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Home > Hamlet > ACT III - SCENE II. A hall in the castle.

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ACT III - SCENE II. A hall in the castle.
Enter HAMLET and Players

HAMLET
1    Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to
2    you, trippingly on the tongue: but if you mouth it,
3    as many of your players do, I had as lief the
4    town-crier spoke my lines. Nor do not saw the air
5    too much with your hand, thus, but use all gently;
6    for in the very torrent, tempest, and, as I may say,
7    the whirlwind of passion, you must acquire and beget
8    a temperance that may give it smoothness. O, it
9    offends me to the soul to hear a robustious
10   periwig-pated fellow tear a passion to tatters, to
11   very rags, to split the ears of the groundlings, who
12   for the most part are capable of nothing but
13   inexplicable dumbshows and noise: I would have such
14   a fellow whipped for o'erdoing Termagant; it
15   out-herods Herod: pray you, avoid it.
First Player
16   I warrant your honour.
HAMLET
17   Be not too tame neither, but let your own discretion
18   be your tutor: suit the action to the word, the
19   word to the action; with this special o'erstep not
20   the modesty of nature: for any thing so overdone is
21   from the purpose of playing, whose end, both at the
22   first and now, was and is, to hold, as 'twere, the
23   mirror up to nature; to show virtue her own feature,
24   scorn her own image, and the very age and body of
25   the time his form and pressure. Now this overdone,
26   or come tardy off, though it make the unskilful
27   laugh, cannot but make the judicious grieve; the
28   censure of the which one must in your allowance
29   o'erweigh a whole theatre of others. O, there be
30   players that I have seen play, and heard others
31   praise, and that highly, not to speak it profanely,
32   that, neither having the accent of Christians nor
33   the gait of Christian, pagan, nor man, have so
34   strutted and bellowed that I have thought some of
35   nature's journeymen had made men and not made them
36   well, they imitated humanity so abominably.
First Player
37   I hope we have reformed that indifferently with us,
38   sir.
HAMLET
39   O, reform it altogether. And let those that play
40   your clowns speak no more than is set down for them;
41   for there be of them that will themselves laugh, to
42   set on some quantity of barren spectators to laugh
43   too; though, in the mean time, some necessary
44   question of the play be then to be considered:
45   that's villanous, and shows a most pitiful ambition
46   in the fool that uses it. Go, make you ready.
Exeunt Players
Enter POLONIUS, ROSENCRANTZ, and GUILDENSTERN
47   How now, my lord! I will the king hear this piece of work?
LORD POLONIUS
48   And the queen too, and that presently.
HAMLET
49   Bid the players make haste.
Exit POLONIUS
50   Will you two help to hasten them?
ROSENCRANTZ
51   We will, my lord.
Exeunt ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN

HAMLET
52   What ho! Horatio!
Enter HORATIO

HORATIO
53   Here, sweet lord, at your service.
HAMLET
54   Horatio, thou art e'en as just a man
55   As e'er my conversation coped withal.
HORATIO
56   O, my dear lord,--
HAMLET
57   Nay, do not think I flatter;
58   For what advancement may I hope from thee
59   That no revenue hast but thy good spirits,
60   To feed and clothe thee? Why should the poor be flatter'd?
61   No, let the candied tongue lick absurd pomp,
62   And crook the pregnant hinges of the knee
63   Where thrift may follow fawning. Dost thou hear?
64   Since my dear soul was mistress of her choice
65   And could of men distinguish, her election
66   Hath seal'd thee for herself; for thou hast been
67   As one, in suffering all, that suffers nothing,
68   A man that fortune's buffets and rewards
69   Hast ta'en with equal thanks: and blest are those
70   Whose blood and judgment are so well commingled,
71   That they are not a pipe for fortune's finger
72   To sound what stop she please. Give me that man
73   That is not passion's slave, and I will wear him
74   In my heart's core, ay, in my heart of heart,
75   As I do thee.--Something too much of this.--
76   There is a play to-night before the king;
77   One scene of it comes near the circumstance
78   Which I have told thee of my father's death:
79   I prithee, when thou seest that act afoot,
80   Even with the very comment of thy soul
81   Observe mine uncle: if his occulted guilt
82   Do not itself unkennel in one speech,
83   It is a damned ghost that we have seen,
84   And my imaginations are as foul
85   As Vulcan's stithy. Give him heedful note;
86   For I mine eyes will rivet to his face,
87   And after we will both our judgments join
88   In censure of his seeming.
HORATIO
89   Well, my lord:
90   If he steal aught the whilst this play is playing,
91   And 'scape detecting, I will pay the theft.
HAMLET
92   They are coming to the play; I must be idle:
93   Get you a place.
KING CLAUDIUS
94   How fares our cousin Hamlet?
HAMLET
95   Excellent, i' faith; of the chameleon's dish: I eat
96   the air, promise-crammed: you cannot feed capons so.
KING CLAUDIUS
97   I have nothing with this answer, Hamlet; these words
98   are not mine.
HAMLET
99   No, nor mine now.
To POLONIUS
100  My lord, you played once i' the university, you say?
LORD POLONIUS
101  That did I, my lord; and was accounted a good actor.
HAMLET
102  What did you enact?
LORD POLONIUS
103  I did enact Julius Caesar: I was killed i' the
104  Capitol; Brutus killed me.
HAMLET
105  It was a brute part of him to kill so capital a calf
106  there. Be the players ready?
ROSENCRANTZ
107  Ay, my lord; they stay upon your patience.
QUEEN GERTRUDE
108  Come hither, my dear Hamlet, sit by me.
HAMLET
109  No, good mother, here's metal more attractive.
LORD POLONIUS
To KING CLAUDIUS
110   O, ho! do you mark that?
HAMLET
111  Lady, shall I lie in your lap?
Lying down at OPHELIA's feet

OPHELIA
112  No, my lord.
HAMLET
113  I mean, my head upon your lap?
OPHELIA
114  Ay, my lord.
HAMLET
115  Do you think I meant country matters?
OPHELIA
116  I think nothing, my lord.
HAMLET
117  That's a fair thought to lie between maids' legs.
OPHELIA
118  What is, my lord?
HAMLET
119  Nothing.
OPHELIA
120  You are merry, my lord.
HAMLET
121  Who, I?
OPHELIA
122  Ay, my lord.
HAMLET
123  O God, your only jig-maker. What should a man do
124  but be merry? for, look you, how cheerfully my
125  mother looks, and my father died within these two hours.
OPHELIA
126  Nay, 'tis twice two months, my lord.
HAMLET
127  So long? Nay then, let the devil wear black, for
128  I'll have a suit of sables. O heavens! die two
129  months ago, and not forgotten yet? Then there's
130  hope a great man's memory may outlive his life half
131  a year: but, by'r lady, he must build churches,
132  then; or else shall he suffer not thinking on, with
133  the hobby-horse, whose epitaph is 'For, O, for, O,
134  the hobby-horse is forgot.'
Hautboys play. The dumb-show enters
Exeunt

OPHELIA
135  What means this, my lord?
HAMLET
136  Marry, this is miching mallecho; it means mischief.
OPHELIA
137  Belike this show imports the argument of the play.
Enter Prologue

HAMLET
138  We shall know by this fellow: the players cannot
139  keep counsel; they'll tell all.
OPHELIA
140  Will he tell us what this show meant?
HAMLET
141  Ay, or any show that you'll show him: be not you
142  ashamed to show, he'll not shame to tell you what it means.
OPHELIA
143  You are naught, you are naught: I'll mark the play.
Prologue
144  For us, and for our tragedy,
145  Here stooping to your clemency,
146  We beg your hearing patiently.
Exit

HAMLET
147  Is this a prologue, or the posy of a ring?
OPHELIA
148  'Tis brief, my lord.
HAMLET
149  As woman's love.
Enter two Players, King and Queen

Player King
150  Full thirty times hath Phoebus' cart gone round
151  Neptune's salt wash and Tellus' orbed ground,
152  And thirty dozen moons with borrow'd sheen
153  About the world have times twelve thirties been,
154  Since love our hearts and Hymen did our hands
155  Unite commutual in most sacred bands.
Player Queen
156  So many journeys may the sun and moon
157  Make us again count o'er ere love be done!
158  But, woe is me, you are so sick of late,
159  So far from cheer and from your former state,
160  That I distrust you. Yet, though I distrust,
161  Discomfort you, my lord, it nothing must:
162  For women's fear and love holds quantity;
163  In neither aught, or in extremity.
164  Now, what my love is, proof hath made you know;
165  And as my love is sized, my fear is so:
166  Where love is great, the littlest doubts are fear;
167  Where little fears grow great, great love grows there.
Player King
168  'Faith, I must leave thee, love, and shortly too;
169  My operant powers their functions leave to do:
170  And thou shalt live in this fair world behind,
171  Honour'd, beloved; and haply one as kind
172  For husband shalt thou--
Player Queen
173  O, confound the rest!
174  Such love must needs be treason in my breast:
175  In second husband let me be accurst!
176  None wed the second but who kill'd the first.
HAMLET
Aside
177   Wormwood, wormwood.
Player Queen
178  The instances that second marriage move
179  Are base respects of thrift, but none of love:
180  A second time I kill my husband dead,
181  When second husband kisses me in bed.
Player King
182  I do believe you think what now you speak;
183  But what we do determine oft we break.
184  Purpose is but the slave to memory,
185  Of violent birth, but poor validity;
186  Which now, like fruit unripe, sticks on the tree;
187  But fall, unshaken, when they mellow be.
188  Most necessary 'tis that we forget
189  To pay ourselves what to ourselves is debt:
190  What to ourselves in passion we propose,
191  The passion ending, doth the purpose lose.
192  The violence of either grief or joy
193  Their own enactures with themselves destroy:
194  Where joy most revels, grief doth most lament;
195  Grief joys, joy grieves, on slender accident.
196  This world is not for aye, nor 'tis not strange
197  That even our loves should with our fortunes change;
198  For 'tis a question left us yet to prove,
199  Whether love lead fortune, or else fortune love.
200  The great man down, you mark his favourite flies;
201  The poor advanced makes friends of enemies.
202  And hitherto doth love on fortune tend;
203  For who not needs shall never lack a friend,
204  And who in want a hollow friend doth try,
205  Directly seasons him his enemy.
206  But, orderly to end where I begun,
207  Our wills and fates do so contrary run
208  That our devices still are overthrown;
209  Our thoughts are ours, their ends none of our own:
210  So think thou wilt no second husband wed;
211  But die thy thoughts when thy first lord is dead.
Player Queen
212  Nor earth to me give food, nor heaven light!
213  Sport and repose lock from me day and night!
214  To desperation turn my trust and hope!
215  An anchor's cheer in prison be my scope!
216  Each opposite that blanks the face of joy
217  Meet what I would have well and it destroy!
218  Both here and hence pursue me lasting strife,
219  If, once a widow, ever I be wife!
HAMLET
220  If she should break it now!
Player King
221  'Tis deeply sworn. Sweet, leave me here awhile;
222  My spirits grow dull, and fain I would beguile
223  The tedious day with sleep.
Sleeps

Player Queen
224  Sleep rock thy brain,
225  And never come mischance between us twain!
Exit

HAMLET
226  Madam, how like you this play?
QUEEN GERTRUDE
227  The lady protests too much, methinks.
HAMLET
228  O, but she'll keep her word.
KING CLAUDIUS
229  Have you heard the argument? Is there no offence in 't?
HAMLET
230  No, no, they do but jest, poison in jest; no offence
231  i' the world.
KING CLAUDIUS
232  What do you call the play?
HAMLET
233  The Mouse-trap. Marry, how? Tropically. This play
234  is the image of a murder done in Vienna: Gonzago is
235  the duke's name; his wife, Baptista: you shall see
236  anon; 'tis a knavish piece of work: but what o'
237  that? your majesty and we that have free souls, it
238  touches us not: let the galled jade wince, our
239  withers are unwrung.
Enter LUCIANUS
240  This is one Lucianus, nephew to the king.
OPHELIA
241  You are as good as a chorus, my lord.
HAMLET
242  I could interpret between you and your love, if I
243  could see the puppets dallying.
OPHELIA
244  You are keen, my lord, you are keen.
HAMLET
245  It would cost you a groaning to take off my edge.
OPHELIA
246  Still better, and worse.
HAMLET
247  So you must take your husbands. Begin, murderer;
248  pox, leave thy damnable faces, and begin. Come:
249  'the croaking raven doth bellow for revenge.'
LUCIANUS
250  Thoughts black, hands apt, drugs fit, and time agreeing;
251  Confederate season, else no creature seeing;
252  Thou mixture rank, of midnight weeds collected,
253  With Hecate's ban thrice blasted, thrice infected,
254  Thy natural magic and dire property,
255  On wholesome life usurp immediately.
Pours the poison into the sleeper's ears

HAMLET
256  He poisons him i' the garden for's estate. His
257  name's Gonzago: the story is extant, and writ in
258  choice Italian: you shall see anon how the murderer
259  gets the love of Gonzago's wife.
OPHELIA
260  The king rises.
HAMLET
261  What, frighted with false fire!
QUEEN GERTRUDE
262  How fares my lord?
LORD POLONIUS
263  Give o'er the play.
KING CLAUDIUS
264  Give me some light: away!
All
265  Lights, lights, lights!
Exeunt all but HAMLET and HORATIO

HAMLET
266  Why, let the stricken deer go weep,
267  The hart ungalled play;
268  For some must watch, while some must sleep:
269  So runs the world away.
270  Would not this, sir, and a forest of feathers-- if
271  the rest of my fortunes turn Turk with me--with two
272  Provincial roses on my razed shoes, get me a
273  fellowship in a cry of players, sir?
HORATIO
274  Half a share.
HAMLET
275  A whole one, I.
276  For thou dost know, O Damon dear,
277  This realm dismantled was
278  Of Jove himself; and now reigns here
279  A very, very--pajock.
HORATIO
280  You might have rhymed.
HAMLET
281  O good Horatio, I'll take the ghost's word for a
282  thousand pound. Didst perceive?
HORATIO
283  Very well, my lord.
HAMLET
284  Upon the talk of the poisoning?
HORATIO
285  I did very well note him.
HAMLET
286  Ah, ha! Come, some music! come, the recorders!
287  For if the king like not the comedy,
288  Why then, belike, he likes it not, perdy.
289  Come, some music!
Re-enter ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN

GUILDENSTERN
290  Good my lord, vouchsafe me a word with you.
HAMLET
291  Sir, a whole history.
GUILDENSTERN
292  The king, sir,--
HAMLET
293  Ay, sir, what of him?
GUILDENSTERN
294  Is in his retirement marvellous distempered.
HAMLET
295  With drink, sir?
GUILDENSTERN
296  No, my lord, rather with choler.
HAMLET
297  Your wisdom should show itself more richer to
298  signify this to his doctor; for, for me to put him
299  to his purgation would perhaps plunge him into far
300  more choler.
GUILDENSTERN
301  Good my lord, put your discourse into some frame and
302  start not so wildly from my affair.
HAMLET
303  I am tame, sir: pronounce.
GUILDENSTERN
304  The queen, your mother, in most great affliction of
305  spirit, hath sent me to you.
HAMLET
306  You are welcome.
GUILDENSTERN
307  Nay, good my lord, this courtesy is not of the right
308  breed. If it shall please you to make me a
309  wholesome answer, I will do your mother's
310  commandment: if not, your pardon and my return
311  shall be the end of my business.
HAMLET
312  Sir, I cannot.
GUILDENSTERN
313  What, my lord?
HAMLET
314  Make you a wholesome answer; my wit's diseased: but,
315  sir, such answer as I can make, you shall command;
316  or, rather, as you say, my mother: therefore no
317  more, but to the matter: my mother, you say,--
ROSENCRANTZ
318  Then thus she says; your behavior hath struck her
319  into amazement and admiration.
HAMLET
320  O wonderful son, that can so astonish a mother! But
321  is there no sequel at the heels of this mother's
322  admiration? Impart.
ROSENCRANTZ
323  She desires to speak with you in her closet, ere you
324  go to bed.
HAMLET
325  We shall obey, were she ten times our mother. Have
326  you any further trade with us?
ROSENCRANTZ
327  My lord, you once did love me.
HAMLET
328  So I do still, by these pickers and stealers.
ROSENCRANTZ
329  Good my lord, what is your cause of distemper? you
330  do, surely, bar the door upon your own liberty, if
331  you deny your griefs to your friend.
HAMLET
332  Sir, I lack advancement.
ROSENCRANTZ
333  How can that be, when you have the voice of the king
334  himself for your succession in Denmark?
HAMLET
335  Ay, but sir, 'While the grass grows,'--the proverb
336  is something musty.
Re-enter Players with recorders
337  O, the recorders! let me see one. To withdraw with
338  you:--why do you go about to recover the wind of me,
339  as if you would drive me into a toil?
GUILDENSTERN
340  O, my lord, if my duty be too bold, my love is too
341  unmannerly.
HAMLET
342  I do not well understand that. Will you play upon
343  this pipe?
GUILDENSTERN
344  My lord, I cannot.
HAMLET
345  I pray you.
GUILDENSTERN
346  Believe me, I cannot.
HAMLET
347  I do beseech you.
GUILDENSTERN
348  I know no touch of it, my lord.
HAMLET
349  'Tis as easy as lying: govern these ventages with
350  your lingers and thumb, give it breath with your
351  mouth, and it will discourse most eloquent music.
352  Look you, these are the stops.
GUILDENSTERN
353  But these cannot I command to any utterance of
354  harmony; I have not the skill.
HAMLET
355  Why, look you now, how unworthy a thing you make of
356  me! You would play upon me; you would seem to know
357  my stops; you would pluck out the heart of my
358  mystery; you would sound me from my lowest note to
359  the top of my compass: and there is much music,
360  excellent voice, in this little organ; yet cannot
361  you make it speak. 'Sblood, do you think I am
362  easier to be played on than a pipe? Call me what
363  instrument you will, though you can fret me, yet you
364  cannot play upon me.
Enter POLONIUS
365  God bless you, sir!
LORD POLONIUS
366  My lord, the queen would speak with you, and
367  presently.
HAMLET
368  Do you see yonder cloud that's almost in shape of a camel?
LORD POLONIUS
369  By the mass, and 'tis like a camel, indeed.
HAMLET
370  Methinks it is like a weasel.
LORD POLONIUS
371  It is backed like a weasel.
HAMLET
372  Or like a whale?
LORD POLONIUS
373  Very like a whale.
HAMLET
374  Then I will come to my mother by and by. They fool
375  me to the top of my bent. I will come by and by.
LORD POLONIUS
376  I will say so.
HAMLET
377  By and by is easily said.
Exit POLONIUS
378  Leave me, friends.
Exeunt all but HAMLET
379  Tis now the very witching time of night,
380  When churchyards yawn and hell itself breathes out
381  Contagion to this world: now could I drink hot blood,
382  And do such bitter business as the day
383  Would quake to look on. Soft! now to my mother.
384  O heart, lose not thy nature; let not ever
385  The soul of Nero enter this firm bosom:
386  Let me be cruel, not unnatural:
387  I will speak daggers to her, but use none;
388  My tongue and soul in this be hypocrites;
389  How in my words soever she be shent,
390  To give them seals never, my soul, consent!
Exit

< (Previous) ACT III, SCENE IACT III, SCENE III (Next) >
Scene Index
ACT I
  • SCENE I
  • SCENE II
  • SCENE III
  • SCENE IV
  • SCENE V


  • ACT II
  • SCENE I
  • SCENE II


  • ACT III
  • SCENE I
  • SCENE II
  • SCENE III
  • SCENE IV


  • ACT IV
  • SCENE I
  • SCENE II
  • SCENE III
  • SCENE IV
  • SCENE V
  • SCENE VI
  • SCENE VII


  • ACT V
  • SCENE I
  • SCENE II

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