Act 3, Scene 4

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[Enter Gertrude and Polonius.]

Polonius

He will come straight. Look you lay home to him. 
Tell him his pranks have been too broad to bear with,
And that your grace hath screened and stood between
Much heat and him. I'll silence me even here.
Pray you, be round with him.

Hamlet   

[Within] Mother, mother, mother!

Gertrude 

I'll warrant you; fear me not. 
Withdraw, I hear him coming.
[Polonius conceals himself behind the curtain. Enter Hamlet.]

Hamlet   

Now mother, what's the matter?

Gertrude

Hamlet, thou hast thy father much offended.

Hamlet

Mother, you have my father much offended.

Gertrude

Come, come, you answer with an idle tongue. 

Hamlet

Go, go, you question with an idle tongue.

Gertrude   

Why, how now, Hamlet?

Hamlet

                                          What's the matter now?    

Gertrude

Have you forgot me?

Hamlet

                                    No, by the rood, not so.
You are the queen, your husband's brother's wife,
And, would it were not so, you are my mother.    

Gertrude

Nay, then, I'll set those to you that can speak
[Gertrude starts to leave.]  

Hamlet

Come. Come and sit you down. You shall not budge.
You go not till I set you up a glass
Where you may see the inmost part of you.

Gertrude

What wilt thou do? Thou wilt not murder me?
Help, help, ho!    

Polonius

[Behind the curtain] What ho! Help, help, help!

Hamlet

How now, a rat? Dead for a ducat, dead!
[He stabs through the curtain with his rapier.]

Polonius   

Oh, I am slain!     

Gertrude    

                          Oh, me, what hast thou done?

Hamlet   

Nay, I know not. Is it the king?
[Hamlet lifts the curtain.]

Gertrude

Oh, what a rash and bloody deed is this!

Hamlet

A bloody deed! Almost as bad, good mother,
As kill a king and marry with his brother.

Gertrude   

As kill a king?

Hamlet

                        Ay, lady, 'twas my word.       
[To Polonius’s body] Thou wretched, rash, intruding fool, farewell!
I took thee for thy better. Take thy fortune.
Thou find'st to be too busy is some danger.    
[To Gertrude] Leave wringing of your hands. Peace, sit you down, 
And let me wring your heart, for so I shall
If it be made of penetrable stuff,
If damnèd custom have not brazed it so
That it is proof and bulwark against sense.    

Gertrude

What have I done, that thou dar'st wag thy tongue
In noise so rude against me?

Hamlet

                                               Such an act 
That blurs the grace and blush of modesty,
Calls virtue hypocrite, takes off the rose
From the fair forehead of an innocent love
And makes a blister there, makes marriage vows
As false as dicers' oaths — oh, such a deed    
As from the body of contraction plucks
The very soul, and sweet religion makes
A rhapsody of words. Heaven's face doth glow.     
Yea, this solidity and compound mass,
With tristful visage, as against the doom,
Is thought-sick at the act.    

Gertrude

                                            Ay me, what act,
That roars so loud and thunders in the index?

Hamlet

[Showing her two paintings, pointing first to a picture of King Hamlet]
Look here upon this picture, and on this, 
The counterfeit presentment of two brothers.
See what a grace was seated on his brow:
Hyperion's curls, the front of Jove himself,
An eye like Mars to threaten or command,
A station like the herald Mercury 
New lighted on a heaven-kissing hill.
A combination and a form indeed
Where every god did seem to set his seal
To give the world assurance of a man.
This was your husband. Look you now what follows.
[Pointing to picture of Claudius]
Here is your husband, like a mildewed ear 
Blasting his wholesome brother. Have you eyes?
Could you, on this fair mountain, leave to feed
And batten on this moor? Ha! Have you eyes?    
You cannot call it love, for at your age 
The heyday in the blood is tame. It's humble
And waits upon the judgment, and what judgment
Would step from this to this? What devil was't
That thus hath cozened you at hoodman-blind?    
Oh shame, where is thy blush? Rebellious hell
If thou canst mutine in a matron's bones,
To flaming youth, let virtue be as wax
And melt in her own fire. Proclaim no shame    
When the compulsive ardor gives the charge,
Since frost itself as actively doth burn,
And reason pardons will.

Gertrude

                                              Oh, Hamlet speak no more! 
Thou turn'st mine very eyes into my soul,
And there I see such black and grainèd spots    
As will not leave their tinct.

Hamlet

                                                   Nay, but to live
In the rank sweat of an enseamèd bed,
Stewed in corruption, honeying and making love    
Over the nasty sty ...

Gertrude

                                          Oh, speak to me no more! 
These words, like daggers, enter in my ears.
No more, sweet Hamlet.

Hamlet

                                         A murderer and a villain,
A slave that is not twentieth part the tithe
Of your precedent lord, a vice of kings,
A cutpurse of the empire and the rule,
That from a shelf the precious diadem stole
And put it in his pocket ...

Gertrude

No more!
[Enter Ghost.]

Hamlet   

A king of shreds and patches ...
[Seeing the Ghost]
Save me and hover o'er me with your wings,
You heavenly guards! What would you, gracious figure?

Gertrude   

Alas, he's mad! 

Hamlet

Do you not come your tardy son to chide,
That, lapsed in time and passion, lets go by
Th' important acting of your dread command? Oh, say!

Ghost

Do not forget. This visitation
Is but to whet thy almost blunted purpose.
But look. Amazement on thy mother sits.
Oh, step between her and her fighting soul!
Conceit in weakest bodies strongest works.
Speak to her, Hamlet.

Hamlet   

How is it with you, lady?

Gertrude   

Alas, how is't with you 
That you do bend your eye on vacancy,
And with th' incorporal air do hold discourse?
Forth at your eyes your spirits wildly peep,
And, as the sleeping soldiers in th' alarm,
Your bedded hair, like life in excrements,      
Start up and stand an end. Oh gentle son,
Upon the heat and flame of thy distemper
Sprinkle cool patience. Whereon do you look?

Hamlet

On him, on him! Look you how pale he glares! 
His form and cause conjoined, preaching to stones,    
Would make them capable. [To Ghost] Do not look upon me,
Lest with this piteous action you convert
My stern effects. Then what I have to do
Will want true color — tears perchance for blood.

Gertrude   

To whom do you speak this?

Hamlet   

Do you see nothing there?

Gertrude

Nothing at all; yet all that is, I see.

Hamlet   

Nor did you nothing hear?

Gertrude   

No, nothing but ourselves.

Hamlet

Why, look you there, look how it steals away!
My father in his habit as he lived.
Look where he goes, even now out at the portal!
[Exit Ghost.]

Gertrude

This is the very coinage of your brain. 
This bodiless creation, ecstasy
Is very cunning in.

Hamlet   

Ecstasy?
My pulse, as yours, doth temperately keep time,
And makes as healthful music. It is not madness
That I have uttered. Bring me to the test,
And I the matter will reword, which madness
Would gambol from. Mother, for love of grace, 
Lay not a flattering unction to your soul —
That not your trespass, but my madness, speaks.
It will but skin and film the ulcerous place,
Whilst rank corruption, mining all within,
Infects unseen. Confess yourself to heaven, 
Repent what's past, avoid what is to come,
And do not spread the compost o'er the weeds
To make them ranker. Forgive me this my virtue;
For in the fatness of these pursy times,
Virtue itself of vice must pardon beg.
Yea, curb and woo for leave to do him good.

Gertrude

Oh, Hamlet, thou hast cleft my heart in twain.

Hamlet

Oh, throw away the worser part of it, 
And live the purer with the other half.
Good night. But go not to mine uncle's bed.
Assume a virtue if you have it not. 
Refrain tonight,
And that shall lend a kind of easiness
To the next abstinence. Once more good night,
And when you are desirous to be blest,
I'll blessing beg of you. For this same lord,
[Pointing to dead Polonius]
I do repent. But heaven hath pleased it so 
To punish me with this, and this with me —
That I must be their scourge and minister.
I will bestow him and will answer well
The death I gave him. So, again, good night.
I must be cruel only to be kind.
This bad begins, and worse remains behind.
One more word good lady

Gertrude

                                              What shall I do? 

Hamlet

Not this by no means that I bid you do:
Let the bloat king tempt you again to bed,    
Pinch wanton on your cheek, call you his mouse,
And let him, for a pair of reechy kisses
Or paddling in your neck with his damned fingers,
Make you to ravel all this matter out —
That I essentially am not in madness,
But mad in craft. 'Twere good you let him know
For who that's but a queen, fair, sober, wise,
Would from a paddock, from a bat, a gib,
Such dear concernings hide? Who would do so?
No, in despite of sense and secrecy, 
Unpeg the basket on the house's top,
Let the birds fly, and like the famous ape,
To try conclusions in the basket creep
And break your own neck down.

Gertrude

Be thou assured, if words be made of breath, 
And breath of life, I have no life to breathe
What thou hast said to me.

Hamlet

I must to England, you know that?

Gertrude

                                                           Alack, 
I had forgot. 'Tis so concluded on.

Hamlet   

This man shall set me packing.    
I'll lug the guts into the neighbor room.
Mother, good night. Indeed, this counselor
Is now most still, most secret, and most grave,
Who was in life a foolish prating knave. 
[To Polonius’s body] Come, sir, to draw toward an end with you.     
Good night, mother.
[Exit Hamlet, dragging Polonius.]