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

No, but listen to me, Mister Gravedigger—

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

Let me finish. Here’s the water, right? Now here stands a man, right? If the man goes into the water and drowns himself, he is—whether you like or not—the one doing it. Got that? But if the water comes to him and drowns him, then he doesn’t drown himself. Therefore, he who is not guilty of his own death does not shorten his own life.

SECOND GRAVEDIGGER

But is this law?

SECOND GRAVEDIGGER

Is that the law?

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

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

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

Yes, indeed it is. The coroner’s inquest law.

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

Do you want the truth? If this woman hadn’t been a noble, she wouldn’t have been given a Christian burial.

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

Well, now you’ve said it. It’s a pity that the nobles are given more leeway to drown or hang themselves than other Christians are. Come on, shovel. The most ancient nobles in the world are gardeners, ditch-diggers, and gravediggers. They keep up Adam’s profession.

SECOND GRAVEDIGGER

Was he a gentleman?

SECOND GRAVEDIGGER

Was he a noble?

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

He was the first that ever bore arms.

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

He was the first person who ever bore arms

SECOND GRAVEDIGGER

Why, he had none.

SECOND GRAVEDIGGER

He didn’t bear any arms.

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

What, are you not a Christian? Do you not know the Bible? The Bible says Adam dug. Could he dig without arms? I’ll ask you another question. If you can’t answer it, admit it—

SECOND GRAVEDIGGER

Go to.

SECOND GRAVEDIGGER

Go ahead!

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

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

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

Who builds stronger things than a stonemason, a shipbuilder, or a carpenter?

SECOND GRAVEDIGGER

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

SECOND GRAVEDIGGER

The one who builds the gallows where people are hung, because the gallows outlive a thousand users.

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

I like your humor, I swear. The gallows do well. But how? They do well to those who do bad. But you do bad to say that the gallows are stronger than a church. Therefore, the gallows may do well to you. Come on, try again.

SECOND GRAVEDIGGER

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

SECOND GRAVEDIGGER

“Who builds stronger things than a stonemason, a shipbuilder, or a carpenter?”

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

Ay, tell me that, and unyoke.

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

Yes, tell me that, then you can call it a day.

SECOND GRAVEDIGGER

Marry, now I can tell.

SECOND GRAVEDIGGER

Indeed, I’ll give you answer!

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

To ’t.

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

Do it.

SECOND GRAVEDIGGER

Mass, I cannot tell.

SECOND GRAVEDIGGER

By God, I forgot.

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

Stop wracking your brains about it. After all, you can’t make a slow donkey run by beating it. The next time someone asks you this riddle, say “a gravedigger.” The houses he makes last till Judgment Day. Go inside, now, and get me some alcohol.

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

[Digging and singing]
In my youth when I did love, did love,
 I though it was very sweet
To set—O—the date for—Ahh—my duty
 Oh, I thought it—ahh—was not—ahh—right.

HAMLET

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

HAMLET

Does this man not understand the seriousness of what he’s doing? He’s singing while digging a grave.

HORATIO

Custom hath made it in him a property of easiness.

HORATIO

He’s gotten so used to digging graves that he does it with ease.

HAMLET

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

HAMLET

That’s it exactly. Only those who aren't used to that kind of work are more sensitive to it.

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

[Singing]
But old age has snuck up on me
 And caught me in his claws,
And has shipped me into the ground
 As if I’d never been like that.
[He throws up a skull]

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

That skull had a tongue in it, and could sing once. That fool flings it to the ground as if belonged to Cain, who committed the first murder! It might be the skull of a power-grabbing politician who could talk his way around God, right? And now this idiot is grasping it.

HORATIO

It might, my lord.

HORATIO

It could be, my lord.

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

Or a courtier, who used to say, “Good night, my sweet lord! How are you, good lord?” This might be the skull of Lord So-and-So, who praised Lord So-and-So’s horse when he wanted to borrow it, right?

HORATIO

Ay, my lord.

HORATIO

Yes, my lord.

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

Why, yes. Exactly. And now it’s the property of Lady Worm, with its lower jaw knocked off, and thwacked on the head with a little shovel. What a change of fortune, if we could only see it. Were these bones grown and used so that they would be worth no more than bowling pins now? My bones ache to think about it.

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

[Singing]
A pickax and a shovel, a shovel,
A sheet for a funeral shroud,
Oh, a pit of dirt to be made up
Is the right thing for our guest.
[He throws up another skull]

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

There’s another. Why, couldn’t that be a lawyer’s skull? Where are all his lawyerly quibbles, his cases, and his tricks? Why does he let this rude fool knock him on the head with a shovel without suing him for assault and battery? Maybe he was a great landowner, with his bonds, his deeds, and his rents. Was it part of his contracts and deeds that his skull should get filled up with dirt? Does he get to keep only as much of his land as equals the width and length of a pair of his contracts spread out on the ground? The deeds to his properties would barely fit in this coffin—and that coffin is all he gets to have?

HORATIO

Not a jot more, my lord.

HORATIO

Not a bit more, my lord.

HAMLET

Is not parchment made of sheepskins?

HAMLET

Aren’t legal documents made of sheepskin?

HORATIO

Ay, my lord, and of calfskins too.

HORATIO

Yes, my lord, and calfskin too.

HAMLET

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

HAMLET

Anyone who looks for assurance in such documents is a sheep or a calf. I’m going to talk to this man.

[To the FIRST GRAVEDIGGER] Excuse me, sir, whose grave is this?

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

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

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

It’s mine, sir.
[Singing]
Oh, a pit of dirt to be made up
 Is the right thing for our guest.

HAMLET

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

HAMLET

I think it must be yours, because you’re lying in it.

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

You’re lying outside of it, sir, so therefore it’s not yours. As for me, I’m not lying in it—it’s really mine.

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

But you are lying in it, since you’re in it and saying it’s yours. It’s for the dead, not the living. Therefore, you’re lying.

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

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

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

That’s a lively lie, sir, jumping like that from me to you.

HAMLET

What man dost thou dig it for?

HAMLET

What man are you digging it for?

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

For no man, sir.

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

For no man, sir.

HAMLET

What woman, then?

HAMLET

What woman, then?

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

For none, neither.

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

For no woman, either.

HAMLET

Who is to be buried in ’t?

HAMLET

Who’s to be buried in it?

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

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

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

One who used to be a woman, sir, but is now dead, bless her soul.

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

How literal this jokester is! We have to speak precisely, or his word play will defeat us. Lord, Horatio, I’ve been noticing this for the last three years. The commoners have become so sophisticated that they’re nipping at the heels of noblemen.

[To the FIRST GRAVEDIGGER] How long have you been a gravedigger?

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

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

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

Of all the days in the year, I started this work on the day that the late King Hamlet defeated Fortinbras.

HAMLET

How long is that since?

HAMLET

How long ago was that?

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

You don’t know that? Any fool could tell you that. It was the day that young Hamlet was born—the one who’s insane and got sent to England.

HAMLET

Ay, marry, why was he sent into England?

HAMLET

Yes, right, and why was he sent to England?

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

Why? Because he was insane. He’ll recover his sanity there. Or if he doesn’t, it won’t matter in England.

HAMLET

Why?

HAMLET

Why?

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

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

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

Nobody there will notice. All the people there are as crazy as he is.

HAMLET

How came he mad?

HAMLET

How did he go insane?

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

Very strangely, they say.

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

Very strangely, they say.

HAMLET

How “strangely?”

HAMLET

What do you mean, “strangely?"

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

Faith, e’en with losing his wits.

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

By losing his mind, of course.

HAMLET

Upon what ground?

HAMLET

On what grounds?

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

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

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

Why, right here in Denmark. I’ve been the handyman here for thirty years, since I was a boy.

HAMLET

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

HAMLET

How long will a man lie in his grave before he starts to rot?

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

Well, if he’s not rotten before he dies—and we do have many corpses nowadays that are so rotten that they fall apart just from being laid in the grave—he’ll last eight or nine years. A man who makes leather will last nine years.

HAMLET

Why he more than another?

HAMLET

Why does he last longer than anyone else?

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

Well, sir, because his skin is so leathery from the work he does that he keeps the water out for a long time, and water is the main cause of decay in your son-of-a-bitch body. [He points to a skull] Here’s a skull now. It’s been buried in the earth twenty-three years.

HAMLET

Whose was it?

HAMLET

Whose was it?

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

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

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

An insane son-of-a-bitch. Whose do you think it was?

HAMLET

Nay, I know not.

HAMLET

I don’t know.

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

A curse on him, that crazy scoundrel! He poured a pitcher of German wine on my head once. Sir, this skull belonged to Yorick, the king’s jester.

HAMLET

This?

HAMLET

This one?

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

E’en that.

FIRST GRAVEDIGGER

That one.

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

Let me see. [He takes the skull] Oh, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio. He was a man of endless humor, a great wit. He gave me piggy-back rides a thousand times, and now..how awful my imagination is! It makes me nauseated to think of it. Here hung his lips, which I kissed I don’t know how many times. Where are your jokes now? Your dances? Your songs? Your flashes of high spirits that used to set the whole table roaring with laughter? You’re not able to mock your own grinning skull now, are you? Now go to my lady’s bedroom and tell her that, even if she piles on the makeup an inch thick, she’ll still wind up looking like you. Make her laugh at that. 

[To HORATIO] Please, Horatio, tell me something.

HORATIO

What’s that, my lord?

HORATIO

What’s that, my lord?

HAMLET

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

HAMLET

Do you think Alexander the Great looked like this when he was buried?

HORATIO

E’en so.

HORATIO

Just like that.

HAMLET

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

HAMLET

And smelled like this? Yuck! [He puts down the skull]

HORATIO

E’en so, my lord.

HORATIO

Just like that, my lord.

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

Look how badly we end up, Horatio. Why, you could imagine how the noble ashes of Alexander the Great might end up plugging a hole in a barrel?

HORATIO

‘Twere to consider too curiously, to consider so.

HORATIO

You’d be thinking about it too much, if you thought about that.

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

No, I swear, not at all. It’s perfectly reasonable to think of it: Alexander died, Alexander was buried, Alexander returned to dust, the dust is dirt, and dirt is used to make the material we use to stop up holes. So why can’t someone use the clay made from Alexander to plug up a beer barrel? The Roman Emperor Caesar, dead and turned to clay, might block a hole to keep the wind away. Oh, that the body that once ruled the entire world could now patch up a wall to keep out the winter! But quiet, be quiet for a moment.

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

Here comes the king, the queen, and all of their court. Who is it that they’re following? And with such a plain ceremony? This must mean that the corpse they’re following committed suicide. Must have been someone of quite noble birth. Let’s hide and watch for a while.

HAMLET and HORATIO step aside.

LAERTES

What ceremony else?

LAERTES

What other rites will you perform?

HAMLET

That is Laertes, a very noble youth, mark.

HAMLET

That’s Laertes, a very noble young man. Listen.

LAERTES

What ceremony else?

LAERTES

What other rites will you perform?

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

I’ve performed all the rites that I’m allowed to perform. Her death was questionable. And if the king had not given a command that overruled our normal customs, she’d have been buried in the unholy ground outside the church graveyard until Judgment Day. Instead of prayers, she would have had rocks and broken pottery thrown on her body. But she is dressed up like a pure virgin, with flowers scattered on her grave, and the bell tolling for her.

LAERTES

Must there no more be done?

LAERTES

Can nothing more be done?

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

Nothing more. We would be disrespectful to the other dead if we sang the same requiem for her that we sang for those who died peacefully.

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

Lay her in the ground, and may violets bloom from her pure and beautiful body! I’m telling you, you uncharitable priest, my sister will be an angel in heaven while you’re howling in hell.

HAMLET

[to HORATIO] What, the fair Ophelia?

HAMLET

[To HORATIO] What, the beautiful Ophelia?

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

Sweet flowers for a sweet girl. Goodbye! [She scatters flowers] I had hoped you’d be my Hamlet’s wife. I thought I’d be scattering flowers on your wedding bed, not strewing them on your grave, sweet girl.

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

Oh, damn three times, damn thirty times the cursed one whose actions stole your brilliant mind. Do not bury her until I’ve held her in my arms once more.

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

Now pile the dirt onto the living and the dead, until you’ve made this flat ground into mountain higher than Mount Pelion or the towering peaks of Mount Olympus.

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

[He comes forward] Who is the man whose grief is so profound, whose words of sadness makes the stars stand still in the heavens as if struck dumb by what they’ve heard? It is me, Hamlet the Dane. [He jumps into the grave]

LAERTES

The devil take thy soul!

LAERTES

The devil take your soul!

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

That’s not the right way to pray. [They fight] I ask you, please remove your fingers from my throat. I’m not impulsive and quick-tempered, but I have something dangerous in me which you would be wise to fear. Take your hands off me.

CLAUDIUS

Pluck them asunder.

CLAUDIUS

Separate them.

GERTRUDE

Hamlet, Hamlet!

GERTRUDE

Hamlet! Hamlet!

ALL

Gentlemen—

ALL

Gentlemen!

HORATIO

[to HAMLET] Good my lord, be quiet.

HORATIO

[To HAMLET] My lord, calm down.

Attendants separate HAMLET and LAERTES.

HAMLET

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

HAMLET

I’ll fight him on this topic until my eyelids cease to blink.

GERTRUDE

O my son, what theme?

GERTRUDE

Oh, my son, what topic?

HAMLET

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

HAMLET

I loved Ophelia. The love of forty thousand brothers, added together, could not match mine. What are you going to do for her?

CLAUDIUS

O, he is mad, Laertes.

CLAUDIUS

Oh, he is crazy, Laertes!

GERTRUDE

For love of God, forbear him.

GERTRUDE

For the love of God, leave him alone.

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

By God! Show me what you’re going to do for her. Will you cry? Will you fight? Will you cease to eat? Will you cut yourself? Will you drink vinegar, or eat a crocodile? I’ll do it. Did you come here to whine? To outdo me by jumping into her grave so theatrically? To be buried alive with her? So will I. And if you babble about mountains, then let them throw millions of acres over us until the peak scrapes against sun and makes Mount Ossa look like a wart. See? I can rant as well as you.

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

This is pure madness. This fit will stay with him for a little while. Then he’ll be as calm as a female dove waiting for a pair of eggs to hatch.

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

Listen to me, sir. Why do you treat me like this? I always loved you. But it doesn’t matter. No matter what a hero like Hercules does, fools will seek to draw attention to themselves.

HAMLET exits.

CLAUDIUS

I pray thee, good Horatio, wait upon him.

CLAUDIUS

Horatio, please go with him.

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

[To LAERTES] Control yourself by thinking of our talk last night. We’ll handle this issue very soon.

[To GERTRUDE] Good Gertrude, please set some kind of watch over your son. We will build a monument for this grave that will last forever. Soon we’ll have the calm we need. Until then we must work patiently.

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.