A line-by-line translation

Hamlet

Hamlet Translation Act 3, Scene 1

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CLAUDIUS, GERTRUDE, POLONIUS, OPHELIA, ROSENCRANTZ, and GUILDENSTERN enter.

CLAUDIUS

And can you by no drift of conference Get from him why he puts on this confusion, Grating so harshly all his days of quiet With turbulent and dangerous lunacy?

CLAUDIUS

And the two of you haven’t been able to figure out why he’s acting so oddly, with a dangerous lunacy that’s such a huge shift from his earlier calm and quiet behavior?

ROSENCRANTZ

He does confess he feels himself distracted.But from what cause he will by no means speak.

ROSENCRANTZ

He admits he feels somewhat crazy, but won’t talk about the cause.

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.

GUILDENSTERN

And he’s not willing to be questioned. His insanity is sly and smart, and he slips away from our questions when we try to get him to tell us about how he’s feeling.

GERTRUDE

Did he receive you well?

GERTRUDE

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ROSENCRANTZ

Most like a gentleman.

ROSENCRANTZ

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GUILDENSTERN

But with much forcing of his disposition.

GUILDENSTERN

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ROSENCRANTZ

Niggard of question, but of our demandsMost free in his reply.

ROSENCRANTZ

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GERTRUDE

Did you assay him?To any pastime?

GERTRUDE

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ROSENCRANTZ

Madam, it so fell out, that certain players We o’erraught 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.

ROSENCRANTZ

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POLONIUS

‘Tis most true,And he beseeched me to entreat your MajestiesTo hear and see the matter.

POLONIUS

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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.

CLAUDIUS

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ROSENCRANTZ

We shall, my lord.

ROSENCRANTZ

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ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN exit.

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.

CLAUDIUS

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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 honors.

GERTRUDE

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OPHELIA

Madam, I wish it may.

OPHELIA

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GERTRUDE exits.

POLONIUS

Ophelia, walk you here. [to CLAUDIUS] Gracious, so please you, We will bestow ourselves. [to OPHELIA] Read on this book That show of such an exercise may color 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.

POLONIUS

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CLAUDIUS

[aside] Oh, ’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 burden!

CLAUDIUS

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POLONIUS

I hear him coming. Let’s withdraw, my lord.

POLONIUS

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CLAUDIUS and POLONIUS hide.

HAMLET enters.

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 heartache and the thousand natural shocks That flesh is heir to—’tis a consummation Devoutly to be wished! 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, Th’ 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 th’ 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 undiscovered country from whose bourn No traveler 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 pitch 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 remembered.

HAMLET

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OPHELIA

Good my lord,How does your honor for this many a day?

OPHELIA

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HAMLET

I humbly thank you. Well, well, well.

HAMLET

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OPHELIA

My lord, I have remembrances of yoursThat I have longèd long to redeliver.I pray you now receive them.

OPHELIA

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HAMLET

No, not I. I never gave you aught.

HAMLET

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OPHELIA

My honored 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.

OPHELIA

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HAMLET

Ha, ha, are you honest?

HAMLET

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OPHELIA

My lord?

OPHELIA

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HAMLET

Are you fair?

HAMLET

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OPHELIA

What means your lordship?

OPHELIA

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HAMLET

That if you be honest and fair, your honesty should admit no discourse to your beauty.

HAMLET

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OPHELIA

Could beauty, my lord, have better commerce than with honesty?

OPHELIA

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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.

HAMLET

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OPHELIA

Indeed, my lord, you made me believe so.

OPHELIA

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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.

HAMLET

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OPHELIA

I was the more deceived.

OPHELIA

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HAMLET

Get thee to a nunnery. Why wouldst thou be a breeder ofsinners? 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 earthand heaven? We are arrant knaves, all. Believe none of us. Go thy ways to a nunnery. Where’s your father?

HAMLET

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OPHELIA

At home, my lord.

OPHELIA

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HAMLET

Let the doors be shut upon him, that he may play the fool no where but in ’s own house. Farewell.

HAMLET

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OPHELIA

O, help him, you sweet heavens!

OPHELIA

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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.

HAMLET

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OPHELIA

Heavenly powers, restore him!

OPHELIA

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HAMLET

I have heard of your paintings too, well enough. God has given you one face and you make yourselves another. You jig and amble, and you lisp, you nickname 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 asthey are. To a nunnery, go.

HAMLET

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HAMLET exits.

OPHELIA

Oh, what a noble mind is here o’erthrown!— The courtier’s, soldier’s, scholar’s, eye, tongue, sword, Th’ expectancy and rose of the fair state, The glass of fashion and the mould of form, Th’ observed of all observers, quite, quite down! And I, of ladies most deject and wretched, That sucked the honey of his music vows, Now see that noble and most sovereign reason Like sweet bells jangled, out of tune and harsh; That unmatched form and feature of blown youth Blasted with ecstasy. Oh, woe is me, T’ have seen what I have seen, see what I see!

OPHELIA

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CLAUDIUS and POLONIUS come forward.

CLAUDIUS

Love? His affections do not that way tend. Nor what he spake, though it lacked 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?

CLAUDIUS

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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.

POLONIUS

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CLAUDIUS

It shall be so.Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.

CLAUDIUS

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They all exit.

Hamlet
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Ben florman
About the Translator: Ben Florman

Ben is a co-founder of LitCharts. He holds a BA in English Literature from Harvard University, where as an undergraduate he won the Winthrop Sargent prize for best undergraduate paper on a topic related to Shakespeare.