Act 1, Scene 2

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[A formal room in the castle. Enter King Claudius,
Queen Gertrude, Hamlet, Polonius, his son Laertes,
his daughter Ophelia, others.]

Claudius 

Though yet of Hamlet, our dear brother's death,
The memory be green, and that it us befitted
To bear our hearts in grief, and our whole kingdom
To be contracted in one brow of woe,
Yet, so far hath discretion fought with nature
That we, with wisest sorrow, think on him
Together with remembrance of ourselves.
Therefore, our sometimes sister, now our queen,
Th' imperial jointress of this warlike state,
Have we — as 'twere with a defeated joy,
With one auspicious and one dropping eye,
With mirth in funeral and with dirge in marriage,
In equal scale weighing delight and dole —
Taken to wife. Nor have we herein barred  
Your better wisdoms, which have freely gone
With this affair along. For all, our thanks.
Now follows that you know — young Fortinbras, 
Holding a weak supposal of our worth,
Or thinking, by our late dear brother's death,
Our state to be disjoint and out of frame,
Colleaguèd with the dream of his advantage,
He hath not failed to pester us with message,
Importing the surrender of those lands
Lost by his father with all bonds of law
To our most valiant brother. So much for him.
[Enter Voltemand and Cornelius.]
Now for ourself and for this time of meeting. 
Thus much the business is: we have here writ
To Norway, uncle of young Fortinbras,
Who, impotent and bed-rid, scarcely hears
Of this his nephew's purpose to suppress
His further gait herein — in that the levies,
The lists, and full proportions, are all made
Out of his subject. And we here dispatch 
You, good Cornelius, and you, Voltemand,
For bearing of this greeting to old Norway,
Giving to you no further personal power
To business with the king more than the scope
Of these delated articles allow.
Farewell, and let your haste commend your duty. 

Voltemand and Cornelius

In that and all things, will we show our duty.

Claudius

We doubt it nothing. Heartily farewell.
[Exit Voltemand and Cornelius.]
And now, Laertes, what's the news with you?
You told us of some suit. What is't, Laertes?
You cannot speak of reason to the Dane
And lose your voice. What wouldst thou beg, Laertes,
That shall not be my offer, not thy asking?
The head is not more native to the heart,
The hand more instrumental to the mouth,
Than is the throne of Denmark to thy father.
What wouldst thou have, Laertes?

Laertes

                                                   My dread Lord,
Your leave and favor to return to France,
From whence, though willingly, I came to Denmark
To show my duty in your coronation.
Yet now I must confess, that duty done,
My thoughts and wishes bend again toward France,
And bow them to your gracious leave and pardon.

Claudius

Have you your father's leave? What says Polonius?

Polonius 

He hath, my lord, wrung from me my slow leave
By laborsome petition, and at last,
Upon his will, I sealed my hard consent. 
I do beseech you; give him leave to go.

Claudius

Take thy fair hour, Laertes. Time be thine,
And thy best graces, spend it at thy will!
[To Hamlet, wearing dark clothes of mourning.]
But now, my cousin Hamlet, and my son — 

Hamlet

A little more than kin, and less than kind.

Claudius

How is it that the clouds still hang on you?

Hamlet 

Not so, my lord; I am too much i' the sun. 

Gertrude

Good Hamlet, cast thy nightly color off,
And let thine eye look like a friend on Denmark.
Do not for ever with thy vailèd lids
Seek for thy noble father in the dust.
Thou know'st 'tis common: all that lives must die,
Passing through nature to eternity.

Hamlet

Ay, madam, it is common.

Gertrude

                                          If it be,
Why seems it so particular with thee?

Hamlet

Seems, madam! Nay, it is. I know not 'seems.'
'Tis not alone my inky cloak, good mother,
Nor customary suits of solemn black,
Nor windy suspiration of forced breath,
No, nor the fruitful river in the eye,
Nor the dejected 'havior of the visage,
Together with all forms, moods, shows of grief,
That can denote me truly. These indeed seem, 
For they are actions that a man might play.
But I have that within which passes show.
These but the trappings and the suits of woe.

Claudius

'Tis sweet and commendable in your nature, Hamlet,
To give these mourning duties to your father.
But you must know — your father lost a father;
That father lost, lost his; and the survivor bound
In filial obligation, for some term,
To do obsequious sorrow. But to persevere 
In obstinate condolement is a course
Of impious stubbornness. 'Tis unmanly grief.
It shows a will most incorrect to heaven,
A heart unfortified, a mind impatient,
An understanding simple and unschooled
For what we know must be, and is, as common
As any the most vulgar thing to sense.
Why should we, in our peevish opposition, 
Take it to heart? Fie! 'Tis a fault to heaven,
A fault against the dead, a fault to nature,
To reason most absurd —whose common theme
Is death of fathers, and who still hath cried,
From the first corpse till he that died today,
'This must be so.' We pray you, throw to earth
This unprevailing woe, and think of us
As of a father. For let the world take note,
You are the most immediate to our throne. 
And with no less nobility of love
Than that which dearest father bears his son,
Do I impart towards you. For your intent
In going back to school in Wittenberg,
It is most retrograde to our desire.
And we beseech you, bend you to remain
Here, in the cheer and comfort of our eye,
Our chiefest courtier, cousin, and our son.

Gertrude

Let not thy mother lose her prayers, Hamlet.
I pray thee, stay with us; go not to Wittenberg.

Hamlet 

I shall in all my best obey you, madam.

Claudius

Why, 'tis a loving and a fair reply.
Be as ourself, in Denmark. Madam, come.
This gentle and unforced accord of Hamlet
Sits smiling to my heart. In grace whereof,
No jocund health that Denmark drinks today,
But the great cannon to the clouds shall tell,
And the king's rouse the heavens all bruit again,
Re-speaking earthly thunder. Come away.
[Exit all except Hamlet]

 

Hamlet 

Oh, that this too too solid flesh would melt,
Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew!
Or that the Everlasting had not fixed
His canon 'gainst self-slaughter! Oh God! God!
How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable
Seem to me all the uses of this world!
Fie on't! Oh fie fie! 'Tis an unweeded garden
That grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature
Possess it merely. That it should come to this!
But two months dead – nay, not so much, not two –
So excellent a king, that was to this
Hyperion to a satyr, so loving to my mother
That he might not beteem the winds of heaven
Visit her face too roughly. Heaven and earth!
Must I remember? Why, she would hang on him
As if increase of appetite had grown
By what it fed on. And yet within a month –
let me not think on't; frailty, thy name is woman! – 
A little month, or ere those shoes were old
With which she followed my poor father's body
Like Niobe, all tears, why she, even she –
Oh, God! a beast that wants discourse of reason
Would have mourned longer – married with my uncle,
My father's brother, but no more like my father
Than I to Hercules. Within a month,
Ere yet the salt of most unrighteous tears
Had left the flushing in her gallèd eyes,
She married. Oh, most wicked speed, to post
With such dexterity to incestuous sheets!
It is not, nor it cannot come to good.
But break my heart, for I must hold my tongue.
[Enter Horatio, Bernardo, and Marcellus.]

Horatio 

Hail to your lordship!

Hamlet

                                      I am glad to see you well.   
Horatio — or I do forget myself.

Horatio 

The same, my lord, and your poor servant ever.

Hamlet 

Sir, my good friend, I'll change that name with you.
And what make you from Wittenberg, Horatio?
Marcellus.

Marcellus   

My good lord.

Hamlet 

I am very glad to see you. [To Bernardo] Good even, sir.
But what, in faith, make you from Wittenberg?

Horatio 

A truant disposition, good my lord.

Hamlet 

I would not have your enemy say so,
Nor shall you do my ear that violence,
To make it truster of your own report
Against yourself. I know you are no truant.
But what is your affair in Elsinore?
We'll teach you to drink deep ere you depart.

Horatio

My lord, I came to see your father's funeral.

Hamlet 

I pray thee, do not mock me, fellow student.
I think it was to see my mother's wedding.

Horatio 

Indeed, my lord, it followed hard upon.

Hamlet 

Thrift, thrift, Horatio! The funeral baked meats
Did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables. 
Would Ihad met my dearest foe in heaven
Ere I had ever seen that day, Horatio.
My father — methinks I see my father.

Horatio

Where, my lord?

Hamlet

                             In my mind's eye, Horatio.

Horatio 

I saw him once. He was a goodly king.

Hamlet 

He was a man, take him for all in all.
I shall not look upon his like again.

Horatio 

My lord, I think I saw him yesternight.

Hamlet

Saw? Who?

Horatio

                        My lord, the king your father.

Hamlet   

The king my father!

Horatio

Season your admiration for awhile
With an attent ear till I may deliver,
Upon the witness of these gentlemen,
This marvel to you.

Hamlet

                                      For heaven's love, let me hear.

Horatio 

Two nights together had these gentlemen,
Marcellus and Bernardo, on their watch
In the dead waste and middle of the night, 
Been thus encountered. A figure like your father,
Armèd at all points exactly cap-à-pie,
Appears before them, and with solemn march
Goes slow and stately by them. Thrice he walked 
By their oppressed and fear-surprisèd eyes
Within his truncheon's length, whilst they, distilled
Almost to jelly with the act of fear,
Stand dumb and speak not to him. This to me 
In dreadful secrecy impart they did,
And I with them the third night kept the watch,
Where, as they had delivered — both in time,
Form of the thing, each word made true and good
The apparition comes. I knew your father;
These hands are not more like.

Hamlet

                                                       But where was this? 

Marcellus 

My lord, upon the platform where we watched.

Hamlet 

Did you not speak to it?

Horatio

                                           My lord, I did;
But answer made it none. Yet once methought
It lifted up its head and did address
Itself to motion, like as it would speak.
But even then the morning cock crew loud,
And at the sound it shrunk in haste away
And vanished from our sight.

Hamlet

                                                    'Tis very strange. 

Horatio 

As I do live, my honored lord, 'tis true,
And we did think it writ down in our duty
To let you know of it.

Hamlet 

Indeed, indeed, sirs, but this troubles me.
Hold you the watch tonight?

Marcellus and Bernardo   

                                                  We do, my lord.

Hamlet   

Armed, say you?

Marcellus and Bernardo   

                          Armed, my lord.

Hamlet

                                                         From top to toe?

Marcellus and Bernardo   

My lord, from head to foot.

Hamlet   

Then saw you not his face?

Horatio 

Oh, yes, my lord, he wore his beaver up.

Hamlet   

What looked he, frowningly?

Horatio

A countenance more in sorrow than in anger.

Hamlet   

Pale or red?

Horatio   

Nay, very pale.

Hamlet   

And fixed his eyes upon you?

Horatio   

Most constantly.

Hamlet   

I would I had been there.

Horatio   

It would have much amazed you.

Hamlet   

Very like, very like. Stayed it long?

Horatio 

While one with moderate haste might tell a hundred.

Marcellus and Bernardo   

Longer, longer.

Horatio 

Not when I saw't.

Hamlet

                               His beard was grizzled, no?

Horatio 

It was as I have seen it in his life, 
A sable silvered.

Hamlet 

I will watch tonight. Perchance 'twill walk again.

Horatio

I warrant you it will.

Hamlet 

If it assume my noble father's person,
I'll speak to it, though hell itself should gape
And bid me hold my peace. I pray you all,
If you have hitherto concealed this sight,
Let it be tenable in your silence still,
And whatsoever else shall hap tonight, 
Give it an understanding, but no tongue.
I will requite your loves. So fare you well.
Upon the platform 'twixt eleven and twelve,
I'll visit you.

All

                        Our duty to your honor.

Hamlet

Your love, as mine to you. Farewell.
[Exit all but Hamlet.]
My father's spirit in arms! All is not well.
I doubt some foul play. Would the night were come!
Till then sit still, my soul. Foul deeds will rise
Though all the earth o'erwhelm them to men's eyes.
[Exit.]