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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    Not Peer Reviewed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 Queen [Gertrude] and Polonius.
    'A 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 screened and stood between
    Much heat and him. I'll silence me e'en here.
    2380Pray you, be round with him.
    Within. Mother, mother, mother!
    I'll warrant you. Fear me not.
    Withdraw; I hear him coming.
    [Polonius conceals himself behind the arras.]
    Enter Hamlet.
    Now mother, what's the matter?
    Hamlet, thou hast thy father much offended.
    Mother, you have my father much offended.
    Come, come, you answer with an idle tongue.
    Go, go, you question with a wicked tongue.
    Why, how now, Hamlet?
    What's the matter now?
    Have you forgot me?
    No, by the rood, not so.
    You are the queen, your husband's brother's wife,
    2395And--would it were not so!--you are my mother.
    Nay, then, I'll set those to you that can speak.
    Come, come, and sit you down. You shall not budge.
    You go not till I set you up a glass
    2400Where you may see the inmost part of you.
    What wilt thou do? Thou wilt not murder me?
    Help, help, ho!
    [Behind the arras] What ho! Help, help, help!
    How now, a rat? Dead for a ducat, dead!
    [Hamlet thrusts through the arras with his sword.]
    [Behind the arras] Oh, I am slain!
    [Polonius falls onto the stage floor, dead].
    Oh, me, what hast thou done?
    Nay I know not. Is it the King?
    Oh, what a rash and bloody deed is this!
    A bloody deed--almost as bad, good mother,
    2410As kill a king, and marry with his brother.
    As kill a king?
    Ay, lady, it was my word.
    [He parts the arras and discovers the dead Polonius.]
    Thou wretched, rash, intruding fool, farewell!
    I took thee for thy better. Take thy fortune.
    2415Thou find'st to be too busy is some danger.
    [To the Queen] Leave wringing of your hands. Peace, sit you down,
    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
    2420That it is proof and bulwark against sense.
    What have I done, that thou dar'st wag thy tongue
    In noise so rude against me?
    Such an act
    That blurs the grace and blush of modesty,
    2425Calls 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 dicers' oaths--oh, such a deed
    As from the body of contraction plucks
    2430The very soul, and sweet religion makes
    A rhapsody of words. Heaven's face doth glow
    O'er this solidity and compound mass
    With tristful visage, as against the doom,
    Is thought-sick at the act.
    Ay me, what act,
    That roars so loud and thunders in the index?
    Hamlet [Showing her two likenesses, of Hamlet senior and Claudius]
    Look here upon this picture, and on this,
    The counterfeit presentment of two brothers.
    See what a grace was seated on this brow:
    2440Hyperion'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
    2445Where 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 mildewed ear,
    Blasting his wholesome brother. Have you eyes?
    2450Could 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 heyday in the blood is tame, it's humble,
    And waits upon the judgment, and what judgment
    2455Would step from this to this? Sense, sure, you have,
    2455.1Else could you not have motion, but sure that sense
    Is apoplexed, for madness would not err,
    Nor sense to ecstasy was ne'er so thralled
    But it reserved some quantity of choice
    2455.5To serve in such a difference. What devil was't
    That thus hath cozened you at hoodman-blind?
    2456.1Eyes without feeling, feeling without sight,
    Ears without hands or eyes, smelling sans all,
    Or but a sickly part of one true sense
    Could not so mope. 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
    2460And melt in her own fire. Proclaim no shame
    When the compulsive ardor gives the charge,
    Since frost itself as actively doth burn,
    And reason panders will.
    Oh, Hamlet speak no more!
    2465Thou 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 enseamèd bed
    2470Stewed in corruption, honeying and making love
    Over the nasty sty!
    Oh, speak to me no more!
    These words like daggers enter in my ears.
    No more, sweet Hamlet.
    A murderer and a villain,
    A slave that is not twentieth part the tithe
    Of your precedent lord, a vice of kings,
    A cutpurse of the empire and the rule,
    That from a shelf the precious diadem stole
    2480And put it in his pocket--
    No more!
    Enter Ghost [in his nightgown].
    A king of shreds and patches--
    [Seeing the Ghost]Save me and hover o'er me with your wings,
    2485You heavenly guards! What would you, gracious figure?
    Alas, he's mad!
    Do you not come your tardy son to chide,
    That, lapsed in time and passion, lets go by
    Th'important acting of your dread command?
    Oh, say!
    Do not forget. This visitation
    Is but to whet thy almost blunted purpose.
    But look, amazement on thy mother sits.
    Oh, step between her and her fighting soul!
    Conceit in weakest bodies strongest works.
    2495Speak to her, Hamlet.
    How is it with you, lady?
    Alas, how is't with you,
    That you do bend your eye on vacancy,
    And with th'incorporal air do hold discourse?
    2500Forth at your eyes your spirits wildly peep,
    And, as the sleeping soldiers in th'alarm,
    Your bedded hair, like life in excrements,
    Start up and stand on end. O gentle son,
    Upon the heat and flame of thy distemper
    2505Sprinkle cool patience. Whereon do you look?
    On him, on him! Look you how pale he glares!
    His form and cause conjoined, preaching to stones,
    Would make them capable. [To the Ghost] Do not look upon me,
    Lest with this piteous action you convert
    2510My stern effects. Then what I have to do
    Will want true color, tears perchance for blood.
    To whom do you speak this?
    Do you see nothing there?
    Nothing at all, yet all that is I see.
    Nor did you nothing hear?
    No, nothing but ourselves.
    Why, look you there, look how it steals away!
    My father in his habit as he lived.
    Look where he goes, even now out at the portal!
    Exit Ghost.
    This is the very coinage of your brain.
    This bodiless creation ecstasy
    Is very cunning in.
    My pulse as yours doth temperately keep time,
    And makes as healthful music. It is not madness
    2525That I have uttered. Bring me to the test,
    And I the matter will reword, 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.
    2530It 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,
    And do not spread the compost on the weeds
    2535To make them ranker. Forgive me this my virtue,
    For in the fatness of these pursy times
    Virtue itself of vice must pardon beg,
    Yea, curb and woo for leave to do him good.
    Oh, Hamlet, thou hast cleft my heart in twain.
    Oh, 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;
    Assume a virtue if you have it not.
    2544.1That monster custom, who all sense doth eat,
    Of habits devil, is angel yet in this,
    That to the use of actions fair and good
    He likewise gives a frock or livery
    2544.5That aptly is put on. Refrain tonight,
    2545And that shall lend a kind of easiness
    To the next abstinence; the next more easy:
    2546.1For use almost can change the stamp of nature,
    And either [in] the devil, or throw him out
    With wondrous potency. Once more good night,
    And when you are desirous to be blest,
    I'll blessing beg of you. For this same lord,
    I do repent; but heaven hath pleased it so
    2550To punish me with this, and this with me,
    That I must be their scourge and minister.
    I will bestow him, and will answer well
    The death I gave him. So, again, good night.
    I must be cruel only to be kind.
    2555Thus bad begins, and worse remains behind.
    2555.1One word more, good lady.
    What shall I do?
    Not this, by no means, that I bid you do:
    Let the bloat King tempt you again to bed,
    Pinch wanton on your cheek, call you his mouse,
    2560And let him, for a pair of reechy kisses,
    Or paddling in your neck with his damned fingers,
    Make you to ravel all this matter out
    That I essentially am not in madness,
    But mad in craft. 'Twere good you let him know,
    2565For who that's but a queen, fair, sober, wise,
    Would from a paddock, from a bat, a gib,
    Such dear concernings hide? Who would do so?
    No, in dispite of sense and secrecy,
    Unpeg the basket on the house's top,
    2570Let the birds fly, and like the famous ape,
    To try conclusions, in the basket creep,
    And break your own neck down.
    Be thou assured, if words be made of breath
    And breath of life, I have no life to breathe
    2575What thou hast said to me.
    I must to England. You know that?
    Alack, I had forgot. 'Tis so concluded on.
    There's letters sealed, and my two schoolfellows,
    Whom I will trust as I will adders fanged,
    They bear the mandate; they must sweep my way
    And marshal me to knavery. Let it work,
    2577.5For 'tis the sport to have the enginer
    Hoised with his own petard, and't shall go hard
    But I will delve one yard below their mines,
    And blow them at the moon. Oh 'tis most sweet
    When in one line two crafts directly meet.
    This man shall set me packing.
    I'll lug the guts into the neighbor room.
    2580Mother, good night indeed. This counselor
    Is now most still, most secret, and most grave,
    Who was in life a foolish prating knave.--
    Come, sir, to draw toward an end with you.--
    Good night, mother.
    2585Exit Hamlet, tugging in Polonius.