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Hamlet

Hamlet Translation Act 4, Scene 3

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CLAUDIUS enters with two or three attendants.

CLAUDIUS

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 loved of the distracted multitude, Who like not in their judgment, but their eyes. And where ’tis so, th’ offender’s scourge is weighed, 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 relieved, Or not at all.

CLAUDIUS

I’ve sent men to find Hamlet and the body. How dangerous it is to have this madman on the loose! But we can’t just use the strong arm of the law on him. He’s loved by the masses, who base their feelings on appearances instead of using good judgment. They’ll focus on the punishment, not the crime. So, sending him away suddenly must seem like it was long-planned and carefully considered move. Curing a fatal disease requires immediate treatment, or you won’t cure it at all.

ROSENCRANTZ enters.

CLAUDIUS

How now, what hath befall’n?

CLAUDIUS

What’s going on? What’s happened?

ROSENCRANTZ

Where the dead body is bestowed, my lord,We cannot get from him.

ROSENCRANTZ

We can’t get him to tell us where he put the body.

CLAUDIUS

But where is he?

CLAUDIUS

But where is he?

ROSENCRANTZ

Without, my lord; guarded, to know your pleasure.

ROSENCRANTZ

Outside, my lord, and under guard, as we wait to hear what you want us to do.

CLAUDIUS

Bring him before us.

CLAUDIUS

Bring him to me.

ROSENCRANTZ

Ho, Guildenstern! Bring in my lord.

ROSENCRANTZ

Hey, Guildenstern! Bring in my lord.

GUILDENSTERN enters with HAMLET.

CLAUDIUS

Now, Hamlet, where’s Polonius?

CLAUDIUS

Now, Hamlet, where’s Polonius?

HAMLET

At supper.

HAMLET

At dinner.

CLAUDIUS

At supper where?

CLAUDIUS

At dinner where?

HAMLET

Not where he eats, but where he 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 elseto 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.

HAMLET

Not where he’s eating, but where he’s being eaten. A certain gathering of worms are working on him right now. Worms are the kings of all eating. We fatten up all creatures to feed ourselves—and we fatten ourselves to eventually feed the worms. A fat king and a skinny beggar are just different dishes at the same meal. And that’s that.

CLAUDIUS

Alas, alas!

CLAUDIUS

Oh no, oh no!

HAMLET

A man may fish with the worm that hath eat of a king, and eat of the fish that hath fed of that worm.

HAMLET

A man can fish with a worm that ate a king, and then eat the fish he catches with that worm.

CLAUDIUS

What dost you mean by this?

CLAUDIUS

What do you mean by that?

HAMLET

Nothing but to show you how a king may go a progress through the guts of a beggar.

HAMLET

Nothing, except to make it clear that a king can move through the guts of a beggar.

CLAUDIUS

Where is Polonius?

CLAUDIUS

Where is Polonius?

HAMLET

In heaven. Send hither to see. If your messenger find him not there, seek him i’ th’ other place yourself. Butif indeed you find him not within this month, you shallnose him as you go up the stairs into the lobby.

HAMLET

In heaven. Send a messager there if you want to be sure. If your messenger can’t find him, you can check for him in hell yourself. Now, if you don’t find him within the next month, you’ll smell him as you go upstairs into the main hall.

CLAUDIUS

[to attendants] Go seek him there.

CLAUDIUS

[To attendants] Go look for him there.

Some attendants exit.

HAMLET

He will stay till ye come.

HAMLET

No need to hurry—he’ll wait for you.

CLAUDIUS

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 everything is bent For England.

CLAUDIUS

Hamlet, I care about your safety as much as I grieve over what you’ve done. Therefore I must send you away at once. Prepare yourself. The ship is ready, and the wind is favorable. Your servants wait for you—everything is set for you to go to England.

HAMLET

For England?

HAMLET

To England?

CLAUDIUS

Ay, Hamlet.

CLAUDIUS

Yes, Hamlet.

HAMLET

Good.

HAMLET

Good.

CLAUDIUS

So is it, if thou knew’st our purposes.

CLAUDIUS

Yes, it is, if you knew why I was sending you.

HAMLET

I see a cherub that sees them. But come, for England.Farewell, dear mother.

HAMLET

I know an angel who can read your mind. But now, off to England! Goodbye, dear mother.

CLAUDIUS

Thy loving father, Hamlet.

CLAUDIUS

I’m your loving father, Hamlet.

HAMLET

My mother. Father and mother is man and wife, man and wife is one flesh, and so, my mother.—Come, for England!

HAMLET

No, my mother. When you married my mother, the two of you became one flesh, so if you’re my father you’re also my mother. Come on, to England!

HAMLET exits.

CLAUDIUS

Follow him at foot. Tempt him with speed aboard. Delay it not. I’ll have him hence tonight. Away! For everything is sealed and done That else leans on the affair. Pray you, make haste.

CLAUDIUS

Follow him on foot, and hurry him onto the ship. Don’t let there be any delays. I want him gone tonight. Gone! Everything is signed and sealed to put an end to this affair. Please hurry.

Everyone except CLAUDIUS exits.

CLAUDIUS

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, Howe’er my haps, my joys were ne’er begun.

CLAUDIUS

And you, dear King of England, if you think me at all important—as you should, considering you can still feel the strength that Denmark bludgeoned you with in the past, causing you to pay us tribute money—then you’ll have to listen to the instruction in my letters that you kill Hamlet immediately. Do it, King of England. Hamlet is raging like a fever in my blood, and you must cure me. Until I know it’s been done, I’ll never be happy, no matter what else happens to me.

CLAUDIUS exits.

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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.