Enter Queen and Polonius (L.H.)

Pol. He will come straight. Look, you lay home to him:

Tell him his pranks have been too broad to bear with,

And that your grace hath screen’d and stood between

Much heat and him. I’ll sconce me even here.

Pray you, be round with him.


I’ll warrant you;

Fear me not:—withdraw, I hear him coming.

[Polonius hides himself, L.H.U.E.]

Enter Hamlet (R.)

Ham. (R.C.) Now, mother, what’s the matter?

Queen. (L.C.) Hamlet, thou hast thy father much offended.

Ham. Mother, you have my father much offended.

Queen. Come, come, you answer with an idle tongue.

Ham. Go, go, you question with a wicked tongue.

Queen. Why, how now, Hamlet!


What’s the matter now?

Queen. Have you forgot me?


No, by the rood, not so:

You are the queen, your husband’s brother’s wife;

And—would it were not so!—you are my mother.

Queen. Nay, then, I’ll set those to you that can speak.

Ham. Come, come, and sit you down; you shall not budge;

You go not till I set you up a glass

Where you may see the inmost part of you.

Queen. What wilt thou do? thou wilt not murder me?

Help, help, ho!

Pol. (Behind.) What, ho! help!


How now! a rat?


Dead, for a ducat, dead!

[Hamlet rushes off behind the arras.]

Pol. (Behind.)

O, I am slain!

[Falls and dies.]

Queen. O me, what hast thou done?

Ham. (Returning.)

Nay, I know not:

Is it the king?

Queen. O, what a rash and bloody deed is this!

Ham. A bloody deed!—almost as bad, good mother,

As kill a king, and marry with his brother.

Queen. As kill a king!


Ay, lady, ‘twas my word.

[Goes off behind the arras, and returns.]

Thou wretched, rash, intruding fool, farewell!

[To the dead body of Polonius, behind the arras.]

I took thee for thy better.

Leave wringing of your hands: Peace; sit you down,

[To the Queen.]

And let me wring your heart: for so I shall,

If it be made of penetrable stuff;

If damnèd custom have not brazed it so,

That it be proof and bulwark against sense.

Queen. (Sits R.C.) What have I done, that thou dar’st wag thy tongue

In noise so rude against me?

Ham. (Seated L.C.)

Such an act,

That blurs the grace and blush of modesty;

Calls virtue, hypocrite; takes off the rose

From the fair forehead of an innocent love,

And sets a blister there; makes marriage vows

As false as dicer’s oaths: O, such a deed

As from the body of contraction plucks

The very soul; and sweet religion makes

A rhapsody of words.—

Ah, me, that act!


Ah me, what act?

Ham. Look here, upon this picture, and on this,

The counterfeit presentment of two brothers.

See, what a grace was seated on this brow;

Hypérion’s curls; the front of Jove himself;

An eye like Mars, to threaten and command;

A station like the herald Mercury

New-lighted on a heaven-kissing hill;

A combination, and a form, indeed,

Where every god did seem to set his seal,

To give the world assurance of a man;

This was your husband.—Look you now, what follows:

Here is your husband; like a mildew’d ear,

Blasting his wholesome brother. Have you eyes?

Could you on this fair mountain leave to feed,

And batten on this moor? Ha! have you eyes?

You cannot call it love; for, at your age

The hey-day in the blood is tame, it’s humble,

And waits upon the judgment: And what judgment

Would step from this to this?

O shame! where is thy blush? Rebellious hell,

If thou canst mutine, in a matron’s bones,

To flaming youth let virtue be as wax,

And melt in her own fire.

Queen. O, Hamlet, speak no more:

Thou turn’st mine eyes into my very soul;

And there I see such black and grainèd spots

As will not leave their tinct.


Nay, but to live

In the rank sweat of an enseamed bed,——

Queen. O, speak to me no more;

No more, sweet Hamlet!


A murderer and a villain:

A slave that is not twentieth part the tythe

Of your precedent lord;—a vice of kings;

A cutpurse of the empire and the rule;

That from a shelf the precious diadem stole,

And put it in his pocket!


No more!


A king

Of shreds and patches.

Enter Ghost, R.

Save me [Starts from his chair], and hover o’er me with your wings,

You heavenly guards! What would your gracious figure?

Queen. Alas, he’s mad!


Ham. (L.) Do you not come your tardy son to chide,

That, laps’d in time and passion, lets go by

The important acting of your dread command?

O, say!

Ghost. (R.) Do not forget: This visitation

Is but to whet thy almost blunted purpose.

But, look, amazement on thy mother sits:

O, step between her and her fighting soul.

Speak to her Hamlet.


How is it with you, lady?

Queen. Alas, how is’t with you,

That you do bend your eye on vacancy,

And with the incorporal air do hold discourse?

Forth at your eyes your spirits wildly peep.

O gentle son,

[Crosses to Hamlet.]

Upon the heat and flame of thy distemper

Sprinkle cool patience. Whereon do you look?

Ham. On him, on him!—Look you, how pale he glares!

His form and cause conjoin’d, preaching to stones,

Would make them capable. Do not look upon me;

Lest with this piteous action, you convert

My stern effects: then what I have to do

Will want true colour; tears perchance, for blood.

Queen. To whom do you speak this?


Do you see nothing there?

Queen. Nothing at all; yet all that is, I see.

Ham. Nor did you nothing hear?


No, nothing but ourselves.

Ham. Why, look you there! look, how it steals away!

[Ghost crosses to L.]

My father in his habit as he lived!

Look, where he goes, even now, out at the portal!

[Exit Ghost, L.H. Hamlet sinks into chair C. The Queen falls on her knees by his side.]

Queen. This is the very coinage of your brain:

This bodiless creation ecstasy

Is very cunning in.

Ham. Ecstasy!

My pulse, as yours, doth temperately keep time,

And makes as healthful music: It is not madness

That I have uttered: bring me to the test,

And I the matter will re-word; which madness

Would gambol from. Mother, for love of grace,


Lay not that flattering unction to your soul,

That not your trespass, but my madness speaks:

It will but skin and film the ulcerous place,

Whiles rank corruption, mining all within,

Infects unseen. Confess yourself to heaven;

Repent what’s past; avoid what is to come.

Queen. O, Hamlet! thou hast cleft my heart in twain.

Ham. O, throw away the worser part of it,

And live the purer with the other half.

Good night: but go not to my uncle’s bed;

[Raising the Queen.]

Assume a virtue, if you have it not.

Once more, good night!

And when you are desirous to be bless’d,

I’ll blessing beg of you. For this same lord,

[Pointing to Polonius.]

I do repent:

I will bestow him, and will answer well

The death I gave him. So, again, good night.

[Exit Queen, R.H.]

I must be cruel, only to be kind:

Thus bad begins, and worse remains behind.

[Exit Hamlet behind the arras, L.H.U.E.]