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.
Note to Hamlet, 4.5.157-158: "thy madness shall be paid by weight, / Till our scale turn the beam"
The picture below, showing the most common kind of scales of Shakespeare's time, can help us understand Laertes' metaphor.
Scales are called "scales" because each instrument has two scales; a weight is put in one scale (which is a small pan), and the material to be weighed in the other. Both scales hang from the beam, the horizontal crossbar. When one side outweighs the other, beam turns and slants down to the heavier side.