Elsinore. The Queen’s room in Elsinore castle.
(Queen Gertrude; Polonius; Hamlet; Ghost)
Polonius advises the Queen before hiding behind a tapestry to spy on the meeting. Gertrude attempts to berate Hamlet, but he answers as strongly, even more so, attacking her for marrying his unworthy uncle. He is so wild that she cries out in fear; Polonius calls for help, and Hamlet, thinking it may be the King, kills the man behind the tapestry. He gives Polonius a cold farewell before returning to his attack on the Queen, asking her how she could marry Claudius after having been Old Hamlet’s wife, and accuses his uncle of murder. Gertrude tries to get him to stop, but is unsuccessful. The ghost enters to stop Hamlet from harming his mother and to tell him to get a move on with the revenge business. Gertrude cannot see the ghost, and is convinced that Hamlet is truly insane. He begs her to repent and to stop sleeping with Claudius. They recall that he must go to England. Hamlet drags Polonius’s body out. (234 lines)
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 screen’d and stood between
Much heat and him. I’ll silence me even here;
Pray you be round with him.
I’ll warr’nt you, fear me not. Withdraw,
I hear him coming.
Polonius hides behind the arras.
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,
And 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
Where you may see the inmost part of you.
What wilt thou do? Thou wilt not murder me?
What ho, help!
How now? A rat? Dead, for a ducat, dead!
Kills Polonius through the arras.
O, I am slain.
O me, what hast thou done?
Nay, I know not, is it the King?
O, what a rash and bloody deed is this!
A bloody deed! Almost as bad, good mother,
As kill a king, and marry with his brother.
As kill a king!
Ay, lady, it was my word.
Parts the arras and discovers Polonius.
Thou wretched, rash, intruding fool, farewell!
I took thee for thy better. Take thy fortune;
Thou find’st to be too busy is some danger.—
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 damned custom have not brass’d it so
That it be 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,
Calls 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, O, such a deed
As from the body of contraction plucks
The very soul, and sweet religion makes
A rhapsody of words. Heaven’s face does glow
O’er this solidity and compound mass
With heated visage, as against the doom;
Is thought-sick at the act.
Ay me, what act,
That roars so loud and thunders in the index?
Look here upon this picture, and on this,
The counterfeit presentment of two brothers.
See what a grace was seated on this brow:
Hyperion’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,
Where 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?
Could 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
Would step from this to this? Sense sure you have,
Else could you not have motion, but sure that sense
Is apoplex’d, for madness would not err,
Nor sense to ecstasy was ne’er so thrall’d
But it reserv’d some quantity of choice
To serve in such a difference. What devil was’t
That thus hath cozen’d you at hoodman-blind?
Eyes 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?
If thou canst mutine in a matron’s bones,
To flaming youth let virtue be as wax
And 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.
O Hamlet, speak no more!
Thou turn’st my eyes into my very soul,
And there I see such black and grained spots
As will not leave their tinct.
Nay, but to live
In the rank sweat of an enseamed bed,
Stew’d in corruption, honeying and making love
Over the nasty sty!
O, 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 twentith 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,
And put it in his pocket—
Enter Ghost in his night-gown.
A king of shreds and patches—
Save me, and hover o’er me with your wings,
You heavenly guards! What would your gracious figure?
Alas, he’s mad!
Do you not come your tardy son to chide,
That, laps’d in time and passion, lets go by
Th’ important acting of your dread command?
Do not forget! This visitation
Is but to whet thy almost blunted purpose.
But look, amazement on thy mother sits,
O, step between her and her fighting soul.
Conceit in weakest bodies strongest works,
Speak 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?
Forth 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 an end. O gentle son,
Upon the heat and flame of thy distemper
Sprinkle cool patience. Whereon do you look?
On him, on him! Look you how pale he glares!
His form and cause conjoin’d, preaching to stones,
Would make them capable.—Do not look upon me,
Lest with this piteous action you convert
My 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!
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
That I have utt’red. 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;
It 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
To 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.
O Hamlet, thou hast cleft my heart in twain.
O, 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.
That 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
That aptly is put on. Refrain tonight,
And that shall lend a kind of easiness
To the next abstinence, the next more easy;
For use almost can change the stamp of nature,
And either lodge 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,
Pointing to Polonius.
I do repent; but heaven hath pleas’d it so
To 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.
This bad begins and worse remains behind.
One 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,
And let him, for a pair of reechy kisses,
Or paddling in your neck with his damn’d 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,
For 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 despite of sense and secrecy,
Unpeg the basket on the house’s top,
Let the birds fly, and like the famous ape,
To try conclusions in the basket creep,
And break your own neck down.
Be thou assur’d, if words be made of breath,
And breath of life, I have no life to breathe
What thou hast said to me.
I must to England, you know that?
I had forgot. ’Tis so concluded on.
There’s letters seal’d, and my two schoolfellows,
Whom I will trust as I will adders fang’d,
They bear the mandate, they must sweep my way
And marshal me to knavery. Let it work,
For ’tis the sport to have the enginer
Hoist with his own petar, an’t shall go hard
But I will delve one yard below their mines,
And blow them at the moon. O, ’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.
Mother, good night indeed. This counsellor
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.
Exeunt severally, Hamlet tugging in Polonius.