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Act 4, Scene 5


hamlet original play and modern translation
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Original Play

Modern Translation

Enter HORATIO, GERTRUDE, and a GENTLEMAN

HORATIO, GERTRUDE, and a GENTLEMAN enter.

GERTRUDE
I will not speak with her.

GERTRUDE
I won't speak to her.


GENTLEMAN
She is importunate,
Indeed distract. Her mood will needs be pitied.

GENTLEMAN
She demands it. In fact, she's crazed. Her bahavior will inspire your pity.

GERTRUDE
What would she have?

GERTRUDE
What does she want?

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GENTLEMAN
She speaks much of her father, says she hears
There's tricks i' th' world, and hems, and beats her heart,
Spurns enviously at straws, speaks things in doubt
That carry but half sense. Her speech is nothing,
Yet the unshaped use of it doth move
The hearers to collection. They aim at it,
And botch the words up fit to their own thoughts,
Which, as her winks and nods and gestures yield them,
Indeed would make one think there might be thought,
Though nothing sure, yet much unhappily.

GENTLEMAN
She talks often of her father, and says she's learned there are deceptions in the world, and coughs, and beats her breast, and takes offense at little things, and says things that don't make sense. Her words are meaningless, yet somehow lead those who hear it to draw conclusions. They patch up the gaps within her words and end up hearing what they want to hear. And the winks and nods and gestures she makes while speaking imply—without being at all clear—that she's hinting at some terrible deeper meaning.

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15

HORATIO
'Twere good she were spoken with, for she may strew
Dangerous conjectures in ill-breeding minds.

HORATIO
It would be good for someone to speak to her, because her words might make people think dangerous thoughts.

GERTRUDE
Let her come in.

GERTRUDE
Bring her in.

Exit GENTLEMAN

The GENTLEMAN exits.

(aside) To my sick soul (as sin's true nature is)
Each toy seems prologue to some great amiss.
So full of artless jealousy is guilt,
It spills itself in fearing to be spilt.
(to herself) To my sick soul (since sin is actually sickness), each little detail seems like a sign of coming disaster. Guilt fills you up with such suspicions that are so hard to hide that you give yourself away by trying so hard to not to.

Enter OPHELIA, distracted

OPHELIA enters, insane.

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20

OPHELIA
Where is the beauteous majesty of Denmark?

OPHELIA
Where is the beautiful queen of Denmark?

GERTRUDE
How now, Ophelia?

GERTRUDE
How are you, Ophelia?

OPHELIA
(sings)
How should I your true love know
From another one?
By his cockle hat and staff,
And his sandal shoon
.

OPHELIA
(sings)
How can you tell
Your true love from some other?
Byhis pilgrim's hat and staff
And the sandals on his feet
.

GERTRUDE
Alas, sweet lady, what imports this song?

GERTRUDE
Oh, sweet lady, what's the meaning of this song?

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25

OPHELIA
Say you? Nay, pray you, mark.
(sings)
He is dead and gone, lady,
He is dead and gone,
At his head a grass-green turf,
At his heels a stone
.
Oh, ho!

OPHELIA
Did you say something? No, please, listen.
(sings)
He is dead and gone, lady,
He is dead and gone.
At his head is green grass,
At his feet a tomb stone
.
Oh, ho!

GERTRUDE
Nay, but, Ophelia—

GERTRUDE
No, listen, Ophelia—

OPHELIA
Pray you, mark.
(sings)
White his shroud as the mountain snow

OPHELIA
Please, listen.
(sings)
His death shroud was as white as snow—

Enter CLAUDIUS

CLAUDIUS enters.

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GERTRUDE
Alas, look here, my lord.

GERTRUDE
Oh sadness, look at this, my lord.

OPHELIA
(sings)
Larded all with sweet flowers,
Which bewept to the ground did not go
With true-love showers
.

OPHELIA
(sings)
Covered with sweet flowers
Which did not fall to the ground
In true-love showers
.

CLAUDIUS
How do you, pretty lady?

CLAUDIUS
How are you, pretty lady?

OPHELIA
Well, God'ield you! They say the owl was a baker's daughter. Lord, we know what we are, but know not what we may be. God be at your table.

OPHELIA
I'm well. May God reward you as you deserve. They say the baker's daughter was turned into an owl for refusing to answer Jesus' request for bread. My lord, we know what we are now, but not what we may become. May God be at your table.

CLAUDIUS
Conceit upon her father.

CLAUDIUS
She's thinking about her dead father.

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OPHELIA
Pray you, let's have no words of this, but when they ask you what it means, say you this:
(sings)
Tomorrow is Saint Valentine's day,
All in the morning betime,
And I a maid at your window,
To be your Valentine.
Then up he rose, and donned his clothes,
And dupped the chamber door.
Let in the maid that out a maid
Never departed more
.

OPHELIA
Please, let's have no words about that, but when they ask you what it means, say this:
(sings)
Tomorrow is St. Valentine's Day
And early in the morning
I'm a girl waiting at your window
Waiting to be your Valentine.
Then he woke and put on his clothes
And opened his bedroom door.
He let in the girl, who when she left
Wasn't a virgin anymore
.

CLAUDIUS
Pretty Ophelia—

CLAUDIUS
Pretty Ophelia—

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OPHELIA
Indeed, without an oath I'll make an end on 't:
(sings)
By Gis and by Saint Charity,
Alack, and fie, for shame!
Young men will do 't, if they come to 't.
By Cock, they are to blame.
Quoth she, "Before you tumbled me,
You promised me to wed."
He answers,
"So would I ha' done, by yonder sun,
An thou hadst not come to my bed."

OPHELIA
Yes, I'll get to the end soon:
(sings)
By Jesus and Saint Charity,
Alas, what a shame,
Young men will do it if they get a chance:
By God, they're the ones to blame.
She said, "Before you took me to bed,
You promised to marry me."
He answers:
"And by the sun I would have done just that,
If you hadn't gone to bed with me."

CLAUDIUS
How long hath she been thus?

CLAUDIUS
How long has she been like this?

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OPHELIA
I hope all will be well. We must be patient, but I cannot choose but weep, to think they should lay him i' th' cold ground. My brother shall know of it, and so I thank you for your good counsel. Come, my coach! Good night, ladies. Good night, sweet ladies. Good night, good night.

OPHELIA
I hope everything will be okay. We must be patient, but I can't stop crying when I think of how they laid in the cold ground. My brother will learn of this. And so I thank you for your good advice. Come, driver! Good night, ladies. Good night, sweet ladies. Good night, good night.

Exit OPHELIA

OPHELIA exits.

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50

CLAUDIUS
Follow her close. Give her good watch, I pray you.

CLAUDIUS
Follow her. Watch her closely, please.

Exit HORATIO

HORATIO exits.

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Oh, this is the poison of deep grief. It springs
All from her father's death, and now behold!
O Gertrude, Gertrude,
When sorrows come, they come not single spies
But in battalions. First, her father slain.
Next, your son gone, and he most violent author
Of his own just remove. The people muddied,
Thick, and unwholesome in their thoughts and whispers
For good Polonius' death, and we have done but greenly
In hugger-mugger to inter him. Poor Ophelia
Divided from herself and her fair judgment,
Without the which we are pictures, or mere beasts.
Last—and as much containing as all these—
Her brother is in secret come from France,
Feeds on his wonder, keeps himself in clouds,
And wants not buzzers to infect his ear
With pestilent speeches of his father's death,
Wherein necessity, of matter beggared,
Will nothing stick our person to arraign
In ear and ear. O my dear Gertrude, this,
Like to a murdering piece, in many places
Gives me superfluous death.

Oh, her terrible grief has poisoned her mind.
All a result of her father's death—look at her! Oh, Gertrude, Gertrude, when sadness comes, it doesn't come one at time like spies, but all at once like an army. First her father was killed, then your son had to leave because the violent things he did. The people are stirred up and confused, thinking and whispering dark theories about Polonius's death, while we recklessly buried him in secrecy, without an official state funeral. Poor Ophelia has been split from her sanity, without which we're just pictures, or even beasts. Last, and as bad as all of the rest of these, her brother has secretly returned from France and his questions about his father's death are answered by vicious gossipers who fill his ears with nasty stories about his father's death, and who, not knowing what really happened, blame it all on me. Oh, my dear Gertrude, I feel as though I'm being murdered many times at once, as if I've been hit by a cannon bearing small shot.

A noise within

A noise offstage.

GERTRUDE
Alack, what noise is this?

GERTRUDE
Oh, what's that noise?

CLAUDIUS
Where are my Switzers? Let them guard the door.

CLAUDIUS
Where are my Swiss guards? Let them guard the door.

Enter a MESSENGER

A MESSENGER enters.

What is the matter? What's going on?

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MESSENGER
Save yourself, my lord.
The ocean, overpeering of his list,
Eats not the flats with more impiteous haste
Than young Laertes, in a riotous head,
O'erbears your officers. The rabble call him "lord"
And—as the world were now but to begin,
Antiquity forgot, custom not known,
The ratifiers and props of every word—
They cry, "Choose we! Laertes shall be king!"
Caps, hands, and tongues applaud it to the clouds:
"Laertes shall be king, Laertes king!"

MESSENGER
Save yourself, my lord. Not even the ocean, when it floods and devours the lowlands, is as ferocious as Laertes who now leads your officers in rebellion against you. The commoners call him "lord" and — as if they were starting the world anew and had forgotten all the traditions and customs that are the bedrock of what we are – they shout, "We choose Laertes to be king!" They throw their caps in the air, applaud, and shout, "Laertes will be king! Laertes king!"

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GERTRUDE
How cheerfully on the false trail they cry.
O, this is counter, you false Danish dogs!

GERTRUDE
How cheerfully they shout as they hunt the wrong prey! Oh, this is wrong, you disloyal Danish dogs!

Noise within

A noise offstage.

CLAUDIUS
The doors are broke.

CLAUDIUS
The doors have been broken in.

Enter LAERTES with others

LAERTES enters with others.

LAERTES
Where is this king?—Sirs, stand you all without.

LAERTES
Where's this king? Men, wait outside.

ALL
No, let's come in!

ALL
No, let us in!

LAERTES
I pray you, give me leave.

LAERTES
I beg you, give me a moment.

ALL
We will, we will.

ALL
We will, we will.

Exeunt LAERTES' FOLLOWERS

LAERTES' FOLLOWERS exit.

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LAERTES
I thank you. Keep the door.—O thou vile king,
Give me my father!

LAERTES
Thank you. Guard the door. Oh, you vile king, give me my father!

GERTRUDE
Calmly, good Laertes.

GERTRUDE
Be calm, good Laertes.

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LAERTES
That drop of blood that's calm proclaims me bastard,
Cries "Cuckold!" to my father, brands the "harlot"
Even here between the chaste unsmirchèd brow
Of my true mother.

LAERTES
Any calm drop of blood in my body would mark me as not being my father's son, and stamps the label "whore" on the pure forehead of my pure and devoted mother.

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CLAUDIUS
What is the cause, Laertes,
That thy rebellion looks so giant-like?—
Let him go, Gertrude. Do not fear our person.
There's such divinity doth hedge a king
That treason can but peep to what it would,
Acts little of his will.—Tell me, Laertes,
Why thou art thus incensed.—Let him go, Gertrude.—
Speak, man.

CLAUDIUS
What is the cause of this rebellion, Laertes? Let him go, Gertrude. Don't worry that I'll be hurt. God protects the king, so that while traitors can see what they want to do, they cannot make it happen.—Tell me, Laertes, why you are so angry.—Gertrude, let him go.—Tell me, man.

LAERTES
Where is my father?

LAERTES
Where is my father?

CLAUDIUS
Dead.

CLAUDIUS
Dead.

GERTRUDE
But not by him.

GERTRUDE
But the king didn't kill him.

CLAUDIUS
Let him demand his fill.

CLAUDIUS
Let him ask his questions.

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LAERTES
How came he dead? I'll not be juggled with.
To hell, allegiance! Vows, to the blackest devil!
Conscience and grace, to the profoundest pit!
I dare damnation. To this point I stand
That both the worlds I give to negligence.
Let come what comes, only I'll be revenged
Most thoroughly for my father.

LAERTES
How did he die? I won't be lied to. To hell with my oaths of allegiance! Vows can go to hell! Conscience, too! I don't care if I'm damned. I swear that I don't care about what happens to me in this world or the next. No matter what happens, I'll get revenge for my father's murder.

CLAUDIUS
Who shall stay you?

CLAUDIUS
Who could stop you?

LAERTES
My will, not all the world.
And for my means, I'll husband them so well,
They shall go far with little.

LAERTES
My own will, and nothing else in all the world. I'll gather up the little means I have, and use them so well that they'll take me a long way.

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CLAUDIUS
Good Laertes,
If you desire to know the certainty
Of your dear father's death, is 't writ in your revenge,
That, swoopstake, you will draw both friend and foe,
Winner and loser?

CLAUDIUS
Dear Laertes, if you wish to know the truth about your dear father's death, answer me this: are you so angry that in your search for revenge you are willing to hurt both your father's enemies and his friends?

LAERTES
None but his enemies.

LAERTES
Only his enemies.

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CLAUDIUS
Will you know them then?

CLAUDIUS
Do you want to know who they are, then?

LAERTES
To his good friends thus wide I'll ope my arms
And, like the kind life-rendering pelican,
Repast them with my blood.

LAERTES
I'll open my arms wide to his friends, and like a mother pelican with her chicks, I'll give my life for them.

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CLAUDIUS
Why, now you speak
Like a good child and a true gentleman.
That I am guiltless of your father's death
And am most sensible in grief for it,
It shall as level to your judgment pierce
As day does to your eye.

CLAUDIUS
Why, now you're talking like a faithful son and a true gentleman. That I am innocent of your father's death, and feel great grief over it, I will prove to you as plain as day.

Noise within: "Let her come in!"

A voice offstage, "Let her in!"

LAERTES
How now? What noise is that?

LAERTES
What's going on? What's that noise?

Enter OPHELIA

OPHELIA enters.

130
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135

O heat, dry up my brains! Tears seven times salt,
Burn out the sense and virtue of mine eye!
By heaven, thy madness shall be paid by weight,
Till our scale turn the beam. O rose of May,
Dear maid, kind sister, sweet Ophelia!
O heavens, is 't possible a young maid's wits
Should be as mortal as an old man's life?
Nature is fine in love, and where 'tis fine,
It sends some precious instance of itself
After the thing it loves.

Oh, heat, dry up my brains! Salt in my tears, burn the vision out of my eyes! By heaven, I'll get revenge equal to the depth of your madness! Oh, you rose of May, dear maiden, kind sister, sweet Ophelia! Oh heavens, Is it possible that a young woman's mind could die as easily as an old man's life? Human nature is made spiritual by love, and when it is spiritual it gives itself to the one it loves, just as Ophelia has given her sanity to her father.

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140

OPHELIA
(sings)
They bore him barefaced on the bier,
Hey, non nonny, nonny, hey, nonny,
And in his grave rained many a tear
.
Fare you well, my dove.

OPHELIA
(sings)
They carried him uncovered in the coffin,
Hey non nonny, nonny, hey nonny.
And tears poured down into his grave
.
Good-bye, my dove.

LAERTES
Hadst thou thy wits, and didst persuade revenge,
It could not move thus.

LAERTES
If you were sane and urged me to take revenge, you couldn't be more persuasive than this.

OPHELIA
You must sing A-down a-down—And you, Call him a- down-a—Oh, how the wheel becomes it! It is the false steward that stole his master's daughter.

OPHELIA
You have to sing, "A down a-down," and you, "Call him a-down-a." Oh, how it turns around like a wheel! Like the lying worker who stole his boss's daughter.

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145

LAERTES
This nothing's more than matter.

LAERTES
This seeming nonsense means more than rational speech.

OPHELIA
There's rosemary, that's for remembrance. Pray you, love, remember. And there is pansies, that's for thoughts.

OPHELIA
Here's some rosemary, that's for remembering. Please remember, love. And here are pansies, they're for thoughts.

LAERTES
A document in madness. Thoughts and remembrance fitted.

LAERTES
In her madness, she gives us a lesson: memory and thought belong together.

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OPHELIA
There's fennel for you, and columbines.—There's rue for you, and here's some for me. We may call it "herb of grace" o' Sundays.—Oh, you must wear your rue with a difference.—There's a daisy. I would give you some violets, but they withered all when my father died. They say he made a good end (sings) For bonny sweet Robin is all my joy

OPHELIA
Here's fennel for you, and columbines (symbols of adultery and insincerity). And here's rue for you, and some for me (symbol of repentance). We call it the merciful Sunday flower, though you should wear it for a different reason. Here's a daisy (symbol of unhappy love). I'd give you some violets (symbol of faithfulness), but they all dried up when my father died. They say he looked good when he died. (sings) For good sweet Robin is all my joy.

LAERTES
Thought and affliction, passion, hell itself,
She turns to favor and to prettiness.

LAERTES
Sad thoughts, terrible suffering, hell itself—she makes them almost graceful and pretty.

*
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160

OPHELIA
(sings)
And will he not come again?
And will he not come again?
No, no, he is dead,
Go to thy deathbed.
He never will come again.
His beard was as white as snow,
All flaxen was his poll.
He is gone, he is gone,
And we cast away moan,
God ha' mercy on his soul
.—
And of all Christian souls, I pray God. God be wi' ye.

OPHELIA
(sings)
And won't he come again?
And won't he come again?
No, no, he's dead.
Go to your deathbed.
He'll never come again.
His beard was white as snow,
His hair was all white too.
He's gone, he's gone,
And we moan our useless grief.
God have mercy on his soul
.
And on the souls of all good Christians, I pray to God. God be with you.

Exit OPHELIA

OPHELIA exits.

LAERTES
Do you see this, O God?

LAERTES
Do you see this, oh, God?


165
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CLAUDIUS
Laertes, I must commune with your grief,
Or you deny me right. Go but apart,
Make choice of whom your wisest friends you will.
And they shall hear and judge 'twixt you and me.
If by direct or by collateral hand
They find us touched, we will our kingdom give,
Our crown, our life, and all that we call ours,
To you in satisfaction. But if not,
Be you content to lend your patience to us,
And we shall jointly labor with your soul
To give it due content.

CLAUDIUS
Laertes, let me share in your grief, or else you deny me my right. Go and choose your wisest friends, and they will sit in judgment of us. If, directly or indirectly, they find me at all responsible for your father's murder, I'll give up my kingdom, my crown, my life, and everything I call my own to you. But if they find me innocent, then be patient and I'll work with you to ensure that your soul gets what it desires.

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175

LAERTES
Let this be so.
His means of death, his obscure funeral—
No trophy, sword, nor hatchment o'er his bones,
No noble rite nor formal ostentation—
Cry to be heard as 'twere from heaven to earth,
That I must call 't in question.

LAERTES
That's what we'll do. The way he died, his hushed-up funeral, no funeral rites or military display, no noble rites or formal ceremony—all these things shout out as if from heaven and earth demanding that I question the way he died.

*
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180

CLAUDIUS
So you shall.
And where the offense is, let the great ax fall.
I pray you, go with me.

CLAUDIUS
As you should. And may the great axe of justice fall on the guilty. Please, come with me.

Exeunt

They exit.

 

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