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Hamlet

by William Shakespeare

Act 4, Scene 7 Easiest-to-Read Edition

 

 

 

Hamlet Act 4, Scene 7



Another Room in the Castle

Hamlet Act 4 Scene 7

Enter CLAUDIUS and LAERTES

Enter CLAUDIUS and LAERTES

CLAUDIUS

Now must your conscience my acquittance seal,

acquittance=innocence

And you must put me in your heart for friend,

Sith you have heard, and with a knowing ear,

That he which hath your noble father slain

Pursued my life.

 

CLAUDIUS

Now must your conscience my acquittance seal,

And you must put me in your heart for friend,

Sith you have heard, and with a knowing ear,

That he which hath your noble father slain

Pursued my life.

 

LAERTES

  It well appears. But tell me

Why you proceeded not against these feats,

So criminal and so capital in nature,

As by your safety, wisdom, all things else,

You mainly were stirred up.

stirred up=involved

 

LAERTES

  It well appears. But tell me

Why you proceeded not against these feats,

So criminal and so capital in nature,

As by your safety, wisdom, all things else,

You mainly were stirred up.

 

CLAUDIUS

    Oh, for two special reasons,

Which may to you perhaps seem much unsinewed,

unsinewed=weak

But yet to me they are strong. The queen his mother

Lives almost by his looks, and for myself—

by his looks=for his attentions

My virtue or my plague, be it either which—

be it either which=be it one or the other

She’s so conjunctive to my life and soul,

That, as the star moves not but in his sphere,

I could not but by her. The other motive

(I could not move but in her sphere)

Why to a public count I might not go,

count=reckoning

Is the great love the general gender bear him,

gender=populace

Who, dipping all his faults in their affection,

Would, like the spring that turneth wood to stone,

Convert his gyves to graces—so that my arrows,

gyves=defects

Too slightly timbered for so loud a wind,

Would have reverted to my bow again,

And not where I had aimed them.

 

CLAUDIUS

    Oh, for two special reasons,

Which may to you perhaps seem much unsinewed,

But yet to me they are strong. The queen his mother

Lives almost by his looks, and for myself—

My virtue or my plague, be it either which—

She’s so conjunctive to my life and soul,

That, as the star moves not but in his sphere,

I could not but by her. The other motive

Why to a public count I might not go,

Is the great love the general gender bear him,

Who, dipping all his faults in their affection,

Would, like the spring that turneth wood to stone,

Convert his gyves to graces—so that my arrows,

Too slightly timbered for so loud a wind,

Would have reverted to my bow again,

And not where I had aimed them.

 

LAERTES

And so have I a noble father lost,

A sister driven into desperate terms,

Whose worth, if praises may go back again,

go back again=revert to how she used to be

Stood challenger on mount of all the age

on mount=atop

For her perfections. But my revenge will come.

 

LAERTES

And so have I a noble father lost,

A sister driven into desperate terms,

Whose worth, if praises may go back again,

Stood challenger on mount of all the age

For her perfections. But my revenge will come.

 

CLAUDIUS

Break not your sleeps for that. You must not think

That we are made of stuff so flat and dull

we=the royal “we”

That we can let our beard be shook with danger

And think it pastime. You shortly shall hear more.

I loved your father, and we love ourself.

And that, I hope, will teach you to imagine—

 

CLAUDIUS

Break not your sleeps for that. You must not think

That we are made of stuff so flat and dull

That we can let our beard be shook with danger

And think it pastime. You shortly shall hear more.

I loved your father, and we love ourself.

And that, I hope, will teach you to imagine—

 

Enter a MESSENGER

Enter a MESSENGER

How now, what news?

How now, what news?

MESSENGER

  Letters, my lord, from Hamlet.

This to your majesty, this to the queen. (gives CLAUDIUS letters)

 

MESSENGER

  Letters, my lord, from Hamlet.

This to your majesty, this to the queen. (gives CLAUDIUS letters)

 

CLAUDIUS

From Hamlet? Who brought them?

 

CLAUDIUS

From Hamlet? Who brought them?

 

MESSENGER

Sailors, my lord, they say. I saw them not.

They were given me by Claudio. He received them

Of him that brought them.

 

MESSENGER

Sailors, my lord, they say. I saw them not.

They were given me by Claudio. He received them

Of him that brought them.

 

CLAUDIUS

Laertes, you shall hear them.—Leave us.

 

CLAUDIUS

Laertes, you shall hear them.—Leave us.

 

Exit MESSENGER

Exit MESSENGER

(reads)

 “High and mighty,

 You shall know I am set naked on your kingdom. Tomorrow shall I beg leave to see your kingly eyes, when I shall, first asking your pardon thereunto, recount the occasion of my sudden and more strange return.

      Hamlet.”

What should this mean? Are all the rest come back? Or is it some abuse, and no such thing?

abuse=deceit

 

(reads)

 “High and mighty,

 You shall know I am set naked on your kingdom. Tomorrow shall I beg leave to see your kingly eyes, when I shall, first asking your pardon thereunto, recount the occasion of my sudden and more strange return.

      Hamlet.”

What should this mean? Are all the rest come back? Or is it some abuse, and no such thing?

 

LAERTES

Know you the hand?

 

LAERTES

Know you the hand?

 

CLAUDIUS

  'Tis Hamlet’s character. “Naked”?

character=handwriting

And in a postscript here, he says “alone.”

Can you advise me?

 

CLAUDIUS

  'Tis Hamlet’s character. “Naked”?

And in a postscript here, he says “alone.”

Can you advise me?

 

LAERTES

I’m lost in it, my lord. But let him come.

It warms the very sickness in my heart

That I shall live and tell him to his teeth,

“Thus didest thou.”

 

LAERTES

I’m lost in it, my lord. But let him come.

It warms the very sickness in my heart

That I shall live and tell him to his teeth,

“Thus didest thou.”

 

CLAUDIUS

  If it be so, Laertes—

As how should it be so? How otherwise?—

Will you be ruled by me?

 

CLAUDIUS

  If it be so, Laertes—

As how should it be so? How otherwise?—

Will you be ruled by me?

 

LAERTES

    Ay, my lord—

So you will not o'errule me to a peace.

 

LAERTES

    Ay, my lord—

So you will not o'errule me to a peace.

 

CLAUDIUS

To thine own peace. If he be now returned,

As checking at his voyage, and that he means

checking at his voyage=stopping his voyage

No more to undertake it, I will work him

To an exploit, now ripe in my devise,

Under the which he shall not choose but fall.

And for his death no wind of blame shall breathe,

But even his mother shall uncharge the practice

uncharge the practice=think guiltless the plot

And call it accident.

 

CLAUDIUS

To thine own peace. If he be now returned,

As checking at his voyage, and that he means

No more to undertake it, I will work him

To an exploit, now ripe in my devise,

Under the which he shall not choose but fall.

And for his death no wind of blame shall breathe,

But even his mother shall uncharge the practice

And call it accident.

 

LAERTES

  My lord, I will be ruled

The rather if you could devise it so

That I might be the organ.

organ=agent of Hamlet’s death

 

LAERTES

  My lord, I will be ruled

The rather if you could devise it so

That I might be the organ.

 

CLAUDIUS

    It falls right (into place).

You have been talked of since your travel much—

And that in Hamlet’s hearing—for a quality

Wherein, they say, you shine. Your sum of parts

Did not together pluck such envy from him

As did that one, and that, in my regard,

Of the unworthiest siege.

unworthiest siege=lowest rank (a dueling move)

 

CLAUDIUS

    It falls right.

You have been talked of since your travel much—

And that in Hamlet’s hearing—for a quality

Wherein, they say, you shine. Your sum of parts

Did not together pluck such envy from him

As did that one, and that, in my regard,

Of the unworthiest siege.

 

LAERTES

    What part is that, my lord?

 

LAERTES

    What part is that, my lord?

 

CLAUDIUS

A very ribbon in the cap of youth,

very ribbon=trivial decoration, which turns out to be for fencing

Yet needful too, for youth no less becomes

The light and careless livery that it wears

livery=attire

Than settled age his sables and his weeds,

weeds=clothes

Importing health and graveness. Two months since,

importing=signifying

Here was a gentleman of Normandy.

I’ve seen myself, and served against, the French,

And they can well on horseback. But this gallant

Had witchcraft in ’t. He grew unto his seat,

And to such wondrous doing brought his horse

As he had been encorpsed and demi-natured

as he had been encorpsed=as if  he had been embodied

With the brave beast. So far he topped my thought,

That I, in forgery of shapes and tricks,

forgery=verbal imitation (words could not describe . . .)

Come short of what he did.

 

CLAUDIUS

A very ribbon in the cap of youth,

Yet needful too, for youth no less becomes

The light and careless livery that it wears

Than settled age his sables and his weeds,

Importing health and graveness. Two months since,

Here was a gentleman of Normandy.

I’ve seen myself, and served against, the French,

And they can well on horseback. But this gallant

Had witchcraft in ’t. He grew unto his seat,

And to such wondrous doing brought his horse

As he had been encorpsed and demi-natured

With the brave beast. So far he topped my thought,

That I, in forgery of shapes and tricks,

Come short of what he did.

 

LAERTES

    A Norman was ’t?

 

LAERTES

    A Norman was ’t?

 

CLAUDIUS

A Norman.

 

CLAUDIUS

A Norman.

 

LAERTES

Upon my life, Lamond!

 

LAERTES

Upon my life, Lamond!

 

CLAUDIUS

    The very same.

 

CLAUDIUS

    The very same.

 

LAERTES

I know him well. He is the brooch indeed

And gem of all the nation.

 

LAERTES

I know him well. He is the brooch indeed

And gem of all the nation.

 

CLAUDIUS

    He made confession of you,

And gave you such a masterly report

For art and exercise in your defense,

And for your rapier most especially,

That he cried out ’twould be a sight indeed

If one could match you. The scrimers of their nation,

scrimers=fencers

their nation=his nation (France - Normandy)

He swore, had had neither motion, guard, nor eye,

If you opposed them. Sir, this report of his

Did Hamlet so envenom with his envy

That he could nothing do but wish and beg

Your sudden coming o'er, to play with him.

Now, out of this—

 

CLAUDIUS

    He made confession of you,

And gave you such a masterly report

For art and exercise in your defense,

And for your rapier most especially,

That he cried out ’twould be a sight indeed

If one could match you. The scrimers of their nation,

He swore, had had neither motion, guard, nor eye,

If you opposed them. Sir, this report of his

Did Hamlet so envenom with his envy

That he could nothing do but wish and beg

Your sudden coming o'er, to play with him.

Now, out of this—

 

LAERTES

  What out of this, my lord?

 

LAERTES

  What out of this, my lord?

 

CLAUDIUS

Laertes, was your father dear to you?

Or are you like the painting of a sorrow,

A face without a heart?

 

CLAUDIUS

Laertes, was your father dear to you?

Or are you like the painting of a sorrow,

A face without a heart?

 

LAERTES

    Why ask you this?

 

LAERTES

    Why ask you this?

 

CLAUDIUS

Not that I think you did not love your father

But that I know love is begun by time,

And that I see, in passages of proof,

Time qualifies the spark and fire of it.

qualifies=weakens

There lives within the very flame of love

A kind of wick or snuff that will abate it.

And nothing is at a like goodness still.

a like goodness=the same goodness

still=always

For goodness, growing to a pleurisy,

a pleurisy=an excess

Dies in his own too-much. That we would do,

We should do when we would, for this “would” changes

And hath abatements and delays as many

As there are tongues, are hands, are accidents.

And then this “should” is like a spendthrift sigh

That hurts by easing.—But to the quick of th' ulcer:

quick=tender part

Hamlet comes back. What would you undertake

To show yourself in deed your father’s son

More than in words?

 

CLAUDIUS

Not that I think you did not love your father

But that I know love is begun by time,

And that I see, in passages of proof,

Time qualifies the spark and fire of it.

There lives within the very flame of love

A kind of wick or snuff that will abate it.

And nothing is at a like goodness still.

For goodness, growing to a pleurisy,

Dies in his own too-much. That we would do,

We should do when we would, for this “would” changes

And hath abatements and delays as many

As there are tongues, are hands, are accidents.

And then this “should” is like a spendthrift sigh

That hurts by easing.—But to the quick of th' ulcer:

Hamlet comes back. What would you undertake

To show yourself in deed your father’s son

More than in words?

 

LAERTES

  To cut his throat i' th' church.

 

LAERTES

  To cut his throat i' th' church.

 

CLAUDIUS

No place, indeed, should murder sanctuarize.

sanctuarize=give holy shelter

Revenge should have no bounds. But, good Laertes,

Will you do this, keep close within your chamber.

Hamlet returned shall know you are come home.

We’ll put on those shall praise your excellence

And set a double varnish on the fame

The Frenchman gave you, bring you, in fine, together

in fine=in conclusion

And wager on your heads. He, being remiss,

Most generous and free from all contriving,

Will not peruse the foils; so that, with ease,

Or with a little shuffling, you may choose

A sword unbated, and in a pass of practice

unbated=unblunted

Requite him for your father.

 

CLAUDIUS

No place, indeed, should murder sanctuarize.

Revenge should have no bounds. But, good Laertes,

Will you do this, keep close within your chamber.

Hamlet returned shall know you are come home.

We’ll put on those shall praise your excellence

And set a double varnish on the fame

The Frenchman gave you, bring you in fine together

And wager on your heads. He, being remiss,

Most generous and free from all contriving,

Will not peruse the foils; so that, with ease,

Or with a little shuffling, you may choose

A sword unbated, and in a pass of practice

Requite him for your father.

 

LAERTES

    I will do ’t.

And for that purpose I’ll anoint my sword.

I bought an unction of a mountebank,

So mortal that, but dip a knife in it,

Where it draws blood no cataplasm so rare,

cataplasm=medicine

Collected from all simples that have virtue

simples=herbs

Under the moon, can save the thing from death

That is but scratched withal. I’ll touch my point

withal=moreover

With this contagion, that if I gall him slightly

gall=wound

It may be death.

 

LAERTES

    I will do ’t.

And for that purpose I’ll anoint my sword.

I bought an unction of a mountebank,

So mortal that, but dip a knife in it,

Where it draws blood no cataplasm so rare,

Collected from all simples that have virtue

Under the moon, can save the thing from death

That is but scratched withal. I’ll touch my point

With this contagion, that if I gall him slightly

It may be death.

 

CLAUDIUS

  Let’s further think of this,

Weigh what convenience both of time and means

May fit us to our shape. If this should fail,

And that our drift look through our bad performance,

drift=intention

'Twere better not assayed. Therefore this project

assayed=tried

Should have a back or second that might hold

If this should blast in proof.—Soft, let me see.—

We’ll make a solemn wager on your cunnings.—

I ha ’t! When in your motion you are hot and dry,

As make your bouts more violent to that end,

And that he calls for drink, I’ll have prepared him

A chalice for the nonce, whereon but sipping,

nonce=occasion

If he by chance escape your venomed stuck,

stuck=stab

Our purpose may hold there.—But stay, what noise?

 

 

CLAUDIUS

  Let’s further think of this,

Weigh what convenience both of time and means

May fit us to our shape. If this should fail,

And that our drift look through our bad performance,

'Twere better not assayed. Therefore this project

Should have a back or second that might hold

If this should blast in proof.—Soft, let me see.—

We’ll make a solemn wager on your cunnings.—

I ha ’t! When in your motion you are hot and dry,

As make your bouts more violent to that end,

And that he calls for drink, I’ll have prepared him

A chalice for the nonce, whereon but sipping,

If he by chance escape your venomed stuck,

Our purpose may hold there.—But stay, what noise?

 

Enter GERTRUDE

Enter GERTRUDE

GERTRUDE

One woe doth tread upon another’s heel,

So fast they follow.—Your sister’s drowned, Laertes.

 

GERTRUDE

One woe doth tread upon another’s heel,

So fast they follow.—Your sister’s drowned, Laertes.

 

LAERTES

Drowned? Oh, where?

 

LAERTES

Drowned? Oh, where?

 

GERTRUDE

There is a willow grows aslant a brook

That shows his hoar leaves in the glassy stream.

There with fantastic garlands did she come

Of crowflowers, nettles, daisies, and long purples,

That liberal shepherds give a grosser name,

But our cold maids do “dead men’s fingers” call them.

There, on the pendant boughs her coronet weeds

Clambering to hang, an envious sliver broke,

envious=malicious

When down her weedy trophies and herself

Fell in the weeping brook. Her clothes spread wide,

And mermaid-like a while they bore her up,

Which time she chanted snatches of old lauds

As one incapable of her own distress,

Or like a creature native and indued

Unto that element. But long it could not be

Till that her garments, heavy with their drink,

Pulled the poor wretch from her melodious lay

lay=song

To muddy death.

 

GERTRUDE

There is a willow grows aslant a brook

That shows his hoar leaves in the glassy stream.

There with fantastic garlands did she come

Of crowflowers, nettles, daisies, and long purples,

That liberal shepherds give a grosser name,

But our cold maids do “dead men’s fingers” call them.

There, on the pendant boughs her coronet weeds

Clambering to hang, an envious sliver broke,

When down her weedy trophies and herself

Fell in the weeping brook. Her clothes spread wide,

And mermaid-like a while they bore her up,

Which time she chanted snatches of old lauds

As one incapable of her own distress,

Or like a creature native and indued

Unto that element. But long it could not be

Till that her garments, heavy with their drink,

Pulled the poor wretch from her melodious lay

To muddy death.

LAERTES

Alas, then she is drowned.

 

LAERTES

Alas, then she is drowned.

 

GERTRUDE

Drowned, drowned.

 

GERTRUDE

Drowned, drowned.

 

LAERTES

Too much of water hast thou, poor Ophelia,

And therefore I forbid my tears. But yet

It is our trick. Nature her custom holds,

Nature her custom holds=tears will flow

Let shame say what it will. When these are gone,

these=tears

The woman will be out.—Adieu, my lord.

the woman will be out=Laertes will be man again

I have a speech of fire that fain would blaze,

fain=gladly

But that this folly douts it.

douts=extinguishes

 

LAERTES

Too much of water hast thou, poor Ophelia,

And therefore I forbid my tears. But yet

It is our trick. Nature her custom holds,

Let shame say what it will. When these are gone,

The woman will be out.—Adieu, my lord.

I have a speech of fire that fain would blaze,

But that this folly douts it.

 

Exit LAERTES

Exit LAERTES

CLAUDIUS

    Let’s follow, Gertrude.

How much I had to do to calm his rage!

Now fear I this will give it start again.

Therefore let’s follow.

 

CLAUDIUS

    Let’s follow, Gertrude.

How much I had to do to calm his rage!

Now fear I this will give it start again.

Therefore let’s follow.

 

Exeunt

Exeunt

 

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