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Act 3, Scene 4


hamlet original play and modern translation
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Original Play

Modern Translation

Enter GERTRUDE and POLONIUS

GERTRUDEand POLONIUS enter.

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POLONIUS
He will come straight. Look you lay home to him.
Tell him his pranks have been too broad to bear with,
And that your grace hath screened and stood between
Much heat and him. I'll silence me even here.
Pray you, be round with him.

POLONIUS
He'll come immediately. Be sure to really yell at him. Tell him his pranks have been too big to ignore, and that you have protected him from feeling the full heat of their consequences. I'll be silent, right here. Please, be tough with him.

HAMLET
(within) Mother, mother, mother!

HAMLET
(offstage) Mother, mother, mother!

GERTRUDE
I'll warrant you. Fear me not. Withdraw, I hear him coming.

GERTRUDE
I'll do as you say. Don't worry. Hide, I hear him coming.

POLONIUS hides behind the arras

POLONIUS hides behind the tapestry.

Enter HAMLET

HAMLET enters.

HAMLET
Now mother, what's the matter?

HAMLET
Now mother, what's the matter?

GERTRUDE
Hamlet, thou hast thy father much offended.

GERTRUDE
Hamlet, you have insulted your father.

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HAMLET
Mother, you have my father much offended.

HAMLET
Mother, you have insulted my father.

GERTRUDE
Come, come, you answer with an idle tongue.

GERTRUDE
Come now, you answer is foolish.

HAMLET
Go, go, you question with a wicked tongue.

HAMLET
Go on, your question is wicked.

GERTRUDE
Why, how now, Hamlet?

GERTRUDE
Hamlet, what, why?

HAMLET
What's the matter now?

HAMLET
What's the matter now?

GERTRUDE
Have you forgot me?

GERTRUDE
Have you forgotten who I am?

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HAMLET
No, by the rood, not so.
You are the queen, your husband's brother's wife,
And—would it were not so!—you are my mother.

HAMLET
By the cross, no. You are the queen, your husband's brother's wife, and—though I wish it wasn't so—you are my mother.

GERTRUDE
Nay, then I'll set those to you that can speak.

GERTRUDE
Forget this. I'll go get someone who will speak and make you listen.

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HAMLET
Come, come, and sit you down. You shall not budge.
You go not till I set you up a glass
Where you may see the inmost part of you.

HAMLET
Come now, sit down. Do not budget. You will not leave until I hold a mirror up to you, so that you can see the inner most part of yourself.


GERTRUDE
What wilt thou do? Thou wilt not murder me?
Help, help, ho!

GERTRUDE
What are you going to do? Would you murder me? Help, help, ho!

POLONIUS
(from behind the arras) What, ho? Help, help, help!

POLONIUS
(from behind the tapestry) Hey! Help, help, help!

HAMLET
How now, a rat? Dead for a ducat, dead!

HAMLET
What's this, a rat? I'll bet a dollar he's dead now.

(stabs his sword through the arras and kills POLONIUS)

(he stabs his sword through the tapestry and kills POLONIUS)

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POLONIUS
(from behind the arras) Oh, I am slain.

POLONIUS
(from behind the tapestry) Oh, I've been killed!

GERTRUDE
O me, what hast thou done?

GERTRUDE
Oh my God, what have you done?

HAMLET
Nay, I know not. Is it the king?

HAMLET
I don't know. Is it the king?

GERTRUDE
Oh, what a rash and bloody deed is this!

GERTRUDE
Oh, what a reckless, bloody act!

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HAMLET
A bloody deed? Almost as bad, good mother,
As kill a king and marry with his brother.

HAMLET
A bloody act? Almost as bad, my good mother, as killing a king and marrying his brother.

GERTRUDE
As kill a king?

GERTRUDE
Killing a king?

HAMLET
Ay, lady, 'twas my word.

HAMLET
Yes, lady, that's what I said.

(draws back the arras and discovers POLONIUS)

(pulls back the tapestry and discovers POLONIUS)

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Thou wretched, rash, intruding fool, farewell.
I took thee for thy better. Take thy fortune.
Thou find'st to be too busy is some danger.
(to GERTRUDE) Leave wringing of your hands. Peace. Sit you down
And let me wring your heart. For so I shall
If it be made of penetrable stuff,
If damnèd custom have not brassed it so
That it is proof and bulwark against sense.
You sad, silly, interfering fool, goodbye. I mistook you for your superior. You've gotten what you deserve, and found that meddling can be dangerous. (to GERTRUDE) Stop wringing your hands. Quiet. Sit down and let me wring your heart, if it's still soft enough and your evil behavior hasn't made it too tough to be touched by feelings.

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GERTRUDE
What have I done, that thou darest wag thy tongue
In noise so rude against me?

GERTRUDE
What have I done that you dare to talk to me so rudely?

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HAMLET
Such an act
That blurs the grace and blush of modesty,
Calls virtue hypocrite, takes off the rose
From the fair forehead of an innocent love
And sets a blister there, makes marriage vows
As false as dicers' oaths—oh, such a deed
As from the body of contraction plucks
The very soul, and sweet religion makes
A rhapsody of words. Heaven's face doth glow
O'er this solidity and compound mass
With tristful visage, as against the doom,
Is thought-sick at the act.

HAMLET
Something that corrupts modesty, turns virtue into hypocrisy, removes the blossom from the face of true love and replaces it with a blister, makes marriage vows as false as a gambler's oath—oh, you've done such a thing that plucks the soul out of marriage, and turns religion into just a bunch of words. Heaven looks down on earth, its face aglow with anger as if it was now Judgment Day, and is sick because what you've done.

GERTRUDE
Ay me, what act
That roars so loud and thunders in the index?

GERTRUDE
Oh no, what have I done that sounds so terrible even though I don't yet know what it is?

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HAMLET
Look here upon this picture and on this,
The counterfeit presentment of two brothers.
See, what a grace was seated on this brow?
Hyperion's curls, the front of Jove himself,
An eye like Mars to threaten and command,
A station like the herald Mercury
New-lighted on a heaven-kissing hill—
A combination and a form indeed
Where every god did seem to set his seal
To give the world assurance of a man.
This was your husband. Look you now, what follows.
Here is your husband, like a mildewed ear
Blasting his wholesome brother. Have you eyes?
Could you on this fair mountain leave to feed
And batten on this moor? Ha, have you eyes?
You cannot call it love, for at your age
The heyday in the blood is tame, it's humble,
And waits upon the judgment. And what judgment
Would step from this to this? Sense sure you have,
Else could you not have motion. But sure that sense
Is apoplexed, for madness would not err,
Nor sense to ecstasy was ne'er so thralled,
But it reserved some quantity of choice
To serve in such a difference. What devil was 't
That thus hath cozened you at hoodman-blind?
Eyes without feeling, feeling without sight,
Ears without hands or eyes, smelling sans all,
Or but a sickly part of one true sense
Could not so mope. O shame, where is thy blush?
Rebellious hell,
If thou canst mutine in a matron's bones,
To flaming youth let virtue be as wax
And melt in her own fire. Proclaim no shame
When the compulsive ardor gives the charge,
Since frost itself as actively doth burn,
And reason panders will.

HAMLET
Look at this picture here and at that one there, the painted portraits of two brothers. See the saintly goodness in this face? He has curls like those of the sun-god, a forehead like that of Zeus, eyes that command like those of the god of war, and a stance as light as Mercury's when that god lands on the peak of a hill. He was such a combination of good qualities so that it seems like he was put together by all the gods to be the perfect man. That was your husband. Now look at what came after: this is your husband, like a rotten ear of corn infecting the one next to it. Do you have eyes? How could you leave the beautiful heights of this man and descend down to this dank swamp of this one. Ha! Do you have eyes? You can't say it was love, because at at your age romantic passions have been tamed, and listen to reason. But there must be something wrong with your reason, because why else would you go from this to that? Your senses must still work, or else you wouldn't be able to move. But those senses seem paralyzed, because madness would not make this mistake, and even senses overcome by desire would still be able to distinguish the huge difference between your former and current husband.
What devil was it that tricked and blindfolded you? Even if you had eyes without feeling, feeling without sight, ears without hands or eyes, smell without any other senses, or the use of just one impaired sense you would not make a mistake like this. Oh, for shame, why aren't you blushing? If a rebellion can rage even in a mother's bones, then in the fire of youth all virtue must burn away. There's no longer any shame in acting on impuls when the old burn to act and reason acts as a servant to desire.

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GERTRUDE
O Hamlet, speak no more!
Thou turn'st mine eyes into my very soul,
And there I see such black and grainèd spots
As will not leave their tinct.

GERTRUDE
Oh, Hamlet, no more! You're forcing me to look into my very soul, where the marks of sin are so black they'll never be cleaned away.


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HAMLET
Nay, but to live
In the rank sweat of an enseamèd bed,
Stewed in corruption, honeying and making love
Over the nasty sty—

HAMLET
Yes, and how could you lie in the rank sweat of your dirty sheets, wet with corruption, making love in this nasty sty—

GERTRUDE
O, speak to me no more!
These words like daggers enter in my ears.
No more, sweet Hamlet.

GERTRUDE
Oh, please no more! Your words are like daggers in my ears. No more, sweet Hamlet.

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HAMLET
A murderer and a villain,
A slave that is not twentieth part the tithe
Of your precedent lord, a vice of kings,
A cutpurse of the empire and the rule,
That from a shelf the precious diadem stole,
And put it in his pocket—

HAMLET
A murderer and a villain, a loser who's not worth even a twentieth of ten percent of your previous husband, an awful king, a thief of the throne and the kingdom, who stole the precious crown from a shelf and put it in his pocket—

GERTRUDE
No more!

GERTRUDE
No more!

HAMLET
A king of shreds and patches—

HAMLET
A king of nothing more than shreds and patches—

Enter GHOST

The GHOST enters.

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Save me and hover o'er me with your wings,
You heavenly guards!—What would your gracious figure?

Heavenly angels, protect me with your wings!—What do you want me to do, my gracious lord?

GERTRUDE
Alas, he's mad!

GERTRUDE
Oh no! He's mad!

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HAMLET
Do you not come your tardy son to chide,
That, lapsed in time and passion, lets go by
The important acting of your dread command?
O, say!

HAMLET
Have you come to scold your tardy son for delaying and losing his passion, and failing to carry out your deadly command? Tell me!

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GHOST
Do not forget. This visitation
Is but to whet thy almost blunted purpose.
But look, amazement on thy mother sits.
O, step between her and her fighting soul.
Conceit in weakest bodies strongest works.
Speak to her, Hamlet.

GHOST
Don't forget. I've come to sharpen your almost dulled mission for revenge. But look, your mother is astonished. Oh, protect her from her struggling soul. The imagination works strongest in those with the weakest bodies. Speak to her, Hamlet.

HAMLET
How is it with you, lady?

HAMLET
How are you doing, madam?

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GERTRUDE
Alas, how is 't with you,
That you do bend your eye on vacancy
And with th' incorporal air do hold discourse?
Forth at your eyes your spirits wildly peep,
And, as the sleeping soldiers in th' alarm,
Your bedded hair, like life in excrements,
Starts up and stands on end. O gentle son,
Upon the heat and flame of thy distemper
Sprinkle cool patience. Whereon do you look?

GERTRUDE
My poor boy, how are you doing, staring into empty space and talking to the air? The wildness of your thoughts is visible in your eyes, and your hair is standing upright. Oh my dearest son, sprinkle some patience on the fury of you're your anger! What are you staring at?

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HAMLET
On him, on him! Look you, how pale he glares!
His form and cause conjoined, preaching to stones,
Would make them capable.
(to GHOST) Do not look upon me,
Lest with this piteous action you convert
My stern effects. Then what I have to do
Will want true color—tears perchance for blood.

HAMLET
At him, at him! Look how pale he is and how he glares at me. With the way he looks and the power of his cause, he could preach to stones and get them to act. (to the GHOST) Don't look at me like that, unless you want to break down my strength. Then you'll end up with the wrong color liquid—tears instead of blood.

GERTRUDE
To whom do you speak this?

GERTRUDE
Who are you talking to?

HAMLET
Do you see nothing there?

HAMLET
You don't see anything there?

GERTRUDE
Nothing at all, yet all that is I see.

GERTRUDE
Nothing at all, other than what's there.

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HAMLET
Nor did you nothing hear?

HAMLET
And you don't hear anything?

GERTRUDE
No, nothing but ourselves.

GERTRUDE
No, nothing but us.

HAMLET
Why, look you there! Look how it steals away—
My father, in his habit as he lived—
Look where he goes, even now, out at the portal!

HAMLET
See, look there! Look how it sneaks away! My father, dressed just as he was when he was alive!
Look, now he's going out the door!

Exit GHOST

The GHOST exits.

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GERTRUDE
This the very coinage of your brain.
This bodiless creation ecstasy
Is very cunning in.

GERTRUDE
This is all in your mind. Madness is good at creating hallucinations.

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HAMLET
Ecstasy?
My pulse as yours doth temperately keep time
And makes as healthful music. It is not madness
That I have uttered. Bring me to the test,
And I the matter will reword, which madness
Would gambol from. Mother, for love of grace,
Lay not that flattering unction to your soul
That not your trespass but my madness speaks.
It will but skin and film the ulcerous place
Whilst rank corruption, mining all within,
Infects unseen. Confess yourself to heaven.
Repent what's past. Avoid what is to come.
And do not spread the compost on the weeds
To make them ranker. Forgive me this my virtue,
For in the fatness of these pursy times
Virtue itself of vice must pardon beg,
Yea, curb and woo for leave to do him good.

HAMLET
Madness? My heart beats just as evenly and in the same good health as yours. I've said nothing crazy. Ask me to, and I'll rephrase what I've said, which a crazy person wouldn't be able to do. Mother, for the love of God, don't soothe your soul by saying that the problem is my madness and not your crime. That would just be putting a band-aid on the rot and failing to see how it is spreading inside of you. Confess your sins to heaven. Repent what you've done, and avoid damnation. Refusing to repent would be like spreading manure over the weeds, making them even dirtier. Forgive me for having the virtue to speak to you honestly, but in these gross and puffy times, the virtuous must be willing to intervene with sinners and beg them for the change to help them.

GERTRUDE
O Hamlet, thou hast cleft my heart in twain.

GERTRUDE
Oh Hamlet, you've broken my heart in two!

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HAMLET
Oh, throw away the worser part of it,
And live the purer with the other half.
Good night—but go not to mine uncle's bed.
Assume a virtue if you have it not.
That monster, custom, who all sense doth eat,
Of habits devil, is angel yet in this:
That to the use of actions fair and good
He likewise gives a frock or livery
That aptly is put on. Refrain tonight,
And that shall lend a kind of easiness
To the next abstinence, the next more easy.
For use almost can change the stamp of nature,
And either rein the devil or throw him out
With wondrous potency. Once more, good night,
And when you are desirous to be blessed,
I'll blessing beg of you. (points to POLONIUS)
For this same lord,
I do repent. But heaven hath pleased it so,
To punish me with this and this with me,
That I must be their scourge and minister.
I will bestow him and will answer well
The death I gave him. So, again, good night.
I must be cruel only to be kind.
Thus bad begins and worse remains behind.
One word more, good lady—

HAMLET
Oh, then throw away the worse part, and live a purer life with the other half. Good night—but don't sleep with my uncle tonight. Pretend to be virtuous, even if you're not. Habit can be a devil or an angel: it can get you used to doing either good or evil without thinking about it. Refrain from sleeping with Claudius tonight, and that will make it easier to say no the next time, and even easier each time after that. How you act can change your nature, and either keep the devil inside or kick him out. Once more, good night, and when you want me to bless you for following this advice, I'll beg you to forgive me for being so harsh. (points to POLONIUS) I apologize for what happened to this lord. But God decided to punish me by making my commit this murder, and to punish this man by having me kill him, so I'm both Heaven's judge and executioner. I will deal with the body, and suffer the consequences of the death I gave him. So, again, good night. I have been cruel only in order to perform a greater kindness. This is bad, and there's even worse to come. One more thing, madam.

GERTRUDE
What shall I do?

GERTRUDE
What should I do?

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HAMLET
Not this, by no means, that I bid you do—
Let the bloat king tempt you again to bed,
Pinch wanton on your cheek, call you his mouse,
And let him, for a pair of reechy kisses
Or paddling in your neck with his damned fingers,
Make you to ravel all this matter out:
That I essentially am not in madness
But mad in craft. 'Twere good you let him know,
For who that's but a queen, fair, sober, wise,
Would from a paddock, from a bat, a gib,
Such dear concernings hide? Who would do so?
No, in despite of sense and secrecy,
Unpeg the basket on the house's top.
Let the birds fly, and like the famous ape,
To try conclusions, in the basket creep
And break your own neck down.

HAMLET
By no means should you do this: let the bloated king seduce you into bed, pinch your cheek, call you his pet, or with smelly kisses and caresses of your neck with his damned fingers get you to reveal that I am not crazy, but am just pretending to be. What a good thing it would be if you told him that, because why would a queen who's fair, sober, and wise hide such important things from a toad, a pig, a tom-cat like him? Who would do such a thing? No, forget about good sense and secrecy, and open the door of the cage and let the birds fly out, and, like that ape in the famous story who tried to imitate birds and try to fly, break your neck in the process.

GERTRUDE
Be thou assured, if words be made of breath
And breath of life, I have no life to breathe
What thou hast said to me.

GERTRUDE
Trust me: as words are made of breath, and breath is a necessity of life, I will give up my life rather than breathe a word of what you've said to me.

HAMLET
I must to England, you know that?

HAMLET
I must go to England, did you know that?

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GERTRUDE
Alack,
I had forgot. 'Tis so concluded on.

GERTRUDE
Oh no, I'd forgotten. It's been decided.

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HAMLET
There's letters sealed, and my two schoolfellows,
Whom I will trust as I will adders fanged,
They bear the mandate. They must sweep my way
And marshal me to knavery. Let it work,
For 'tis the sport to have the engineer
Hoist with his own petard. And 't shall go hard,
But I will delve one yard below their mines,
And blow them at the moon. Oh, 'tis most sweet
When in one line two crafts directly meet.
(indicates POLONIUS )
This man shall set me packing.
I'll lug the guts into the neighbor room.
Mother, good night. Indeed this counselor
Is now most still, most secret, and most grave
Who was in life a foolish prating knave.—
Come, sir, to draw toward an end with you.—
Good night, mother.

HAMLET
The documents are signed and sealed, and my two schoolmates, whom I'll trust like I would a poisonous snake, are the messengers. They're the ones who'll lead me on to whatever trickery I'm going to face. Let it come, because it's fun to fix things so the engineer gets blow up by his own bombs. It's going to be tough on them. I'm going to dig down below their bombs and blow them to the moon. Oh, it's sweet when you can kill two birds with one stone. (points to POLONIUS) Killing this man is going to make me have to leave even sooner. I'll drag his guts into the next room. Mother, good night. This adviser, who was in life a foolish moralizing liar, is now so quiet, secretive, and serious. Come on, sir, let me drag you toward your end. Good night, mother.

Exeunt, HAMLET tugging in POLONIUS

They exit, HAMLET dragging POLONIUS.

 

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