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Act 1 Prologue


The Prologue advances to warn the audience that this is a serious play. People merely looking for some light entertainment will be disappointed, but those who can enjoy either drama or spectacle may enjoy the show, as the theme is of how the mighty can fall. (32 lines)


I come no more to make you laugh; things now

That bear a weighty and a serious brow,

Sad, high, and working, full of state and woe:

Such noble scenes as draw the eye to flow,

We now present. Those that can pity, here

May (if they think it well) let fall a tear;

The subject will deserve it. Such as give

Their money out of hope they may believe,

May here find truth too. Those that come to see

Only a show or two, and so agree

The play may pass, if they be still and willing,

I’ll undertake may see away their shilling

Richly in two short hours. Only they

That come to hear a merry, bawdy play,

A noise of targets, or to see a fellow

In a long motley coat guarded with yellow,

Will be deceiv’d. For, gentle hearers, know,

To rank our chosen truth with such a show

As fool and fight is, beside forfeiting

Our own brains and the opinion that we bring

To make that only true we now intend,

Will leave us never an understanding friend.

Therefore, for goodness sake, and as you are known

The first and happiest hearers of the town,

Be sad, as we would make ye. Think ye see

The very persons of our noble story

As they were living. Think you see them great,

And follow’d with the general throng and sweat

Of thousand friends; then, in a moment, see

How soon this mightiness meets misery;

And if you can be merry then, I’ll say

A man may weep upon his wedding-day.


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