Elsinore. Another room in Elsinore castle.
(King; Attendants; Rosencrantz; Hamlet; Guildenstern)
Claudius considers that he cannot punish Hamlet too severely due to his popularity with the commoners. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern admit their inability to get Hamlet to tell where Polonius’s body is. The prince refuses to answer the question when Claudius asks it to, instead pointing out how everybody, even emperors, will be food for worms one day. Finally he tells them that they will be able to find Polonius by smell in the lobby if they wait long enough. Claudius orders Hamlet to leave for England more quickly than planned. Hamlet mockingly bids him farewell as his mother, seeing as man and wife are one flesh. The King orders Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to see to it that Hamlet sails immediately. He reveals that the letters being carried to England order the English to execute the prince. (59 lines)
Enter King and two or three.
I have sent to seek him, and to find the body.
How dangerous is it that this man goes loose!
Yet must not we put the strong law on him.
He’s lov’d of the distracted multitude,
Who like not in their judgment, but their eyes,
And where ’tis so, th’ offender’s scourge is weigh’d,
But never the offense. To bear all smooth and even,
This sudden sending him away must seem
Deliberate pause. Diseases desperate grown
By desperate appliance are reliev’d,
Or not at all.
How now, what hath befall’n?
Where the dead body is bestow’d, my lord,
We cannot get from him.
But where is he?
Without, my lord, guarded, to know your pleasure.
Bring him before us.
Ho, bring in the lord.
They, Hamlet and Guildenstern, enter.
Now, Hamlet, where’s Polonius?
At supper? Where?
Not where he eats, but where ’a is eaten; a certain convocation of politic worms are e’en at him. Your worm is your only emperor for diet: we fat all creatures else to fat us, and we fat ourselves for maggots; your fat king and your lean beggar is but variable service, two dishes, but to one table—that’s the end.
A man may fish with the worm that hath eat of a king, and eat of the fish that hath fed of that worm.
What dost thou mean by this?
Nothing but to show you how a king may go a progress through the guts of a beggar.
Where is Polonius?
In heaven, send thither to see; if your messenger find him not there, seek him i’ th’ other place yourself. But if indeed you find him not within this month, you shall nose him as you go up the stairs into the lobby.
Go seek him there.
’A will stay till you come.
Hamlet, this deed, for thine especial safety—
Which we do tender, as we dearly grieve
For that which thou hast done—must send thee hence
With fiery quickness; therefore prepare thyself,
The bark is ready, and the wind at help,
Th’ associates tend, and every thing is bent
So is it, if thou knew’st our purposes.
I see a cherub that sees them. But come, for England! Farewell, dear mother.
Thy loving father, Hamlet.
My mother: father and mother is man and wife, man and wife is one flesh—so, my mother. Come, for England!
Follow him at foot, tempt him with speed aboard.
Delay it not, I’ll have him hence tonight.
Away, for every thing is seal’d and done
That else leans on th’ affair. Pray you make haste.
Exeunt Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.
And, England, if my love thou hold’st at aught—
As my great power thereof may give thee sense,
Since yet thy cicatrice looks raw and red
After the Danish sword, and thy free awe
Pays homage to us—thou mayst not coldly set
Our sovereign process, which imports at full,
By letters congruing to that effect,
The present death of Hamlet. Do it, England,
For like the hectic in my blood he rages,
And thou must cure me. Till I know ’tis done,
How e’er my haps, my joys were ne’er begun.