Hamlet: Act 3, Scene 1
Enter KING, QUEEN, POLONIUS,
1. drift of circumstance: direction of conversation.
1And can you, by no drift of circumstance,
2. puts on this confusion: shows this puzzling behavior. 3. Grating so harshly all his days of quiet: i.e., so opposite to his previous reasonable behavior.
2Get from him why he puts on this confusion,
3Grating so harshly all his days of quiet
4With turbulent and dangerous lunacy?
5He does confess he feels himself distracted;
6But from what cause 'a will by no means speak.
7. forward: readily willing. sounded: plumbed; tested deeply. 8. crafty madness: i.e., the shrewdness that mad people sometimes exhibit. keeps aloof: i.e., refuses to be pinned down. 10. his true state: his genuine state of mind.
7Nor do we find him forward to be sounded,
8But, with a crafty madness, keeps aloof,
9When we would bring him on to some confession
10Of his true state.
10Did he receive you well?
11Most like a gentleman.
12. disposition: inclination.
12But with much forcing of his disposition.
13. Niggard of question: Miserly in conversation; i.e., unwilling to engage in free and easy conversation. demands: questions.
13Niggard of question; but, of our demands,
14Most free in his reply.
14. assay: attempt to win.
14Did you assay him
15To any pastime?
16. players: actors.
16Madam, it so fell out, that certain players
17. o'er-raught: overreached; i.e., passed.
17We o'er-raught on the way. Of these we told him;
18And there did seem in him a kind of joy
19. They are about the court: i.e., they are already here.
19To hear of it. They are about the court,
20And, as I think, they have already order
21This night to play before him.
21'Tis most true:
22And he beseech'd me to entreat your majesties
23To hear and see the matter.
24With all my heart; and it doth much content me
25To hear him so inclined.
26. edge: incitement.
26Good gentlemen, give him a further edge,
27. drive his purpose into these delights: i.e., strongly encourage him to focus on such entertainments.
27And drive his purpose into these delights.
28We shall, my lord.
Exeunt Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.
28Sweet Gertrude, leave us too;
29. closely: privately. To a reader of the play, this statement might raise questions, such as: "Who delivered the message to Hamlet that he was 'sent for'?" ...more 31. Affront: meet, confront, speak to. 32. espials: spies.
29For we have closely sent for Hamlet hither,
30That he, as 'twere by accident, may here
32Her father and myself (lawful espials)
33. bestow ourselves: place ourselves.
33Will so bestow ourselves that, seeing, unseen,
34. frankly: freely, honestly, accurately.
34We may of their encounter frankly judge,
35And gather by him, as he is behaved,
36If 't be th' affliction of his love or no
37That thus he suffers for.
37I shall obey you.
38And for your part, Ophelia, I do wish
39That your good beauties be the happy cause
40Of Hamlet's wildness. So shall I hope your virtues
41. his wonted way: his accustomed mode of behavior.
41Will bring him to his wonted way again,
42To both your honors.
42Madam, I wish it may.
43. Gracious: your Grace [i.e., the king].
43Ophelia, walk you here. Gracious, so please you,
44. bestow ourselves: i.e., hide ourselves within earshot.
44We will bestow ourselves. [To Ophelia.] Read on this book;
45-46. exercise: i.e., religious exercise. This is made clear in the next sentence. color / Your loneliness: give your being alone a natural appearance. 47. too much prov'd: too often proved to be true in practice. 48. action: behavior.
45That show of such an exercise may color
46Your loneliness. We are oft to blame in this
47'Tis too much provedthat with devotion's visage
48And pious action we do sugar o'er
49The devil himself.
49O, 'tis too true!
50. How smart a lash that speech doth give: what a stinging whipping that speech gives. 51. plastering art: the art of plastering on cosmetics.
50How smart a lash that speech doth give my conscience!
51The harlot's cheek, beautied with plastering art,
52Is not more ugly to the thing that helps it
53. painted: prettified with cosmetics.
53Than is my deed to my most painted word:
54O heavy burden!
55I hear him coming: let's withdraw, my lord.
[Exeunt King and Polonius.]
56To be, or not to be: that is the question:
57. suffer: endure patiently.
57Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
58. slings: i.e., projectiles launched from slings.
58The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
59Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
60. To die, to sleep / No more: This sequence puzzles me. "To sleep" seems to be a comforting way of ...more
60And by opposing end them? To die, to sleep
61No moreand by a sleep to say we end
62The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
63. consummation: completion, end.
63That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
64Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
65. rub: i.e., obstacle, catch. The term comes from the game Americans know as lawn bowling, in which ...more
65To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
66For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
67. shuffled off: sloughed, cast off. this mortal coil: the turmoil of this mortal life. 68. respect: consideration.
67When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
68Must give us pause: there's the respect
69That makes calamity of so long life;
70. bear . . . time: i.e., endure the punishments and insults that always come with the passage of time. 71. contumely: insolent abuse. 72. despised: rejected.
73. office: i.e., all those who hold official positions which give them power over others. spurns: insults.
73. office: i.e., all those who hold official positions which give them power over others. spurns: insults.
70For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
71The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
72The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
73The insolence of office and the spurns
74That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
75. his quietus make: settle all his debts.
75When he himself might his quietus make
76. With a bare bodkin: with nothing more than a dagger. fardels: burdens.
76With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear,
77To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
78But that the dread of something after death,
79. undiscover'd: unknown, mysterious. from whose bourn: from beyond the boundary of which. 80. puzzles: paralyzes.
79The undiscover'd country from whose bourn
80No traveller returns, puzzles the will
81And makes us rather bear those ills we have
82Than fly to others that we know not of?
83. conscience: consciousness, reflection.
83Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
84. native hue of resolution: natural complexion of a resolution to take action. 85. pale cast: pallor. ...more
84And thus the native hue of resolution
85Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
86. pitch: height, urgency. ...more
86And enterprises of great pitch and moment
87. With this regard: because of this kind of consideration [of possibilities]. currents turn awry: turn off course. 88. Soft you now: This is an expression ...more 89. orisons: prayers. 90. Be all my sins remember'd: i.e., please pray over my sins.
87With this regard their currents turn awry,
88And lose the name of action.Soft you now,
89The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons
90Be all my sins remember'd.
90Good my lord,
91How does your honor for this many a day?
92I humbly thank you; well, well, well.
93. remembrances of yours: i.e., love tokens; things Hamlet gave Ophelia to remember him by.
93My lord, I have remembrances of yours,
94That I have longed long to re-deliver;
95I pray you, now receive them.
95. I pray you, now receive them: please take them back now. 96. aught: anything whatsoever. I think Hamlet means that he didn't give Ophelia anything that needs to be returned.
95No, not I;
96I never gave you aught.
97My honor'd lord, you know right well you did;
98And, with them, words of so sweet breath composed
99As made the things more rich. Their perfume lost,
100Take these again; for to the noble mind
101. unkind: unnatural; i.e., false.
101Rich gifts wax poor when givers prove unkind.
102There, my lord.
103. Ha, ha!: I believe that Hamlet is expressing surprise because Ophelia has just spoken as if he were the one who broke off the relationship. honest: 1) truthful; 2) chaste.
103Ha, ha! are you honest?
105. fair: 1) beautiful; 2) honorable.
105Are you fair?
106What means your lordship?
107-108. your honesty should admit no discourse to your beauty: your honesty should have no dealings with your beauty.
107That if you be honest and fair, your honesty should
108admit no discourse to your beauty.
109-110. Could beauty . . . have better commerce than with honesty?: could beauty have any better dealings than those with honesty?
109Could beauty, my lord, have better commerce than
111Ay, truly; for the power of beauty will sooner
112. bawd: 1) prostitute; 2) madame of a whorehouse. 113. translate: transform.
112transform honesty from what it is to a bawd than the
113force of honesty can translate beauty into his
114-115. sometime: formerly. paradox: a view contrary to accepted belief. the time gives it proof: the present age proves that it is true. I believe that Hamlet is thinking that it is his mother's case which proves his point. His mother was beautiful and honest, but her beauty attracted the attentions of Claudius, who seduced her into adultery, so her beauty corrupted her honesty.
114likeness. This was sometime a paradox, but now the
115time gives it proof. I did love you once.
116Indeed, my lord, you made me believe so.
117-119. virtue cannot so inoculate our old stock but we shall relish of it: i.e., no matter how hard we try to be virtuous, our naturally sinful nature will come through in some way. Hamlet here uses a metaphor from gardening; "inoculate" means "to graft," and in grafting, the "stock" is the hardy root and stem on which the desired plant is grafted.
117You should not have believ'd me, for virtue cannot
118so inoculate our old stock but we shall relish of
119it. I lov'd you not.
120I was the more deceived.
121Get thee to a nunnery: why wouldst thou be a breeder
122. indifferent honest: i.e., as virtuous as most people are.
122of sinners? I am myself indifferent honest; but yet I
123could accuse me of such things that it were better my
124mother had not borne me: I am very proud, revengeful,
125-126. more offences at my beck than I have thoughts to put them in: I believe that Hamlet is saying that he has more crimes that he could call to mindand which tempt himthan he has reasons to justify such crimes. 128. arrant knaves: thoroughgoing rascals.
125ambitious, with more offences at my beck than I have
126thoughts to put them in, imagination to give them shape,
127or time to act them in. What should such fellows as I do
128crawling between earth and heaven? We are arrant knaves,
129all; believe none of us. Go thy ways to a nunnery.
130Where's your father?
131At home, my lord.
132Let the doors be shut upon him, that he may play the
133fool no where but in's own house. Farewell.
134O, help him, you sweet heavens!
135If thou dost marry, I'll give thee this plague for thy
136dowry: be thou as chaste as ice, as pure as snow, thou
137. calumny: slander.
137shalt not escape calumny. Get thee to a nunnery, go:
138farewell. Or, if thou wilt needs marry, marry a fool; for
139. monsters: This alludes to ...more you: i.e., you women. ...more 140. nunnery: Here, and at his next use of the word "nunnery," Hamlet may be punning on the slang meaning of the word, which is "whorehouse."
139wise men know well enough what monsters you make
140of them. To a nunnery, go, and quickly too. Farewell.
141. restore him: restore him [to sanity]. Ophelia believes that Hamlet has gone mad before her eyes, but ...more
141O heavenly powers, restore him!
142. your paintings: i.e., women's use of cosmetics.
142I have heard of your paintings too, well enough; God
143has given you one face, and you make yourselves
144-146. you jig, you amble, and you lisp, and nick-name / God's creatures, and make your wantonness your / ignorance: i.e., you walk and talk affectedly; you make up cute ...more 147-148. moe: more. those that are married already, all but one, shall live: This may be a threat against King Claudius.
144another: you jig, you amble, and you lisp, and nick-name
145God's creatures, and make your wantonness your
146ignorance. Go to, I'll no more on't; it hath made me mad.
147I say, we will have no moe marriages: those that are
148married already, all but one, shall live; the rest shall
149keep as they are. To a nunnery, go.
150. o'erthrown: overthrown, destroyed.
150O, what a noble mind is here o'erthrown!
151. The courtier's . . . sword: i.e., the courtier's tongue (persuasiveness, charisma); the soldier's ...more 152. expectation: hope. rose: ornament. the fair state: i.e., the ...more 153. glass of fashion and mold of form: mirror (model) ...more 154. The observed of all observers: i.e., the center of attention and honor. The word "observe" meant both "pay attention to" and "pay honor to."
151The courtier's, soldier's, scholar's, eye, tongue, sword;
152The expectancy and rose of the fair state,
153The glass of fashion and the mold of form,
154The observed of all observers, quite, quite down!
155And I, of ladies most deject and wretched,
156That suck'd the honey of his music vows,
157Now see that noble and most sovereign reason,
158Like sweet bells jangled, out of tune and harsh;
159. blown: in full bloom.
160. Blasted: withered. ecstasy: madness.
160. Blasted: withered. ecstasy: madness.
159That unmatch'd form and feature of blown youth
160Blasted with ecstasy: O, woe is me,
161To have seen what I have seen, see what I see!
Enter KING CLAUDIUS and POLONIUS.
162. affections: inclinations, feelings.
162Love! his affections do not that way tend;
163Nor what he spake, though it lack'd form a little,
164Was not like madness. There's something in his soul,
165. sits on brood: i.e., prepares to hatch. A hen ...more 166. doubt: suspect, fear. disclose: disclosure, hatching.
165O'er which his melancholy sits on brood;
166And I do doubt the hatch and the disclose
167Will be some danger: which for to prevent,
168-169. I have in quick determination / Thus set it down: i.e., I have quickly and firmly decided as follows.
168I have in quick determination
169Thus set it down: he shall with speed to England,
170. For . . . tribute: to demand the tribute (money payment) due to Denmark, which has not been paid. 171. Haply: perchance, happily. 172. variable objects: i.e., a variety of things to see.
170For the demand of our neglected tribute.
171Haply the seas and countries different
172With variable objects shall expel
173This something-settled matter in his heart,
174-175. puts him thus / From fashion of himself: estranges him [as we have just seen] from his natural manner of acting.
174Whereon his brains still beating puts him thus
175From fashion of himself. What think you on't?
176It shall do well: but yet do I believe
177. grief: problem, what is troubling him.
177The origin and commencement of his grief
178. neglected love: i.e., Hamlet's love for Ophelia, which Ophelia, on her father's orders, has refused. How now, Ophelia!: There seems to be some implied stage direction here, but I don't know just what it is. Did Ophelia, when her father said "neglected love," give her father a significant look?
178Sprung from neglected love. How now, Ophelia!
179You need not tell us what Lord Hamlet said;
180We heard it all. My lord, do as you please;
181But, if you hold it fit, after the play
182Let his queen mother all alone entreat him
183. his grief: what is troubling him. round: blunt, outspoken. 184-185. in the ear / Of all their conference: within earshot of everything they say. 185. find him: learn the truth about him. 186. confine him: Confinement in a dark room was a common treatment for madness.
183To show his grief: let her be round with him;
184And I'll be placed, so please you, in the ear
185Of all their conference. If she find him not,
186To England send him, or confine him where
187Your wisdom best shall think.
187It shall be so:
188Madness in great ones must not unwatch'd go.