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Act 5, Scene 2


hamlet original play and modern translation
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Original Play

Modern Translation

Enter HAMLET and HORATIO

HAMLET and HORATIO enter.

HAMLET
So much for this, sir. Now shall you see the other.
You do remember all the circumstance?

HAMLET
That's everything about that, sir. Now I'll tell you my other story. You do remember the circumstances of my situation, righ?

HORATIO
Remember it, my lord?

HORATIO
How could I not, my lord?

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HAMLET
Sir, in my heart there was a kind of fighting
That would not let me sleep. Methought I lay
Worse than the mutines in the bilboes. Rashly—
And praised be rashness for it: let us know
Our indiscretion sometimes serves us well
When our deep plots do pall, and that should teach us
There's a divinity that shapes our ends,
Rough-hew them how we will—

HAMLET
Sir, there was a kind of war in my heart that wouldn't let me sleep. It seemed to me that I was in worse shape even than captive rebels in chains. I rashly—let me praise rashness. Sometimes acting rashly works even when our complicated plans don't work out, showing us that a God who shapes our destiny—

HORATIO
That is most certain.

HORATIO
That is a certainty.

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HAMLET
Up from my cabin,
My sea-gown scarfed about me, in the dark
Groped I to find out them, had my desire,
Fingered their packet, and in fine withdrew
To mine own room again, making so bold
(My fears forgetting manners) to unseal
Their grand commission, where I found, Horatio—
O royal knavery!—an exact command,
Larded with many several sorts of reasons
Importing Denmark's health, and England's too,
With—ho!—such bugs and goblins in my life
That, on the supervise (no leisure bated,
No, not to stay the grinding of the ax)
My head should be struck off.

HAMLET
I came up from my cabin with my robe tied around me, in the dark I groped around and found what I was looking for. I stole their packet of papers, and snuck back to my cabin again. There I made so bold (my fears overcoming my manners) to open the letter they carried from Claudius to the English king. There I found, Horatio—O royal mischief!—an explicit command, fattened up with blather about Denmark's well-being and England's too—listen!—that described all the terrors that would come from letting me live and instructions to cut off my head, without even taking any time to sharpen the ax.

HORATIO
Is 't possible?

HORATIO
Is it possible?

HAMLET
(shows HORATIO a document)
Here's the commission. Read it at more leisure.
But wilt thou hear me how I did proceed?

HAMLET
(shows HORATIO a document) Here's the letter. Read it when you have a moment. But do you want to hear what I did next?

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HORATIO
I beseech you.

HORATIO
Please.

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HAMLET
Being thus benetted round with villainies—
Ere I could make a prologue to my brains,
They had begun the play—I sat me down,
Devised a new commission, wrote it fair.
I once did hold it, as our statists do,
A baseness to write fair, and labored much
How to forget that learning, but, sir, now
It did me yeoman's service. Wilt thou know
Th' effect of what I wrote?

HAMLET
Stuck as I was in their cruel net—before I could even fully think about the problem, my brain had already started playing with possible solutions—I sat down and wrote a new letter. I wrote it in a bureaucrat's neat handwriting. I used to think, just as our politicians do, that having nice handwriting was for servants, and had to really work to forget that bias. And, sir, it sure helped me then. Would you like to know what I wrote?

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HORATIO
Ay, good my lord.

HORATIO
Yes, my lord.

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HAMLET
An earnest conjuration from the king,
As England was his faithful tributary,
As love between them like the palm might flourish,
As peace should stiff her wheaten garland wear
And stand a comma 'tween their amities,
And many suchlike "as's" of great charge,
That, on the view and knowing of these contents,
Without debatement further, more or less,
He should the bearers put to sudden death,
Not shriving time allowed.

HAMLET
A sincere request from the king, to England his faithful vassal subject, with hopes that the love between the two countries can flourish, and that peace can rise up and join them together in friendship—and a bunch of other important sounding statements like that—saying that, once they read and understood this letter, without any further debate, the bearers of this letter should immediately be put to death, without even giving them time to confess to a priest.

HORATIO
How was this sealed?

HORATIO
How did you get an official seal on it?

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HAMLET
Why, even in that was heaven ordinant.
I had my father's signet in my purse,
Which was the model of that Danish seal.
Folded the writ up in form of th' other,
Subscribed it, gave 't th' impression, placed it safely,
The changeling never known. Now, the next day
Was our sea fight, and what to this was sequent
Thou know'st already.

HAMLET
Even there, heaven gave me a helping hand. I had my father's signet ring in my pocket, which has a small version of the Danish royal seal on it. I folded up the letter, signed it, sealed it, and put it safely back without anyone noticing the change. The next day brought our fight at sea, and what happened afterwards you already know.

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HORATIO
So Guildenstern and Rosencrantz go to 't.

HORATIO
So Guildenstern and Rosencrantz go to their death.

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HAMLET
Why, man, they did make love to this employment.
They are not near my conscience. Their defeat
Does by their own insinuation grow.
'Tis dangerous when the baser nature comes
Between the pass and fell incensèd points
Of mighty opposites.

HAMLET
Well, man, they loved doing the king's every bidding. I don't feel any guilt. Their death grew out of their meddling. It's dangerous when inferior people get between the sword thrusts of mighty opponents.

HORATIO
Why, what a king is this!

HORATIO
Oh, what a king this Claudius is!

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HAMLET
Does it not, think thee, stand me now upon—
He that hath killed my king and whored my mother,
Popped in between th' election and my hopes,
Thrown out his angle for my proper life
(And with such cozenage!)—is 't not perfect conscience
To quit him with this arm? And is 't not to be damned
To let this canker of our nature come
In further evil?

HAMLET
Don't you think that its now my duty to kill him? He killed my king, made my mother a whore, stole the throne that I wanted, and plotted against my life with shocking trickery. Wouldn't killing him be completely justified? And wouldn't I in fact be damned if I were to let this cancer live to do more harm?

HORATIO
It must be shortly known to him from England
What is the issue of the business there.

HORATIO
He's going to get the news from England soon about what happened there.

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HAMLET
It will be short. The interim's mine.
And a man's life's no more than to say "one."
But I am very sorry, good Horatio,
That to Laertes I forgot myself,
For by the image of my cause I see
The portraiture of his. I'll court his favors.
But sure the bravery of his grief did put me
Into a towering passion.

HAMLET
He will, soon. But I have the meantime. And it only takes the time to count to one to kill a man. But I do feel very sorry, Horatio, that I lost control of myself with Laertes. I can see my own cause mirrored in his. I'll try to win him over. But the melodramatic showiness of his grief pushed me into a fury.

HORATIO
Peace.—Who comes here?

HORATIO
Stop—who's coming in here?

Enter young OSRIC, a courtier, hat in hand

OSRIC, a young courtier, enters with his hat in his hand.

OSRIC
Your lordship is right welcome back to Denmark.

OSRIC
My lord, welcome back to Denmark.

HAMLET
I humbly thank you, sir. (aside to HORATIO) Dost know this water-fly?

HAMLET
I humbly thank you, sir. (speaking only to HORATIO) Do you know this flitting little water bug?

HORATIO
(aside to HAMLET) No, my good lord.

HORATIO
(speaking only to HAMLET) No, my lord.

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HAMLET
(aside to HORATIO) Thy state is the more gracious, for 'tis a vice to know him. He hath much land, and fertile. Let a beast be lord of beasts and his crib shall stand at the king's mess. 'Tis a chough, but, as I say, spacious in the possession of dirt.

HAMLET
(speaking only to HORATIO) Your better off for that. It's a curse to know him. He owns a lot of good, fertile land. Give a beast a lot of cattle, and his food trough will be welcome at the king's table. He's a nonsense-spouting fool, but, as I said, he owns a lot of dirt.

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OSRIC
Sweet lord, if your lordship were at leisure, I should impart a thing to you from His Majesty.

OSRIC
Sweet lord, if you were to have a free moment, I would like to tell you a message from His Majesty.

HAMLET
I will receive it, sir, with all diligence of spirit. Put your bonnet to his right use. 'Tis for the head.

HAMLET
I'll listen, sir, with all of my being. Now put your hat to its proper use. Put it on your head.

OSRIC
I thank your lordship. It is very hot.

OSRIC
Thank you for the advice, my lord. But it's very hot.

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HAMLET
No, believe me, 'tis very cold. The wind is northerly.

HAMLET
No, believe me, it's very cold, with a northerly wind.

OSRIC
It is indifferent cold, my lord, indeed.

OSRIC
It is quite cold, indeed, my lord.

HAMLET
But yet methinks it is very sultry and hot for my complexion.

HAMLET
But yet I think it's too humid and hot for me.

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OSRIC
Exceedingly, my lord. It is very sultry—as 'twere—I cannot tell how. My lord, his majesty bade me signify to you that he has laid a great wager on your head. Sir, this is the matter—

OSRIC
Exceedingly hot, sir. It is very humid—so humid I can't even describe it. My lord, His Majesty asked me to tell you that he's placed a large bet on you. Sir, here's what's going on—

HAMLET
I beseech you, remember—(indicates that OSRIC should put on his hat)

HAMLET
I beg you, remember—(he gestures that OSRIC should put on his hat)

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OSRIC
Nay, good my lord, for mine ease, in good faith. Sir, here is newly come to court Laertes, believe me, an absolute gentleman, full of most excellent differences, of very soft society and great showing. Indeed, to speak feelingly of him, he is the card or calendar of gentry, for you shall find in him the continent of what part a gentleman would see.

OSRIC
No, my lord, I'm more comfortable like this, I swear. Sir, a recent arrival to court named Laertes is, believe me, an absolute gentleman, full of most excelletnt qualities, with agreeable manners and good looks. In fact, if I were to reveal my true feelings about him, he is like a checklist of what a gentleman should be. You'll find that he's the embodiment of a perfect gentleman.

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HAMLET
Sir, his definement suffers no perdition in you, though I know to divide him inventorially would dizzy th' arithmetic of memory, and yet but yaw neither, in respect of his quick sail. But in the verity of extolment, I take him to be a soul of great article, and his infusion of such dearth and rareness as, to make true diction of him, his semblable is his mirror. And who else would trace him? His umbrage, nothing more.

HAMLET
Sir, your description of him suffers no loss of accuracy, though I know that to try to describe all of his good qualities would dizzy the mind, and even in trying you would not be able to capture them all. But in true and sincere praise, I can say that he has a soul of great nobility, and that he is so unique—to be honest—that his equal can only be found when he looks in a mirror. Anyone else is just a shadow of him.

OSRIC
Your lordship speaks most infallibly of him.

OSRIC
Your lordship describes him perfectly.

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HAMLET
The concernancy, sir? Why do we wrap the gentleman in our more rawer breath?

HAMLET
What's the relevance? Why do wrap him in our breathless words?

OSRIC
Sir?

OSRIC
Sir?

HORATIO
(aside to HAMLET) Is 't not possible to understand in another tongue? You will do 't, sir, really.

HORATIO
(speaking only to HAMLET can hear) You must speak in a different style for him to understand you? You can do it, sir.

HAMLET
What imports the nomination of this gentleman?

HAMLET
What is the significance of our discussion of this gentleman?

OSRIC
Of Laertes?

OSRIC
Laertes?

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HORATIO
(aside to HAMLET) His purse is empty already. All 's golden words are spent.

HORATIO
(speaking only to HAMLET can hear) He has no more ten-dollars words. His wallet is empty.

HAMLET
Of him, sir.

HAMLET
Yes, Laertes.

OSRIC
I know you are not ignorant—

OSRIC
I know you are not ignorant—

HAMLET
I would you did, sir. Yet in faith, if you did, it would not much approve me. Well, sir?

HAMLET
I wish you did, sir. But in truth, if you did, it would not be much to my credit. Well, sir?

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OSRIC
You are not ignorant of what excellence Laertes is—

OSRIC
I know you're not ignorant about how excellent Laertes is—

HAMLET
I dare not confess that lest I should compare with him in excellence, but to know a man well were to know himself.

HAMLET
I don't dare admit because you might compare his excellence to mine. But to know excellence in another you must know it in yourself.

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OSRIC
I mean, sir, for his weapon. But in the imputation laid on him by them, in his meed he's unfellowed.

OSRIC
I mean, sir, he's known for his weapon. Popular opinion holds him to be unrivaled.

HAMLET
What's his weapon?

HAMLET
What kind of weapon does he use?

OSRIC
Rapier and dagger.

OSRIC
The rapier and the dagger.

HAMLET
That's two of his weapons. But well.

HAMLET
Those are just two of his weapons. But whatever.

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OSRIC
The king, sir, hath wagered with him six Barbary horses, against the which he has impawned, as I take it, six French rapiers and poniards with their assigns—as girdle, hangers, and so. Three of the carriages, in faith, are very dear to fancy, very responsive to the hilts, most delicate carriages, and of very liberal conceit.

OSRIC
The king, sir, has gambled with Laertes: six Barbary horses against, as I understand it, six French rapiers and daggers with all their accessories. Three of the carriages, in fact, are very beautifully designed, and match the fencing accessories. Very imaginative carriages.

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HAMLET
What call you the carriages?

HAMLET
What are you calling "carriages"?

HORATIO
(aside to HAMLET) I knew you must be edified by the margin ere you had done.

HORATIO
(speaking only to HAMLET) I knew you'd have to look a word up before we were finished.

OSRIC
The carriages, sir, are the hangers.

OSRIC
The carriages, sir, are the hangers on which we hang swords.

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HAMLET
The phrase would be more germane to the matter if we could carry cannon by our sides. I would it might be hangers till then. But, on: six Barbary horses against six French swords, their assigns, and three liberal-conceited carriages—that's the French bet against the Danish. Why is this "impawned," as you call it?

HAMLET
That word would make more sense if it were describing something that pulled a cannon. I'd prefer to call it a "hanger." But, still. Six Barbary horses against six French swords with accessories, and three imaginatively designed carriages—sounds like a French bet against the Danish. Why has all this been "gambled," as you put it?

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OSRIC
The king, sir, hath laid that in a dozen passes between yourself and him, he shall not exceed you three hits. He hath laid on twelve for nine, and it would come to immediate trial if your lordship would vouchsafe the answer.

OSRIC
The king, sir, has bet that in a dozen rounds between you and Laertes, he won't beat you by more than three hits. We could start the match immediately if you'll do me the honor of giving me your answer.

HAMLET
How if I answer "No"?

HAMLET
What if I answer "No?"

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OSRIC
I mean, my lord, the opposition of your person in trial.

OSRIC
I mean, my lord, if you'd agree to compete in the wager.

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HAMLET
Sir, I will walk here in the hall. If it please His Majesty, 'tis the breathing time of day with me. Let the foils be brought, the gentleman willing, and the king hold his purpose. I will win for him an I can. If not, I will gain nothing but my shame and the odd hits.

HAMLET
Sir, I'm going to take a walk in the hall. Tell the king that it is my time to exercise. If the king still wants to do this, and if Laertes is willing, tell them to bring in the swords. I'll win the king's bet for him if I can. If not, I'll have suffered just a bit of shame for losing and a few sword hits.

OSRIC
Shall I redeliver you e'en so?

OSRIC
Shall I quote you with those precise words?

HAMLET
To this effect, sir, after what flourish your nature will.

HAMLET
Just get the meaning across, sir, and be as flowery as you want in doing it.

OSRIC
I commend my duty to your lordship.

OSRIC
I offer you my respects my lordship.

HAMLET
Yours, yours.

HAMLET
Thank you.

Exit OSRIC

OSRIC exits.

He does well to commend it himself. There are no tongues else for 's turn. He's smart to recommend himself. There's no one else who'd do it.

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HORATIO
This lapwing runs away with the shell on his head.

HORATIO
That fool looks like a just-hatched bird running around with its egg still on its head.

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HAMLET
He did comply, sir, with his dug before he sucked it. Thus has he—and many more of the same bevy that I know the drossy age dotes on—only got the tune of the time and outward habit of encounter, a kind of yeasty collection, which carries them through and through the most fond and winnowed opinions; and do but blow them to their trial, the bubbles are out.

HAMLET
He used to shower flowery praise on his mother's nipple before he sucked it. In that way he—and so many others in this frivolous age—follow the fashionable way of talking, a kind of wispy collection of words through which he can express the most trendy opinions. But blow a little on these ideas, to test them, and they'll burst.

Enter a LORD

A LORD enters.

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LORD
My lord, his majesty commended him to you by young Osric, who brings back to him that you attend him in the hall. He sends to know if your pleasure hold to play with Laertes, or that you will take longer time.

LORD
My lord, His Majesty has learned from Osric that you will soon come to the main hall. The king would like to know if you would like to play against Laertes now, or if you'd like a little more time.

HAMLET
I am constant to my purpose. They follow the king's pleasure. If his fitness speaks, mine is ready, now or whensoever, provided I be so able as now.

HAMLET
I'll do as I said before: whatever the king wants. If he's ready now, so am I. If he prefers some other time, I'll do it then, so long as I'm able.

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LORD
The king and queen and all are coming down.

LORD
The king and queen are coming down with everyone else to watch.

HAMLET
In happy time.

HAMLET
I'm glad.

LORD
The queen desires you to use some gentle entertainment to
Laertes before you fall to play.

LORD
The queen would like you to speak a few polite words to Laertes before the match begins.

Exit LORD

The LORD exits.

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HAMLET
She well instructs me.

HAMLET
Her advice is good.

HORATIO
You will lose this wager, my lord.

HORATIO
You're going to lose this bet, my lord.

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HAMLET
I do not think so. Since he went into France, I have been in continual practice. I shall win at the odds. But thou wouldst not think how ill all's here about my heart. But it is no matter.

HAMLET
I don't think so. Since Laertes left, I've been practicing fencing constantly. With the odds they've given me, I'm going to win. But even so, I have a bad feeling in my heart. But forget about that.

HORATIO
Nay, good my lord—

HORATIO
No, my lord—

HAMLET
It is but foolery, but it is such a kind of gain-giving as would perhaps trouble a woman.

HAMLET
It's just foolishness, but I have the kind of misgiving that might bother a woman.

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HORATIO
If your mind dislike anything, obey it. I will forestall their repair hither and say you are not fit.

HORATIO
If your subconscious is telling you not to do this, obey it. I'll go and stop them and say you're not feeling well.

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HAMLET
Not a whit. We defy augury. There's a special providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be now, 'tis not to come. If it be not to come, it will be now. If it be not now, yet it will come—the readiness is all. Since no man of aught he leaves knows, what is 't to leave betimes? Let be.

HAMLET
You will not. I laugh at omens. God controls everything—even the death of a sparrow's death. If I am to die now, then it will not be later. If I am to die later, then it will not be now. Being ready for it when it does happen is everything. Since no one knows when it is the best time to leave his life, then it is not possible to leave it too early? Let it be.

Enter King CLAUDIUS, Queen GERTRUDE, LAERTES, OSRIC, lords, and other attendants with trumpets, drums, foils, a table, and flagons of wine

CLAUDIUS enters with GERTRUDE, LAERTES, OSRIC, lords, and other attendants with trumpets, drums, fencing swords, a table, and pitchers of wine.

CLAUDIUS
Come, Hamlet, come, and take this hand from me. (puts LAERTES' hand into HAMLET's)

CLAUDIUS
Come, Hamlet, shake hands with Laertes. (CLAUDIUS places LAERTES' and HAMLET's hands together)

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HAMLET
Give me your pardon, sir. I've done you wrong.
But pardon 't, as you are a gentleman.
This presence knows,
And you must needs have heard, how I am punished
With sore distraction. What I have done,
That might your nature, honor, and exception
Roughly awake, I here proclaim was madness.
Was 't Hamlet wronged Laertes? Never Hamlet.
If Hamlet from himself be ta'en away,
And when he's not himself does wrong Laertes,
Then Hamlet does it not. Hamlet denies it.
Who does it, then? His madness. If't be so,
Hamlet is of the faction that is wronged.
His madness is poor Hamlet's enemy.
Sir, in this audience,
Let my disclaiming from a purposed evil
Free me so far in your most generous thoughts
That I have shot mine arrow o'er the house
And hurt my brother.

HAMLET
I ask your forgivness, sir. I've done you wrong. Forgive me, as a gentleman. All here know—and you must have heard also—that I'm suffering from insanity. What I did to insult your nature and your honor, I did only out of madness. Was it Hamlet who insulted Laertes? Not Hamlet. If Hamlet has had his mind stolen, and insults Laertes when he's not himself, then it is not Hamlet who did it. Who did it, then? Hamlet's madness. If that's true, then it's Hamlet who was the victim. His madness is his enemy. Sir, with this audience as witness, let me declare that I intended no harm and am as innocent as a man who accidentally shoots an arrow over his house and accidentally hit his brother.

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LAERTES
I am satisfied in nature,
Whose motive in this case should stir me most
To my revenge. But in my terms of honor
I stand aloof, and will no reconcilement
Till by some elder masters, of known honor,
I have a voice and precedent of peace
To keep my name ungored. But till that time
I do receive your offered love like love
And will not wrong it.

LAERTES
My personal feelings are satisfied, even though what you've done should stir them to seek revenge. Yet as a man who values honor, I must for now hold off and will not accept an apology until some experts in matters of honor show me that accepting your apology will not stain my reputation. Until then, I accept the love you offer as love, and will not break that trust.

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HAMLET
I embrace it freely,
And will this brother's wager frankly play.—
Give us the foils. Come on.

HAMLET
I accept it gladly, and will engage in this friendly match without reservations. Come on, give us the swords.

LAERTES
Come, one for me.

LAERTES
And one for me.

HAMLET
I'll be your foil, Laertes. In mine ignorance
Your skill shall, like a star i' th' darkest night,
Stick fiery off indeed.

HAMLET
I'm going to make you look good, Laertes. My lack of skill will make yours blaze like the brightest star in the darkest night.

LAERTES
You mock me, sir.

LAERTES
You're making fun of me.

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HAMLET
No, by this hand.

HAMLET
No, I swear by my hand.

CLAUDIUS
Give them the foils, young Osric.—Cousin Hamlet,
You know the wager?

CLAUDIUS
Give them the swords, Osric. Hamlet, you know the bet?

HAMLET
Very well, my lord.
Your grace hath laid the odds o' th' weaker side.

HAMLET
Very well, my lord. You've placed your bet on the weaker side.

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CLAUDIUS
I do not fear it. I have seen you both.
But since he is better we have therefore odds.

CLAUDIUS
I'm not worried. I've seen both of you fence. But since Laertes is better, we've given him a handicap.

LAERTES
(tests a rapier) This is too heavy. Let me see another.

LAERTES
(tests a sword) This sword's too heavy. Give me another one.

HAMLET
(tests a rapier) This likes me well. These foils have all a length?

HAMLET
This one is good for me. Are they all the same length?

OSRIC
Ay, my good lord.

OSRIC
Yes, my lord.

HAMLET and LAERTES prepare to play

HAMLET and LAERTES prepare to fence.

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CLAUDIUS
Set me the stoups of wine upon that table.
If Hamlet give the first or second hit
Or quit in answer of the third exchange,
Let all the battlements their ordnance fire!
The king shall drink to Hamlet's better breath,
And in the cup an union shall he throw
Richer than that which four successive kings
In Denmark's crown have worn. Give me the cups.
And let the kettle to the trumpet speak,
The trumpet to the cannoneer without,
The cannons to the heavens, the heavens to earth,
"Now the king dunks to Hamlet." Come, begin.—
And you, the judges, bear a wary eye.

CLAUDIUS
Put the cups of wine on that table. If Hamlet gets the first or second hit, or even responds to Laertes challenge by just making the third hit, then we will fire the cannons in his honor! I'll then drink to Hamlet's health, and into his cup I'll drop a pearl more valuable than those worn in their crowns by the last four Danish kings. Give me the cups. Play the drum to signal the trumpeter,so the trumpet will signal the cannons outside, and the cannons will signal the heavens, and the heavens will echo the sound in order to tell all the world that the king now drinks to Hamlet's health. Come on, begin. And you, judges, watch carefully.

Trumpets

Trumpets play.

HAMLET
Come on, sir.

HAMLET
Come on, sir.

LAERTES
Come, my lord.

LAERTES
Come on, my lord.

HAMLET and LAERTES play

HAMLET and LAERTES fence.

HAMLET
One.

HAMLET
That was one hit.

*
270

LAERTES
No.

LAERTES
No.

HAMLET
Judgment?

HAMLET
Referee?

OSRIC
A hit, a very palpable hit.

OSRIC
It was a hit, a clear hit.

LAERTES
Well, again.

LAERTES
Well, another round.

*
*
275

CLAUDIUS
Stay, give me drink.—Hamlet, this pearl is thine.
Here's to thy health.

CLAUDIUS
Give me some wine.—Hamlet, this pearl is yours. Here's to your health.

Drums, trumpets sound, shot goes off

Drums and trumpets play, and a gun is fired.

CLAUDIUS drops pearl into cup

CLAUDIUS drops the pearl into a cup.

Give him the cup. Give him the cup.

HAMLET
I'll play this bout first. Set it by a while.
Come.

HAMLET
I'll finish this round first. Set the cup down awhile. Let's go.

HAMLET and LAERTES play

HAMLET and LAERTES fence.

Another hit. What say you? Another hit. What do you say?

LAERTES
A touch, a touch, I do confess 't.

LAERTES
You got me, I admit it.

*
280

CLAUDIUS
Our son shall win.

CLAUDIUS
My son will win.

GERTRUDE
He's fat, and scant of breath.—
Here, Hamlet, take my napkin, rub thy brows.
The queen carouses to thy fortune, Hamlet.
(picks up the cup with the pearl)

GERTRUDE
He's overweight and out of breath.—Here, Hamlet, take my handkerchief and wipe the sweat from your forehead. The queen drinks to your good luck, Hamlet. (she lifts the cup with the pearl)

*
285

HAMLET
Good madam.

HAMLET
Thank you, madam.

CLAUDIUS
Gertrude, do not drink.

CLAUDIUS
Gertrude, don't drink.

GERTRUDE
I will, my lord. I pray you, pardon me. (drinks)

GERTRUDE
I will drink, thank you. Excuse me. (drinks)

CLAUDIUS
(aside) It is the poisoned cup. It is too late.

CLAUDIUS
(to himself) That was the poisoned drink. It's too late.

HAMLET
I dare not drink yet, madam. By and by.

HAMLET
I'd can't afford to drink now, mother. Soon.

GERTRUDE
Come, let me wipe thy face.

GERTRUDE
Come on, let me wipe your face.

*
290

LAERTES
(aside to CLAUDIUS) My lord, I'll hit him now.

LAERTES
(to CLAUDIUS) I'll hit him now.

CLAUDIUS
I do not think 't.

CLAUDIUS
I doubt it.

LAERTES
(aside) And yet it is almost 'gainst my conscience.

LAERTES
(to himself) And yet, it is almost against my conscience.

*
*
*
295

HAMLET
Come, for the third, Laertes. You do but dally.
I pray you, pass with your best violence.
I am afeard you make a wanton of me.

HAMLET
Come for the third round, Laertes. You're just playing. Come on, try your hardest. I fear that you're treating me like a spoiled child.

LAERTES
Say you so? Come on.

LAERTES
You believe so? Come on.

HAMLET and LAERTES play

HAMLET and LAERTES fence.

OSRIC
Nothing, neither way.

OSRIC
There's little difference between them.

LAERTES
Have at you now!

LAERTES
Take this!

LAERTES wounds HAMLET In scuffling, they change rapiers. HAMLET wounds LAERTES

LAERTES wounds HAMLET. They scuffle and end up with each other's swords. HAMLET wounds LAERTES.

CLAUDIUS
Part them! They are incensed.

CLAUDIUS
Separate them. They're too angry.

HAMLET
Nay, come, again.

HAMLET
No, come on, again.

GERTRUDE falls

GERTRUDE collapses.

OSRIC
Look to the queen there, ho!

OSRIC
Hey! Take care of the queen!

*
300

HORATIO
They bleed on both sides.—How is it, my lord?

HORATIO
Both fencers are bleeding—how are you, my lord?

OSRIC
How is 't, Laertes?

OSRIC
How are you, Laertes?

LAERTES
Why, as a woodcock to mine own springe, Osric. I am justly killed with mine own treachery. (falls)

LAERTES
Like a bird caught in my own trap, Osric. (he collapses) I've been killed, as I deserve, by my own betrayal.

HAMLET
How does the queen?

HAMLET
How's the queen?

CLAUDIUS
She swoons to see them bleed.

CLAUDIUS
She fainted at the sight of them bleeding.

*
305

GERTRUDE
No, no, the drink, the drink!—O my dear Hamlet!
The drink, the drink! I am poisoned. (dies)

GERTRUDE
No, no, the drink, the drink! Oh, my dear Hamlet! The drink, the drink! I've been poisoned. (dies)

HAMLET
O villainy! Ho, let the door be locked.

HAMLET
Oh, what evil! Lock the door!

Exit OSRIC

OSRIC exits

Treachery! Seek it out. We've been betrayed! Find the traitor.

*
*
310
*
*
*
*
315

LAERTES
It is here, Hamlet. Hamlet, thou art slain.
No medicine in the world can do thee good.
In thee there is not half an hour of life.
The treacherous instrument is in thy hand,
Unbated and envenomed. The foul practice
Hath turned itself on me. Lo, here I lie,
Never to rise again. Thy mother's poisoned.
I can no more. The king, the king's to blame.

LAERTES
It's me, Hamlet. Hamlet, you're dead. No medicine in the world can cure you. You don't have more than a half hour left to live. The treacherous weapon is in your hand, sharpened and dipped in poison. The dirty plan backfired on me. And so, here I lie, never to rise again. Your mother's been poisoned. I can't say anymore. The king, the king's to blame.

HAMLET
The point envenomed too!—Then, venom, to thy work.

HAMLET
The sword is poisoned! Then, poison, do your job!

HAMLET hurts CLAUDIUS

HAMLET wounds CLAUDIUS.

ALL
Treason! Treason!

ALL
Treason! Treason!

CLAUDIUS
O, yet defend me, friends. I am but hurt.

CLAUDIUS
Oh, defend me, my friends. I've only been hurt.

*
320

HAMLET
Here, thou incestuous, murderous, damnèd Dane,
Drink off this potion. Is thy union here?
Follow my mother.

HAMLET
Here, you incestuous, murderous, damned Dane, drink this poisoned wine. Is your pearl in there? Follow my mother.

HAMLET forces CLAUDIUS to drink. CLAUDIUS dies

HAMLET forces CLAUDIUS to drink. CLAUDIUS dies.

*
*
*
*
325

LAERTES
He is justly served.
It is a poison tempered by himself.
Exchange forgiveness with me, noble Hamlet.
Mine and my father's death come not upon thee,
Nor thine on me. (dies)

LAERTES
He got what he deserved. He made that poison himself. Forgive me as I forgive you, noble Hamlet. My and my father's death are not your fault, and my death is not yours. (he dies)

*
*
*
*
330
*
*
*
*
335

HAMLET
Heaven make thee free of it. I follow thee.—
I am dead, Horatio.—Wretched queen, adieu!—
You that look pale and tremble at this chance,
That are but mutes or audience to this act,
Had I but time (as this fell sergeant, Death,
Is strict in his arrest), O, I could tell you—
But let it be.—Horatio, I am dead.
Thou livest. Report me and my cause aright
To the unsatisfied.

HAMLET
God frees you from blame. I'll follow you.—I'm dead, Horatio.—Unhappy queen, goodbye.—You who watch, pale and trembling, a speechless audience to this show, if I had just a little time (but this dread officer, Death, allows no mercy or extra time), I could tell you things—But let it be.—Horatio, I'm dead. You live on. Tell my story and my cause to everyone.

HORATIO
Never believe it.
I am more an antique Roman than a Dane.
Here's yet some liquor left.
(lifts the poisoned cup)

HORATIO
Don't believe it. I'm more like an ancient Roman than a Dane. There's still some of this wine. (picks up the poisoned cup)

*
*
*
340
*
*
*
*
345

HAMLET
As thou'rt a man,
Give me the cup. Let go! By heaven, I'll have 't.
(takes cup from HORATIO)
O God, Horatio, what a wounded name,
Things standing thus unknown, shall live behind me!
If thou didst ever hold me in thy heart
Absent thee from felicity a while,
And in this harsh world draw thy breath in pain
To tell my story.

HAMLET
On your manhood, give me that cup. Let go! By heaven, give it to me. Oh God, Horatio, what a bad reputation I'm leaving behind, because no one knows what happened. If you ever loved me, then avoid the sweet relief of death awhile, and stay in this harsh world long enough to draw painful breaths and tell my story.

March afar off and shout within

A military march plays offstage.

What warlike noise is this? What are these sounds of war?

Enter OSRIC

OSRIC enters.

*
*
*
350

OSRIC
Young Fortinbras, with conquest come from Poland,
To th' ambassadors of England gives
This warlike volley.

OSRIC
Young Fortinbras returns triumphant from Poland, and fires his cannons to greet the English ambassadors.

*
*
*
*
*
*
355

HAMLET
O, I die, Horatio.
The potent poison quite o'ercrows my spirit.
I cannot live to hear the news from England.
But I do prophesy the election lights
On Fortinbras. He has my dying voice.
So tell him, with th' occurrents, more and less,
Which have solicited. The rest is silence.
O, O, O, O. (dies)

HAMLET
Oh, I'm dying, Horatio! This powerful poison is too much for me. I won't live to hear the news from England. But I predict that Fortinbras will win the election to the Danish crown. I give him my dying vote. So tell him what has happened here. The rest is silence. Oh, oh, oh, oh. (dies)

*
*
*
360

HORATIO
Now cracks a noble heart.—Good night, sweet prince,
And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!—
Why does the drum come hither?

HORATIO
Now a noble heart breaks. Good night, sweet prince. May hosts of angels sing you to your rest.—Why are those drums coming near?

Enter FORTINBRAS and the English AMBASSADOR, with drummer and attendants

FORTINBRAS and the English AMBASSADOR enter, with a drummer and attendants.

FORTINBRAS
Where is this sight?

FORTINBRAS
What am I seeing?

HORATIO
What is it ye would see?
If aught of woe or wonder, cease your search.

HORATIO
What would you like to see? If it's a tragedy or other astonishment, you've found it.

*
*
365

FORTINBRAS
This quarry cries on havoc. O proud death,
What feast is toward in thine eternal cell,
That thou so many princes at a shot
So bloodily hast struck?

FORTINBRAS
These corpses suggest a massacre. Oh, proud Death, what banquet are you preparing that you've struck down so many princes?

*
*
*
*
370

AMBASSADOR
The sight is dismal,
And our affairs from England come too late.
The ears are senseless that should give us hearing,
To tell him his commandment is fulfilled,
That Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead.
Where should we have our thanks?

AMBASSADOR
This is an awful sight. Our news arrives from England too late. The people who were meant to hear it are all dead. We came to tell the king his orders have been followed: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead. Who will thank us now?

*
*
*
375
*
*
*
*
380
*
*
*
*
385

HORATIO
(indicates CLAUDIUS) Not from his mouth,
Had it th' ability of life to thank you.
He never gave commandment for their death.
But since so jump upon this bloody question,
You from the Polack wars, and you from England,
Are here arrived, give order that these bodies
High on a stage be placèd to the view,
And let me speak to th' yet-unknowing world
How these things came about. So shall you hear
Of carnal, bloody, and unnatural acts,
Of accidental judgments, casual slaughters,
Of deaths put on by cunning and forced cause,
And, in this upshot, purposes mistook
Fall'n on th' inventors' heads. All this can I
Truly deliver.

HORATIO
(indicates CLAUDIUS) Not from him, even if he were still alive to thank you. He never ordered their deaths. But since you've arrived to see this bloody scene, you from the war in Poland and you from England, then order that these bodies be displayed on a high platform to be viewed, and let me tell the world how all this happened. You'll hear of violent, bloody, and unnatural acts, accidental revenge, casual murders, deaths caused by trickery and by threat, and plans that backfired on their inventors. All this I will tell you.

*
*
*
*
390

FORTINBRAS
Let us haste to hear it,
And call the noblest to the audience.
For me, with sorrow I embrace my fortune.
I have some rights of memory in this kingdom,
Which now to claim my vantage doth invite me.

FORTINBRAS
Let us listen o it now, and all in all the noblemen as audience. As for me, I accept my good fortune with sadness. I have some rights to claim the throne of this kingdom, and now I have the chance to make that claim.

*
*
*
*
395

HORATIO
Of that I shall have also cause to speak,
And from his mouth whose voice will draw on more.
But let this same be presently performed,
Even while men's minds are wild, lest more mischance
On plots and errors happen.

HORATIO
I also have much to say about that, from the mouth of one who only added to your claim. Let's do this now, even though everyone's minds are racing, to make sure no further mistakes, plots, or errors occur.

*
*
*
*
400
*
*
*
*
405

FORTINBRAS
Let four captains
Bear Hamlet like a soldier to the stage,
For he was likely, had he been put on,
To have proved most royally. And, for his passage,
The soldiers' music and the rites of war
Speak loudly for him.
Take up the bodies. Such a sight as this
Becomes the field, but here shows much amiss.
Go, bid the soldiers shoot.

FORTINBRAS
Let four captains carry Hamlet like a soldier to the viewing platform. Had he the chance, it's likely he would have been a great king. Military music and military rites shall proclaim him. Lift up the bodies. A sight like this looks right on a battlefield, but here shows that much has gone wrong. Go, tell the soldiers to fire their cannons.

Exeunt marching, carrying the bodies, after the which a peal of ordnance are shot off

They exit marching, carrying the bodies, as cannons fire.

 

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