ACT Three



Three chairs on L.H., one on R.

Enter King and Queen, preceded by Polonius. Ophelia, Rosencrantz, and Giuldenstern, following (R.H.)

King. (C.) And can you, by no drift of conference,

Get from him why he puts on this confusion?

Ros. (R.) He does confess he feels himself distracted;

But from what cause he will by no means speak.

Guild. (R.) Nor do we find him forward to be sounded

But, with a crafty madness, keeps aloof,

When we would bring him on to some confession

Of his true state.

Queen. (R.C.) Did you assay him

To any pastime?

Ros. Madam, it so fell out, that certain players

We o’er-raught on the way: of these we told him;

And there did seem in him a kind of joy

To hear of it: They are about the court;

And, as I think, they have already order

This night to play before him.


‘Tis most true:

And he beseech’d me to entreat your majesties

To hear and see the matter.

King. With all my heart; and it doth much content me

To hear him so inclin’d.

Good gentlemen, give him a further edge,

And drive his purpose on to these delights.

Ros. We shall, my lord.

[Exeunt Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, R.H.]


Sweet Gertrude, leave us too;

For we have closely sent for Hamlet hither,

That he, as ‘twere by accident, may here

Affront Ophelia:

Her father and myself (lawful espials),

Will so bestow ourselves, that, seeing, unseen,

We may of their encounter frankly judge;

And gather by him, as he is behaved,

If’t be the affliction of his love or no

That thus he suffers for.

Queen. (R.)

I shall obey you:

And for your part, Ophelia,

[Ophelia comes down L.H.]

I do wish

That your good beauties be the happy cause

Of Hamlet’s wildness: so shall I hope your virtues

Will bring him to his wonted way again,

To both your honours.


Madam, I wish it may.

[Exit Queen, R.H.]

Pol. Ophelia, walk you here. Gracious, so please you,

We will bestow ourselves. Read on this book;

[To Ophelia.]

That show of such an exercise may colour

Your loneliness. We are oft to blame in this,—

‘Tis too much prov’d, that, with devotion’s visage

And pious action, we do sugar o’er

The devil himself.


O, ‘tis too true! how smart

A lash that speech doth give my conscience! [Aside.]

Pol. I hear him coming: let’s withdraw, my lord.

[Exeunt King and Polonius, R.H. 2 E., and Ophelia, R.H.U.E.]

Enter Hamlet (L.H.)

Ham. To be, or not to be, that is the question:

Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer

The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,

Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,

And, by opposing end them?—To die,—to sleep,

No more;—and by a sleep, to say we end

The heart-ache, and the thousand natural shocks

That flesh is heir to: ‘tis a consummation

Devoutly to be wished. To die,—to sleep,—

To sleep! perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub;

For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,

When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,

Must give us pause: There’s the respect

That makes calamity of so long life;

For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,

The oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,

The pangs of despised love, the law’s delay,

The insolence of office, and the spurns

That patient merit of the unworthy takes,

When he himself might his quietus make

With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear,

To groan and sweat under a weary life,

But that the dread of something after death,

The undiscovered country, from whose bourn

No traveller returns, puzzles the will,

And makes us rather bear those ills we have

Than fly to others that we know not of?

Thus, conscience does make cowards of us all;

And thus the native hue of resolution

Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought;

And enterprises of great pith and moment,

With this regard, their currents turn away,

And lose the name of action. [—Ophelia returns.—] Soft you now!

The fair Ophelia:—Nymph, in thy orisons

Be all my sins remember’d.

Oph. (R.C.)

Good my lord,

How does your honour for this many a day?

Ham. (L.C.) I humbly thank you; well.

Oph. My lord, I have remembrances of yours,

That I have longèd long to re-deliver;

I pray you, now receive them.


No, not I;

I never gave you aught.

Oph. My honour’d lord, you know right well you did;

And, with them, words of so sweet breath compos’d

As made the things more rich: their perfume lost,

Take these again; for to the noble mind

Rich gifts wax poor when givers prove unkind.

There, my lord.

Ham. Ha, ha! are you honest?

Oph. My lord?

Ham. Are you fair?

Oph. What means your lordship?

Ham. That if you be honest and fair, your honesty should admit no discourse to your beauty.

Oph. Could beauty, my lord, have better commerce than with honesty?

Ham. Ay, truly; for the power of beauty will sooner transform honesty from what it is to a bawd, than the force of honesty can translate beauty into his likeness: this was some time a paradox, but now the time gives it proof. I did love you once.

Oph. Indeed, my lord, you made me believe so.

Ham. You should not have believed me; for virtue cannot so inoculate our old stock, but we shall relish of it:I loved you not.

Oph. I was the more deceived.

Ham. Get thee to a nunnery: Why wouldst thou be a breeder of sinners? I am myself indifferent honest; but yet I could accuse me of such things, that it were better my mother had not borne me: I am very proud, revengeful, ambitious; with more offences at my beck than I have thoughts to put them in,imagination to give them shape, or time to act them in. What should such fellows as I do, crawling between earth and heaven? We are arrant knaves, all; believe none of us. Go thy ways to a nunnery. Where’s your father?

Oph. At home, my lord.

Ham. Let the doors be shut upon him, that he may play the fool nowhere but in’s own house. Farewell.

Oph. O, help him, you sweet heavens!

Ham. If thou dost marry, I’ll give thee this plague for thy dowry. Be thou as chaste as ice, as pure as snow, thou shalt not escape calumny. Get thee to a nunnery; farewell. Or, if thou wilt needs marry, marry a fool; for wise men know well enough what monsters you make of them. To a nunnery, go; go; go.

Oph. Heavenly powers, restore him!

Ham. I have heard of your paintingstoo, well enough; Heaven hath given you one face, and you make yourselves another: you jig, you amble, and you lisp, and nickname Heaven’s creatures, and make your wantonness your ignorance. Go to, I’ll no more of’t; it hath made me mad. [Hamlet crosses to R.H.] I say, we will have no more marriages: those that are married already, all but one, shall live; the rest shall keep as they are. To a nunnery, go.

[Exit Hamlet, R.H.]

Oph. (L.) O, what a noble mind is here o’erthrown!

The expectancy and rose of the fair state,

The glass of fashion and the mould of form,

The observ’d of all observers, quite, quite down!

And I, of ladies most deject and wretched,

That suck’d the honey of his musick vows,

Now see that noble and most sovereign reason,

Like sweet bells jangled, out of tune and harsh:

O, woe is me,

To have seen what I have seen, see what I see!

[Exit Ophelia, L.H.]

Re-enter King and Polonius.

King. Love! his affections do not that way tend;

Nor what he spake, though it lack’d form a little,

Was not like madness. There’s something in his soul,

O’er which his melancholy sits on brood;

He shall with speed to England,

For the demand of our neglected tribute:

Haply, the seas, and countries different,

With variable objects, shall expel

This something-settled matter in his heart;

Whereon his brains still beating puts him thus

From fashion of himself. What think you on’t?

Pol. It shall do well: But yet I do believe

The origin and commencement of his grief

Sprung from neglected love. My lord, do as you please;

But, if you hold it fit, after the play,

Let his queen mother all alone entreat him

To show his grief: let her be round with him;

And I’ll be placed, so please you, in the ear

Of all their conference. If she find him not,

To England send him; or confine him where

Your wisdom best shall think.


It shall be so:

Madness in great ones must not unwatch’d go.

[Exeunt, L.H.]

Enter Hamlet and a Player (R.H.)

Ham. (C.) Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to you, trippingly on the tongue: but if you mouth it, as many of our players do, I had as lief the town-crier spoke my lines. Nor do not saw the air too much with your hands thus; but use all gently: for in the very torrent, tempest, and (as I may say) whirlwind of your passion, you must acquire and beget a temperance that may give it smoothness. O, it offends me to the soul, to hear a robustious perrywig-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’erdoing Termagant; it out-herods Herod Pray you, avoid it.

1st Play. (R.) 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 any thing 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 its 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, they imitated humanity so abominably.

[Crosses to R.]

1st Play. (L.) 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 villainous, and shows a most pitiful ambition in the fool that uses it. Go, make you ready.

[Exit Player, L.H.]

Ham. What, ho, Horatio!

Enter Horatio (R.H.)

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.


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 poor be flatter’d?

No, let the candied tongue lick absurd pomp;

And crook the pregnant hinges of the knee,

Where thrift may follow fawning. Dost thou hear?

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

Has ta’en with equal thanks: and bless’d are those

Whose blood and judgment are so well co-mingled,

That they are not a pipe for fortune’s finger

To sound what stop she please. Give me that man

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 pr’ythee when thou seest that act a-foot,

Even with the very comment of thy soul

Observe my 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.

[Horatio goes off, U.E.L.H.]

March. Enter King and Queen, preceded by Polonius, Ophelia, Horatio, Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, Lords, Ladies, and Attendants. King and Queen sit (L.H.); Ophelia (R.H.)

King. (L.) How fares our cousin Hamlet?

Ham. (C.) Excellent, i’faith; of the cameleon’s dish: I eat the air, promise-crammed: you cannot feed capons so.

King. I have nothing with this answer, Hamlet; these words are not mine.

Ham. No, nor mine, now. My lord,—you played once in the university, you say? [To Polonius, L.]

Pol. (L.C.) That did I, my lord; and was accounted a good actor.

Ham. (C.) And what did you enact?

Pol. I did enact Julius Cæsar: I was killed 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 patience.

Queen. Come hither, my dear Hamlet, sit by me.

[Pointing to a chair by her side.]

Ham. No, good mother, here’s metal more attractive.

Pol. O, ho! do you mark that?

[Aside to the King.]

Ham. Lady, shall I lie in your lap?

[Lying down at Ophelia’s feet.]

Oph. (R.) You are merry, my lord.

Ham. O, your only jig-maker. What should a man do but be merry? for, look you, how cheerfully my mother looks, and my father died within these 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.

Oph. What means the play, my lord?

Ham. Miching mallecho; it means mischief.

Oph. But what is the argument of the play?

Enter a Player as Prologue (L.H.) on a raised stage.

Ham. We shall know by this fellow.


For us, and for our tragedy,

Here stooping to your clemency,

We beg your hearing patiently.

[Exit, L.H.]

61Ham. Is this a prologue, or the posy of a ring?

Oph. ‘Tis brief, my lord.

Ham. As woman’s love.

Enter a King and a Queen (L.H.) on raised stage.

P. King. (R.) Full thirty times hath Phœbus’ cartgone round

Neptune’s salt wash and Tellus’ orbèd ground,

Since love our hearts, and Hymen did our hands,

Unite commutual in most sacred bands.

P. Queen. (L.) 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.

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, belov’d; 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 kill’d the first.

Ham. That’s wormwood.

[Aside to Horatio, R.]

P. King. I do believe you think what now you speak;

But what we do determine oft we break.

So think you 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!

Both here, and hence, pursue me lasting strife,

If, once a widow, ever I be wife!

P. King. ‘Tis deeply sworn.

Ham. If she should break it now!—

[To Ophelia.]

P. King. Sweet, leave me here awhile;

My spirits grow dull, and fain I would beguile

The tedious day with sleep.

[Reposes on a bank, R., and sleeps.]

P. Queen.

Sleep rock thy brain;

And never come mischance between us twain!

[Exit, L.H.]

Ham. Madam, how like you this play?

Queen. The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

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? Tropically. 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 unwrung.

Enter Lucianus (L.H.)

This is one Lucianus, nephew to the king.

Oph. You are as good as a chorus, my lord.

Ham. I could interpret between you and your love, if I could see the puppets dallying. Begin, murderer; 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 Hecat’s ban thrice blasted, thrice infected,

Thy natural magick and dire property,

On wholesome life usurp immediately.

[Pours the poison into the Sleeper’s Ears.]

Ham. He poisons him i’ the garden for his estate. His name’s Gonzago: the story is extant, and written in very choice Italian: You shall see anon how the murderer gets the love of Gonzago’s wife.

King. Give me some light: away!

All. Lights, lights, lights!

[Exeunt all, R. and L., but Hamlet and Horatio.]


Why, let the strucken deer go weep,

The hart ungallèd play;

For some must watch, while some must sleep:

So runs the world away.—

O, good Horatio, I’ll take the ghost’s word for a thousand pounds. Didst perceive?

Hor. (R.) Very well, my lord.

Ham. (C.) Upon the talk of the poisoning.—

Hor. I did very well note him.

Ham. Ah, ah! come, some musick! come, the recorders!

[Exit Horatio, R.H.]

Enter Rosencrantz and Guildenstern (L.H.) Hamlet seats himself in the chair (R.)

Guil. (L.C.) 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 distempered.

Ham. With drink, sir?

Guil. No, my lord, with choler.

Ham. Your wisdom should show itself more rich to signify this to the doctor; for, for me to put him to his purgation would perhaps plunge him into more choler.

Guil. Good my lord, put your discourse into some frame, and start not so wildly from my affair.

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 business.

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. (Crosses to C.) 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. And do still, by these pickers and stealers.

[Rises and comes forward, C.]

Ros. (R.) Good my lord, what is your cause of distemper? you do, surely, bar the door of your own liberty, if you deny your griefs to your friend.

Ham. Sir, I lack advancement.

Ros. How can that be, when you have the voice of the king himself for your succession in Denmark?

Ham. Ay, sir, but While the grass grows,—the proverb is something musty.

Enter Horatio and Musicians (R.H.)

O, the recorders:—let me see one.—So; withdraw with you:—

[Exeunt Horatio and Musicians R.H. Guildenstern, after speaking privately to Rosencrantz, crosses behind Hamlet to R.H.]

Why do you go about to recover the wind of me,as if you would drive me into a toil?

Guil. (R.) O, my lord, if my duty be too bold, my love is too unmannerly.

Ham. (C.) 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.

Ros. (L.) I know no touch of it, my lord.

Ham. ‘Tis as easy as lying: govern these ventages with your fingers and thumb, give it breath with your mouth, and it will discourse most eloquent music. Look you, these are the stops.

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, excellent voice, in this little organ; yet cannot you make it speak. ‘Sdeath, 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.

[Crosses to L.H.]

Enter Polonius (R.H.)

Pol. (R.) My lord, the queen would speak with you, and presently.

Ham. (C.) 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 will I come to my mother by and by. They fool me to the top of my bent. I will come by and by.

Pol. I will say so.

Ham. By and by is easily said.

[Exit Polonius, R.H.

Leave me, friends.

[Exeunt Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, R.H.]

‘Tis now the very witching time of night,

When churchyards yawn, and hell itself breathes out

Contagion to this world: Now could I drink hot blood,

And do such bitter business as the day

Would quake to look on. Soft! now to my mother.

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.