Hamlet: Act 1, Scene 2
Flourish: trumpet call announcing the arrival of the King and his entourage.
Flourish. Enter CLAUDIUS, KING OF
DENMARK, GERTRUDE THE QUEEN,
HAMLET, Councilors, POLONIUS and
cum aliis: with others. Everyone would want to be in court on this important occasion.
his son LAERTES, cum aliis [including
VOLTEMAND and CORNELIUS].
1. our: King Claudius uses the royal "we" ...more
1Though yet of Hamlet our dear brother's death
2. green: fresh. it us befitted: it would be entirely befitting for us.
2The memory be green, and that it us befitted
3To bear our hearts in grief and our whole kingdom
4. contracted in one brow of woe: knitted in a single woeful brow.
4To be contracted in one brow of woe,
5Yet so far hath discretion fought with nature
6That we with wisest sorrow think on him,
7. remembrance of ourselves: i.e., due consideration of my own concerns. 8. sometime sister: former sister-in-law.
7Together with remembrance of ourselves.
8Therefore our sometime sister, now our queen,
9. jointress: i.e., joint holder of royal authority.
9The imperial jointress to this warlike state,
10. defeated: subdued.
10Have we, as 'twere with a defeated joy,
11. auspicious: cheerful, hopeful. dropping: mournful, weeping.
11With an auspicious and a dropping eye,
12With mirth in funeral and with dirge in marriage,
13In equal scale weighing delight and dole,
14-15. nor ... wisdoms: i.e., in doing this (marrying Gertrude) I have not ignored your wise advice. 15. freely: fully, without reservation.
14Taken to wife: nor have we herein barr'd
15Your better wisdoms, which have freely gone
16With this affair along. For all, our thanks.
17. Now follows that you know: the next order of business is that you be informed that. 18. Holding a weak supposal of our worth: having a low and mistaken estimate of our readiness and courage.
17Now follows that you know young Fortinbras,
18Holding a weak supposal of our worth,
19Or thinking by our late dear brother's death
20Our state to be disjoint and out of frame,
21. Colleagued with: allied with. dream of his advantage: fantasy that he will be successful. 22. He . . . message: i.e., he is always pestering us ...more 23. Importing: pertaining to....more 24. with all bands of law: in accordance with legally binding contracts.
21Colleagued with this dream of his advantage,
22He hath not fail'd to pester us with message,
23Importing the surrender of those lands
24Lost by his father, with all bands of law,
25To our most valiant brother. So much for him.
26Now for ourself and for this time of meeting:
27Thus much the business is: we have here writ
28To Norway, uncle of young Fortinbras
29. impotent and bed-rid: feeble and bedridden.
29Who, impotent and bed-rid, scarcely hears
30Of this his nephew's purposeto suppress
31. gait: proceeding. 31-33. in that the levies ... Out of his subject: i.e., since all of Fortinbras' troops and supplies have been drawn from the subjects of the King of Norway.
31His further gait herein; in that the levies,
32The lists and full proportions, are all made
33Out of his subject: and we here dispatch
34You, good Cornelius, and you, Voltemand,
35For bearers of this greeting to old Norway;
36Giving to you no further personal power
37To business with the king, more than the scope
38. delated articles: detailed instructions.
38Of these delated articles allow.
[Giving a paper.]
39. commend: praise. Perhaps the ambassadors were about to say a few words about their duty to the king, but he tells them that the best way to show their duty is to be quick about carrying out his instructions.
39Farewell, and let your haste commend your duty.
VOLTEMAND and CORNELIUS
40In that and all things will we show our duty.
41. nothing: not at all.
41We doubt it nothing: heartily farewell.
[Exeunt VOLTEMAND and CORNELIUS.]
42And now, Laertes, what's the news with you?
43. suit: petition, request.
43You told us of some suit; what is't, Laertes?
44. You cannot speak of reason to the Dane, / And lose your voice: you cannot make any reasonable request to the Danish king and waste your breath.
44You cannot speak of reason to the Dane,
45And lose your voice: what wouldst thou beg, Laertes,
46That shall not be my offer, not thy asking?
47. native: closely related.
47The head is not more native to the heart,
48. instrumental: serviceable.
48The hand more instrumental to the mouth,
49Than is the throne of Denmark to thy father.
50What wouldst thou have, Laertes?
50My dread lord,
51. leave: permission.
51Your leave and favor to return to France;
52From whence though willingly I came to Denmark,
53To show my duty in your coronation,
54Yet now, I must confess, that duty done,
55My thoughts and wishes bend again toward France
56. leave: permission to depart. pardon: i.e., as in "I beg your pardon." As a member of the court, Laertes has a duty to attend on the king.
56And bow them to your gracious leave and pardon.
57Have you your father's leave? What says Polonius?
58. H'ath: he has. slow leave: permission given reluctantly.
58H'ath, my lord, wrung from me my slow leave
59By laborsome petition, and at last
60. I seal'd: I gave my stamp of approval. hard: reluctant.
60Upon his will I seal'd my hard consent:
61I do beseech you, give him leave to go.
62Take thy fair hour, Laertes; time be thine,
63And thy best graces spend it at thy will!
64. cousin: kinsman. "Cousin" was used of cousins, nephews, nieces, uncles, amd aunts. son: i.e., stepson.
64But now, my cousin Hamlet, and my son
65. A little more than kin, and less than kind: i.e., I am more kin to you than before, since I am now both your nephew and your stepson; and, at the same time, I am no kin to you in natural feelings or affection. This statement is so insulting that editors sometimes mark it as an aside.
65A little more than kin, and less than kind.
66How is it that the clouds still hang on you?
67. I am too much i' the sun: (1) I am too much in the sunshine of your royal favor; (2) You have called me "son" once too often.
67Not so, my lord; I am too much i' the sun.
68Good Hamlet, cast thy nighted color off,
69. Denmark: i.e., the King of Denmark. Gertrude is pleading with her son to be nice to her new husband ...more 70. vailèd: downcast.
69And let thine eye look like a friend on Denmark.
70Do not for ever with thy vailèd lids
71Seek for thy noble father in the dust:
72 - 74. common . . . common: Queen Gertrude means that death is a common (general, universal) occurrence. Hamlet's reply probably uses the word "common" in another sense; he seems to mean that what she says is "common" because it is a vulgar cliché. She wants him to get over his feelings of grief about his father's death; he probably means that she is being unfeeling and stupid "common."
72Thou know'st 'tis common; all that lives must die,
73Passing through nature to eternity.
74Ay, madam, it is common.
74If it be,
75. particular: individual, personal.
75Why seems it so particular with thee?
76Seems, madam! nay it is; I know not "seems."
77'Tis not alone my inky cloak, good mother,
78Nor customary suits of solemn black,
79. suspiration: sighing.
79Nor windy suspiration of forced breath,
80. fruitful river in the eye: i.e., copious river of tears.
81. havior of the visage: behavior, expression, of the face.
81. havior of the visage: behavior, expression, of the face.
80No, nor the fruitful river in the eye,
81Nor the dejected havior of the visage,
82Together with all forms, moods, shapes of grief,
83That can denote me truly: these indeed seem,
84. play: act, pretend.
84For they are actions that a man might play:
85But I have that within which passeth show;
86. These: i.e., black clothing, sighs, tears, and "all forms, moods, shapes of grief." but the trappings and the suits: only the ornaments and the clothes.
86These but the trappings and the suits of woe.
87'Tis sweet and commendable in your nature, Hamlet,
88To give these mourning duties to your father:
89But, you must know, your father lost a father;
90That father lost, lost his, and the survivor bound
91In filial obligation for some term
92. obsequious: proper to obsequies, the formalities of funerals. persever: persevere. 93. condolement: expressions of sorrow. ...more 94. impious: King Claudius calls Hamlet "impious" because Hamlet's ...more 95. a will most incorrect to heaven: a rebellious will.
92To do obsequious sorrow: but to persever
93In obstinate condolement is a course
94Of impious stubbornness; 'tis unmanly grief;
95It shows a will most incorrect to heaven,
96A heart unfortified, a mind impatient,
97An understanding simple and unschool'd:
98For what we know must be and is as common
99. any the most vulgar thing to sense: i.e., what is the most obvious to common sense
99As any the most vulgar thing to sense,
100Why should we in our peevish opposition
101Take it to heart? Fie! 'tis a fault to heaven,
102A fault against the dead, a fault to nature,
103. absurd: contrary.
103To reason most absurd: whose common theme
104Is death of fathers, and who still hath cried,
105. corse: corpse.
105From the first corse till he that died to-day,
106"This must be so." We pray you, throw to earth
107. unprevailing: unavailing, useless.
107This unprevailing woe, and think of us
108As of a father: for let the world take note,
109. the most immediate to our throne: i.e., the one who will inherit my position as King of Denmark.
109You are the most immediate to our throne;
110And with no less nobility of love
111. dearest: most loving.
111Than that which dearest father bears his son,
112. impart toward you: bestow upon you.
112Do I impart toward you. For your intent
113. Wittenberg: A famous university in Germany.
113In going back to school in Wittenberg,
114. retrograde: contrary.
114It is most retrograde to our desire:
115. bend you: commit yourself.
115And we beseech you, bend you to remain
116Here, in the cheer and comfort of our eye,
117Our chiefest courtier, cousin, and our son.
118. prayers: earnest requests.
118Let not thy mother lose her prayers, Hamlet:
119I pray thee, stay with us; go not to Wittenberg.
120I shall in all my best obey you, madam.
121. fair: pleasing, comely.
121Why, 'tis a loving and a fair reply:
122Be as ourself in Denmark. Madam, come;
123This gentle and unforced accord of Hamlet
124Sits smiling to my heart: in grace whereof,
125. jocund: joyful, merry.
125No jocund health that Denmark drinks today,
126But the great cannon to the clouds shall tell,
127. rouse: bumper, draft of liquor. bruit again: i.e., echo loudly.
127And the king's rouse the heavens shall bruit again,
128Respeaking earthly thunder. Come away.
Flourish. Exeunt all but HAMLET.
129. solid: In Q2, ...more
129O, that this too too solid flesh would melt,
130. resolve: i.e., transform.
130Thaw and resolve itself into a dew!
131Or that the Everlasting had not fix'd
132. canon: law.
132His canon 'gainst self-slaughter! O God! God!
133How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable,
134. uses: customs.
134Seem to me all the uses of this world!
135Fie on't! ah fie! 'tis an unweeded garden,
136That grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature
137. merely: completely, utterly.
137Possess it merely. That it should come to this!
138But two months dead: nay, not so much, not two:
139. to: in comparison with.
139So excellent a king; that was, to this,
...more 141. beteem: allow.
140Hyperion to a satyr; so loving to my mother
141That he might not beteem the winds of heaven
142Visit her face too roughly. Heaven and earth!
143Must I remember? why, she would hang on him,
144As if increase of appetite had grown
145By what it fed on: and yet, within a month
146Let me not think on'tFrailty, thy name is woman!
147A little month, or ere those shoes were old
148With which she follow'd my poor father's body,
149Like Niobe, all tears:why she, even she
150O, God! a beast, that wants discourse of reason,
151Would have mourn'd longermarried with my uncle,
152My father's brother, but no more like my father
153. Hercules: mythological superhero.
153Than I to Hercules: within a month:
154. unrighteous: i.e., hypocritical.
154Ere yet the salt of most unrighteous tears
155. flushing: redness. galled: inflamed.
155Had left the flushing in her galled eyes,
156. post: hurry, rush.
156She married. O, most wicked speed, to post
157. incestuous: Many in Shakespeare's time regarded the marriage of a man to his brother's widow as incestuous.
157With such dexterity to incestuous sheets!
158It is not nor it cannot come to good:
159But break, my heart; for I must hold my tongue.
Enter HORATIO, MARCELLUS,
160Hail to your lordship!
160I am glad to see you well:
161Horatio!or I do forget myself.
162The same, my lord, and your poor servant ever.
163. change: exchange. ...more
163Sir, my good friend; I'll change that name with you:
164. what make you from: what are you doing away from. Wittenberg: Wittenberg is a famous university in Germany.
164And what make you from Wittenberg, Horatio?
166My good lord.
167I am very glad to see you. [To Barnardo] Good even, sir.
168But what, in faith, make you from Wittenberg?
169. truant disposition: inclination to play truant.
169A truant disposition, good my lord.
170. I would not hear your enemy say so: I would refuse to listen to your enemy say as you have said.
170I would not hear your enemy say so,
171Nor shall you do mine ear that violence,
172To make it truster of your own report
173Against yourself: I know you are no truant.
174But what is your affair in Elsinore?
175We'll teach you to drink deep ere you depart.
176My lord, I came to see your father's funeral.
177I pray thee, do not mock me, fellow-student;
178I think it was to see my mother's wedding.
179. hard upon.: close behind.
179Indeed, my lord, it followed hard upon.
180. baked meats: pastries.
180Thrift, thrift, Horatio! the funeral baked meats
181. coldly: 1) when cold; 2) without feeling.
181Did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables.
182. dearest: direst; most intensely hated.
182Would I had met my dearest foe in heaven
183. Or ever I had seen that day: before I had ever seen that day.
183Or ever I had seen that day, Horatio!
184My father!methinks I see my father.
185Where, my lord?
185In my mind's eye, Horatio.
186. 'A: he.
186I saw him once. 'A was a goodly king.
187'A was a man, take him for all in all,
188I shall not look upon his like again.
189My lord, I think I saw him yesternight.
191My lord, the king your father.
191The king my father!
192. Season: calm down, restrain. admiration: wonder, astonishment. 193. attent: attentive. deliver: report.
192Season your admiration for a while
193With an attent ear, till I may deliver,
194. Upon the witness of these gentlemen: i.e., confirmed by what Marcellus and Barnardo have witnessed.
194Upon the witness of these gentlemen,
195This marvel to you.
195For God's love, let me hear.
196Two nights together had these gentlemen,
197Marcellus and Barnardo, on their watch,
198. waste: emptiness.
198In the dead waste and middle of the night,
199Been thus encount'red: A figure like your father,
200. Armed at point exactly, cap-a-pe: armed [as your father was] exactly in every way, from head to foot.
200Armed at point exactly, cap-a-pe,
201Appears before them, and with solemn march
202Goes slow and stately by them: thrice he walk'd
203. By: before, in front of. oppress'd: overwhelmed. 204. truncheon's length: Six feet? ...more
203By their oppress'd and fear-surprised eyes,
204Within his truncheon's length; whilst they, distilled
205. act: action, effect.
205Almost to jelly with the act of fear,
206-207. This to me / In dreadful secrecy impart they did: i.e., they told me this as a dreadful secret.
206Stand dumb and speak not to him. This to me
207In dreadful secrecy impart they did;
208And I with them the third night kept the watch;
209. as they had deliver'd: just as they had reported.
209Where, as they had deliver'd, both in time,
210Form of the thing, each word made true and good,
211The apparition comes: I knew your father;
212. These hands are not more like: i.e., my two hands do not resemble each other more closely than the apparition resembled Hamlet's father.
212These hands are not more like.
212But where was this?
213My lord, upon the platform where we watch'd.
214Did you not speak to it?
214My lord, I did;
215But answer made it none: yet once methought
216. it: its. 216-217. did address / Itself to motion, like as it would speak: began to make a gesture, as if it were about to speak.
216It lifted up it head and did address
217Itself to motion, like as it would speak;
218But even then the morning cock crew loud,
219And at the sound it shrunk in haste away,
220And vanish'd from our sight.
220'Tis very strange.
221As I do live, my honour'd lord, 'tis true;
222And we did think it writ down in our duty
223To let you know of it.
224Indeed, indeed, sirs, but this troubles me.
225Hold you the watch tonight?
MARCELLUS and BARNARDO
225We do, my lord.
226Arm'd, say you?
MARCELLUS and BARNARDO
227Arm'd, my lord.
228From top to toe?
MARCELLUS and BARNARDO
228My lord, from head to foot.
229Then saw you not his face?
230. beaver: visor.
230O, yes, my lord; he wore his beaver up.
231What, look'd he frowningly?
231A countenance more
232In sorrow than in anger.
232Pale or red?
233Nay, very pale.
233And fix'd his eyes upon you?
234I would I had been there.
235It would have much amazed you.
236Very like, very like. Stay'd it long?
237. tell: count.
237While one with moderate haste might tell a hundred.
MARCELLUS and BARNARDO
239Not when I saw't.
239. grizzled: mixed with grey.
239His beard was grizzledno?
240It was, as I have seen it in his life,
241. A sable silver'd: In heraldry, "sable" is the word for black. Hamlet asked if the Ghost's beard was "grizzled," and Horatio says it was, but the words he uses makes the mixture of black and white sound impressively dignified.
241A sable silver'd.
241I will watch tonight;
242Perchance 'twill walk again.
242I warrant it will.
243If it assume my noble father's person,
244. gape: open its mouth wide (as though to swallow him). 245. bid me hold my peace: i.e., tell me to be quiet, shut up.
244I'll speak to it, though hell itself should gape
245And bid me hold my peace. I pray you all,
246If you have hitherto conceal'd this sight,
247. tenable: held close.
247Let it be tenable in your silence still;
248. hap: happen to happen.
248And whatsoever else shall hap tonight,
249. Give it an understanding, but no tongue: i.e., pay attention, and remember, but don't say anything. 250. I will requite your loves: I will return your friendship. Hamlet may also mean that he will give them some sort of reward for keeping the secret.
249Give it an understanding, but no tongue:
250I will requite your loves. So, fare you well:
251Upon the platform, 'twixt eleven and twelve,
252I'll visit you.
252Our duty to your honor.
253. Your loves, as mine to you: i.e., what you have done shows more than duty; it shows deep friendship, and I return that friendship.
253Your loves, as mine to you: farewell.
Exeunt [all but HAMLET].
254My father's spirit in arms! all is not well;
255. doubt: suspect.
255I doubt some foul play: would the night were come!
256Till then, sit still, my soul. Foul deeds will rise,
257Though all the earth o'erwhelm them, to men's eyes.