Document:  All > Shakespeare > Tragedies > Hamlet > Act III, scene I


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?

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 GERTRUDE:                   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 GERTRUDE: 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.

LORD POLONIUS: 'Tis most true:
	And he beseech'd me to entreat your majesties
	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,
	And drive his purpose on to these delights.

ROSENCRANTZ: We shall, my lord.


KING CLAUDIUS:                   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 behaved,
	If 't be the affliction of his love or no
	That thus he suffers for.

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

OPHELIA: Madam, I wish it may.


LORD POLONIUS: Ophelia, walk you here. Gracious, so please you,
	We will bestow ourselves.


		    Read on this book;
	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.

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
	Than is my deed to my most painted word:
	O heavy burthen!

LORD POLONIUS: I hear him coming: let's withdraw, my lord.


	[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 heart-ache 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 despised 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 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 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.
	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 believed 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 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
	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
	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:
	those that are married already, all but one, shall
	live; the rest shall keep as they are. To a
	nunnery, go.


OPHELIA: 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!
	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!


KING CLAUDIUS: 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?

LORD 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 placed, 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 CLAUDIUS: It shall be so:
	Madness in great ones must not unwatch'd go.



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