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Hamlet

Hamlet Translation Act 4, Scene 1

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CLAUDIUS and GERTRUDE enter with ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN.

CLAUDIUS

[to GERTRUDE] There’s matter in these sighs, these profound heaves. You must translate. ‘Tis fit we understand them. Where is your son?

CLAUDIUS

[To GERTRUDE] Your deep, heavy sighs mean something. You must tell me what they mean. It’s important that I know. Where’s your son?

GERTRUDE

[to ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN] Bestow this place on us a little while.

GERTRUDE

[To ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN] Please leave us for a while.

ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN exit.

GERTRUDE

Ah, my good lord, what have I seen tonight!

GERTRUDE

Ah, my good lord, you wouldn’t believe what I’ve seen tonight!

CLAUDIUS

What, Gertrude? How does Hamlet?

CLAUDIUS

What, Gertrude? How is Hamlet ?

GERTRUDE

Mad as the sea and wind when both contend Which is the mightier. In his lawless fit, Behind the arras hearing something stir, Whips out his rapier, cries, “A rat, a rat!” And in this brainish apprehension kills The unseen good old man.

GERTRUDE

As mad as the waves and the wind when they struggle against each other in a storm. In an insane rage, he hears something stir behind the tapestry, whips out his sword, and shouts “A rat, a rat!” And with this crazy idea, he kills the good old man, who was hidden there.

CLAUDIUS

O heavy deed! It had been so with us, had we been there. His liberty is full of threats to all— To you yourself, to us, to everyone. Alas, how shall this bloody deed be answered? It will be laid to us, whose providence Should have kept short, restrained and out of haunt, This mad young man. But so much was our love, We would not understand what was most fit, But, like the owner of a foul disease, To keep it from divulging, let it feed Even on the pith of life. Where is he gone?

CLAUDIUS

Oh, what a terrible crime! It would’ve happened to me if I’d been there. His freedom is a threat to all of us—to you, to me, to everyone. How should we react to this violent deed? I’ll be blamed for not controlling or restraining this crazy young man. But I loved him so much that I avoided doing the right thing. Now, I’m like a man who hides the fact that he is suffering from a foul disease, and in doing so, lets it kill him. Where has Hamlet gone?

GERTRUDE

To draw apart the body he hath killed, O’er whom his very madness, like some ore Among a mineral of metals base, Shows itself pure. He weeps for what is done.

GERTRUDE

To remove the body of the man he killed. His madness does not stop a sliver of his former self from shining through, like a bit of gold in an otherwise worthless rock. He weeps for what he has done.

CLAUDIUS

O Gertrude, come away! The sun no sooner shall the mountains touch But we will ship him hence , and this vile deed We must, with all our majesty and skill, Both countenance and excuse. —Ho, Guildenstern!

CLAUDIUS

Oh, Gertrude, let’s go. By the time the sun rises, lighting up those distant mountains, we’ll have him on a ship to England. It’ll take all my power and skill to explain and excuse what Hamlet has done. 

[To GUILDENSTERN] Hey, Guildenstern!

ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN enter.

CLAUDIUS

Friends both, go join you with some further aid. Hamlet in madness hath Polonius slain, And from his mother’s closet hath he dragged him. Go seek him out, speak fair, and bring the body Into the chapel. I pray you, haste in this.

CLAUDIUS

My friends, go find others to help you. In his insanity, Hamlet has killed Polonius and dragged him out of his mother’s bedroom. Go find him and speak nicely to him, and bring the body into the chapel. I beg you, hurry in this.

ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN exit.

CLAUDIUS

Come, Gertrude, we’ll call up our wisest friends, And let them know both what we mean to do And what’s untimely done. So dreaded slander— Whose whisper o’er the world’s diameter, As level as the cannon to his blank, Transports the poisoned shot—may miss our name And hit the woundless air. Oh, come away! My soul is full of discord and dismay.

CLAUDIUS

Come, Gertrude. We’ll confer with our wisest friends and tell them what we’re going to do—and what Hamlet has already done. Let’s hope slander—like a cannonball that can shoot across half the world and still hit its target—misses us. Oh, we must go. I’m full of confusion and sadness.

They 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.