William Shakespeare's Hamlet the Bard's most famous play is the story of a young man's idealism utterly destroyed
William Shakespeare's plays, sonnets and poems at AbsoluteShakespeare.com
Home Plays Sonnets Poems Quotes Summaries Essays Glossary Links Help

HOME > Plays > Hamlet > Act III. Scene I.


Study Guides
Julius Caesar
King Henry IV
King Lear
Merchant of Venice
Romeo and Juliet
The Tempest
Twelfth Night

Bard Facts
Globe Theatre

Act III. Scene I.

Act III. Scene I.—A Room in the Castle.


King. And can yon, by no drift of circum-
Get from him why he puts on this aonfusion,
Grating so harshly all his days of quiet
With turbulent and dangerous lunacy?
Ros. He does confess he feels himself dis-
But from what cause he will by no means speak.
Guil. Nor do wet find him forward to be
But, with a crafty madness, keeps aloof,
When we would bring him on to some confession
Of his true state,
Queen. Did he receive you well?
Ros. Most like a gentleman.
Guil. But with much forcing of his dis-
Ros. Niggard of question, but of our de-
Most free in his reply.
Queen. Did you assay him
To any pastime?
Ros. Madam, it so fell 'out that certain
We o'er-raught on the way; of these we told
And there did seem in him a kind of joy
To hear of it: they are about the court,
And, as I think, they have already order
This night to play before him.
pot. 'Tis most true;
And he beseech'd me to entreat your majesties
To hear and see the matter.
King. With all my heart; and it doth much
content me
To hear him so inclin'd.
Good gentlemen, give him a further edge,
And drive his purpose on to these delights.
Ros. We shall, my lord.
King. Sweet Gertrude, leave us too;
For we have closely sent for Hamlet hither,
That he, as 'twere by accident, may here
Affront Ophelia.
Her father and myself, lawful espials,
Will so bestow ourselves, that, seeing, unseen,
ye may of their encounter frankly judge,
And gather by him, as he is behav'd,
If't be the affliction of his love or no
That thus he suffers for.
Queen. I shall obey you.
And for your part, Ophelia, I do wish
That your good beauties be the happy cause
Of Hamlet's wildness; so shall I hope your
Will bring him to his wonted way again,
To both your honours.
Oph. Madam, I wish it may.
[Exit QUEEN.
Pol. Ophelia, walk you here. Gracious, so
please you,
We will bestow ourselves. [To OPHELIA.] Read
on this book;
That show of such an exercise may colour
Your loneliness. We are oft to blame in this,
'Tis too much prov'd, that with devotion's visage
And pious action we do sugar o'er
The devil himself.
King. [Aside.] O! 'tis too true;
How smart a lash that speech doth give my
The harlot's cheek, beautied With plastering art,
Is not more ugly to the thing that helps it
Than is my deed to my most painted word:
O heavy burden!
Pol. I hear him coming; let's withdraw, my
lord. [Exeunt KING and POLONIUS.

Ham. To be, or not to be: that is the ques-
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and, by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the
For in that sleep of death what dreams may
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause. There's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's con-
The pangs of disprized love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover'd country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
ls sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action Soft you now!
The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remember'd.
Oph. Good my lord,
How does your honour for this many a day?
Ham. I humbly thank you; well, well, well.
Oph. My lord, I have remembrances of yours,
That I have longed long to re-deliver;
I pray you, now receive them.
Ham. No, not I;
I never gave you aught.
Oph. My honour'd lord, you know right well
you did;
And, with them, words of so sweet breath
As made the things more rich: their perfume
Take these again; for to the noble mind
Rich gifts wax poor when givers prove unkind.
There, my lord,
Ham. Ha, ha! are you honest?
Oph. My lord!
Ham. Are you fair?
Oph. What means your lordship?
Ham. That if you be honest and fair, your
honesty should admit no discourse to your
Oph. Could beauty, my lord, have better com-
merce than with honesty?
Ham. Ay, truly; for the power of beauty will
sooner transform honesty from what it is to a
bawd than the force of honesty can translate
beauty into his likeness: this was sometime a
paradox, but now the time gives it proof. I did
love thee once.
Oph. Indeed, my lord, you made me believe
Ham. You should not have believed me; for
virtue cannot so inoculate our old stock but we
shall relish of it: I loved you not.
Oph. I was the more deceived.
Ham. Get thee to a nunnery: why wouldst
thou be a breeder of sinners? I am myself
indifferent honest; but yet I could accuse me of
such things that it were better my mother had
not borne me. I am very proud, revengeful,
ambitious; with more offences at my beck than
I have thoughts to put them in, imagination
to give them shape, or time to act them in.
What should such fellows as I do crawling
between heaven and earth? We are arrant
knaves, all; believe none of us. Go thy ways to
a nunnery. Where's your father?
Oph. At home, my lord.
Ham. Let the doors be shut upon him, that
he may play the fool nowhere but in's own
house. Farewell.
Oph. O! help him, you sweet heavens.
Ham. If thou dost marry, I'll give thee this
plague for thy dowry: be thou as chaste as ice,
as pure as snow, thou shalt not escape calumny,
Get thee to a nunnery, go; farewell. Or, if thou.
wilt needs marry, marry a fool; for wise men
know well enough what monsters you make of
them. To a nunnery, go; and quickly too.
Oph. O heavenly powers, restore him!
Ham. I have heard of your paintings too,
well enough; God hath given you one face, and
you make yourselves another: you jig, you
amble, and you lisp, and nickname God's crea-
tures, and make your wantonness your ignorance.
Go to, I'll no more on't; It hath made me mad,
I say, we will have no more marriages; those
that are married already, all but one, shall live;
the rest shall keep as they are. To a nunnery, go.
Oph. O! what a noble mind is here o'er-
The courtier's, soldier's, scholar's, eye, tongue,
The expectancy and rose of the fair state,
The glass of fashion and the mould of form,
The observed of all observers, quite, quite down!
And I, of ladies most deject and wretched,
That suck'd the honey of his music vows,
Now see that noble and most sovereign reason,
Like sweet bells jangled, out of tune and harsh;
That unmatch'd form and feature of blown
Blasted with ecstasy: O! woe is me,
To have seen what I have seen, see what I see!

Re-enter KING and POLONIUS.
King. Love! his affections do not that way
Nor what he spake, though it lack'd form a
Was not like madness. There's something m
his soul
O'er which his melancholy sits on brood;
And, I do doubt, the hatch and the disclose
Will be some danger; which for to prevent,
I have in quick determination
Thus set it down: he shall with speed to
For the demand of our neglected tribute:
Haply the seas and countries different
With variable objects shall expel
This something-settled matter in his heart,
Whereon his brains still beating puts him thus
From fashion of himself. What think you on't?
Pol. It shall do well: but yet do I believe
The origin and commencement of his grief
Sprung from neglected love. How now, Ophelia!
You need not tell us what Lord Hamlet said;
We heard it all. My lord, do as you please;
But, if you hold it fit, after the play,
Let his queen mother all alone entreat him
To show his griefs: let her be round with
And I'll be plac'd, so please you, in the ear
Of all their conference. If she find him not,
To England send him, or confine him where
Your wisdom best shall think.
King. It shall be so:
Madness in great ones must not unwatch'd go.
Copyright 2000-2005 AbsoluteShakespeare.com. All rights reserved.  Contact Us  Privacy  Awards