A line-by-line translation

Hamlet

Hamlet Translation Act 5, Scene 1

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Two GRAVEDIGGERS enter.

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

Is she to be buried in Christian burial when she willfully seeks her own salvation?

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

Is she really going to receive a Christian burial after she took her own life?

SECOND GRAVEDIGGER

I tell thee she is. Therefore make her grave straight. The crowner hath sat on her and finds it Christian burial.

SECOND GRAVEDIGGER

I’m telling you, she is. So make that grave immediately. The coroner examined her says it should be a Christian funeral.

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

How can that be, unless she drowned herself in her own defense?

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

How can that be, unless she drowned herself in self-defense?

SECOND GRAVEDIGGER

Why, ’tis found so.

SECOND GRAVEDIGGER

That’s exactly what they’ve determined.

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

It must be se offendendo. It cannot be else. For here lies the point: if I drown myself wittingly, it argues an act. And an act hath three branches—it is to act, to do, to perform. Argal, she drowned herself wittingly.

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

They must mean “self-offense.” It couldn’t be anything else. Here’s my point: if you drown yourself on purpose, then that’s an act. An act has three sides to it: to act, to do, and to perform. Therefore, she must have known she was drowning herself.

SECOND GRAVEDIGGER

Nay, but hear you, Goodman Delver—

SECOND GRAVEDIGGER

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FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

Give me leave. Here lies the water. Good. Here stands the man. Good. If the man go to this water and drown himself, it is, will he nill he, he goes. Mark you that. But if the water come to him and drown him, he drowns not himself. Argal, he that is not guilty of his own death shortens not his own life.

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

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SECOND GRAVEDIGGER

But is this law?

SECOND GRAVEDIGGER

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FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

Ay, marry, is ’t. Crowner’s quest law.

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

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SECOND GRAVEDIGGER

Will you ha’ the truth on ’t? If this had not been a gentlewoman, she should have been buried out o’ Christian burial.

SECOND GRAVEDIGGER

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FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

Why, there thou sayst. And the more pity that great folk should have countenance in this world to drown or hang themselves more than their even Christian. Come, myspade. There is no ancient gentleman but gardeners, ditchers, and grave-makers. They hold up Adam’s profession.

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

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SECOND GRAVEDIGGER

Was he a gentleman?

SECOND GRAVEDIGGER

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FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

He was the first that ever bore arms.

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

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SECOND GRAVEDIGGER

Why, he had none.

SECOND GRAVEDIGGER

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FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

What, art a heathen? How dost thou understand the Scripture? The Scripture says Adam digged. Could he dig without arms? I’ll put another question to thee. If thouanswerest me not to the purpose, confess thyself—

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

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SECOND GRAVEDIGGER

Go to.

SECOND GRAVEDIGGER

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FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

What is he that builds stronger than either the mason, the shipwright, or the carpenter?

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

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SECOND GRAVEDIGGER

The gallows-maker, for that frame outlives a thousand tenants.

SECOND GRAVEDIGGER

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FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

like thy wit well, in good faith. The gallows does well, but how does it well? It does well to those that do ill. Now thou dost ill to say the gallows is built stronger than the church. Argal, the gallows may do wellto thee. To ’t again, come.

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

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SECOND GRAVEDIGGER

“Who builds stronger than a mason, a shipwright, or a carpenter?”

SECOND GRAVEDIGGER

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FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

Ay, tell me that, and unyoke.

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

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SECOND GRAVEDIGGER

Marry, now I can tell.

SECOND GRAVEDIGGER

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FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

To ’t.

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

Lorem

SECOND GRAVEDIGGER

Mass, I cannot tell.

SECOND GRAVEDIGGER

Lorem Lorem ipsum

HAMLET and HORATIO enter, in the distance.

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

Cudgel thy brains no more about it, for your dull ass will not mend his pace with beating. And when you are asked this question next, say “A grave-maker.” The houses that he makes last till doomsday. Go, get thee in. Fetch me a stoup of liquor.

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

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The SECOND GRAVEDIGGER exits.

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

[digs and sings] In youth when I did love, did love, Methought it was very sweet To contract–o–the time, for–a–my behove, Oh, methought, there–a–was nothing–a–meet.

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

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HAMLET

Has this fellow no feeling of his business? He sings atgrave- making.

HAMLET

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HORATIO

Custom hath made it in him a property of easiness.

HORATIO

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HAMLET

‘Tis e’en so. The hand of little employment hath the daintier sense.

HAMLET

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FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

[sings] But age with his stealing steps Hath clawed me in his clutch, And hath shipped me into the land As if I had never been such. [throws up a skull]

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

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HAMLET

That skull had a tongue in it and could sing once. How the knave jowls it to the ground, as if it were Cain’s jawbone, that did the first murder! It might be the pateof a politician, which this ass now o’erreaches, one that would circumvent God, might it not?

HAMLET

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HORATIO

It might, my lord.

HORATIO

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HAMLET

Or of a courtier, which could say, “Good morrow, sweet lord!” “How dost thou, good lord?” This might be my LordSuch-a-one that praised my Lord Such-a-one’s horse whenhe meant to beg it, might it not?

HAMLET

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HORATIO

Ay, my lord.

HORATIO

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HAMLET

Why, e’en so. And now my Lady Worm’s, chapless and knocked about the mazard with a sexton’s spade. Here’s fine revolution, an we had the trick to see ’t. Did these bones cost no more the breeding but to play at loggets with them? Mine ache to think on ’t.

HAMLET

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FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

[sings] A pickax and a spade, a spade, For and a shrouding sheet, Oh, a pit of clay for to be made For such a guest is meet. [throws up another skull]

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

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HAMLET

There’s another. Why may not that be the skull of a lawyer? Where be his quiddities now, his quillities, hiscases, his tenures, and his tricks? Why does he suffer this rude knave now to knock him about the sconce with adirty shovel and will not tell him of his action of battery? Hum! This fellow might be in ’s time a great buyer of land, with his statutes, his recognizances, hisfines, his double vouchers, his recoveries. Is this thefine of his fines and the recovery of his recoveries, to have his fine pate full of fine dirt? Will his vouchers vouch him no more of his purchases, and double ones too, than the length and breadth of a pair of indentures? The very conveyances of his lands will hardly lie in this box, and must the inheritor himself have no more, ha?

HAMLET

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HORATIO

Not a jot more, my lord.

HORATIO

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HAMLET

Is not parchment made of sheepskins?

HAMLET

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HORATIO

Ay, my lord, and of calfskins too.

HORATIO

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HAMLET

They are sheep and calves which seek out assurance in that.I will speak to this fellow.—Whose grave’s this, sirrah?

HAMLET

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FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

Mine, sir. [sings]Oh, a pit of clay for to be madeFor such a guest is meet.

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

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HAMLET

I think it be thine, indeed, for thou liest in ’t.

HAMLET

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FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

You lie out on ’t, sir, and therefore it is not yours. For my part, I do not lie in ’t, and yet it is mine.

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

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HAMLET

Thou dost lie in ’t, to be in ’t and say it is thine. ‘Tis for the dead, not for the quick. Therefore thou liest.

HAMLET

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FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

‘Tis a quick lie, sir. ‘Twill away gain from me to you.

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

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HAMLET

What man dost thou dig it for?

HAMLET

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FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

For no man, sir.

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

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HAMLET

What woman, then?

HAMLET

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FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

For none, neither.

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

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HAMLET

Who is to be buried in ’t?

HAMLET

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FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

One that was a woman, sir, but, rest her soul, she’s dead.

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

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HAMLET

How absolute the knave is! We must speak by the card, or equivocation will undo us. By the Lord, Horatio, these three years I have taken a note of it. The age is grown so picked that the toe of the peasant comes so near the heel of the courtier he galls his kibe. —How long hast thou been a grave-maker?

HAMLET

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FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

Of all the days i’ the year, I came to ’t that day thatour lastKing Hamlet overcame Fortinbras.

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

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HAMLET

How long is that since?

HAMLET

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FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

Cannot you tell that? Every fool can tell that. It was the very day that young Hamlet was born, he that is mad and sent into England.

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

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HAMLET

Ay, marry, why was he sent into England?

HAMLET

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FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

Why, because he was mad. He shall recover his wits there, or, if he do not, it’s no great matter there.

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

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HAMLET

Why?

HAMLET

Lore

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

‘Twill not be seen in him there. There the men are as mad as he.

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

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HAMLET

How came he mad?

HAMLET

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FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

Very strangely, they say.

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

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HAMLET

How “strangely?”

HAMLET

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FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

Faith, e’en with losing his wits.

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

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HAMLET

Upon what ground?

HAMLET

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FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

Why, here in Denmark. I have been sexton here, man and boy, thirty years.

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

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HAMLET

How long will a man lie i’ the earth ere he rot?

HAMLET

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FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

Faith, if he be not rotten before he die—as we have many pocky corses nowadays that will scarce hold the laying in— he will last you some eight year or nine year. A tanner will last you nine year.

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

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HAMLET

Why he more than another?

HAMLET

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FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

Why, sir, his hide is so tanned with his trade that he will keep out water a great while, and your water is a sore decayer of your whoreson dead body. [indicates a skull] Here’s a skull now. This skull has lain in the earth three-and-twenty years.

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

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HAMLET

Whose was it?

HAMLET

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FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

A whoreson mad fellow’s it was. Whose do you think it was?

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

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HAMLET

Nay, I know not.

HAMLET

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FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

A pestilence on him for a mad rogue! He poured a flagonof Rhenish on my head once. This same skull, sir, was Yorick’s skull, the king’s jester.

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

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HAMLET

This?

HAMLET

Lorem ips

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

E’en that.

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

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HAMLET

Let me see. [takes the skull] Alas, poor Yorick! I knewhim, Horatio, a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy. He hath borne me on his back a thousandtimes, and now, how abhorred in my imagination it is! My gorge rises at it. Here hung those lips that I have kissed I know not how oft. —Where be your gibes now? Your gambols? Your songs? Your flashes of merriment thatwere wont to set the table on a roar? Not one now to mock your own grinning? Quite chapfallen? Now get you tomy lady’s chamber and tell her, let her paint an inch thick, to this favor she must come. Make her laugh at that. —Prithee, Horatio, tell me one thing.

HAMLET

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HORATIO

What’s that, my lord?

HORATIO

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HAMLET

Dost thou think Alexander looked o’ this fashion i’ th’earth?

HAMLET

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HORATIO

E’en so.

HORATIO

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HAMLET

And smelt so? Pah! [puts down the skull]

HAMLET

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HORATIO

E’en so, my lord.

HORATIO

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HAMLET

To what base uses we may return, Horatio. Why may not imagination trace the noble dust of Alexander till he find it stopping a bunghole?

HAMLET

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HORATIO

‘Twere to consider too curiously, to consider so.

HORATIO

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HAMLET

No, faith, not a jot. But to follow him thither with modesty enough, and likelihood to lead it, as thus: Alexander died, Alexander was buried, Alexander returneth to dust, the dust is earth, of earth we make loam —and why of that loam, whereto he was converted, might they not stop a beer barrel? Imperious Caesar, dead and turned to clay, Might stop a hole to keep the wind away. Oh, that that earth, which kept the world in awe, Should patch a wall t’ expel the winter’s flaw! But soft, but soft a while.

HAMLET

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CLAUDIUS enters with GERTRUDE, LAERTES, and a coffin, with a PRIEST and other lords attendant.

HAMLET

Here comes the king, The queen, the courtiers—who is this they follow, And with such maimèd rites? This doth betoken The corse they follow did with desperate hand Fordo its own life. ‘Twas of some estate. Couch we a while and mark.

HAMLET

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HAMLET and HORATIO step aside.

LAERTES

What ceremony else?

LAERTES

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HAMLET

That is Laertes, a very noble youth, mark.

HAMLET

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LAERTES

What ceremony else?

LAERTES

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PRIEST

Her obsequies have been as far enlarged As we have warranty. Her death was doubtful, And, but that great command o’ersways the order, She should in ground unsanctified have lodged Till the last trumpet. For charitable prayers Shards, flints and pebbles should be thrown on her. Yet here she is allowed her virgin crants, Her maiden strewments, and the bringing home Of bell and burial.

PRIEST

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LAERTES

Must there no more be done?

LAERTES

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PRIEST

No more be done. We should profane the service of the dead To sing a requiem and such rest to her As to peace-parted souls.

PRIEST

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LAERTES

Lay her i’ th’ earth, And from her fair and unpolluted flesh May violets spring! I tell thee, churlish priest, A ministering angel shall my sister be When thou liest howling.

LAERTES

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HAMLET

[to HORATIO] What, the fair Ophelia?

HAMLET

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GERTRUDE

Sweets to the sweet. Farewell! [scatters flowers] I hoped thou shouldst have been my Hamlet’s wife. I thought thy bride-bed to have decked, sweet maid, And not have strewed thy grave.

GERTRUDE

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LAERTES

Oh, treble woe Fall ten times treble on that cursèd head, Whose wicked deed thy most ingenious sense Deprived thee of! Hold off the earth awhile Till I have caught her once more in mine arms.

LAERTES

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LAERTES jumps into the grave.

LAERTES

Now pile your dust upon the quick and dead, Till of this flat a mountain you have made, T’ o’ertop old Pelion or the skyish head Of blue Olympus.

LAERTES

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HAMLET

[comes forward] What is he whose grief Bears such an emphasis, whose phrase of sorrow Conjures the wandering stars, and makes them stand Like wonder-wounded hearers? This is I, Hamlet the Dane. [leaps into the grave]

HAMLET

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LAERTES

The devil take thy soul!

LAERTES

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HAMLET and LAERTES wrestle.

HAMLET

Thou pray’st not well. I prithee, take thy fingers from my throat, For though I am not splenitive and rash, Yet have I something in me dangerous, Which let thy wisdom fear. Hold off thy hand.

HAMLET

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CLAUDIUS

Pluck them asunder.

CLAUDIUS

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GERTRUDE

Hamlet, Hamlet!

GERTRUDE

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ALL

Gentlemen—

ALL

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HORATIO

[to HAMLET] Good my lord, be quiet.

HORATIO

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Attendants separate HAMLET and LAERTES.

HAMLET

Why, I will fight with him upon this themeUntil my eyelids will no longer wag.

HAMLET

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GERTRUDE

O my son, what theme?

GERTRUDE

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HAMLET

I loved Ophelia. Forty thousand brothersCould not with all their quantity of loveMake up my sum. What wilt thou do for her?

HAMLET

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CLAUDIUS

O, he is mad, Laertes.

CLAUDIUS

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GERTRUDE

For love of God, forbear him.

GERTRUDE

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HAMLET

‘Swounds, show me what thou’lt do. Woo’t weep? Woo’t fight? Woo’t fast? Woo’t tear thyself? Woo’t drink up eisel, eat a crocodile? I’ll do ’t. Dost thou come here to whine, To outface me with leaping in her grave? Be buried quick with her?—and so will I. And if thou prate of mountains let them throw Millions of acres on us, till our ground, Singeing his pate against the burning zone, Make Ossa like a wart! Nay, an thou’lt mouth, I’ll rant as well as thou.

HAMLET

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GERTRUDE

This is mere madness. And thus a while the fit will work on him. Anon, as patient as the female dove When that her golden couplets are disclosed, His silence will sit drooping.

GERTRUDE

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HAMLET

Hear you, sir. What is the reason that you use me thus? I loved you ever. But it is no matter. Let Hercules himself do what he may, The cat will mew and dog will have his day.

HAMLET

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HAMLET exits.

CLAUDIUS

I pray thee, good Horatio, wait upon him.

CLAUDIUS

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HORATIO exits.

CLAUDIUS

[to LAERTES] Strengthen your patience in our last night’s speech. We’ll put the matter to the present push.— Good Gertrude, set some watch over your son.— This grave shall have a living monument. An hour of quiet shortly shall we see. Till then in patience our proceeding be.

CLAUDIUS

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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.