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Hamlet

by William Shakespeare

Act 3, Scene 3 Easiest-to-Read Edition

 

 

 



Hamlet Act 3, Scene 3



A Room in the Castle

Enter CLAUDIUS, ROSENCRANTZ, and GUILDENSTERN

Enter CLAUDIUS, ROSENCRANTZ, and GUILDENSTERN

CLAUDIUS

I like him not, nor stands it safe with us

To let his madness range. Therefore prepare you.

I your commission will forthwith dispatch,

And he to England shall along with you.

The terms of our estate may not endure

terms=conditions

estate=life as king

Hazard so dangerous as doth hourly grow

Out of his lunacies.

 

CLAUDIUS

I like him not, nor stands it safe with us

To let his madness range. Therefore prepare you.

I your commission will forthwith dispatch,

And he to England shall along with you.

The terms of our estate may not endure

Hazard so dangerous as doth hourly grow

Out of his lunacies.

 

GUILDENSTERN

  We will ourselves provide.

Most holy and religious fear it is

To keep those many, many bodies safe

bodies=subjects

That live and feed upon your majesty.

 

GUILDENSTERN

  We will ourselves provide.

Most holy and religious fear it is

To keep those many, many bodies safe

That live and feed upon your majesty.

 

ROSENCRANTZ

The single and peculiar life is bound

peculiar=individual

With all the strength and armor of the mind

To keep itself from noyance, but much more

noyance=harm

That spirit upon whose weal depend and rest

weal=welfare

The lives of many. The cease of majesty

cease=death

Dies not alone, but, like a gulf, doth draw

gulf=whirlpool

What’s near it with it. It is a massy wheel

Fixed on the summit of the highest mount,

To whose huge spokes ten thousand lesser things

Are mortised and adjoined, which, when it falls,

mortised=cemented

Each small annexment, petty consequence,

annexment=object adjoined

Attends the boisterous ruin. Never alone

attends the boisterous ruin=is dragged down with it

Did the king sigh, but with a general groan.

 

ROSENCRANTZ

The single and peculiar life is bound

With all the strength and armor of the mind

To keep itself from noyance, but much more

That spirit upon whose weal depend and rest

The lives of many. The cease of majesty

Dies not alone, but, like a gulf, doth draw

What’s near it with it. It is a massy wheel

Fixed on the summit of the highest mount,

To whose huge spokes ten thousand lesser things

Are mortised and adjoined, which, when it falls,

Each small annexment, petty consequence,

Attends the boisterous ruin. Never alone

Did the king sigh, but with a general groan.

 

CLAUDIUS

Arm you, I pray you, to this speedy voyage.

arm=prepare

to this speedy voyage=for this speedy voyage

For we will fetters put upon this fear,

Which now goes too free-footed.

 

CLAUDIUS

Arm you, I pray you, to this speedy voyage.

For we will fetters put upon this fear,

Which now goes too free-footed.

 

ROSENCRANTZ, GUILDENSTERN

We will haste us.

 

ROSENCRANTZ, GUILDENSTERN

We will haste us.

 

Exeunt ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN

Exeunt ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN

Enter POLONIUS

Enter POLONIUS

POLONIUS

My lord, he’s going to his mother’s closet.

closet=bedroom

Behind the arras I’ll convey myself

arras=curtains

convey=hide

To hear the process. I’ll warrant she’ll tax him home.

process=what goes on

tax=rebuke

home=most severely

And, as you said (and wisely was it said)

'Tis meet that some more audience than a mother—

Since nature makes them partial—should o'erhear

The speech, of vantage. Fare you well, my liege.

 of vantage=from a safe place

liege=a lord in the feudal system

I’ll call upon you ere you go to bed

And tell you what I know.

 

POLONIUS

My lord, he’s going to his mother’s closet.

Behind the arras I’ll convey myself

To hear the process. I’ll warrant she’ll tax him home.

And, as you said (and wisely was it said)

'Tis meet that some more audience than a mother—

Since nature makes them partial—should o'erhear

The speech, of vantage. Fare you well, my liege.

I’ll call upon you ere you go to bed

And tell you what I know.

 

CLAUDIUS

    Thanks, dear my lord.

 

CLAUDIUS

    Thanks, dear my lord.

 

Exit POLONIUS

Exit POLONIUS

Oh, my offence is rank. It smells to heaven.

rank=rotten

It hath the primal eldest curse upon ’t,

primal eldest curse=God’s curse against Cain, who killed Abel, his brother

A brother’s murder. Pray can I not.

Pray can I not=I cannot pray

Though inclination be as sharp as will,

will=desire

My stronger guilt defeats my strong intent,

And, like a man to double business bound,

I stand in pause where I shall first begin,

stand in pause=pause, asking . . .

And both neglect. What if this cursèd hand

Were thicker than itself with brother’s blood?

Is there not rain enough in the sweet heavens

To wash it white as snow? Whereto serves mercy

whereto=for what use

But to confront the visage of offence?

And what’s in prayer but this twofold force,

To be forestallèd ere we come to fall

Or pardoned being down? Then I’ll look up.

being=after being

My fault is past. But oh, what form of prayer

Can serve my turn, “Forgive me my foul murder”?

serve my turn=meet my need

That cannot be, since I am still possessed

Of those effects for which I did the murder:

My crown, mine own ambition, and my queen.

May one be pardoned and retain th' offense?

In the corrupted currents of this world

Offense’s gilded hand may shove by justice,

And oft ’tis seen the wicked prize itself

Buys out the law. But ’tis not so above.

above=in  heaven

There is no shuffling. There the action lies

In his true nature, and we ourselves compelled,

Even to the teeth and forehead of our faults,

To give in evidence. What then? What rests?

Try what repentance can. What can it not?

Yet what can it when one cannot repent?

O wretched state! O bosom black as death!

O limèd soul that, struggling to be free,

limed=trapped (birdlime was used to ensnare birds)

Art more engaged! Help, angels. Make assay.

engaged=trapped

make assay=try

Bow, stubborn knees, and, heart with strings of steel,

Be soft as sinews of the newborn babe.

All may be well. (retires and kneels)

 

Oh, my offence is rank. It smells to heaven.

It hath the primal eldest curse upon ’t,

A brother’s murder. Pray can I not.

Though inclination be as sharp as will,

My stronger guilt defeats my strong intent,

And, like a man to double business bound,

I stand in pause where I shall first begin,

And both neglect. What if this cursèd hand

Were thicker than itself with brother’s blood?

Is there not rain enough in the sweet heavens

To wash it white as snow? Whereto serves mercy

But to confront the visage of offence?

And what’s in prayer but this twofold force,

To be forestallèd ere we come to fall

Or pardoned being down? Then I’ll look up.

My fault is past. But oh, what form of prayer

Can serve my turn, “Forgive me my foul murder”?

That cannot be, since I am still possessed

Of those effects for which I did the murder:

My crown, mine own ambition, and my queen.

May one be pardoned and retain th' offense?

In the corrupted currents of this world

Offense’s gilded hand may shove by justice,

And oft ’tis seen the wicked prize itself

Buys out the law. But ’tis not so above.

There is no shuffling. There the action lies

In his true nature, and we ourselves compelled,

Even to the teeth and forehead of our faults,

To give in evidence. What then? What rests?

Try what repentance can. What can it not?

Yet what can it when one cannot repent?

O wretched state! O bosom black as death!

O limèd soul that, struggling to be free,

Art more engaged! Help, angels. Make assay.

Bow, stubborn knees, and, heart with strings of steel,

Be soft as sinews of the newborn babe.

All may be well. (kneels)

 

Enter HAMLET

Enter HAMLET

HAMLET

Now might I do it pat. Now he is a-praying.

pat=opportunely

And now I’ll do ’t. (He draws out his sword.) And so he goes to heaven.

And so am I revenged.—That would be scanned.

would be scanned=calls for more thought

A villain kills my father, and, for that,

I, his sole son, do this same villain send

To heaven.

Oh, this is hire and salary, not revenge.

hire and salary=recompense

He took my father grossly, full of bread,

full of bread=not fasting (not preparing for heaven)

With all his crimes broad blown, as flush as May.

flush=full of life

And how his audit stands who knows save heaven?

audit=final account before God

save=except

But in our circumstance and course of thought

'Tis heavy with him. And am I then revenged

To take him in the purging of his soul

in the purging of his soul=while he is praying

When he is fit and seasoned for his passage?

passage=passage to the afterlife

No.

Up, sword, and know thou a more horrid hent.

(he puts up his sword)
hent
=plan

When he is drunk asleep, or in his rage,

Or in th' incestuous pleasure of his bed,

At game a-swearing, or about some act

That has no relish of salvation in ’t—

Then trip him, that his heels may kick at heaven,

And that his soul may be as damned and black

As hell, whereto it goes. My mother stays.

This physic but prolongs thy sickly days.

physic=medicine (the prayer)

 

HAMLET

Now might I do it pat. Now he is a-praying.

And now I’ll do ’t. And so he goes to heaven.

And so am I revenged.—That would be scanned.

A villain kills my father, and, for that,

I, his sole son, do this same villain send

To heaven.

Oh, this is hire and salary, not revenge.

He took my father grossly, full of bread,

With all his crimes broad blown, as flush as May.

And how his audit stands who knows save heaven?

But in our circumstance and course of thought

'Tis heavy with him. And am I then revenged

To take him in the purging of his soul

When he is fit and seasoned for his passage?

No.

Up, sword, and know thou a more horrid hent.

When he is drunk asleep, or in his rage,

Or in th' incestuous pleasure of his bed,

At game a-swearing, or about some act

That has no relish of salvation in ’t—

Then trip him, that his heels may kick at heaven,

And that his soul may be as damned and black

As hell, whereto it goes. My mother stays.

This physic but prolongs thy sickly days.

 

 

Exit HAMLET

Exit HAMLET

CLAUDIUS

(rises) My words fly up, my thoughts remain below.

Words without thoughts never to heaven go.

 

CLAUDIUS

(rises) My words fly up, my thoughts remain below.

Words without thoughts never to heaven go.

 

Exit

Exit

 

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