Hamlet* by William Shakespeare § 3.1

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ACT III
SCENE I. A room in the castle.
[Enter KING CLAUDIUS, QUEEN GERTRUDE, POLONIUS, OPHELIA, ROSENCRANTZ, and GUILDENSTERN]
2180 KING CLAUDIUS.
And can you, by no drift of circumstance,
Get from him why he puts on this confusion,
Grating so harshly all his days of quiet
With turbulent and dangerous lunacy?
2185 ROSENCRANTZ.
He does confess he feels himself distracted;
But from what cause he will by no means speak.
GUILDENSTERN.
Nor do we find him forward to be sounded,
2190 But, with a crafty madness, keeps aloof,
When we would bring him on to some confession
Of his true state.
QUEEN GERTRUDE.
Did he receive you well?
2195 ROSENCRANTZ.
Most like a gentleman.
GUILDENSTERN.
But with much forcing of his disposition.
ROSENCRANTZ.
2200 Niggard of question; but, of our demands,
Most free in his reply.
QUEEN GERTRUDE.
Did you assay him?
To any pastime?
2205 ROSENCRANTZ.
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,
2210 And, as I think, they have already order
This night to play before him.
LORD POLONIUS.
'Tis most true:
And he beseech'd me to entreat your majesties
2215 To hear and see the matter.
KING CLAUDIUS.
With all my heart; and it doth much content me
To hear him so inclined.
Good gentlemen, give him a further edge,
2220 And drive his purpose on to these delights.
ROSENCRANTZ.
We shall, my lord.
[Exeunt ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN]
KING CLAUDIUS.
2225 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,
2230 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.
2235 QUEEN GERTRUDE.
I shall obey you.
And for your part, Ophelia, I do wish
That your good beauties be the happy cause
Of Hamlet's wildness: so shall I hope your virtues
2240 Will bring him to his wonted way again,
To both your honours.
OPHELIA.
Madam, I wish it may.
[Exit QUEEN GERTRUDE]
2245 LORD POLONIUS.
Ophelia, walk you here. Gracious, so please you,
We will bestow ourselves.
[To OPHELIA]
Read on this book;
2250 That show of such an exercise may colour
Your loneliness. We are oft to blame in this,--
'Tis too much proved--that with devotion's visage
And pious action we do sugar o'er
The devil himself.
2255 KING CLAUDIUS.
[Aside] O, 'tis too true!
How smart a lash that speech doth give my conscience!
The harlot's cheek, beautied with plastering art,
Is not more ugly to the thing that helps it
2260 Than is my deed to my most painted word:
O heavy burthen!
LORD POLONIUS.
I hear him coming: let's withdraw, my lord.
[Exeunt KING CLAUDIUS and POLONIUS]
2265 [Enter HAMLET]
HAMLET.
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,
2270 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
2275 Devoutly to be wish'd. 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
2280 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
2285 That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
2290 The undiscover'd 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;
2295 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 awry,
And lose the name of action.--Soft you now!
2300 The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remember'd.
OPHELIA.
Good my lord,
How does your honour for this many a day?
2305 HAMLET.
I humbly thank you; well, well, well.
OPHELIA.
My lord, I have remembrances of yours,
That I have longed long to re-deliver;
2310 I pray you, now receive them.
HAMLET.
No, not I;
I never gave you aught.
OPHELIA.
2315 My honour'd lord, you know right well you did;
And, with them, words of so sweet breath composed
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.
2320 There, my lord.
HAMLET.
Ha, ha! are you honest?
OPHELIA.
My lord?
2325 HAMLET.
Are you fair?
OPHELIA.
What means your lordship?
HAMLET.
2330 That if you be honest and fair, your honesty should
admit no discourse to your beauty.
OPHELIA.
Could beauty, my lord, have better commerce than
with honesty?
2335 HAMLET.
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 sometime a paradox, but now the
2340 time gives it proof. I did love you once.
OPHELIA.
Indeed, my lord, you made me believe so.
HAMLET.
You should not have believed me; for virtue cannot
2345 so inoculate our old stock but we shall relish of
it: I loved you not.
OPHELIA.
I was the more deceived.
HAMLET.
2350 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
2355 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.
2360 Where's your father?
OPHELIA.
At home, my lord.
HAMLET.
Let the doors be shut upon him, that he may play the
2365 fool no where but in's own house. Farewell.
OPHELIA.
O, help him, you sweet heavens!
HAMLET.
If thou dost marry, I'll give thee this plague for
2370 thy dowry: be thou as chaste as ice, as pure as
snow, thou shalt not escape calumny. Get thee to a
nunnery, go: 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,
2375 and quickly too. Farewell.
OPHELIA.
O heavenly powers, restore him!
HAMLET.
I have heard of your paintings too, well enough; God
2380 has given you one face, and you make yourselves
another: you jig, you amble, and you lisp, and
nick-name God's creatures, and make your wantonness
your ignorance. Go to, I'll no more on't; it hath
made me mad. I say, we will have no more marriages:
2385 those that are married already, all but one, shall
live; the rest shall keep as they are. To a
nunnery, go.
[Exit]
OPHELIA.
2390 O, what a noble mind is here o'erthrown!
The courtier's, soldier's, scholar's, eye, tongue, sword;
The expectancy and rose of the fair state,
The glass of fashion and the mould of form,
The observed of all observers, quite, quite down!
2395 And I, of ladies most deject and wretched,
That suck'd the honey of his music vows,
Now see that noble and most sovereign reason,
Like sweet bells jangled, out of tune and harsh;
That unmatch'd form and feature of blown youth
2400 Blasted with ecstasy: O, woe is me,
To have seen what I have seen, see what I see!
[Re-enter KING CLAUDIUS and POLONIUS]
KING CLAUDIUS.
Love! his affections do not that way tend;
2405 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;
And I do doubt the hatch and the disclose
Will be some danger: which for to prevent,
2410 I have in quick determination
Thus set it down: he shall with speed to England,
For the demand of our neglected tribute
Haply the seas and countries different
With variable objects shall expel
2415 This something-settled matter in his heart,
Whereon his brains still beating puts him thus
From fashion of himself. What think you on't?
LORD POLONIUS.
It shall do well: but yet do I believe
2420 The origin and commencement of his grief
Sprung from neglected love. How now, Ophelia!
You need not tell us what Lord Hamlet said;
We heard it all. My lord, do as you please;
But, if you hold it fit, after the play
2425 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
2430 Your wisdom best shall think.
KING CLAUDIUS.
It shall be so:
Madness in great ones must not unwatch'd go.
[Exeunt]

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