To me it looks like a weasel.

POLONIUS
It is backed like a weasel.

POLONIUS
It's back is like a weasel's.

HAMLET
Or like a whale.

HAMLET
Or like a whale.

POLONIUS
Very like a whale.

POLONIUS
Very much like a whale.

HAMLET
Then I will come to my mother by and by. (aside) They fool me to the top of my bent.—I will come by and by.

HAMLET
I'll come to see my mother soon. (to himself) They're trying to play me as a fool, and now I'm almost to my breaking point —I'll come soon.

POLONIUS
I will say so.

POLONIUS
I'll say so.

HAMLET
"By and by" is easily said.

HAMLET
It's easy enough to say "soon."

Exit POLONIUS

POLONIUS exits.

Leave me, friends. Leave me alone, my friends.

Exeunt all but HAMLET

Everyone except HAMLET exits.

360
*
*
*
*
365
*
*
*
*
370

'Tis now the very witching time of night,
When churchyards yawn and hell itself breathes out
Contagion to this world. Now could I drink hot blood
And do such bitter business as the bitter day
Would quake to look on. Soft, now to my mother.—
O heart, lose not thy nature, let not ever
The soul of Nero enter this firm bosom.
Let me be cruel, not unnatural.
I will speak daggers to her but use none.
My tongue and soul in this be hypocrites.
How in my words somever she be shent,
To give them seals never, my soul, consent!

It's now the time of night when witches roam, when graveyards open and the stench of hell breathes sickness into the world. Now I could drink hot blood and do things so terrible it would make people tremble the next day. But quiet, I must now go to see my mother.—Oh, heart, do not lose your humanity, don't let yourself become like Nero, that Roman mother-murderer. Let me be cruel, but not inhuman. I'll speak as sharply as a dagger, but not use a dagger. Though my words will condemn her to hell, my soul must never make that condemnation fact by letting me kill her.

Exit

HAMLET exits.

 

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