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Act 4, Scene 1


hamlet original play and modern translation
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Original Play

Modern Translation

Enter King CLAUDIUS and Queen GERTRUDE, with ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN

CLAUDIUS and GERTRUDE enter with ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN.



CLAUDIUS
(to GERTRUDE) There's matter in these sighs, these profound heaves.
You must translate. 'Tis fit we understand them.
Where is your son?

CLAUDIUS
(to GERTRUDE) Your deep, heavy sighs mean something. You must tell me what. It's important that I know. Where's your son?

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5

GERTRUDE
(to ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN)
Bestow this place on us a little while.

GERTRUDE
(to ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN) Please leave us for a while.

Exeunt ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN

ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN exit.

Ah, my good lord, what have I seen tonight! Ah, my lord, you wouldn't believe what I've seen tonight!

CLAUDIUS
What, Gertrude? How does Hamlet?

CLAUDIUS
What, Gertrude? How is Hamlet?

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10

GERTRUDE
Mad as the sea and wind when both contend
Which is the mightier. In his lawless fit,
Behind the arras hearing something stir,
Whips out his rapier, cries, "A rat, a rat!"
And in this brainish apprehension kills
The unseen good old man.

GERTRUDE
As mad as the waves and the wind when they struggle against each other in a storm. In an insane rage, he heard something stir behind the tapestry, whips out his sword, shouts, "A rat, a rat!" and with this crazy idea he kills the good old man, who was hidden.

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15
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20

CLAUDIUS
O heavy deed!
It had been so with us, had we been there.
His liberty is full of threats to all—
To you yourself, to us, to everyone.
Alas, how shall this bloody deed be answered?
It will be laid to us, whose providence
Should have kept short, restrained and out of haunt,
This mad young man. But so much was our love,
We would not understand what was most fit,
But, like the owner of a foul disease,
To keep it from divulging, let it feed
Even on the pith of life. Where is he gone?

CLAUDIUS
Oh, no! It would've happened to me if I'd been there. His freedom is a threat to all of us—to you, to me, to everyone. How should we react to this violent deed? I'll be blamed for not controlling or restraining this mad young man. But I loved him so much I avoided doing the right thing. Now, I'm like a man who hides that he is suffering from a foul disease and in doing so lets it kill him. Where has he gone?

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25

GERTRUDE
To draw apart the body he hath killed,
O'er whom his very madness, like some ore
Among a mineral of metals base,
Shows itself pure. He weeps for what is done.

GERTRUDE
To remove the body of the man he killed. His madness does not stop a sliver of his former self from shining through, like a vein of gold in otherwise worthless rock. He weeps for what he has done.

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30

CLAUDIUS
O Gertrude, come away!
The sun no sooner shall the mountains touch
But we will ship him hence, and this vile deed
We must, with all our majesty and skill,
Both countenance and excuse.—Ho, Guildenstern!

CLAUDIUS
Oh, Gertrude, let's go. By the time the sun touches on those distant mountains we'll have him on a ship to England. It'll take all my power and skill to explain and excuse what Hamlet has done. Hey, Guildenstern!

Enter ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN

ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN enter.

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35

Friends both, go join you with some further aid.
Hamlet in madness hath Polonius slain,
And from his mother's closet hath he dragged him.
Go seek him out, speak fair, and bring the body
Into the chapel. I pray you, haste in this.
My friends, go find others to help you. Hamlet in his madness has killed Polonius and dragged him out of his mother's bedroom. Go find him and speak nicely to him, and bring the body into the chapel. I beg you, hurry in this.

Exeunt ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN

ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN exit.

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40
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45

Come, Gertrude, we'll call up our wisest friends,
And let them know both what we mean to do
And what's untimely done. So dreaded slander—
Whose whisper o'er the world's diameter,
As level as the cannon to his blank,
Transports the poisoned shot—may miss our name
And hit the woundless air. Oh, come away!
My soul is full of discord and dismay.
Come, Gertrude. We'll confer with our wisest friends and tell them what we're going to do, and what Hamlet has already done. Let's hope slander—like a cannonball that can shoot across half the world and still hit its target—misses us. Oh, we must go. I'm full of confusion and sadness.

Exeunt

They exit.

 

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