Hamlet: Act 3, Scene 4


           Enter [QUEEN] GERTRUDE
           and POLONIUS.  Full Summary

      POLONIUS
  1   'A will come straight. Look you lay home to him:
  2   Tell him his pranks have been too broad to bear with,
  3   And that your grace hath screen'd and stood between
  4   Much heat and him. I'll sconce me even here.
  5   Pray you, be round with him.

      HAMLET (Within.)
  5                                         Mother, mother, mother!

      QUEEN
  6   I'll warrant you, fear me not:
  7   Withdraw, I hear him coming.

           [Polonius hides behind the arras.]

           Enter Hamlet.  Full Summary

      HAMLET
  8   Now, mother, what's the matter?

      QUEEN
  9   Hamlet, thou hast thy father much offended.

      HAMLET
 10   Mother, you have my father much offended.

      QUEEN
 11   Come, come, you answer with an idle tongue.

      HAMLET
 12   Go, go, you question with a wicked tongue.

      QUEEN
 13   Why, how now, Hamlet!

      HAMLET
 13                                       What's the matter now?

      QUEEN
 14   Have you forgot me?

      HAMLET
 14                                    No, by the rood, not so:
 15   You are the queen, your husband's brother's wife;
 16   And—would it were not so!—you are my mother.

      QUEEN
 17   Nay, then, I'll set those to you that can speak.

      HAMLET
 18   Come, come, and sit you down; you shall not budge;
 19   You go not till I set you up a glass
 20   Where you may see the inmost part of you.

      QUEEN
 21   What wilt thou do? thou wilt not murder me?
 22   Help, ho!

      POLONIUS [Behind.]
 23    What, ho! Help!

      HAMLET [Drawing his sword.]
 24    How now! a rat? Dead, for a ducat, dead!

           [Stabs through the arras.]  Full Summary

      POLONIUS [Behind.]
 25   O, I am slain!

           [Falls and dies.]

      QUEEN
 25                              O me, what hast thou done?

      HAMLET
 26   Nay, I know not: Is it the king?

      QUEEN
 27   O, what a rash and bloody deed is this!

      HAMLET
 28   A bloody deed! almost as bad, good mother,
 29   As kill a king, and marry with his brother.

      QUEEN
 30   As kill a king!

      HAMLET
 30                               Ay, lady, 'twas my word.

           [Lifts up the arras and discovers Polonius.]

 31   Thou wretched, rash, intruding fool, farewell!
 32   I took thee for thy better: take thy fortune;
 33   Thou find'st to be too busy is some danger.
 34   Leave wringing of your hands: peace! sit you down,
 35   And let me wring your heart; for so I shall,
 36   If it be made of penetrable stuff,
 37   If damned custom have not braz'd it so
 38   That it is proof and bulwark against sense.

      QUEEN
 39   What have I done, that thou darest wag thy tongue
 40   In noise so rude against me?

      HAMLET
 40                                            Such an act
 41   That blurs the grace and blush of modesty,
 42   Calls virtue hypocrite, takes off the rose
 43   From the fair forehead of an innocent love
 44   And sets a blister there, makes marriage-vows
 45   As false as dicers' oaths: O, such a deed
 46   As from the body of contraction plucks
 47   The very soul, and sweet religion makes
 48   A rhapsody of words. Heaven's face doth glow
 49   O'er this solidity and compound mass,
 50   With tristful visage, as against the doom,
 51   Is thought-sick at the act.

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

      HAMLET
 53   Look here, upon this picture, and on this,
 54   The counterfeit presentment of two brothers.
 55   See, what a grace was seated on this brow;
 56   Hyperion's curls; the front of Jove himself;
 57   An eye like Mars, to threaten and command;
 58   A station like the herald Mercury
 59   New-lighted on a heaven-kissing hill;
 60   A combination and a form indeed,
 61   Where every god did seem to set his seal,
 62   To give the world assurance of a man:
 63   This was your husband. Look you now, what follows:
 64   Here is your husband; like a mildew'd ear,
 65   Blasting his wholesome brother. Have you eyes?
 66   Could you on this fair mountain leave to feed,
 67   And batten on this moor? Ha! have you eyes?
 68   You cannot call it love; for at your age
 69   The heyday in the blood is tame, it's humble,
 70   And waits upon the judgment: and what judgment
 71   Would step from this to this? Sense, sure, you have,
 72   Else could you not have motion; but sure, that sense
 73   Is apoplex'd; for madness would not err,
 74   Nor sense to ecstasy was ne'er so thrall'd
 75   But it reserved some quantity of choice,
 76   To serve in such a difference. What devil was't
 77   That thus hath cozen'd you at hoodman-blind?
 78   Eyes without feeling, feeling without sight,
 79   Ears without hands or eyes, smelling sans all,
 80   Or but a sickly part of one true sense
 81   Could not so mope.
 82   O shame! where is thy blush? Rebellious hell,
 83   If thou canst mutine in a matron's bones,
 84   To flaming youth let virtue be as wax,
 85   And melt in her own fire: proclaim no shame
 86   When the compulsive ardor gives the charge,
 87   Since frost itself as actively doth burn
 88   And reason panders will.

      QUEEN
 88                                     O Hamlet, speak no more:
 89   Thou turn'st mine eyes into my very soul;
 90   And there I see such black and grained spots
 91   As will not leave their tinct.

      HAMLET
 91                                            Nay, but to live
 92   In the rank sweat of an enseamed bed,
 93   Stew'd in corruption, honeying and making love
 94   Over the nasty sty—

      QUEEN
 94                               O, speak to me no more;
 95   These words, like daggers, enter in mine ears;
 96   No more, sweet Hamlet!

      HAMLET
 96                                   A murderer and a villain;
 97   A slave that is not twentieth part the tithe
 98   Of your precedent lord, a vice of kings,
 99   A cutpurse of the empire and the rule,
100   That from a shelf the precious diadem stole,
101   And put it in his pocket!

      QUEEN
101                                       No more!

      HAMLET
102   A king of shreds and patches—

           Enter GHOST.  Full Summary

103   Save me, and hover o'er me with your wings,
104   You heavenly guards! What would your gracious figure?

      QUEEN
105   Alas, he's mad!

      HAMLET
106   Do you not come your tardy son to chide,
107   That, lapsed in time and passion, lets go by
108   The important acting of your dread command?
109   O, say!

      Ghost
110   Do not forget: this visitation
111   Is but to whet thy almost blunted purpose.
112   But, look, amazement on thy mother sits:
113   O, step between her and her fighting soul:
114   Conceit in weakest bodies strongest works:
115   Speak to her, Hamlet.

      HAMLET
115                                   How is it with you, lady?

      QUEEN
116   Alas, how is't with you,
117   That you do bend your eye on vacancy
118   And with the incorporal air do hold discourse?
119   Forth at your eyes your spirits wildly peep;
120   And, as the sleeping soldiers in the alarm,
121   Your bedded hair, like life in excrements,
122   Starts up, and stands on end. O gentle son,
123   Upon the heat and flame of thy distemper
124   Sprinkle cool patience. Whereon do you look?

      HAMLET
125   On him, on him! Look you, how pale he glares!
126   His form and cause conjoin'd, preaching to stones,
127   Would make them capable. —Do not look upon me;
128   Lest with this piteous action you convert
129   My stern effects: then what I have to do
130   Will want true color; tears perchance for blood.

      QUEEN
131   To whom do you speak this?

      HAMLET
131                                        Do you see nothing there?

      QUEEN
132   Nothing at all; yet all that is I see.

      HAMLET
133   Nor did you nothing hear?

      QUEEN
133                                         No, nothing but ourselves.

      HAMLET
134   Why, look you there! look, how it steals away!
135   My father, in his habit as he lived!
136   Look, where he goes, even now, out at the portal!

           Exit Ghost.  Full Summary

      QUEEN
137   This the very coinage of your brain:
138   This bodiless creation ecstasy
139   Is very cunning in.

      HAMLET
139                               Ecstasy!
140   My pulse, as yours, doth temperately keep time,
141   And makes as healthful music: it is not madness
142   That I have utter'd: bring me to the test,
143   And I the matter will re-word; which madness
144   Would gambol from. Mother, for love of grace,
145   Lay not that flattering unction to your soul,
146   That not your trespass, but my madness speaks:
147   It will but skin and film the ulcerous place,
148   Whilst rank corruption, mining all within,
149   Infects unseen. Confess yourself to heaven;
150   Repent what's past; avoid what is to come;
151   And do not spread the compost on the weeds,
152   To make them ranker. Forgive me this my virtue;
153   For in the fatness of these pursy times
154   Virtue itself of vice must pardon beg,
155   Yea, curb and woo for leave to do him good.

      QUEEN
156   O Hamlet, thou hast cleft my heart in twain.

      HAMLET
157   O, throw away the worser part of it,
158   And live the purer with the other half.
159   Good night: but go not to mine uncle's bed;
160   Assume a virtue, if you have it not.
161   That monster, custom, who all sense doth eat,
162   Of habits devil, is angel yet in this,
163   That to the use of actions fair and good
164   He likewise gives a frock or livery,
165   That aptly is put on. Refrain tonight,
166   And that shall lend a kind of easiness
167   To the next abstinence: the next more easy;
168   For use almost can change the stamp of nature,
169   And either master the devil, or throw him out
170   With wondrous potency. Once more, good night:
171   And when you are desirous to be bless'd,
172   I'll blessing beg of you. For this same lord,

           [Pointing to Polonius.]

173   I do repent: but heaven hath pleased it so,
174   To punish me with this and this with me,
175   That I must be their scourge and minister.
176   I will bestow him, and will answer well
177   The death I gave him. So, again, good night.
178   I must be cruel, only to be kind:
179   Thus bad begins and worse remains behind.
180   One word more, good lady.

      QUEEN
180                                       What shall I do?

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

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

      HAMLET
200   I must to England; you know that?

      QUEEN
200                                                       Alack,
201   I had forgot: 'tis so concluded on.

      HAMLET
202   There's letters seal'd: and my two schoolfellows,
203   Whom I will trust as I will adders fang'd,
204   They bear the mandate; they must sweep my way,
205   And marshal me to knavery. Let it work;
206   For 'tis the sport to have the engineer
207   Hoist with his own petard: and 't shall go hard
208   But I will delve one yard below their mines,
209   And blow them at the moon: O, 'tis most sweet,
210   When in one line two crafts directly meet.
211   This man shall set me packing:
212   I'll lug the guts into the neighbour room.
213   Mother, good night. Indeed this counsellor
214   Is now most still, most secret and most grave,
215   Who was in life a foolish prating knave.
216   Come, sir, to draw toward an end with you.
217   Good night, mother.

           Exeunt [severally; Hamlet dragging in Polonius].