scene 1

ACT III.

Scene I. A room in the Castle.

[Enter King, Queen, Polonius, Ophelia, Rosencrantz, and
Guildenstern.]

King
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?

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,
But, with a crafty madness, keeps aloof
When we would bring him on to some confession
Of his true state.

Queen
Did he receive you well?

Rosencrantz
Most like a gentleman.

Guildenstern
But with much forcing of his disposition.

Rosencrantz
Niggard of question; but, of our demands,
Most free in his reply.

Queen
Did you assay him
To any pastime?

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,
And, as I think, they have already order
This night to play before him.

Polonius
‘Tis most true;
And he beseech’d me to entreat your majesties
To hear and see the matter.

King
With all my heart; and it doth much content me
To hear him so inclin’d. –
Good gentlemen, give him a further edge,
And drive his purpose on to these delights.

Rosencrantz
We shall, my lord.

[Exeunt Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.]

King
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, –
Will so bestow ourselves that, seeing, unseen,
We may of their encounter frankly judge;
And gather by him, as he is behav’d,
If’t be the affliction of his love or no
That thus he suffers for.

Queen
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
Will bring him to his wonted way again,
To both your honours.

Ophelia
Madam, I wish it may.

[Exit Queen]

Polonius
Ophelia, walk you here. – Gracious, so please you,
We will bestow ourselves. – [To Ophelia.] Read on this book;
That show of such an exercise may colour
Your loneliness. – We are oft to blame in this, –
‘Tis too much prov’d, – that with devotion’s visage
And pious action we do sugar o’er
The Devil himself.

King
[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
Than is my deed to my most painted word:
O heavy burden!

Polonius
I hear him coming: let’s withdraw, my lord.

[Exeunt King and Polonius.]

[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
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 heartache, and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, – ’tis a consummation
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
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 despis’d love, the law’s delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would these fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death, –
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;
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!
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?

Hamlet
I humbly thank you; well, well, well.

Ophelia
My lord, I have remembrances of yours
That I have longed long to re-deliver.
I pray you, now receive them.

Hamlet
No, not I;
I never gave you aught.

Ophelia
My honour’d lord, you know right well you did;
And with them words of so sweet breath compos’d
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.
There, my lord.

Hamlet
Ha, ha! are you honest?

Ophelia
My lord?

Hamlet
Are you fair?

Ophelia
What means your lordship?

Hamlet
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?

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 time gives it proof. I did love you once.

Ophelia
Indeed, my lord, you made me believe so.

Hamlet
You should not have believ’d me; for virtue cannot so
inoculate our old stock but we shall relish of it: I loved you
not.

Ophelia
I was the more deceived.

Hamlet
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 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. Where’s your
father?

Ophelia
At home, my lord.

Hamlet
Let the doors be shut upon him, that he may play the fool
nowhere 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 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; and quickly too.
Farewell.

Ophelia
O heavenly powers, restore him!

Hamlet
I have heard of your paintings too, well enough; God hath
given you one face, and you make yourselves another: you jig, you
amble, and you lisp, and nickname 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 moe marriages: those that are
married already, all but one, shall live; the rest shall keep as
they are. To a nunnery, go.

[Exit.]

Ophelia
O, what a noble mind is here o’erthrown!
The courtier’s, scholar’s, soldier’s, eye, tongue, sword,
The expectancy and rose of the fair state,
The glass of fashion and the mould of form,
The observ’d of all observers, – quite, quite down!
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
Blasted with ecstasy: O, woe is me,
To have seen what I have seen, see what I see!

[Re-enter King and Polonius.]

King
Love! his affections do not that way tend;
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,
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
This something-settled matter in his heart;
Whereon his brains still beating puts him thus
From fashion of himself. What think you on’t?

Polonius
It shall do well: but yet do I believe
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,
Let his queen mother all alone entreat him
To show his grief: let her be round with him;
And I’ll be plac’d, so please you, in the ear
Of all their conference. If she find him not,
To England send him; or confine him where
Your wisdom best shall think.

King
It shall be so:
Madness in great ones must not unwatch’d go.

[Exeunt.]