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  • Title: Hamlet (Modern, Editor's Version)
  • Editor: David Bevington
  • ISBN: 978-1-55058-434-9

    Copyright David Bevington. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Author: William Shakespeare
    Editor: David Bevington
    Not Peer Reviewed

    Hamlet (Modern, Editor's Version)

    Enter Hamlet, Horatio, and Marcellus.
    Hamlet The air bites shrewdly; it is very cold.
    605Horatio It is a nipping and an eager air.
    Hamlet What hour now?
    Horatio I think it lacks of twelve.
    Marcellus No, it is struck.
    Horatio Indeed? I heard it not. It then draws near the season
    610Wherein the spirit held his wont to walk.
    A flourish of trumpets, and two pieces goes off.
    What does this mean, my lord?
    Hamlet The King doth wake tonight and takes his rouse,
    Keeps wassail, and the swagg'ring upspring reels;
    And as he drains his drafts of Rhenish down
    615The kettledrum and trumpet thus bray out
    The triumph of his pledge.
    Horatio Is it a custom?
    Hamlet Ay, marry, is't,
    But to my mind, though I am native here
    620And to the manner born, it is a custom
    More honored in the breach than the observance.
    621.1This heavy-headed revel east and west
    Makes us traduced and taxed of other nations.
    They clepe us drunkards, and with swinish phrase
    Soil our addition, and indeed it takes
    621.5From our achievements, though performed at height,
    The pith and marrow of our attribute.
    So, oft it chances in particular men,
    That, for some vicious mole of nature in them,
    As in their birth, wherein they are not guilty,
    621.10Since nature cannot choose his origin,
    By the o'ergrowth of some complexion,
    Oft breaking down the pales and forts of reason,
    Or by some habit that too much o'erleavens
    The form of plausive manners, that these men,
    621.15Carrying, I say, the stamp of one defect,
    Being Nature's livery, or Fortune's star,
    His virtues else, be they as pure as grace,
    As infinite as man may undergo,
    Shall in the general censure take corruption
    621.20From that particular fault. The dram of evil
    Doth all the noble substance often dout
    To his own scandal.
    Enter Ghost.
    Look, my lord, it comes!
    Hamlet Angels and ministers of grace defend us!
    625Be thou a spirit of health or goblin damned,
    Bring with thee airs from heaven or blasts from hell,
    Be thy intents wicked or charitable,
    Thou com'st in such a questionable shape
    That I will speak to thee. I'll call thee Hamlet,
    630King, father, royal Dane. Oh, answer me!
    Let me not burst in ignorance, but tell
    Why thy canonized bones, hearsèd in death,
    Have burst their cerements? Why the sepulcher
    Wherein we saw thee quietly inurned
    635Hath oped his ponderous and marble jaws
    To cast thee up again? What may this mean
    That thou, dead corpse, again in complete steel
    Revisits thus the glimpses of the moon,
    Making night hideous, and we fools of nature
    640So horridly to shake our disposition
    With thoughts beyond the reaches of our souls?
    Say, why is this? Wherefore? What should we do?
    [The] Ghost beckons Hamlet.
    Horatio It beckons you to go away with it,
    645As if it some impartment did desire
    To you alone.
    Look with what courteous action
    It wafts you to a more removèd ground.
    But do not go with it.
    No, by no means.
    Hamlet It will not speak. Then I will follow it.
    Do not, my lord.
    Why, what should be the fear?
    I do not set my life at a pin's fee,
    655And for my soul, what can it do to that,
    Being a thing immortal as itself?
    [The Ghost beckons Hamlet.]
    It waves me forth again. I'll follow it.
    Horatio What if it tempt you toward the flood, my lord,
    Or to the dreadful summit of the cliff
    660That beetles o'er his base into the sea,
    And there assume some other horrible form
    Which might deprive your sovereignty of reason
    And draw you into madness? Think of it:
    663.1The very place puts toys of desperation,
    Without more motive, into every brain
    That looks so many fathoms to the sea
    And hears it roar beneath.
    [The Ghost beckons Hamlet.]
    Hamlet It wafts me still.--Go on, I'll follow thee.
    You shall not go, my lord.
    [They attempt to restrain him.]
    Hold off your hands!
    Be ruled. You shall not go.
    My fate cries out
    And makes each petty artery in this body
    670As hardy as the Nemean lion's nerve.
    [The Ghost beckons Hamlet.]
    Still am I called. Unhand me, gentlemen!
    By heav'n, I'll make a ghost of him that lets me.
    I say, away!--Go on, I'll follow thee.
    Exeunt Ghost and Hamlet.
    675Horatio He waxes desperate with imagination.
    Marcellus Let's follow. 'Tis not fit thus to obey him.
    Horatio Have after. To what issue will this come?
    Marcellus Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.
    Heaven will direct it.
    Nay, let's follow him.