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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    Not Peer Reviewed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, and two or three of the Players.
    Hamlet Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced 1850it to you, trippingly on the tongue; but if you mouth it, as many of your players do, I had as lief the town crier had 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 your 1855passion, you must acquire and beget a temperance that may give it smoothness. Oh, it offends me to the soul to hear a robustious periwig-pated fellowtear a passion to tatters, to very rags, to split the ears of the groundlings, who for the most part are capable of 1860nothing 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.
    Player I warrant your honor.
    Hamlet Be not too tame, neither, but let your own 1865discretion 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 o'erdone is from the purpose of playing, whose end, both at the first and now, was and is to hold as 'twere 1870the 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 unskillful laugh, cannot but make the judicious grieve, the 1875censure of the which one must in your allowance o'erweigh a whole theater of others. Oh, there be players that I have seen play, and heard others praise, and that highly, not to speak it profanely, that, neither having th'accent of Christians nor the gait of Christian, pagan, nor 1880no 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.
    Player I hope we have reformed that indifferently with us, sir.
    Hamlet Oh, 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 1890too, though in the meantime 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.
    Exeunt Players.
    Enter Polonius, Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern.
    [To Polonius] How 1895now, my lord, will the King hear this piece of work?
    Polonius And the Queen too, and that presently.
    Bid the players make haste.
    Exit Polonius.
    Will you two help to hasten them?
    1900Rosencrantz and Guildenstern We will, my lord.
    Exeunt [Rosencrantz and Guildenstern].
    What ho, Horatio!
    Enter Horatio.
    Here, sweet lord, at your service.
    Hamlet Horatio, thou art e'en as just a man
    1905As e'er my conversation coped withal.
    Oh, 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
    1910To feed and clothe thee? Why should the poor be flattered?
    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
    1915And could of men distinguish her election,
    Sh'hath sealed thee for herself, for thou hast been
    As one in suff'ring all that suffers nothing,
    A man that Fortune's buffets and rewards
    Hast ta'en with equal thanks; and blest are those
    1920Whose blood and judgment are so well commingled
    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,
    1925As I do thee.--Something too much of this.--
    There is a play tonight 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 see'st that act afoot,
    1930Even with the very comment of thy soul
    Observe my uncle. If his occulted guilt
    Do not itself unkennel in one speech,
    It is a damnèd ghost that we have seen,
    And my imaginations are as foul
    1935As 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.
    Well, my lord,
    1940If 'a steal aught the whilst this play is playing
    And scape detecting, I will pay the theft.
    Enter King, Queen, Polonius, Ophelia, Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, and other lord attendant with his Guard carrying torches. Danish 1945march. Sound a flourish
    Hamlet They are coming to the play. I must be idle. Get you a place.
    King How fares our cousin Hamlet?
    Hamlet Excellent, i'faith, of the chameleon's dish; I eat the air, 1950promise-crammed. You cannot feed capons so.
    King I have nothing with this answer, Hamlet. These words are not mine.
    Hamlet No, nor mine now. [To Polonius] My lord, you played once i'th' university, you say?
    1955Polonius That I did, my lord, and was accounted a good actor.
    Hamlet And what did you enact?
    Polonius I did enact Julius Caesar. I was killed i'th' Capitol. Brutus killed me.
    1960Hamlet It was a brute part of him to kill so capital a calf there.--Be the players ready?
    Rosencrantz Ay, my lord, they stay upon your patience.
    Queen Come hither, my dear Hamlet, sit by me.
    Hamlet No, good mother, here's mettle more attractive.
    1965Polonius [To the King] Oho, do you mark that?
    Hamlet [To Ophelia, as he lies at her feet] Lady, shall I lie in your lap?
    Ophelia No, my lord.
    Hamlet I mean, my head upon your lap.
    Ophelia Ay, my lord.
    1970Hamlet Do you think I meant country matters?
    Ophelia I think nothing, my lord.
    Hamlet That's a fair thought to lie between maids' legs.
    Ophelia What is, my lord?
    Hamlet Nothing.
    1975Ophelia You are merry, my lord.
    Hamlet Who, I?
    Ophelia Ay, my lord.
    Hamlet Oh, God, your only jig-maker. What should a man do but be merry? For look you how cheerfully my mother looks, and my 1980father died within's two hours.
    Ophelia Nay, 'tis twice two months, my lord.
    Hamlet So long? Nay, then, let the devil wear black, for I'll have a suit of sables. Oh, heavens! Die two 1985months 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, 'a must build churches then, or else shall 'a suffer not thinking on, with the hobby-horse, whose epitaph is, "For oh, for oh, the hobby-horse is forgot."
    Hautboys play. The dumb-show enters.
    Enter [Players as] a King and Queen very lovingly; the Queen embracing him. 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 1995asleep, leaves him. Anon comes in a fellow, takes off his crown, kisses it, pours poison in the King's ears, and exits. 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. 2000The dead body is carried away. The Poisoner woos the Queen with gifts. She seems loath and unwilling awhile, but in the end accepts his love. Exeunt [Players].
    Ophelia What means this, my lord?
    Hamlet Marry, this is miching mallico. It means mischief.
    Ophelia Belike this show imports the argument of the play.
    Enter [a Player as] Prologue.
    Hamlet We shall know by this fellow. The players cannot keep counsel; they'll tell all.
    2010Ophelia Will 'a tell us what this show meant?
    Hamlet 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.
    Ophelia You are naught, you are naught. I'll mark the 2015play.
    Prologue For us and for our tragedy,
    Here stooping to your clemency,
    We beg your hearing patiently.
    2020Hamlet Is this a prologue, or the posy of a ring?
    Ophelia 'Tis brief, my lord.
    Hamlet As woman's love.
    Enter [two Players as] King and his Queen.
    King Full thirty times hath Phoebus' cart gone round
    2025Neptune's salt wash and Tellus' orbèd 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.
    2030Queen 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,
    2035Discomfort you, my lord, it nothing must.
    2035.1For women fear too much, even as they love,
    And women's fear and love holds quantity:
    In neither aught, or in extremity.
    Now what my love is, proof hath made you know,
    And as my love is sized, my fear is so.
    2039.1Where love is great, the littlest doubts are fear;
    Where little fears grow great, great love grows there.
    2040King 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,
    Honored, beloved; and haply one as kind
    For husband shalt thou--
    Oh, 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.
    Hamlet Wormwood, wormwood.
    2050[Queen] The instances that second marriage move
    Are base respects of thrift, but none of love.
    A second time I kill my husband dead
    When second husband kisses me in bed.
    King I do believe you think what now you speak,
    2055But 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.
    2060Most 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
    2065Their 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 loves should with our fortunes change;
    2070For 'tis a question left us yet to prove
    Whether love lead fortune, or else fortune love.
    The great man down, you mark his favorites flies;
    The poor advanced makes friends of enemies;
    And hitherto doth love on fortune tend,
    2075For 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
    2080That our devices still are overthrown;
    Our thoughts are ours, their ends none of our own.
    So, think thou wilt no second husband wed,
    But die thy thoughts when thy first lord is dead.
    Queen Nor earth to me give food, nor heaven light,
    2085Sport and repose lock from me day and night,
    2085.1To desperation turn my trust and hope,
    An anchor's 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!
    2090Hamlet If she should break it now!
    King 'Tis deeply sworn. Sweet, leave me here awhile.
    My spirits grow dull, and fain I would beguile
    The tedious day with sleep.
    Sleep rock thy brain,
    And never come mischance between us twain!
    [The Player King] sleeps.Exit [Player Queen].
    Hamlet Madam, how like you this play?
    Queen The lady doth protest too much, methinks.
    Hamlet Oh, but she'll keep her word.
    2100King Have you heard the argument? Is there no offense in't?
    Hamlet No, no, they do but jest, poison in jest. No offense i'th' world.
    King What do you call the play?
    2105HamletThe Mousetrap. 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 2110us not. Let the galled jade wince, our withers are unwrung.
    Enter Lucianus.
    This is one Lucianus, nephew to the King.
    Ophelia You are as good as a chorus, my lord.
    Hamlet I could interpret between you and your love 2115if I could see the puppets dallying.
    Ophelia You are keen, my lord, you are keen.
    Hamlet It would cost you a groaning to take off mine edge.
    Ophelia Still better and worse.
    2120Hamlet So you mis-take your husbands.--Begin, murderer. Pox, leave thy damnable faces and begin. Come, the croaking raven doth bellow for revenge.
    Lucianus 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
    2130On wholesome life usurp immediately.
    Pours the poison in his ears. Exit.
    Hamlet 'A poisons him i'th' 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.
    Ophelia The King rises.
    Hamlet What, frighted with false fire?
    Queen How fares my lord?
    Polonius Give o'er the play.
    2140King Give me some light. Away!
    The Courtiers Lights, lights, lights!
    Exeunt all but Hamlet and Horatio.
    Hamlet "Why, let the strucken deer go weep,
    The heart ungallèd play,
    2145For some must watch while some must sleep;
    Thus 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 2150cry of players, sir?
    Horatio Half a share.
    Hamlet 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.
    Horatio You might have rhymed.
    Hamlet O good Horatio, I'll take the Ghost's word for a thousand pound. Didst perceive?
    2160Horatio Very well, my lord.
    Hamlet Upon the talk of the poisoning?
    Horatio I did very well note him.
    Enter Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.
    Hamlet Aha, come, some music! Come, the recorders.
    2165For if the King like not the comedy,
    Why, then belike he likes it not, pardie.
    Come, some music.
    Guildenstern Good my lord, vouchsafe me a word with you.
    Hamlet Sir a whole history.
    2170Guildenstern The King, sir--
    Hamlet Ay, sir, what of him?
    Guildenstern Is in his retirement marvelous distempered.
    Hamlet With drink, sir?
    Guildenstern No, my lord, rather with choler.
    2175Hamlet 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.
    Guildenstern Good my lord, put your discourse into some frame, 2180and start not so wildly from my affair.
    Hamlet I am tame sir. Pronounce.
    Guildenstern The Queen your mother, in most great affliction of spirit, hath sent me to you.
    Hamlet You are welcome.
    2185Guildenstern 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.
    2190Hamlet Sir, I cannot.
    Guildenstern What, my lord?
    Hamlet 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.
    Rosencrantz Then thus she says: your behavior hath struck her into amazement and admiration.
    Hamlet Oh, wonderful son, that can so 'stonish a mother! But is there no sequel at the heels of this 2200mother's admiration? Impart.
    Rosencrantz She desires to speak with you in her closet ere you go to bed.
    Hamlet We shall obey, were she ten times our mother. Have you any further trade with us?
    2205Rosencrantz My lord, you once did love me.
    Hamlet So I do still, by these pickers and stealers.
    Rosencrantz 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 friend.
    2210Hamlet Sir, I lack advancement.
    Rosencrantz How can that be, when you have the voice of the King himself for your succession in Denmark?
    Enter the Players, with recorders.
    Hamlet Ay, sir, but "while the grass grows"--the proverb is something musty.--Oh, the recorders. Let me see one. [He takes a recorder.] To withdraw with you, why do you go about to recover the wind of me, as if you would drive me into a toil?
    Guildenstern Oh, my lord, if my duty be too bold, my love 2220is too unmannerly.
    Hamlet I do not well understand that. Will you play upon this pipe?
    Guildenstern My lord, I cannot.
    Hamlet I pray you.
    2225Guildenstern Believe me, I cannot.
    Hamlet I do beseech you.
    Guildenstern I know no touch of it, my lord.
    Hamlet It is as easy as lying. Govern these ventages with your fingers and thumb, give it breath with your mouth, and it will discourse 2230most eloquent music. Look you, these are the stops.
    Guildenstern But these cannot I command to any utt'rance of harmony. I have not the skill.
    Hamlet Why, look you now, how unworthy a thing 2235you 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 2240you 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.
    Enter Polonius.
    [To Polonius, as he enters] God bless you, sir.
    2245Polonius My lord, the Queen would speak with you, and presently.
    Hamlet Do you see yonder cloud that's almost in shape of a camel?
    Polonius By th' mass, and 'tis like a camel indeed.
    2250Hamlet Methinks it is like a weasel.
    Polonius It is backed like a weasel.
    Hamlet Or like a whale.
    Polonius Very like a whale.
    Hamlet Then I will come to my mother by and by. 2255[Aside] They fool me to the top of my bent. [Aloud] I will come by and by.
    Polonius I will say so.
    Hamlet "By and by" is easily said.--Leave me, friends.
    Exeunt Rosencrantz and Guildenstern
    'Tis now the very witching time of night,
    2260When 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
    2265The 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 somever she be shent,
    2270To give them seals never my soul consent!