The Ultimate Free Shakespeare Resource The Ultimate Free Shakespeare Resource The Ultimate Free Shakespeare Resource The Ultimate Free Shakespeare Resource

Scene 5

Elsinore. Another part of the platform before Elsinore castle.

(Ghost; Hamlet; Horatio; Marcellus)

Hamlet refuses to go any further. The ghost finally speaks, confirming that it is indeed Old Hamlet’s spirit, which has been condemned to tortures in the afterlife until its sins are washed away. The ghost reveals the Old Hamlet was murdered, and by Claudius — who now has his crown and wife. It charges Hamlet to revenge the crime, though insisting that he not harm Gertrude. As the morning arrives, the ghost vanishes. Horatio and Marcellus arrive and plead with hamlet to tell them what the ghost said, but the prince, in a wild mood, refuses. Seconded by the ghost’s voice, he makes them swear on his sword never to speak of the apparition again, and tells them that he may decide to act mad in the future, and that they are in no way to let anyone suspect it might not be genuine. (209 lines)

Enter Ghost and Hamlet.


Whither wilt thou lead me? Speak, I’ll go no further.


Mark me.


I will.


My hour is almost come

When I to sulph’rous and tormenting flames

Must render up myself.


Alas, poor ghost!


Pity me not, but lend thy serious hearing

To what I shall unfold.


Speak, I am bound to hear.


So art thou to revenge, when thou shalt hear.




I am thy father’s spirit,

Doom’d for a certain term to walk the night,

And for the day confin’d to fast in fires,

Till the foul crimes done in my days of nature

Are burnt and purg’d away. But that I am forbid

To tell the secrets of my prison-house,

I could a tale unfold whose lightest word

Would harrow up thy soul, freeze thy young blood,

Make thy two eyes like stars start from their spheres,

Thy knotted and combined locks to part,

And each particular hair to stand an end,

Like quills upon the fearful porcupine.

But this eternal blazon must not be

To ears of flesh and blood. List, list, O, list!

If thou didst ever thy dear father love—


O God!


Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder.




Murder most foul, as in the best it is,

But this most foul, strange, and unnatural.


Haste me to know’t, that I with wings as swift

As meditation, or the thoughts of love,

May sweep to my revenge.


I find thee apt,

And duller shouldst thou be than the fat weed

That roots itself in ease on Lethe wharf,

Wouldst thou not stir in this. Now, Hamlet, hear:

’Tis given out that, sleeping in my orchard,

A serpent stung me, so the whole ear of Denmark

Is by a forged process of my death

Rankly abus’d; but know, thou noble youth,

The serpent that did sting thy father’s life

Now wears his crown.


O my prophetic soul!

My uncle?


Ay, that incestuous, that adulterate beast,

With witchcraft of his wits, with traitorous gifts—

O wicked wit and gifts that have the power

So to seduce!—won to his shameful lust

The will of my most seeming virtuous queen.

O Hamlet, what a falling-off was there

From me, whose love was of that dignity

That it went hand in hand even with the vow

I made to her in marriage, and to decline

Upon a wretch whose natural gifts were poor

To those of mine!

But virtue, as it never will be moved,

Though lewdness court it in a shape of heaven,

So lust, though to a radiant angel link’d,

Will sate itself in a celestial bed

And prey on garbage.

But soft, methinks I scent the morning air,

Brief let me be. Sleeping within my orchard,

My custom always of the afternoon,

Upon my secure hour thy uncle stole,

With juice of cursed hebona in a vial,

And in the porches of my ears did pour

The leperous distillment, whose effect

Holds such an enmity with blood of man

That swift as quicksilver it courses through

The natural gates and alleys of the body,

And with a sudden vigor it doth posset

And curd, like eager droppings into milk,

The thin and wholesome blood. So did it mine,

And a most instant tetter bark’d about,

Most lazar-like, with vile and loathsome crust

All my smooth body.

Thus was I, sleeping, by a brother’s hand

Of life, of crown, of queen, at once dispatch’d,

Cut off even in the blossoms of my sin,

Unhous’led, disappointed, unanel’d,

No reck’ning made, but sent to my account

With all my imperfections on my head.

O, horrible, O, horrible, most horrible!

If thou hast nature in thee, bear it not,

Let not the royal bed of Denmark be

A couch for luxury and damned incest.

But howsomever thou pursues this act,

Taint not thy mind, nor let thy soul contrive

Against thy mother aught. Leave her to heaven,

And to those thorns that in her bosom lodge

To prick and sting her. Fare thee well at once!

The glow-worm shows the matin to be near,

And gins to pale his uneffectual fire.

Adieu, adieu, adieu! Remember me.



O all you host of heaven! O earth! What else?

And shall I couple hell? O fie, hold, hold, my heart,

And you, my sinews, grow not instant old,

But bear me stiffly up. Remember thee!

Ay, thou poor ghost, whiles memory holds a seat

In this distracted globe. Remember thee!

Yea, from the table of my memory

I’ll wipe away all trivial fond records,

All saws of books, all forms, all pressures past

That youth and observation copied there,

And thy commandment all alone shall live

Within the book and volume of my brain,

Unmix’d with baser matter. Yes, by heaven!

O most pernicious woman!

O villain, villain, smiling, damned villain!

My tables—meet it is I set it down

That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain!

At least I am sure it may be so in Denmark.

He writes.

So, uncle, there you are. Now to my word:

It is “Adieu, adieu! Remember me.”

I have sworn’t.



My lord, my lord!



Lord Hamlet!

Enter Horatio and Marcellus.


Heavens secure him!


So be it!


Illo, ho, ho, my lord!


Hillo, ho, ho, boy! Come, bird, come.


How is’t, my noble lord?


What news, my lord?


O, wonderful!


Good my lord, tell it.


No, you will reveal it.


Not I, my lord, by heaven.


Nor I, my lord.


How say you then, would heart of man once think it?—

But you’ll be secret?


Ay, by heaven, my lord.


There’s never a villain dwelling in all Denmark

But he’s an arrant knave.


There needs no ghost, my lord, come from the grave

To tell us this.


Why, right, you are in the right,

And so, without more circumstance at all,

I hold it fit that we shake hands and part,

You, as your business and desire shall point you,

For every man hath business and desire,

Such as it is, and for my own poor part,

I will go pray.


These are but wild and whirling words, my lord.


I am sorry they offend you, heartily,

Yes, faith, heartily.


There’s no offense, my lord.


Yes, by Saint Patrick, but there is, Horatio,

And much offense too. Touching this vision here,

It is an honest ghost, that let me tell you.

For your desire to know what is between us,

O’ermaster’t as you may. And now, good friends,

As you are friends, scholars, and soldiers,

Give me one poor request.


What is’t, my lord, we will.


Never make known what you have seen tonight.


My lord, we will not.


Nay, but swear’t.


In faith,

My lord, not I.


Nor I, my lord, in faith.


Upon my sword.


We have sworn, my lord, already.


Indeed, upon my sword, indeed.

Ghost cries under the stage.




Ha, ha, boy, say’st thou so? Art thou there, truepenny?

Come on, you hear this fellow in the cellarage,

Consent to swear.


Propose the oath, my lord.


Never to speak of this that you have seen,

Swear by my sword.





Hic et ubique? Then we’ll shift our ground.

Come hither, gentlemen,

And lay your hands again upon my sword.

Swear by my sword

Never to speak of this that you have heard.



Swear by his sword.


Well said, old mole, canst work i’ th’ earth so fast?

A worthy pioner! Once more remove, good friends.


O day and night, but this is wondrous strange!


And therefore as a stranger give it welcome.

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,

Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

But come—

Here, as before, never, so help you mercy,

How strange or odd some’er I bear myself—

As I perchance hereafter shall think meet

To put an antic disposition on—

That you, at such times seeing me, never shall,

With arms encumb’red thus, or this headshake,

Or by pronouncing of some doubtful phrase,

As “Well, well, we know,”or “We could, and if we would,”

Or “If we list to speak,” or “There be, and if they might,”

Or such ambiguous giving out, to note

That you know aught of me—this do swear,

So grace and mercy at your most need help you.




They swear.


Rest, rest, perturbed spirit! So, gentlemen,

With all my love I do commend me to you,

And what so poor a man as Hamlet is

May do t’ express his love and friending to you,

God willing, shall not lack. Let us go in together,

And still your fingers on your lips, I pray.

The time is out of joint—O cursed spite,

That ever I was born to set it right!

Nay, come, let’s go together.



Use Power Search to search the works

Please consider making a small donation to help keep this site free.


Log in or Register

Forgot username  Forgot password
Get the Shakespeare Pro app