William Shakespeare's Hamlet the Bard's most famous play is the story of a young man's idealism utterly destroyed
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Act III. Scene II.

Scene II.—A Hall in the Castle.

Enter HAMLET and certain Players.

Ham. Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pro-
nounced it to you, trippingly on the tongue; but
if you mouth it, as many of your players do, I
had as lief the town-crier spoke my lines. Nor
do not saw the air too much with your hand,
thus; but use all gently: for in the very torrent,
tempest, and—as I may say—whirlwind of
passion, you must acquire and beget a temper-
ance, that may give it smoothness. O! it offends
me to the soul to hear a robustious periwig-
pated fellow tear a passion to tatters, to very
rags, to split the ears of the groundlings, who;
for the most part are capable of nothing but
inexplicable dumb-shows and noise: I would
have such a fellow whipped for o'er-doing
Termagant; it out-herods Herod; pray you,
avoid it.
First Play. I warrant your honour.
Ham. Be not too tame neither, but let your
own discretion be your tutor: suit the action to
the word, the word to the action; with this
special observance, that you o'erstep not the
modesty of nature; for anything so overdone is
from the purpose of playing, whose end, both at
the first and now, was and is, to hold, as 'twere
the mirror up to nature; to show virtue her own
feature, scorn her own image, and the very age
and body of the time his form and pressure
Now, this overdone, or come tardy off, though it
make the unskilful laugh, cannot but make the
judicious grieve; the censure of which one must
in your allowance o'erweigh a whole theatre of
others. O! there be players that I have seen
play, and heard others praise, and that highly
not to speak it profanely, that, neither having
the accent of Christians nor the gait of Christian
pagan, nor man, have so strutted and bellowed
that I have thought some of nature's journeymen
had made men and not made them well, the,
imitated humanity so abominably.
First Play. I hope we have reformed that
indifferently with us.
Ham. O! reform it altogether. And let those
that play your clowns speak no more than is
set down for them; for there be of them that
will themselves laugh, to set on some quantity of
barren spectators to laugh too, though in the
mean time some necessary question of the play
be then to be considered; that's villanous, and
shows a most pitiful ambition in the fool that
uses it. Go, make you ready. [Exeunt Players.

How now, my lord! will the king hear this piece
of work?
Pol. And the queen too, and that presently.
Ham. Bid the players make haste.
Will you two help to hasten them?
Ros. & Guil.} We will, my lord.
Ham. What, ho! Horatio!

Hor. Here, sweet lord, at your service.
Ham. Horatio, thou art e'en as just a man
As e'er my conversation cop'd withaL
Hor. O! my dear lord,—
Ham. Nay, do not think I flatter;
For what advancement may I hope from thee,
That no revenue hast but thy good spirits
To feed and clothe thee? Why should the pool
No; let the candied tongue lick absurd pomp,
And crook the pregnant hinges of the knee
Where thrift may follow fawning. Dost thou
Since my dear soul was mistress of her choice
And could of men distinguish, her election
Hath seal'd thee for herself; for thou hast been
As one, in suffering all, that suffers nothing,
A man that fortune's buffets and rewards
Hast ta'en with equal thanks; and bless'd are
Whose blood and judgment are so well co-
That they are not a pipe for fortune's finger
To sound what stop she please. Give me tha'
That is not passion's slave, and I will wear him
In my heart's core, ay, in my heart of heart,
As I do thee. Something too much of this.
There is a play to-night before the king;
One scene of it comes near the circumstance
Which I have told thee of my father's death:
I prithee, when thou seest that act afoot,
Even with the very comment of thy soul
Observe mine uncle; if his occulted guilt
Do not itself unkennel in one speech,
It is a damned ghost that we have seen,
And my imaginations are as foul
As Vulcan's stithy. Give him heedful note;
For I mine eyes will rivet to his face,
And after we will both our judgments join
In censure of his seeming.
Hor. Well, my lord:
If he steal aught the whilst this play is .playing,
And 'scape detecting, I will pay the theft.
Ham. They are coming to the play; I must
be idle:
Get you a place.

Danish march. A Flourish. Enter KING,
King. How fares our cousin Hamlet?
Ham. Excellent, i' faith; of the chameleon's
dish: I eat the air, promise-crammed; you can-
not feed capons so.
King. I have nothing with this answer, Ham-
let; these words are not mine.
Ham. No, nor mine now. [To POLONIUS.] My
lord, you played once i' the university, you
Pol. That did I, my lord, and was accounted
a good actor.
Ham.. And what did you enact?
Pol. I did enact Julius Cæsar: I was kill'd
i' the Capitol; Brutus killed me.
Ham. It was a brute part of him to kill so
capital a calf there. Be the players ready?
Ros. Ay, my lord; they stay upon your
Queen. Come hither, my good Hamlet, sit by
Ham. No, good mother, here's metal more
Pol. [To the KING.] O ho! do you mark that?
Ham. Lady, shall I lie in your lap?
[Lying down at OPHELIA'S feet.
Oph. No, my lord.
Ham. I mean, my head upon your lap?
Oph. Ay, my lord.
Ham. Do you think I meant country matters?
Oph. I think nothing, my lord..
Ham. That's a fair thought to lie between
maids' legs.
Oph. What is, my lord?
Ham. Nothing.
Oph. You are merry, my lord.
Ham. Who, I?
Oph. Ay, my lord.
Ham. O God, your only jig-maker. Wha1
should a man do but be merry? for, look you
how cheerfully my mother looks, and my father
died within's two hours.
Oph. Nay, 'tis twice two months, my lord.
Ham. So long? Nay, then, let the devil wear
black, for I'll have a suit of sables. O heavens
die two months ago,. and not forgotten yet?
Then there's hope a great man's memory may
outlive his life half a year; but, by'r lady, he
must build churches then, or else shall he suffer
not thinking on, with the hobby-horse, whose
epitaph is, 'For, O! for, O! the hobby-horse is

Hautboys play. The dumb-show enters.
Enter a King and a Queen, very lovingly; the
Queen embracing him, and he her. She kneels,
and makes show of protestation unto him.
He takes her up, and declines his head upon
her neck; lays him down upon a bank of
flowers: she, seeing him asleep, leaves him.
Anon comes in a fellow, takes off his crown,
kisses it, and pours poison in the King's ears,
and exit. The Queen returns, finds the King
dead, and makes passionate action. The
Poisoner, with some two or three Mutes, comes
in again, seeming to lament with her. The
dead body is carried away. The Poisoner
wooes the Queen with gifts; she seems loath
and unwilling awhile, but in the end accepts
his love. [Exeunt.
Oph. What means this, my lord?
Ham. Marry, this is miching mallecho; it
means mischief.
Oph. Belike this show imports the argument
of the play.

Enter Prologue.
Ham. We shall know by this fellow: the
players cannot keep counsel; they'll tell all.
Oph. Will he tell us what this show meant?
Ham. Ay, or any show that you will show
him; be not you ashamed to show, he'll not
shame to tell you what it means.
Oph. You are naught, you are naught. I'll
mark the play.
Pro. For us and for our tragedy,
Here stooping to your clemency,
We beg your hearing patiently.
Ham. Is this a prologue, or the posy of a
Oph. 'Tis brief, my lord.
Ham. As woman's love.

Enter two Players, King and Queen.
P. King. Full thirty times hath Phœbus' cart
gone round
Neptune's salt wash and Tellus' orbed ground,
And thirty dozen moons with borrowed sheen
About the world have times twelve thirties been,
Since love our hearts and Hymen did our hands
Unite commutual in most sacred bands.
P. Queen. So many journeys may the sun
and moon
Make us again count o'er ere love be done!
But, woe is me! you are so sick of late,
So far from cheer and from your former state,
That I distrust you. Yet, though I distrust,
Discomfort you, my lord, it nothing must;
For women's fear and love hold quantity,
In neither aught, or in extremity.
Now, what my love is, proof hath made you
And as my love is siz'd, my fear is so.
Where love is great, the littlest doubts are fear;
Where little fears grow great, great love grows
P. King. Faith, I must leave thee, love, and
shortly too;
My operant powers their functions leave to do:
And thou shalt live in this fair world behind,
Honour'd, beloved; and haply one as kind
For husband shalt thou—
P. Queen. O! confound the rest;
Such love must needs be treason in my breast:
In second husband let me be accurst;
None wed the second but who killed the first.
Ham. [Aside.] Wormwood, wormwood.
P. Queen. The instances that second marriage
Are base respects of thrift, but none of love;
A second time I kill my husband dead,
When second husband kisses me in bed.
P. King. I do believe you think what now
you speak;
But what we do determine oft we break.
Purpose is but the slave to memory,
Of violent birth, but poor validity;
Which now, like fruit unripe, sticks on the tree,
But fall unshaken when they mellow be.
Most necessary 'tis that we forget
To pay ourselves what to ourselves is debt;
What to ourselves in passion we propose,
The passion ending, doth the purpose lose.
The violence of either grief or joy
Their own enactures with themselves destroy;
Where joy most revels grief doth most lament,
Grief joys, joy grieves, on slender accident.
This world is not for aye, nor 'tis not strange,
That even our love should with our fortunes
For 'tis a question left us yet to prove
Whe'r love lead fortune or else fortune love.
The great man down, you mark his favourite
The poor advanced makes friends of enemies.
And hitherto doth love on fortune tend,
For who not needs shall never lack a friend;
And, who in want a hollow friend doth try
Directly seasons him his enemy.
But, orderly to end where I begun,
Our wills and fates do so contrary run
That our devices still are overthrown,
Our thoughts are ours, their ends none of our
So think thou wilt no second husband wed;
But die thy thoughts when thy first lord is dead.
P. Queen. Nor earth to me give food, nor
heaven, light!
Sport and repose lock from me day and night!
To desperation turn my trust and hope!
An anchors cheer in prison be my scope!
Each opposite that blanks the face of joy
Meet what I would have well, and it destroy!
Both here and hence pursue me lasting strife,
If, once a widow, ever I be wife!
Ham. If she should break it now!
P. King. 'Tis deeply sworn. Sweet, leave
me here awhile;
My spirits grow dull, and fain I would beguile
The tedious day with sleep. [Sleeps.
P. Queen. Sleep rods thy brain;
And never come mischance between us twain!
Ham. Madam, how like you this play?
Queen. The lady doth protest too much, me-
Ham. O! but she'll keep her word.
King. Have you heard the argument? Is
there no offence in't?
Ham. No, no, they do but jest, poison in jest;
no offence i' the world.
King. What do you call the play?
Ham. The Mouse-trap. Marry, how? Tro-
pically. This play is the image of a murder
done in Vienna: Gonzago is the duke's name;
his wife, Baptista. You shall see anon; 'tis a
knavish piece of work: but what of that? your
majesty and we that have free souls, it touches
us not: let the galled jade wince, our withers are

Enter Player as Lucianus.
This is one Lucianus, nephew to the king.
Oph. You are a good chorus, my lord.
Ham. I could interpret between you and
your love, if I could see the puppets dallying.
Oph, You are keen, my lord, you are keen.
Ham. It would cost you a groaning to take
off my edge.
Oph. Still better, and worse.
Ham. So you must take your husbands.
Begin, murderer; pox, leave thy damnable faces,
and begin. Come; the croaking raven doth
bellow for revenge.
Luc. Thoughts black, hands apt, drugs fit,
and time agreeing;
Confederate season, else no creature seeing;
Thou mixture rank, of midnight weeds collected,
With Hecate's ban thrice blasted, thrice infected,
Thy natural magic and dire property,
On wholesome life usurp immediately.
[Pours the poison into the Sleeper's ears.
Ham. He poisons him i' the garden for's
estate. His name's Gonzago; the story is extant,
and writ in very choice Italian. You shall see
anon how the murderer gets the love of Gon-
zago's wife.
Oph. The king rises.
Ham. What! frighted with false fire?
Queen. How fares my lord?
Pol. Give o'er the play.
King. Give me some light: away!
All. Lights, lights, lights!
[Exeunt all except HAMLET and HORATIO.
Ham. Why, let the stricken deer go weep,
The hart ungalled play;
For some must watch, while some must
So runs the world away.
Would not this, sir, and a forest of feathers, if
the rest of my fortunes turn Turk with me, with
two Provincial roses on my razed shoes, get me a
fellowship in a cry of players, sir?
Hor. Half a share.
Ham. A whole one, I.
For thou dost know, O Damon dear,
This realm dismantled was
Of Jove himself; and now reigns here
A very, very—pajock.
Hor. You might have rimed.
Ham. O good Horatio! I'll take the ghost's
word for a thousand pound. Didst perceive?
Hor. Very well, my lord.
Ham. Upon the talk of the poisoning?
Hor. I did very well note him.
Ham. Ah, ha! Come, some music! come,
the recorders!
For if the king like not the comedy,
Why then, belike he likes it not, perdy.
Come, some music!

Guil. Good my lord, vouchsafe me a word
with you.
Ham. Sir, a whole history.
Guil. The king, sir,—
Ham. Ay, sir, what of him?
Guil. Is in his retirement marvellous dis-
Ham. With drink, sir?
Guil. No, my lord, rather with choler.
Ham. Your wisdom should show itself more
richer to signify this to his doctor; for, for me
to put him to his purgation would perhaps
plunge him into far more choler.
Guil. Good my lord, put your discourse into
some frame, and start not so wildly from my
Ham. I am tame, sir; pronounce.
Guil. The queen, your mother, in most great
affliction of spirit, hath sent me to you.
Ham. You are welcome.
Guil. Nay, good my lord, this courtesy is
not of the right breed. If it shall please you
to make me a wholesome answer, I will do
your mother's commandment; if not, your
pardon and my return shall be the end of my
Ham. Sir, I cannot.
Guil. What, my lord?
Ham. Make you a wholesome answer; my
wit's diseased; but, sir, such answer as I can
make, you shall command; or, rather, as you
say, my mother: therefore no more, but to the
matter: my mother, you say,—
Ros. Then, thus she says: your behaviour hath
struck her into amazement and admiration.
Ham. O wonderful son, that can so astonish
a mother! But is there no sequel at the heels
of this mother's admiration? Impart.
Ros. She desires to speak with you In her
closet ere you go to bed.
Ham. We shall obey, were she ten times our
mother. Have you any further trade with us?
Ros. My lord, you once did love me,
Ham. So I do still, by these pickers and
Ros. Good my lord, what is your cause of
distemper? you do surely bar the door upon
your own liberty, if you deny your griefs to your
Ham. Sir, I lack advancement.
Ros. How can that be when you have the
voice of the king himself for your succession in
Ham. Ay, sir, but 'While the grass grows,'—
the proverb is something musty.

Enter Players, with recorders.
O! the recorders: let me see one. To withdraw
with you: why do you go about to recover the
wind of me, as if you would drive me into a toil?
Guil. O! my lord, if my duty be too bold, my
love is too unmannerly?
Ham. I do not well understand that. Will
you play upon this pipe?
Guil. My lord, I cannot.
Ham. I pray you.
Guil. Believe me, I cannot.
Ham. I do beseech you.
Guil. I know no touch of it, my lord.
Ham. 'Tis as easy as lying; govern these
ventages with your finger and thumb, give it
breath with your mouth, and it will discourse
most eloquent music. Look you, these are the
Guil. But these cannot I command to any
utterance of harmony; I have not the skill.
Ham. Why, look you now, how unworthy a
thing you make of me. You would play upon
me; you would seem to know my stops; you
would pluck out the heart of my mystery; you
would sound me from my lowest note to the top
of my compass; and there is much music, ex-
cellent voice, in this little organ, yet cannot you
make it speak 'Sblood! do you think I am
easier to be played on than a pipe? Call me
what instrument you will, though you can fret
me, you cannot play upon me.

God bless you, sir!
Pol. My lord, the queen would speak with
you, and presently.
Ham. Do you see yonder cloud that's almost
in shape of a camel?
Pol. By the mass, and 'tis like a camel, indeed.
Ham. Methinks it is like a weasel.
Pol. It is backed like a weasel
Ham. Or like a whale?
Pol. Very like a whale.
Ham. Then I will come to my mother by
and by. [Aside.] They fool me to the top of my
bent. [Aloud.] I will come by and by.
Pol. I will say so. [Exit.
Ham. By and by is easily said. Leave me,
friends. [Exeunt all but HAMLET.
'Tis now the very witching time of night,
When churchyards yawn and hell itself breathes
Contagion to this world: now could I drink hot
And do such bitter business as the day
Would quake to look on. Soft! now to my
O heart! lose not thy nature; let not ever
The soul of Nero enter this firm bosom;
Let me be cruel, not unnatural;
I will speak daggers to her, but use none;
My tongue and soul in this be hypocrites;
How in my words soever she be shent,
To give them seals never, my soul, consent!
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