Philip Weller caricature
Philip and Weller hugging

Welcome to my web site, now under development for more than twenty years.   
-- Philip Weller, November 13, 1941 - February 1, 2021
Dr. Weller, an Eastern Washington University professor of English and Shakespearean scholar for more than 50 years.

Hamlet: Act 3, Scene 3

           Enter KING, ROSENCRANTZ,
           and GUILDENSTERN.

1-2. I like  . . .  range: i.e., I don't trust him, and it's not safe for me to let him do or say whatever comes into his mad mind. 3. I your ... dispatch: I will have your commission drawn up immediately. ...more
  1   I like him not, nor stands it safe with us
  2   To let his madness range. Therefore prepare you;
  3   I your commission will forthwith dispatch,
  4   And he to England shall along with you:
5. The terms of our estate: i.e., my position as king. ...more
  5   The terms of our estate may not endure
6-7. Hazard so near's as doth hourly grow / Out of his brows: i.e., dangers that threaten me so nearly, which grow every hour from his (mad) moods. ...more
  6   Hazard so near's as doth hourly grow
  7   Out of his brows.

7. We will ourselves provide: we will get ourselves ready [for the trip to England]. 8. fear: care, concern [about dangers]. 9-10. many many bodies . . . / That live and feed upon your majesty: Guildenstern means all the people of the Kingdom of Denmark, as Rosencrantz makes clear in his following speech.
  7                                   We will ourselves provide.
  8   Most holy and religious fear it is
  9   To keep those many many bodies safe
 10   That live and feed upon your majesty.

11. single and peculiar: individual and private.
 11   The single and peculiar life is bound,
 12   With all the strength and armor of the mind,
13. noyance: injury.
 13   To keep itself from noyance; but much more
14. weal: wellness, health.
 14   That spirit upon whose weal depend and rest
15. cess of majesty: cessation, death of royal authority.
 15   The lives of many. The cess of majesty
16. gulf: whirlpool.
 16   Dies not alone; but, like a gulf, doth draw
17. massy: massive.
 17   What's near it with it: it is a massy wheel,
 18   Fix'd on the summit of the highest mount,
 19   To whose huge spokes ten thousand lesser things
20. mortised and adjoin'd: i.e., permanently attached to.
 20   Are mortised and adjoin'd; which, when it falls,
21-22. Each small annexment, petty consequence, / Attends the boisterous ruin: i.e., each little thing (or person) connected to or affected by a king, shares in the chaotic and terrifying fall (of a king).
 21   Each small annexment, petty consequence,
 22   Attends the boisterous ruin. Never alone
 23   Did the king sigh, but with a general groan.

24. Arm you . . . to: prepare yourselves for.
 24   Arm you, I pray you, to this speedy voyage;
25. fetters: shackles, restraints.  fear: source of fear [i.e., Hamlet's "madness"].
 25   For we will fetters put upon this fear,
 26   Which now goes too free-footed.

 26                                                  We will haste us.

           Exeunt Gentlemen
           [Rosencrantz and Guildenstern].

           Enter POLONIUS.

27. closet: private room [such as a study or sewing-room].
 27   My lord, he's going to his mother's closet:
28. arras: heavy tapestry screen or hanging.  convey myself: i.e., hide myself. 29. process: course of the talk.  and  . . .  home: i.e., and I guarantee that she will take him severely to task.
 28   Behind the arras I'll convey myself,
 29   To hear the process; and warrant she'll tax him home:
 30   And, as you said, and wisely was it said,
 31   'Tis meet that some more audience than a mother,
 32   Since nature makes them partial, should o'erhear
33. of vantage: from an advantageous position, or for better understanding.
 33   The speech, of vantage. Fare you well, my liege:
 34   I'll call upon you ere you go to bed,
 35   And tell you what I know.

 35                                         Thanks, dear my lord.

           Exit [Polonius].

 36   O, my offence is rank, it smells to heaven;
37. primal eldest curse: i.e., God's curse on Cain, who also murdered his brother.
 37   It hath the primal eldest curse upon't,
 38   A brother's murder. Pray can I not,
39. Though inclination be as sharp as will: though my desire is as strong as my resolve [to pray].
 39   Though inclination be as sharp as will.
 40   My stronger guilt defeats my strong intent;
41. to double business bound: i.e., committed to two courses of action.
 41   And, like a man to double business bound,
 42   I stand in pause where I shall first begin,
 43   And both neglect. What if this cursed hand
 44   Were thicker than itself with brother's blood,
 45   Is there not rain enough in the sweet heavens
46-47.Whereto serves mercy / But to confront the visage of offence?: i.e., what function has mercy except to fight sin?
 46   To wash it white as snow? Whereto serves mercy
 47   But to confront the visage of offence?
 48   And what's in prayer but this two-fold force,
49. To be forestalled ere we come to fall: to be prevented [from sinning] before we sin. 50-51.Then I'll look up; / My fault is past: i.e., if I pray to God my sin will be forgiven.
 49   To be forestalled ere we come to fall,
 50   Or pardon'd being down? Then I'll look up;
 51   My fault is past. But, O, what form of prayer
 52   Can serve my turn? "Forgive me my foul murder"?
 53   That cannot be; since I am still possess'd
54. effects: prizes, motivations.
 54   Of those effects for which I did the murder,
 55   My crown, mine own ambition and my queen.
56. th' offense: i.e., the "effects" or fruits of the offense.
 56   May one be pardon'd and retain th' offence?
57. currents: courses.
 57   In the corrupted currents of this world
58. gilded hand: i.e., hand offering a bribe of gold.
 58   Offence's gilded hand may shove by justice,
59. wicked prize: prize won by wicked actions.
 59   And oft 'tis seen the wicked prize itself
 60   Buys out the law: but 'tis not so above;
61-62. There is no shuffling: There ["above," in heaven], there is no evasion. ...more
 61   There is no shuffling, there the action lies
 62   In his true nature; and we ourselves compell'd,
63. to the teeth and forehead: i.e., face to face, without hiding anything. 64. what rests?: what remains [for me to do]? 65. what repentance can: what repentance can do.
 63   Even to the teeth and forehead of our faults,
 64   To give in evidence. What then? what rests?
 65   Try what repentance can: what can it not?
 66   Yet what can it when one can not repent?
 67   O wretched state! O bosom black as death!
68. limed: caught (as with birdlime, a sticky substance used for catching birds). 69. engag'd: entangled.  Make assay!: i.e., try hard!
 68   O limed soul, that, struggling to be free,
 69   Art more engaged! Help, angels! Make assay!
 70   Bow, stubborn knees; and, heart with strings of steel,
 71   Be soft as sinews of the newborn babe!
 72   All may be well.


           Enter HAMLET.

73. pat: opportunely.
 73   Now might I do it pat, now he is praying;
 74   And now I'll do't. And so he goes to heaven;
75. would be scann'd: asks to be carefully considered.
 75   And so am I revenged. That would be scann'd:
 76   A villain kills my father; and for that,
 77   I, his sole son, do this same villain send
 78   To heaven.
 79   O, this is hire and salary, not revenge.
80. grossly, full of bread: i.e., not spiritually prepared.
 80   He took my father grossly, full of bread;
81. crimes: sins.  broad blown: in full bloom.  flush: lusty, vigorous. ...more 82. audit: [spiritual] account.
 81   With all his crimes broad blown, as flush as May;
 82   And how his audit stands who knows save heaven?
83. in our circumstance and course of thought: i.e., to the best of our knowledge and belief. Our "circumstance," which limits our knowledge, is that we are creatures of earth, and do not know the mind of God.
 83   But in our circumstance and course of thought,
 84   'Tis heavy with him: and am I then revenged,
 85   To take him in the purging of his soul,
 86   When he is fit and season'd for his passage?
 87   No!
88. Up: into the sheath  know thou a more horrid hent: be grasped [by me] at a more horrid occasion.
 88   Up, sword; and know thou a more horrid hent:
 89   When he is drunk asleep, or in his rage,
 90   Or in the incestuous pleasure of his bed;
 91   At gaming, swearing, or about some act
92. relish: trace.
 92   That has no relish of salvation in't;
 93   Then trip him, that his heels may kick at heaven,
 94   And that his soul may be as damn'd and black
92. stays: i.e., awaits me.
 95   As hell, whereto it goes. My mother stays:
96. physic: [spiritual] purging.  thy: Hamlet is speaking under his breath to King Claudius.
 96   This physic but prolongs thy sickly days.


      KING [Rising.]
 97   My words fly up, my thoughts remain below:
 98   Words without thoughts never to heaven go.