Scene 9

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Synopsis

In the Banquet Hall, Hamlet coaches the Players on how he wants the play done. Hamlet asks Horatio to help him keep an eye on Claudius during the play. Hamlet sits beside Ophelia.

A dumb show is performed, then the play begins. Hamlet speaks of Gonzago, referring to the news story on which the play was based. Claudius abruptly rises and leaves in the middle of the play, the play comes to a halt, and the audience leaves. Hamlet takes Claudius's behavior as confirmation of what the Ghost told him.

R & G and Polonius return and tell Hamlet Gertrude wants to speak to him, and Hamlet agrees to speak to her. Hamlet dismisses Horatio and the Players, speaks his "witching time of night" soliloquy, and then exits, on his way to the Royal Apartments.

For more detail: Explication#Scene 9.

Characters

The Scene 9 Characters are: Hamlet, Lad, First Player, Polonius, Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, Horatio, Claudius, Gertrude, Ophelia, Lucianus Player.

Passage Links

Hamlet first speaks to Horatio #042 Entry of Claudius and Gertrude #081-SD Hamlet sits by Ophelia #100-SD
The Dumb Show #121 The Mousetrap Play begins #136-SD Claudius rushes out #249-SD
R & G re-enter #272-SD2 Polonius re-enters #337-SD2 Hamlet recites "witching time" #350

Jump down to the Notes.


Dialogue

Scene 9      [ ~ The Mousetrap ~ ]      (Act 3 Scene 2)

#09-Setting: inside the Castle;
            the Banquet Hall;
            At night.

#09-000-SD  (Hamlet enters, with the Players)

#09-001  Hamlet:  Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to you,
                        Speak the dialogue, please, as I enunciated it to you,
#09-002        trippingly on the tongue, but if you mouth it as many of our
                        lightly on the tongue, but if you declaim it as many of our
#09-003        players do, I had as lief the town crier spoke my lines;
                        actors would, I'd just as soon the town crier spoke the lines I wrote.
#09-004        nor do not saw the air too much with your hand, thus, but use all
                        Also, do not chop the air too much with your hands, like so, but do everything
#09-005        gently; for in the very torrent, tempest, and as I may say, the whirlwind
                        with restraint, for within the sheer flood, storm, and as I might say, the whirlwind
#09-006        of your passion, you must acquire and beget a temperance, that
                        of your emotional performance, you must gain and produce moderation that
#09-007        may give it smoothness; oh, it offends me to the soul, to hear a
                        can give it smoothness.  Oh, it offends me deeply, to hear some
#09-008        robustious periwig-pated fellow tear a passion to tatters, to very rags,
                        wooden, bewigged fellow flay a performance to shreds, to only rags,
#09-009        to split the ears of the groundlings who, for the most part, are capable
                        to cleave the ears of the groundlings, who, in general, can take in
#09-010        of nothing but inexplicable dumb shows, and noise; I would have such
                        nothing but senseless action, and noise.  I would have such
#09-011        a fellow whipped for o'erdoing Termagant; it out-Herods Herod;
                        a fellow whipped for outrageous acting, it's beyond anything normal.
#09-012        pray you avoid it.
                        Please avoid that.
#09-013  Lad:  I warrant Your Honor.
                        I guarantee, Your Honor, I will avoid it.
#09-014  Hamlet:  Be not too tame neither, but let your own discretion be
                        Don't be too quiet, either, but let your own judgment be
#09-015        your tutor; suit the action to the word, the word to the action, with
                        your tutor. Fit the action to the words, and the words to the action, with
#09-016        this special observance, that you o'erstep not the modesty of nature.
                        this special point in mind: don't go beyond the modesty of nature.
#09-017        For, anything so o'erdone, is from the purpose of playing,
                        For, anything so overdone, is nowhere near the purpose of acting,
#09-018        whose end both at the first, and now, was and is, to hold as 'twere
                        whose goal from the beginning, up to now, was and is, to hold (as it were)
#09-019        the mirror up to nature, to show Virtue Her feature, Scorn Her own
                        a mirror up to nature, to show Virtue how She looks, show Scorn Her own
#09-020        image, and the very age and body of the time his form and pressure.
                        image, and for the actual era and people of the times, show their form and impression.
#09-021        Now this overdone, or come tardy off, though it makes the unskillful
                        Now, if acting is overdone, or has bad timing, although it may make the naive
#09-022        laugh, cannot but make the judicious grieve, the censure of
                        laugh, it will sadden any person who has judgment - the disapproval of
#09-023        which one, must in your allowance o'erweigh a whole theater of
                        whom must, in your minds, outweigh everyone else in the
#09-024        others. Oh, there be players that I have seen play, and heard others
                        audience. Oh, there are actors that I have seen perform, and I've heard others
#09-025        praise, and that highly - not to speak it profanely - that neither
                        praise them, praise them highly, and (not to be irreverent about it,) but they couldn't
#09-026        having the accent of Christians, nor the gait of Christian, Pagan, nor
                        speak like civilized people, or walk like civilized people, or pagans, or any
#09-027        man, have so strutted & bellowed, that I have thought some of
                        kind of man at all. They have strutted and bellowed so it made me think some
#09-028        Nature's journeymen had made men, and not made them well, they
                        god still in training had been trying to make men, and made them poorly, they
#09-029        imitated humanity so abominably.
                        did such a bad job of imitating a real human being.
#09-030  Lead Player:  I hope we have reformed that indifferently with us.
                        I hope we have reformed those bad habits pretty well among us.
#09-031  Hamlet:  O reform it altogether; and let those that play your clowns
                        Oh, reform them completely. And also, let those who play your clowns
#09-032        speak no more than is set down for them, for there be of them that
                        speak only their written lines, because there are some, among clowns, who
#09-033        will themselves laugh, to set on some quantity of barren spectators
                        will start laughing, themselves, just to cause some idle spectators
#09-034        to laugh, too, though in the meantime, some necessary question of
                        to laugh, too, even though, while that's going on, a necessary topic in
#09-035        the play be then to be considered, that's villainous, and shows a most
                        the play needs to be appreciated.  That's villainous behavior, and it reveals a very
#09-036        pitiful ambition in the fool that uses it; go, make you ready.
                        pitiful self-importance in the fool who does it.  Go and get ready.

#09-036-SD1  (the Players withdraw)

#09-036-SD2  (Polonius enters;
                 Rosencrantz and Guildenstern enter)
   (Hamlet continues):
#09-037        How now, my Lord, will the King hear this piece of work?
                        Tell me, my Lord, will the King attend this play?
#09-038  Polonius:  And the Queen too, and that presently.
                        And the Queen, too, and they'll be here directly.
#09-039  Hamlet (to Polonius):  Bid the Players make haste.        #09-039-SD (Polonius withdraws)
                        Tell the actors to hurry.
   (to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern):
#09-040        Will you two help to hasten them?
                        Will you two help to hasten the King and Queen?
#09-041  Rosencrantz:  Aye, my Lord.        #09-041-SD (Rosencrantz and Guildenstern exit)
                        Yes, my Lord.
#09-042  Hamlet:  What ho, Horatio.         #09-042-SD (Horatio enters)
                        What ho, Horatio.
#09-043  Horatio:  Here, sweet Lord, at your service.
                        Here, sweet Lord, at your service.
#09-044  Hamlet:  Horatio, thou art e'en as just a man
                        Horatio, you're every bit as judicious a man
#09-045        As e'er my conversation coped withal.
                        As I have ever encountered during a discussion.
#09-046  Horatio:  O my dear Lord?
                        Oh, my dear Lord?
#09-047  Hamlet:  Nay, do not think I flatter,
                        Now, don't think that I'm just flattering you,
#09-048        For what advancement may I hope from thee
                        Since, what advantage could I hope to get from you,
#09-049        That no revenue hast but thy good spirits
                        Who have no income to speak of, but only your own good nature
#09-050        To feed and clothe thee.  Why should the poor be flattered?
                        To sustain and adorn you.  Why would I flatter a poor man?
#09-051        No, let the candied tongue lick absurd pomp,
                        No, let sweet-talkers stroke the egos of those who are absurdly pompous,
#09-052        And crook the pregnant hinges of the knee,
                        And bend the productive joint of the knee,
#09-053        Where thrift may follow feigning.  Dost thou hear?
                        Where financial benefit may result from pretense.  Do you see what I mean?
#09-054        Since my dear soul was mistress of her choice,
                        Since that age when my own soul became mistress of her decisions,
#09-055        And could, of men, distinguish her election,
                        And could, from among men, sort out her selection,
#09-056        S'hath sealed thee for herself; for, thou hast been,
                        She has singled you out for herself, because, you have been
#09-057        As one in suffering all, that suffers nothing,
                        Like one who, despite all he suffers, suffers nothing -
#09-058        A man that Fortune's buffets and rewards
                        A man who, subjected to Fortune's hard knocks, or given Her rewards,
#09-059        Hast ta'en with equal thanks; and blessed are those
                        Has taken either it may be, with equanimity, and those men are blessed, indeed,
#09-060        Whose blood and judgement are so well comingled,
                        Whose passion and judgment are so well harmonized,
#09-061        That they are not a pipe for Fortune's finger
                        That they don't become an instrument for Fortune to play with
#09-062        To sound what stop she please; give me that man
                        To do whatever She pleases. Give me a man
#09-063        That is not passion's slave, and I will wear him
                        Who is not a slave to his own emotions, and I will wear his cameo
#09-064        In my heart's core, aye, in my heart of heart,
                        Over the center of my heart, yes, in the heart of my heart,
#09-065        As I do thee.  Something too much of this;
                        As I do you.  I'm carrying on too much with this.
#09-066        There is a play tonight before the King,
                        There is a play being performed, tonight, before the King.
#09-067        One scene of it comes near the circumstance
                        A scene in it resembles the circumstances
#09-068        Which I have told thee of, my father's death;
                        Which I have told you about, regarding my father's death.
#09-069        I prithee when thou seest that act afoot,
                        Please, when you see that scene of the play in progress
#09-070        Even with the very comment of thy soul
                        Even with the especial interpretation from your soul,
#09-071        Observe my uncle; if his occulted guilt
                        Observe my uncle.  If his hidden guilt
#09-072        Do not itself unkennel in one speech,
                        Doesn't show itself during that speech, that means
#09-073        It is a damned ghost that we have seen,
                        It's a damned ghost, from Hell, that we have seen,
#09-074        And my imaginations are as foul
                        And my suspicions, of my uncle, are as vile
#09-075        As Vulcan's stithy; give him heedful note,
                        As Vulcan's blacksmith forge.  Take heedful note of my uncle.
#09-076        For I mine eyes will rivet to his face,
                        As for me, I will rivet my eyes to his face,
#09-077        And after, we will both our judgments join
                        Then afterwards, we will compare our views of him
#09-078        In censure of his seeming.
                        In an assessment of how he seemed to take it.
#09-079  Horatio:  Well, my lord,
                        That sounds good, my Lord, and also
#09-080        If a steal ought the whilst this play is playing
                        If he steals away while the play is being performed,
#09-081        And 'scape detected, I will pay the theft.
                        And escapes although his guilt has been detected, I'll play the price of his theft.

#09-081-SD  (Claudius and Gertrude enter, with their entourage,
                       preceded by trumpeters and drummers;
                       Polonius and Ophelia enter)

#09-082  Hamlet:  They are coming to the play.  I must be idle,
                        They're coming to the play.  I must not seem busy.
#09-083        Get you a place.
                        Find a place in the audience.
#09-084  Claudius:  How fares our cousin Hamlet?
                        How do you fare, my kinsman Hamlet?
#09-085  Hamlet:  Excellent in faith;
                        Excellently, I swear.
#09-086        Of the chameleon's dish, I eat the air,
                        From the chameleon's bowl, I eat the air,
#09-087        Promise-crammed; you cannot feed capons so.
                        Filled with promise.  You can't feed capons like that.
#09-088  Claudius:  I have nothing with this answer, Hamlet;
                        I have nothing to say to that answer, Hamlet.
#09-089        These words are not mine.
                        I don't follow those words.
#09-090  Hamlet:  No, nor mine now . . . my Lord.
                        No, these words aren't mine either now: "my Lord."
#09-091    (to Polonius):  You played once i'th university, you say.
                        You were once a player at the University, you say?
#09-092  Polonius:  That did I, my Lord, and was accounted a good actor.
                        Yes, I was, my Lord, and I was counted a good actor.
#09-093  Hamlet:  What did you enact?
                        What did you put on?
#09-094  Polonius:  I did enact Julius Caesar; I was killed in the Capital;
                        I played Julius Caesar. I was killed in the Capital.
#09-095        Brutus killed me.
                        Brutus killed me.
#09-096  Hamlet:  It was a brute part of him to kill so capital a calf there;
                        It was a brutish thing for him to kill so excellent an offspring there.
#09-097        Be the players ready?
                        Are the players ready?
#09-098  {Polonius}:  Aye, my Lord, they stay upon your patience.
                        Yes, my Lord, they wait patiently for your order to begin.
#09-099  Gertrude:  Come hither, my dear Hamlet, sit by me.
                        Come over here, my dear Hamlet, and sit beside me.
#09-100  Hamlet:  No, good mother, here's mettle more attractive.         #09-100-SD  (Hamlet walks toward Ophelia)
                        No, good mother, here's metal that's more magnetic.
#09-101  Polonius (to Claudius):  O ho, do you mark that?
                        Oh ho, do you take note of that?
#09-102  Hamlet:  Lady, shall I lie in your lap?
                        Lady, shall I lie in your lap?
#09-103  Ophelia:  No, my Lord.
                        No! - my Lord.

#09-103-SD (Hamlet sits in the chair beside Ophelia)

#09-104  Hamlet:  Do you think I meant country matters?
                        Did you think I meant country matters?
#09-105  Ophelia:  I think nothing, my Lord.
                        I thought nothing, my Lord.
#09-106  Hamlet:  That's a fair thought to lie between maid's legs.
                        That's a fair thought, to lie between maid's legs.
#09-107  Ophelia:  What is, my Lord?
                        What is, my Lord?
#09-108  Hamlet:  Nothing.
                        Nothing.
#09-109  Ophelia:  You are merry, my Lord.
                        You're merry, my Lord.
#09-110  Hamlet:  Who, I?
                        Who, me?
#09-111  Ophelia:  'I' my Lord.
                        Yes, my Lord.
#09-112  Hamlet:  Oh God, your only jig-maker, what should a man do but
                        Oh, God, your only amusement. What should a man do except
#09-113        be merry, for look you how cheerfully my mother looks, and my
                        be merry?  For, look at that - how cheerful my mother looks, and my
#09-114        father died within's two hours.
                        father died within these two hours.
#09-115  Ophelia:  Nay, 'tis 'twice'... two months, my Lord.
                        No, it's been two-es... two months, my Lord.
#09-116  Hamlet:  So long?  Nay!  Then let the devil wear black, for I'll have a
                        That long?  No!  Then let the devil wear black, and I'll have a
#09-117        suit of sables; o heavens, die two months ago, and not forgotten yet?
                        suit of sables. Oh heavens, died two months ago, and not yet forgotten?
#09-118        Then there's hope a great man's memory may outlive his life half a
                        Then there's hope a great man's memory might outlive him by half a
#09-119        year; but, by'r Lady, he must build churches then, or else shall he suffer
                        year. But then, by god, someone must build a church, or nobody will
#09-120        not thinking on - with the hobbyhorse, whose epitaph is: for o, for
                        think about him. He'll be forgotten like the hobby horse, whose epitaph is "for oh, for
#09-121        o, the hobbyhorse is forgot.
                        oh, the hobby horse is forgotten."

#09-121-SD1  (Hamlet signals for the players to begin)

#09-121-SD2  (trumpets sound, to get the audience's attention;
                   the Players take their positions to perform a dumb show)

#09-121-DS1  Enter a King and a Queen;
#09-121-DS2        the Queen embracing him, and he her; she kneels, and makes show of protestation
#09-121-DS3        unto him; he takes her up, and declines his head upon her neck; he lies him down
#09-121-DS4        upon a bank of flowers; she, seeing him asleep, leaves him. Anon comes in
#09-121-DS5        another man, takes off his crown, kisses it, pours poison in the sleeper's ears,
#09-121-DS6        and leaves him. The Queen returns, finds the King dead, makes passionate
#09-121-DS7        action; the poisoner, with some three or four, comes in again, seems to
#09-121-DS8        lament with her; the dead body is carried away; the poisoner woos the Queen
#09-121-DS9        with gifts; she seems loath and unwilling awhile, but in the end accepts his love.

#09-121-SD3  (the Players withdraw)

#09-122  Ophelia:  What means this, my Lord?
                        What does that mean, my Lord?
#09-123  Hamlet:  Marry, this munching malhechor, it means mischief.
                        Well, for that feasting malefactor over there, it means mischief.
#09-124  Ophelia:  Belike this show imports the argument of the play.
                        Maybe that dumb show introduces the theme of the play.
#09-125  Hamlet:  We shall know by this fellow.
                        We'll know from this fellow.

#09-125-SD  (the Lead Player enters to do the Prologue)
   (Hamlet continues):
#09-126        The Players cannot keep counsel, they'll tell all.
                        The actors can't withhold information, they'll tell everything.
#09-127  Ophelia:  Will he tell us what this show meant?
                        Will he tell us what the dumb show meant?
#09-128  Hamlet:  Aye, or any show that you will show him; be not you ashamed
                        Yes, or any show that you'll show him. If you're not ashamed
#09-129        to show, he'll not shame to tell you what it means.
                        to do the show, he won't be ashamed to tell you what it's worth.
#09-130  Ophelia:  You are naught, you are naught, I'll mark the play.
                        You are naughty, you're being naughty.  I'll pay attention to the play. 
#09-131  Prologue:  For us, and for our Tragedy,
                        For us, and for our tragedy
#09-132        Here stooping to your clemency,
                        We submit here, to your mercy,
#09-133        We beg your hearing patiently.
                        We beg your tolerance to listen.
#09-134  Hamlet:  Is this a Prologue, or the posy of a ring?
                        Is this a Prologue, or a tiny poem to write inside a ring?
#09-135  Ophelia:  'Tis brief, my Lord.
                        It was brief, my Lord.
#09-136  Hamlet:  As woman's love.
                        As woman's love.

 #09-136-SD  (the play begins:  the play King and Queen enter,
                       who are the Lead Player and the Lad, respectively)

#09-137  King:  Full thirty times hath Phoebus' cart gone round
                        Fully thirty times, the chariot of the sun has gone around
#09-138        Neptune's salt wash, and Tellus' orb'd ground,
                        The salty seas, and the globe of the earth;
#09-139        And thirty dozen moons with borrowed sheen
                        And thirty dozen moons, with their reflected sunlight,
#09-140        About the world have times twelve thirties been
                        Have gone around the world twelve times thirty times
#09-141        Since love our hearts, and Hymen did our hands
                        Since love, our hearts, and the goddess of marriage, our hands,
#09-142        Unite comutual in most sacred bands.
                        United together, in most sacred bands.
#09-143  Queen:  So many journeys may the sun and moon
                        As many journeys may the sun and moon
#09-144        Make us again count o'er, ere love be done,
                        Make us count over, again, before our love is done.
#09-145        But woe is me, you are so sick of late,
                        But woe is me, you are so sick lately,
#09-146        So far from cheer, and from your former state,
                        So far from being cheerful, and from your former state
#09-147        That I distrust you, yet though I distrust,
                        That I worry for you, but even though I worry,
#09-148        Discomfort you my Lord it nothing must.
                        That must not discomfort you at all, my Lord.
#09-149        For women fear too much, even as they love,
                        For women fear too much, even the way they love,
#09-150        And women's fear and love hold quantity,
                        And women's fear and love are proportional,
#09-151        In neither ought, or in extremity,
                        Either none of either, or an extreme amount of both.
#09-152        Now what my love is, proof hath made you know,
                        Now what my love is, the proof has let you know,
#09-153        And as my love is sized, my fear is so,
                        And as my love is, in size, my fear is also so.
#09-154        Where love is great, the littlest doubts are fear,
                        Where love is great, the smallest doubts are fear,
#09-155        Where little fears grow great, great love grows there.
                        When little fears grow great, great love grows there.
#09-156  King:  Faith, I must leave thee, love, and shortly, too;
                        Indeed, I must leave you, my love, and soon, too.
#09-157        My operant powers, their functions leave to do,
                        My active powers, are ceasing to do their functions;
#09-158        And thou shalt live in this fair world behind,
                        And you shall live in this fair world after I'm gone,
#09-159        Honored, beloved, and haply one as kind,
                        Honored, beloved - and, with luck, one as kind as me
#09-160        For husband shalt thou . . .
                        For a husband, you will . . .
#09-161  Queen:  Oh, confound the rest!
                        Oh, confound all other men!
#09-162        Such love must needs be treason in my breast;
                        Any such love would have to be treason in my heart.
#09-163        In second husband let me be accurst;
                        With any second husband let me be cursed,
#09-164        None wed the second, but who killed the first.        #09-165 Hamlet:  That's wormwood.
                        I'd never wed a second man, unless he killed the first.
#09-166        The instances that second marriage move
                        The causes that might motivate a second marriage
#09-167        Are base respects of thrift, but none of love,
                        Are fundamental considerations of finance, but never of love.
#09-168        A second time I kill my husband dead,
                        It would kill my late husband dead a second time,
#09-169        When second husband kisses me in bed.
                        When any second husband kisses me in bed.
#09-170  King:  I do believe you think what now you speak,
                        I do believe that you believe what you now say,
#09-171        But what we do determine, oft' we break,
                        But the promises we make, we often break.
#09-172        Purpose is but the slave to memory,
                        Resolution is only a slave to memory,
#09-173        Of violent birth, but poor validity,
                        Intensely felt at first, but poor in endurance.
#09-174        Which now, like fruit unripe, sticks on the tree,
                        Although now they're like the unripe fruits that stick on the tree,
#09-175        But fall unshaken when they mellow be.
                        They'll be brought down easily when they're older.
#09-176        Most necessary 'tis that we forget
                        It is very necessary to us that we forget
#09-177        To pay ourselves what to ourselves is debt,
                        To pay ourselves what we owe only to ourselves.
#09-178        What to ourselves in passion we propose,
                        What, to ourselves, in passion we promise to do,
#09-179        The passion ending, doth the purpose lose,
                        When the passion ends, the promise loses its purpose.
#09-180        The violence of either, grief or joy,
                        The impetuousness of either grief or joy
#09-181        Their own enactors with themselves destroy,
                        Destroys those acting from them, and the emotions themselves.
#09-182        Where joy most revels, grief doth most lament,
                        Where joy carouses most, grief laments the most
#09-183        Grief joys, joy grieves, on slender accident,
                        Grief joys, joy grieves, over slight accidents.
#09-184        This world is not for aye, nor 'tis not strange,
                        This world is not forever, and it is not strange
#09-185        That even our loves should with our fortunes change:
                        That even our loves should, with our fortunes, change.
#09-186        For 'tis a question left us yet to prove,
                        For it is a question that we have not yet proved
#09-187        Whether love lead fortune, or else fortune love;
                        Whether love leads fortune, or fortune leads love.
#09-188        The great man down, you mark, his favorite flies,
                        When a great man falls, you'll see his favorite person leave.
#09-189        The poor advanced, makes friends of enemies,
                        When a poor man advances, he'll make friends out of his enemies.
#09-190        And hitherto doth love on fortune tend,
                        And up until now, love does serve fortune,
#09-191        For who not needs, shall never lack a friend,
                        For, the person who isn't in need, will never lack a friend.
#09-192        And who in want a hollow friend doth try,
                        And the person who is in need, and tries a fair weather friend
#09-193        Directly seasons him his enemy.
                        Directly changes the former friend into an enemy.
#09-194        But orderly to end where I begun,
                        But in good order, to return, and end where I began
#09-195        Our wills and fates do so contrary run,
                        Our desires and our fates run so contrary to each other
#09-196        That our devises still are overthrown,
                        That our best-laid plans are always overthrown.
#09-197        Our thoughts are ours, their ends none of our own,
                        Only our plans are ours, the outcome is not our own.
#09-198        So think thou wilt no second husband wed,
                        So you think you will no second husband wed,
#09-199        But die thy thoughts when thy first Lord is dead.
                        But that thought will die when your first Lord is dead.
#09-200  Queen:  Nor earth to me give food, nor heaven light,
                        I'd have the earth not give me food, nor heaven, light,
#09-201        Sport and repose lock from me day and night,
                        Enjoyment and rest be locked away from me, day and night.
#09-202        To desperation turn my trust and hope,
                        My trust and hope be turned into desperation,
#09-203        And anchor's cheer in prison be my scope,
                        And let sad solitary confinement in prison be my domain;
#09-204        Each opposite that blanks the face of joy,
                        Each opposite that can cancel out the face of joy
#09-205        Meet what I would have well, and it destroy,
                        Should meet what I would like to have, and destroy it;
#09-206        Both here and hence pursue me lasting strife,        #09-207  Hamlet:  If she should break it now . . .
                        Both here and in the hereafter may lasting strife pursue me,
#09-208        If once I be a widow, ever I be a wife.
                        If once I am a widow, I ever again be a wife.
#09-209  King:  'Tis deeply sworn, sweet leave me here a while,
                        I know it's a promise from the heart.  Sweet, leave me here a while.
#09-210        My spirits grow dull, and fain I would beguile
                        My spirits grow weary, and with pleasure I would fool
#09-211        The tedious day with sleep.
                        The tiresome day, by sleeping.
#09-212  Queen:  Sleep rock thy brain,
                        May sleep cradle your mind,
#09-213        And never come mischance between us twain.
                        And may bad luck never come between the two of us.

#09-213-SD    (the King and Queen actors exit)

#09-214  Hamlet:  Madam, how like you this play?
                        Madam, how do you like this play?
#09-215  Gertrude:  The Lady doth protest too much, methinks.
                        The lady protests too much, I think.
#09-216  Hamlet:  O, but she'll keep her word.
                        Oh, but she'll keep her word.
#09-217  Claudius:  Have you heard the argument?  Is there no offense in't?
                        Do you know the synopsis?  Is there anything offensive in it?
#09-218  Hamlet:  No, no, they do but jest, poison in jest, no offense i'th world.
                        No, no, they're only joking, they poison as a joke, there's no offense in the world.
#09-219  Claudius:  What do you call the play?
                        What's the name of the play?
#09-220  Hamlet:  The Mousetrap.  Marry how tropically, this play is the image
                        The Mousetrap. Goodness, how figurative it is.  This play is the depiction
#09-221        of a murder done in Vienna; Gonzago is the Duke's name, his wife
                        of a real murder committed in Vienna.  Gonzago was the real Duke's name, his wife,
#09-222        Baptista; you shall see anon, 'tis a knavish piece of work, but what of
                        Baptista.   You'll soon see it's a villainous piece of work, but so
#09-223        that?  Your Majesty, and we that have free souls, it touches us not;
                        what?  Your Majesty, and we who have innocent souls, it can't affect us.
#09-224        let the galled jade wince, our withers are unwrung.  This is one
                        Let the horse with saddle sores wince, our backs are unhurt.  This next character is one
#09-225        Lucianus, Nephew to the King.
                        Lucianus, nephew of the King.

#09-225-SD  (the Lucianus Player enters)

#09-226  Ophelia:  You are as good as a Chorus, my Lord.
                        You are as good as a chorus, my Lord.
#09-227  Hamlet:  I could interpret between you and your love
                        I could supply dialogue for you and your lover
#09-228        If I could see the puppets dallying.
                        If I could envision the puppets interacting.
#09-229  Ophelia:  You are keen, my lord, you are keen.
                        You are sharp, my Lord, you are sharp.
#09-230  Hamlet:  It would cost you a groaning to take off mine edge.
                        It would cost you some moaning to take off my edge.
#09-231  Ophelia:  Still better and worse.
                        Even better, in a way, and worse, in a way.
#09-232  Hamlet:  So you mistake your husbands.  Begin murderer, leave
                        That's how women mis-take their husbands.  Begin, murderer!  Stop
#09-233        thy damnable faces and begin, come, the croaking raven doth bellow
                        that damnable face painting, and begin.  Come on, the croaking raven bellows
#09-234        for revenge.
                        for revenge!
#09-235  Lucianus:  Thoughts black, hands apt, drugs fit, and time agreeing,
                        Thoughts black, hands able, potions suitable, and the time is agreeable -
#09-236        Considerate season else no creature seeing,
                        It's considerate of the time, to have no other creature watching.
#09-237        Thou mixture rank, of midnight weeds collected,
                        You foul mixture, of weeds collected at midnight,
#09-238        With Hecats ban thrice blasted, thrice invected,
                        With the witch's spell three times diseased, three times cursed,
#09-239        Thy natural magic, and dire property,
                        Your innate power, to poison, plus the dreadful property of the evil spell,
#09-240        On wholesome life usurps immediately.
                        Steals away healthy life, immediately!
#09-241  Hamlet:  A poisons him i'th Garden for his estate; his name's
                        He poisons the victim in the garden of his estate.  The victim's name, in the real story, is
#09-242        Gonzago; the story is extant, and written in very choice Italian;
                        Gonzago.  The story on which the play was based is available, and written in very good Italian.
#09-243        you shall see anon how the murderer gets the love of Gonzago's wife.
                        You'll soon see a portrayal of how the murderer got the love of Gonzago's wife.
#09-244  Ophelia:  The King rises.
                        Look, the King rises.
#09-245  Hamlet:  What, frighted with false fire?
                        What, scared by an imitation?
#09-246  Gertrude:  How fares my Lord?
                        How are you feeling, my Lord?
#09-247  Polonius:  Give o'er the play.
                        Stop the play!
#09-248  Claudius:  Give me some light; away!
                        Give me some light!  I'm off!
#09-249  Polonius:  Lights, lights, lights.
                        Lights!  Lights, lights!

#09-249-SD  (Claudius rushes out;
                   Gertrude, Polonius and R. and G. trail Claudius, as does the royal entourage;
                   the Players withdraw to their costuming area;
                   the play audience mills about just a bit, and leaves;
                   Hamlet and Horatio take downstage center)

#09-250  Hamlet (sings):  Why, let the stricken deer go weep,
                        Why, let the wounded deer go weep, while
#09-251        The Hart ungalled play,
                        The unwounded stag is at play,
#09-252        For some must watch while some must sleep,
                        Since some must stay up late while others must die,
#09-253        Thus runs the world away.
                        That's how it goes in the world.
#09-254  (speaks):  Would not this, sir, & a forest of feathers,
                        Tell me, sir, wouldn't my writing, plus a lot of bombast,
#09-255        if the rest of my fortunes turn Turk with me, with provincial
                        (if the rest of my luck goes bad on me,) and with Province
#09-256        roses on my razed shoes, get me a fellowship in a cry of players?
                        roses on my fancy shoes, get me a partnership in a company of players?
#09-257  Horatio:  Half a share.
                        I'd allow you half a share.
#09-258  Hamlet:  A whole one, Aye.
                        I deserve a whole share, yes.
#09-259  (sings):  For thou dost know, oh Damon dear
                        For you do know, oh Damon, dear,
#09-260        This realm dismantled was
                        The mantle of this realm was taken
#09-261        Of Jove himself, and now reigns here
                        From Jove, himself, and the man now reigning here is
#09-262        A very very . . . peacock.
                        A true and absolute . . . peacock.
#09-263  Horatio:  You might have rhymed.
                        You could have rhymed that.
#09-264  Hamlet:  O good Horatio, I'll take the Ghost's word for a thousand
                        Oh, good Horatio, I'll bet on what the Ghost's said for a thousand
#09-265        pound.  Did'st perceive?
                        pounds!  Did you see it?
#09-266  Horatio:  Very well, my Lord.
                        Very well, my Lord.
#09-267  Hamlet:  Upon the talk of the poisoning?
                        His reaction to the talk of the poisoning?
#09-268  Horatio:  I did very well note him.
                        Yes, I noted him very well.

#09-268-SD  (Players approach, with recorders, and gesture to Hamlet,
                       about whether he wants them to play some music)

#09-269  Hamlet:  Ah ha, come, some music, come, the recorders;
                        Ah-ha, yes, let's have some music.  Yes, the recorders.
#09-270        For if the King like not the Comedy,
                        For, if the King didn't like the "comedy" play,
#09-271        Why then belike he likes it not, perdy.
                        Why, then he probably doesn't like music either, by golly.
#09-272        Come, some music.
                        Yes, play some music.

#09-272-SD1  (the Players play music for a time)

#09-272-SD2  (Rosencrantz and Guildenstern enter)

#09-273  Guildenstern:  Good my Lord, vouchsafe me a word with you.
                        Good my Lord, grant me a word with you.
#09-274  Hamlet:  Sir, a whole history.
                        Sir, you may have my whole life story.
#09-275  Guildenstern:  The King, sir . . .
                        The King, sir . . .
#09-276  Hamlet:  Aye, sir, what of him?
                        Yes, sir, what of him?
#09-277  Guildenstern:  . . . Is in his retirement marvelous distempered.
                        . . . is in his room amazingly distressed.
#09-278  Hamlet:  With drink, sir?
                        With drink, sir?
#09-279  Guildenstern:  No, my Lord, with choler.
                        No, my Lord, with the heat of anger.
#09-280  Hamlet:  Your wisdom should show itself more richer to signify
                        Your wisdom would show itself more rewarding if you communicated
#09-281        this to the doctor, for, for me to put him to his purgation, would
                        the doctor, because if I gave him his purge it would,
#09-282        perhaps plunge him into more choler.
                        perhaps, plunge him into more heat.
#09-283  Guildenstern:  Good my Lord, put your discourse into some frame,
                        Good my Lord, put your conversation into some framework,
#09-284        And stare not so wildly from my affair.
                        and don't stare at me so wildly, because I'm on serious business.
#09-285  Hamlet:  I am tame, sir, pronounce.
                        I am tame, sir, go ahead and speak.
#09-286  Guildenstern:  The Queen, your mother, in most great affliction of spirit,
                        The Queen, your mother, in the greatest suffering of her spirit,
#09-287        hath sent me to you.
                        has sent me to you.
#09-288  Hamlet:  You are welcome.
                        You are welcome here with me.
#09-289  Guildenstern:  Nay, good my Lord, this courtesy is not of the right breed; if
                        No, good my Lord, this courtesy is not of the right kind.  If
#09-290        it shall please you to make me a wholesome answer, I will do your
                        it pleases you to give me a healthy answer, I'll do as your
#09-291        mothers commandment; if not, your pardon and my return, shall
                        mother ordered me, or if not, I'll beg your pardon and return to her, and that will
#09-292        be the end of business.
                        be the end my business.
#09-293  Hamlet:  Sir, I cannot.
                        Sir, I cannot.
#09-294  Rosencrantz:  What, my Lord?
                        Cannot what, my Lord?
#09-295  Hamlet:  Make you a wholesome answer; my wit's diseased; but sir, such
                        Make you a healthy answer, my intelligence is sickened.  But sir, any such
#09-296        answer as I can make, you shall command, or rather as you say, my
                        answer as I can make, is yours to command - or rather, as you say, my
#09-297        mother; therefore no more, but to the matter; my mother, you say?
                        mother's.  So, no more of this, but get to the point.  My mother, you say... ?
#09-298  Rosencrantz:  Then, thus she says: your behavior hath struck her into
                        Then, she said this: your behavior has struck her into
#09-299        amazement and admiration.
                        bewilderment and wonder.
#09-300  Hamlet:  O wonderful son, that can so astonish a mother!  But is there
                        Oh, it's a wonderful son, who can so astonish his mother!  But is
#09-301        no sequel at the heels of this mother's admiration?  Impart.
                        there no more to the story, following this mother's admiration?  Tell me.
#09-302  Rosencrantz:  She desires to speak with you in her closet, ere you go to bed.
                        She wants to talk to you in her parlor, before you go to bed.
#09-303  Hamlet:  We shall obey, were she ten times our mother; have you any
                        We shall obey, were she ten times our mother. Have you any
#09-304        further trade with us?
                        further trade with us?
#09-305  Rosencrantz:  My Lord, you once did love me.
                        My Lord, you were my friend once.
#09-306  Hamlet:  And do still, by these pickers and stealers.
                        And I still am, I swear by my thieving hands.
#09-307  Rosencrantz:  Good my Lord, what is your cause of distemper?  You do freely
                        Good my Lord, what causes your disorder?  You do volunteer to
#09-308        bar the door upon your own liberty, if you deny your griefs to
                        lock the door upon your own freedom, if you don't reveal your grievances to
#09-309        your friend.
                        your friend.
#09-310  Hamlet:  Sir, I lack advancement.
                        Sir, I lack advancement.
#09-311  Rosencrantz:  How can that be, when you have the voice of the King, himself,
                        How can that be, when you have the word of the King, himself,
#09-312        for your succession in Denmark?
                        in favor of your succession to the crown of Denmark?
#09-313  Hamlet:  Aye, sir, but while the grass grows . . . the proverb is something
                        Indeed, sir, but while the grass grows . . . the proverb is something
#09-314        musty; oh, the recorders, let me see one.
                        old and smelly. Oh, let me see one of the recorders.

#09-314-SD  (Hamlet motions to a Player musician, and takes the recorder;
                       Hamlet draws Guildenstern aside, and stops Rosencrantz from following)
   (Hamlet continues):
#09-315        To withdraw with you . . . Why
                        Withdraw with me over here . . .  Why
#09-316        do you go about to recover the wind of me, as if you would drive
                        do you circle around me like a hunter, as if you want to drive
#09-317        me into a toil?
                        me into a net?
#09-318  Guildenstern:  Oh, my Lord, if my duty be too bold, my love is too unmannerly.
                        My Lord, if I act too brash, it's because my friendship is too strong for politeness.
#09-319  Hamlet:  I do not well understand that; will you play upon this pipe?
                        I don't understand that very well.  Will you play on this instrument?
#09-320  Guildenstern:  My Lord, I cannot.         #09-320-SD (G. refuses to touch the recorder)
                        My Lord, I cannot.
#09-321  Hamlet:  I pray you.
                        Please.
#09-322  Guildenstern:  Believe me I cannot.
                        Believe me, I can't.
#09-323  Hamlet:  I do beseech you.
                        I do beg you.
#09-324  Guildenstern:  I know no touch of it, my Lord.
                        I have no idea how to play it, my Lord.
#09-325  Hamlet:  It is as easy as lying; govern these ventages with your fingers
                        It's as easy as lying.  Cover these vents with your fingers
#09-326        & thumb, give it breath with your mouth, & it will discourse
                        and thumb, breathe into it with your mouth, and it will produce
#09-327        most eloquent music, look you, these are the stops.
                        very sweet sounding music.  Look here, these are the stops.

#09-327-SD  (Hamlet plays a little tune on the recorder,
                       then offers it again to Guildenstern, who again refuses to touch it)

#09-328  Guildenstern:  But these cannot I command to any utterance of harmony, I
                        But I can't control these to make any harmonious sound, I
#09-329        have not the skill.
                        don't have the skill.
#09-330  Hamlet:  Why look you now, how unworthy a thing you make of
                        Why, then look now, at what a simple thing you would make of
#09-331        me, you would play upon me, you would seem to know my stops,
                        me.  You would manipulate me, you would act like you can handle me,
#09-332        you would pluck out the heart of my mystery, you would sound me
                        you would pluck out the heart of my mystery, you would try to make me speak
#09-333        from my lowest note to my compass, and there is much music -
                        anything in the range of what I could say, and yet, there is plenty of music -
#09-334        excellent voice - in this little organ, yet cannot you make it speak, s'blood
                        like a fine voice - in this little instrument, but you can't make it "say" any note.  Good lord,
#09-335        do you think I am easier to be played on than a pipe?  Call me what
                        do you think I'm easier to be played upon than a pipe?  Call me whatever
#09-336        instrument you will, though you fret me not, you cannot play upon me.
                        instrument you want to, but you don't fret me, and you can't use me as your plaything.
#09-337        God bless you, sir.
                        God bless you, sir.

#09-337-SD1  (Hamlet nods to Guildenstern, dismissing him,
                       and G. immediately goes to stand near Rosencrantz;
                       Hamlet returns the recorder to the Player musician)

#09-337-SD2  (Polonius enters)

#09-338  Polonius:  My Lord, the Queen would speak with you, & presently.
                        My Lord, the Queen wants to talk to you, and right now!
#09-339  Hamlet:  Do you see yonder cloud that's almost in shape of a camel?
                        Do you see that cloud in the sky that's shaped like a camel?
#09-340  Polonius:  By'th mass and 'tis, like a camel indeed.
                        Goodness, it is, like a camel, indeed.
#09-341  Hamlet:  Me thinks it is like a weasel.
                        I think it's like a weasel.
#09-342  Polonius:  It is backed like a weasel.
                        It has a back like a kind of weasel.
#09-343  Hamlet:  Or like a whale.
                        Or like a whale.
#09-344  Polonius:  Very like a whale.
                        Very much like a whale.
#09-345  Hamlet (to Polonius):  Then I will come to my mother, by and by.       #09-345-SD (Polonius exits)
                        Then I'll go to my mother, soon.
   (Hamlet continues, aside):
#09-346        They fool me to the top of my bent.
                        They play the fool for me as much as I'm inclined to want.
   (to R. and G.):
#09-347        I will come, by & by.             #09-347-SD (Rosencrantz and Guildenstern exit)
                        I will be there, by and by.
   (to Horatio and the Players):
#09-348        Leave me, friends.             #09-348-SD (Horatio exits; the Players exit)
                        Leave me now, my friends.
   (Hamlet continues):
#09-349        I will . . . say so.  "By and by," is easily said.
                        I've said that I will.  "By and by," is easy to say.

#09-349-SD  (the distant church bell begins slowly tolling midnight)

#09-350        'Tis now the very witching time of night,
                        It's truly now the bewitching time of night,
#09-351        When churchyards yawn, and Hell itself breathes out
                        When church cemeteries open wide their graves, and Hell itself transpires,
#09-352        Contagion to this world; now could I drink hot blood,
                        To plague this world.  Now, I could drink hot blood,
#09-353        And do such business as the bitter day
                        And do the kind of evil business that the mournful day
#09-354        Would quake to look on: soft, now to my mother,
                        Would shudder to see.  Easy, now, think of my mother.
#09-355        O heart, lose not thy nature, let not ever
                        Oh, my heart, don't lose your natural feelings, don't ever let
#09-356        The soul of Nero enter this firm bosom,
                        The spirit of Nero enter my steadfast bosom.
#09-357        Let me be cruel, not unnatural,
                        Let me be unkind, but not violent.
#09-358        I will speak dagger to her, but use none,
                        I will speak sharply to her, but cause her no injury.
#09-359        My tongue and soul in this be hypocrites,
                        My words and feelings in this must be contradictory:
#09-360        How in my words somever she be shent,
                        However with words I may condemn her,
#09-361        To give them seals, never my soul consent.
                        To act on those words, my conscience must never permit.

#09-361-SD  (Hamlet exits)


End of Scene 9

#Interscene 9-10

Scene Links

Go to: Scene 1 - Scene 2 - Scene 3 - Scene 4 - Scene 5 - Scene 6 - Scene 7 - Scene 8 - Scene 9 - Scene 10
Scene 11 - Scene 12 - Scene 13 - Scene 14 - Scene 15 - Scene 16 - Scene 17 - Scene 18 - Scene 19 - Scene 20


Notes

Jump up to the start of the Dialogue.

09-Setting
  • Place - The Banquet Hall.
  • Time of Day -
  • Calendar Time -

Return: #Setting - or - Set Decoration

09-000-SD

(Hamlet enters, with the Players)

The Second Quarto stage direction says, "and three of the Players." Three was specified because in the amount of the Gonzago / Mousetrap play that we will see, there are three speaking roles: a king, a queen, and a villain. The actors for those three roles must therefore be present to receive Hamlet's instructions. The other Players are also present, we take it, but they need not be specified.

I simply use the group term, Players, although Shakespeare's original specification is more technically correct. The First Player and the Lad are front and center of the group of Players, and the Lucianus actor is also prominent.

The audience for the Gonzago / 'Mousetrap' play is filing in, in the background, while Hamlet speaks to the Players. Horatio is present onstage, not far from Hamlet, but there is a special reason why Horatio does not get his entry yet.

Return: #000-SD

09-001

Hamlet: Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to you,

the speech - the particular dialogue Hamlet wants performed in a certain way is that which Hamlet composed. His use of the singular does not necessarily imply that it's one character speech.

pronounced - spoke; voiced. Enunciated. In addition to everything else, Hamlet has been doing voice coaching, we see.

Return: #001

09-002

trippingly on the tongue, but if you mouth it as many of our

trippingly - lightly; in a lively or sprightly way. Middle English 'trippen' ("to step lightly.")

Return: #002 - or - Folio Difference

09-003

players do, I had as lief the town crier spoke my lines;

my lines - verifies that Hamlet is especially concerned about the lines he wrote.

Return: #003

09-004

nor do not saw the air too much with your hand, thus, but use all

With his hand held in a handshake position, Hamlet does a jabbing motion forward and back. Hamlet is right to caution the Players against doing that, however unlikely it is they would in the first place. It's a jerky action that looks puppetlike, not natural. This goes back to Rosencrantz's behavior in Scene 7, when R couldn't bring himself to touch Hamlet.

Return: #004

09-005

gently; for in the very torrent, tempest, and as I may say, the whirlwind

torrent - outpouring; rushing. A reference to emotional outburst. From Latin 'torrere' ("to burn.") So, the root has thematic significance, on the Fire Motif. It's another example of Shakespeare's excellent familiarity with the roots of English words. Very torrent can be read as "sheer flood," or a phrase of that kind.

tempest - commotion; storm. Goes back to Latin 'tempus' ("time,") which may not be an irrelevant observation, since there is a Time Motif in the play.

whirlwind - One is reminded of Horatio, in Scene 5, speaking of Hamlet's "wild and whirling words." (Scene 5#145) The idea of whirlwind is that the acting has great impetus, vigor.

Return: #005

09-006

of your passion, you must acquire and beget a temperance, that

passion - strong emotion. Here, "display of emotion." Show of emotion.

acquire - gain; achieve.

beget - generate; bring forth; produce.

temperance - moderation.

Return: #006

09-007

may give it smoothness; oh, it offends me to the soul, to hear a

smoothness - lack of harshness. Same as it means now. Not harsh sounding, for the words, or choppy looking, for the action.

the soul - Here, taken to be the judge, or interpreter, of proper behavior. Hamlet will repeat this concept later, to Horatio, at line 070.

Return: #007 - or - Folio Difference

09-008

robustious periwig-pated fellow tear a passion to tatters, to very rags,

robustious - rough; wooden. Not flexible, not able to adapt to the part. The word "robust" is from Latin 'robustus,' literally "as strong as oak," but originally meaning "oaken." Hamlet is talking about the actor being "wooden" = stiff and awkward, with the further implication of stupid.

While robustious could be understood as "boisterous," I believe in this case Shakespeare went back to root meanings for the idea of "wooden." We still recognize the idea of a "wooden" performance being a poor performance. Comments have appeared in the history of Shakespeare studies about Shakespeare supposedly knowing little Latin, but it's clear throughout the Hamlet dialogue that he had superb command of English root words, and not only Latin ones. (That does not necessarily imply he could write fluent Latin.)

periwig-pated - bewigged. Periwig is just a longer word for "wig," (although it can also mean, in particular, a full wig made of natural hair.) "Pate" refers to the top of the head. Hamlet may mean what we now call a toupee, a wig to cover the male bald spot. Actors wore wigs, and still do, to change their hair color, or style, or to appear younger, or older, or for characterization to present a certain type. The Hamlet actor, himself, is probably wearing a wig, we can conclude, because of the references in the dialogue to his hair standing up, a special effect that would very likely have called for a wig.

passion - dramatic, highly emotional speech.

tear ... to tatters - destroy; ruin. Hamlet means the player ruins the speech by so badly overplaying it.

The concept, of tatters and rags, anticipates in a way Hamlet speaking of "shreds and patches" later in the Closet Scene, Scene 11.

So, overall, Hamlet is condemning acting that is wooden, and much too loud.

Return: #008

09-009

to split the ears of the groundlings who, for the most part, are capable

split the ears - in current English one may still describe a loud noise as "ear splitting."

groundlings - typical audience members. In Shakespeare's day, at the Globe Theater, the typical audience member stood on the ground, hence the term. The typical audience member was not very intellectual in Shakespeare's day, or he was not interested in exercising his intellect over a mere amusement, and the same is true of the average audience member today.

capable - capable of perceiving; capable of appreciating. Capable (of) = Receptive to. With the Death Theme in mind, one might express capable of with the figure of speech, "alive to." (In Scene 10 we will find the word capable used with the implication of being alive.)

Return: #009

09-010

of nothing but inexplicable dumb shows, and noise; I would have such

inexplicable - senseless. The Sense Motif implies this interpretation. That which is inexplicable makes no sense.

dumb shows - are only action, without dialogue, so in this context Hamlet is using the term to refer to the action of a play. The mute performance of an actual dumb show does not threaten to split anyone's ears.

The phrase inexplicable dumb shows anticipates the Dumb Show that will soon be presented, and Ophelia's question about it, ("What means this, my Lord?") with her question going unanswered by Hamlet, leaving no explanation of what the Dumb Show meant. As advance allusion to that exchange, the word inexplicable can be read, in hindsight, with its usual meaning of "not understood," or "not explained." Once again, we have intentional ambiguity.

noise - loud noise, that is.

Return: #010

09-011

a fellow whipped for o'erdoing Termagant; it out-Herods Herod;

Termagant - a fictitious Muslim deity that was presented in Medieval morality plays as a violent, ranting bully. The role was a product of religious bias, and was therefore made to be played in an exaggerated, propagandistic way. Overdoing Termagant would have produced virtually an outright screaming fit.

Herod - Herod I, a.k.a. Herod the Great, was a King of Judea, under the Roman empire, from 37 or 36 BC until 4 BC. He had a reputation of extreme cruelty. Herod had his wife, his mother-in-law, his brother-in-law, and two of his sons killed, and according to the Book of Matthew he was responsible for the Massacre of the Innocents. The Herod character was presented in Mystery Plays as a wild villain. To out-Herod Herod would be to play a role in a way that is beyond all reason.

Return: #011

09-012

pray you avoid it.

avoid it - avoid such intemperate performance.

Return: #012

09-013

Lad: I warrant Your Honor.

warrant - has meant "to guarantee to be of quality" since the late 14th century. The words warrant and "guarantee" both go back to Old French 'guarant.'

Return: #013

09-014

Hamlet: Be not too tame neither, but let your own discretion be

tame - subdued; quiet.

discretion - discernment; judgment.

Return: #014

09-015

your tutor; suit the action to the word, the word to the action, with

suit the action to the word - is the most important line in the play for correct Hamlet performance.

It is Shakespeare saying, "do what I wrote" . . . in great detail.

[suit] the word to the action - is already done in Hamlet, by Shakespeare. He chose the wording of the play to go along with the action he wanted, in great detail, detail far more specific and extensive than the few "embedded stage directions" that the historical Hamlet commentary managed to recognize.

Return: #015

09-016

this special observance, that you o'erstep not the modesty of nature.

special observance - special consideration. Special rule; special duty. A point to watch out for, especially. Rooted in Latin 'servare' ("to watch,") so it's one of the "watch" words in the play.

o'erstep not - don't trespass against. Don't go beyond.

the modesty of nature - the natural manner. Here, modesty might be best understood as "MODEsty," with the basis in "mode" emphasized. Mode=manner. Hamlet is speaking of acting in a natural manner.

Return: #016

09-017

For, anything so o'erdone, is from the purpose of playing,

so o'erdone - overdone so; overdone in that way (i.e. beyond the "modesty" of nature, as just stated.)

from - a departure from. As in addressing an envelope, where one uses only "to" and "from" with no more wording required to explain it. One wants to perform "to" the purpose of playing, not from the purpose.

Return: #017

09-018

whose end both at the first, and now, was and is, to hold as 'twere

Return: #018

09-019

the mirror up to nature, to show Virtue Her feature, Scorn Her own

Return: #019

09-020

image, and the very age and body of the time his form and pressure.

age and body - can be read as hendiadys: "embodied age."

very age and body - truly embodied age. Very takes its root meaning of "true."

form and pressure - can also be read as hendiadys: impressed form. An impression is a reproduction.

his form and pressure - the impressed form, of the truly embodied age. Equals the reproduced form, of the etc.

But is the above really the goal of acting, really the purpose of putting on a show? Most shows are performed merely to amuse the audience, and to make money for the actors. Hamlet's view of acting is highly idealized, and not practical. Performances which intentionally set out to "teach us about ourselves" are, without exception, intolerably tedious and repulsively stupid. Shakespeare is showing Hamlet's youthful naivety here. Hamlet has never had to try to make a living by acting. (By the way, the professional Players do not scoff at this. They admire what Hamlet says, and only, a bit wistfully, wish it were true.)

Return: #020

09-021

Now this overdone, or come tardy off, though it makes the unskillful

overdone - overacted.

come tardy off - come off late. A reference to late timing. Indeed, a late entry could ruin an entire scene. Something in a play that's badly late could ruin the entire play.

Timing can matter greatly in all areas of life, not just play performances. Suppose, as a non-random example, what if you were intending to kill somebody, and you drank a lot to steel yourself to try it, because you're an alcoholic, but you got there, oh, five minutes too late, after he had already died of heart failure, while he was napping, and you were too drunk to notice he was already not breathing, and you poured poison into the ears of a dead body, and then you slunk away thinking you had killed him when you actually didn't, and there was nobody on earth who could tell you that? Timing would make all the difference, wouldn't it?

Timing can matter a lot.

unskillful - naive; unsophisticated. Artless.

Return: #021

09-022

laugh, cannot but make the judicious grieve, the censure of

Return: #022

09-023

which one, must in your allowance o'erweigh a whole theater of

Return: #023

09-024

others. Oh, there be players that I have seen play, and heard others

Return: #024

09-025

praise, and that highly - not to speak it profanely - that neither

profanely - irreverently. Derisively, mockingly. That idea. This is in advance of Hamlet saying the actors were not playing Christians well.

Return: #025

09-026

having the accent of Christians, nor the gait of Christian, Pagan, nor

Return: #026

09-027

man, have so strutted & bellowed, that I have thought some of

Return: #027

09-028

Nature's journeymen had made men, and not made them well, they

journeymen - minions; hirelings. A journeyman is one who is less than a master. Hamlet takes it that the creation of a proper man takes a master craftsman.

Return: #028

09-029

imitated humanity so abominably.

Return: #029

09-030

Lead Player: I hope we have reformed that indifferently with us.

Return: #030

09-031

Hamlet: O reform it altogether; and let those that play your clowns

Return: #031

09-032

speak no more than is set down for them, for there be of them that

Return: #032

09-033

will themselves laugh, to set on some quantity of barren spectators

to set on - laughter can be contagious, whether the joke is clever or not.

barren - unoccupied. Barren land is unoccupied land. Barren spectators are those who are unoccupied by the play. "Idle" is an adequate equivalent.

There is a tragic underlying meaning to barren. The word barren can refer to not having children. Hamlet will sit by Ophelia to watch the play, and sadly unknown to them both, they will be a quantity of two "barren" spectators, who will never have children. Hamlet's use of barren is another dire "omen," that no one recognizes at the time he says it.

Return: #033

09-034

to laugh, too, though in the meantime, some necessary question of

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09-035

the play be then to be considered, that's villainous, and shows a most

Return: #035

09-036

pitiful ambition in the fool that uses it; go, make you ready.

It's worth observing that Hamlet identifies ambition as "villainous."

The main point to note about Hamlet's coaching of the Players is how bad it was. Oh, it sounded fine, that the Players should give a restrained, natural performance, etc., until you think about it. Recall why Hamlet is staging this play.

The object is Claudius. The play is intended to catch Claudius's conscience, and try to get a public confession from him. Very well then, what kind of entertainment does Claudius prefer? What does he like to see, and hear? What does he choose for himself?

We know that perfectly well. He likes cannons. He likes his entertainment loud enough to rattle your teeth. We've heard it in the play, and Hamlet was right there at the time.

Hamlet has just told the Players not to be very loud. Is that good coaching, for a performance before Claudius? No, it is not. It is exactly wrong.

Claudius drinks. As the evening wears on, and Claudius has a mug of wine, and then another, and so on, and Claudius gets drowsy from both the lengthening of the evening, and the wine, how is a restrained, modest play going to start to sound to him? It will start to sound like, "Lullaby, and good night..."

The Players will perform the play as Hamlet wants it. They are skilled, experienced professionals, and they can do a play quietly, or loudly, or in between. They will respond to Hamlet's coaching, and he will get his wish.

Except, it will put Claudius to sleep. There is no chance Claudius's conscience will be caught while he's snoring.

Did Shakespeare think that a rank amateur like Hamlet could take a certain play and stage it properly to get a specific result from a certain person? Good heavens, no. Shakespeare has given Hamlet a rank amateur mistake, of the exact kind one would expect.

All wrapped up in the concerns and details of staging the play, Hamlet has neglected his original objective. It's too much for Hamlet, as it would be for any amateur. Hamlet has devoted his attention to staging a good play, but in the process he has given short shrift to the part about "getting" Claudius.

Hamlet specifically cautioned the Players about bellowing. Yet as the Scene proceeds, we will find Hamlet, himself, bellowing from the audience ("The croaking raven doth bellow..." line 233.) Why? The reason is that Hamlet will have observed Claudius's eyes tending to close, and his chin descending toward his chest, and Hamlet will find himself trying to keep Claudius awake.

Return: #036

09-036-SD1

(the Players withdraw)

There is no backstage in this Banquet Hall setting. The Players withdraw to an area, behind the small makeshift stage, set up for costuming and makeup. The audience can still see them. We know this from a later line by Hamlet, and it is confirmed by the fact that in the original Second Quarto publication the Players got no exit here.

Return: #036-SD1

09-036-SD2

(Polonius enters; Rosencrantz and Guildenstern enter)

From the same direction. They have all been in attendance upon the King, and Claudius has dispatched them all to check whether the play is ready to begin.

Ophelia was with her father, in his attendance upon the King, but she does not enter here. She enters later, in the company, it appears to Hamlet, of the King. She does that only by virtue of being with Polonius, but unfortunately, it goes along with Hamlet's painful, tragic misconception about her.

Return: #036-SD2

09-037

How now, my Lord, will the King hear this piece of work?

hear - For an audience member, hear is the more literal word, since the word "audience" goes back to Latin 'audire' ("to hear.")

piece of work - BOOKMARK for me, Sc 7 ref "is a man..."

Return: #037

09-038

Polonius: And the Queen too, and that presently.

Return: #038

09-039

Hamlet (to Polonius): Bid the Players make haste.

Hamlet points Polonius toward the area where the Players have withdrawn. Earlier, in Scene 7, Hamlet assigned Polonius the task of making sure the Players were well housed, and Hamlet is still assigning Polonius to attend the Players.

Return: #039

09-039-SD

(Polonius withdraws)

Polonius does not exit from the stage, he withdraws to join the Players. This is why, in the original Second Quarto publication, Polonius got no exit here.

Return: #039-SD

09-040

Will you two help to hasten them?

them - the King and Queen.

Return: #040

09-041

Rosencrantz: Aye, my Lord.

R & G bow to Hamlet.

Return: #041

09-041-SD

(Rosencrantz and Guildenstern exit)

This exit is correct as R & G go to the King and Queen who are offstage. The original Second Quarto publication shows "Exeunt they two" which is a specification to help insure Polonius does not leave the stage.

Return: #041-SD

09-042

Hamlet: What ho, Horatio.

Hamlet thought Horatio was present, which indeed he is, but as Hamlet looks around he doesn't see Horatio. So, Hamlet calls.

The way this is done, Horatio mingles with the audience members who are arriving to watch the play, as Hamlet talks to the Players. When Hamlet looks for him, here, Horatio happens to be hidden behind a large fellow, only a couple steps from Hamlet. Horatio is not hiding intentionally, but as Hamlet turns and looks, Hamlet doesn't see him.

Not seeing Horatio to his left (say) where Hamlet thought Horatio was, Hamlet turns and looks to his right as he calls.

Return: #042

09-042-SD

(Horatio enters)

Horatio was already present onstage, among those arriving to see the play. This is an entry to place the Horatio actor in correct position for the dialogue. Horatio did not get a printed entry earlier because he is not supposed to be in position to participate in the dialogue until this point.

Continuing the action description begun above: Horatio steps from behind the large man, and takes two steps to stand beside Hamlet, who is still turned looking the other way. Hamlet turns back, and AAH! there's Horatio right beside him. Hamlet jumps, and gives Horatio a strange look ("how did you DO that? I know you weren't there a second ago.")

Recall how Horatio entered to Hamlet in Scene 2, when Horatio intentionally hid behind Marcellus. Horatio has "gotten" Hamlet again, but unintentionally this time. From Hamlet's point of view, it's getting to be like Horatio can suddenly pop up out of nowhere. Like a ghost.

Return: #042-SD

09-043

Horatio: Here, sweet Lord, at your service.

Horatio bows, and he probably can't help a little smile of amusement.

Return: #043

09-044

Hamlet: Horatio, thou art e'en as just a man

Return: #044

09-045

As e'er my conversation coped withal.

Return: #045

09-046

Horatio: O my dear Lord?

Horatio is curious why Hamlet says that.

Return: #046

09-047

Hamlet: Nay, do not think I flatter,

Return: #047

09-048

For what advancement may I hope from thee

Return: #048

09-049

That no revenue hast but thy good spirits

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09-050

To feed and clothe thee. Why should the poor be flattered?

poor - Horatio is not poor as the common man would see it, however. Horatio is an international university student. One who was truly poor could not afford that, in those days.

We may take it, from what Hamlet says, that Horatio is not one of the landed gentry. He is not a gentleman of independent means. After university, he will have to seek a position. For his studies, Horatio must be supported by his family, who would be, probably, upper middle class in modern terms.

Hamlet's remarks reflect his own feelings. He feels very poor at Elsinore, where he has no income independent of the King and Queen.

Return: #050

09-051

No, let the candied tongue lick absurd pomp,

candied tongue - a sweet talker. One who flatters.

Further, the phrase candied tongue can be seen as having reference to a tongue which likes sweets, i.e. the tongue of a child. Hamlet is speaking of behavior he views as less than grown up.

Return: #051

09-052

And crook the pregnant hinges of the knee,

crook - bend, when kneeling.

pregnant - productive (of financial reward, in this context.)

hinges - joints (and thus an implicit instance of the Joint Motif.)

Return: #052

09-053

Where thrift may follow feigning. Dost thou hear?

thrift - financial benefit.

feigning - putting on a show. Pretending. Patently an instance of the Show Theme.

Return: #053 - or - Folio Difference

09-054

Since my dear soul was mistress of her choice,

mistress - ruler; the one in charge.

Hamlet uses mistress (and "her") instead of "master" because the soul, of either sex, when viewed as a seat of emotion, is subject to female stereotype, since women are, in stereotype, the emotional sex. The same stereotype, emotionalism as female, will appear again, expressly, when Laertes weeps, in Scene 18. Shakespeare obviously thought little of the stereotype as any practical distinction between the sexes, but he used it for irony and effect.

BOKMARK for me, more here, about Ophelia, also in advance of "choice of men" that follows

Return: #054

09-055

And could, of men, distinguish her election,

Return: #055

09-056

S'hath sealed thee for herself; for, thou hast been,

Return: #056

09-057

As one in suffering all, that suffers nothing,

Return: #057

09-058

A man that Fortune's buffets and rewards

Return: #058

09-059

Hast ta'en with equal thanks; and blessed are those

Return: #059

09-060

Whose blood and judgement are so well comingled,

Return: #060

09-061

That they are not a pipe for Fortune's finger

Return: #061

09-062

To sound what stop she please; give me that man

Return: #062

09-063

That is not passion's slave, and I will wear him

Return: #063

09-064

In my heart's core, aye, in my heart of heart,

Return: #064

09-065

As I do thee. Something too much of this;

Return: #065

09-066

There is a play tonight before the King,

Return: #066

09-067

One scene of it comes near the circumstance

Return: #067

09-068

Which I have told thee of, my father's death,

Return: #068

09-069

I prithee when thou seest that act afoot -

Return: #069

09-070

Even with the very comment of thy soul

Return: #070 - or - Folio Difference

09-071

Observe my uncle, if his occulted guilt

occulted - hidden; secret; concealed. Covered up. From Latin 'occultus' which can mean all of that.

Further, "occult" in Shakespeare's day could mean "not grasped by the mind, not apprehended." However, the association of "occult" with supernatural activities (magic, astrology, fortune telling, etc.) postdates Shakespeare.

Return: #071

09-072

Do not itself unkennel in one speech,

Return: #072

09-073

It is a damned ghost that we have seen,

Return: #073

09-074

And my imaginations are as foul

Return: #074

09-075

As Vulcan's stithy; give him heedful note,

Return: #075

09-076

For I mine eyes will rivet to his face,

Return: #076

09-077

And after, we will both our judgments join

Return: #077

09-078

In censure of his seeming.

Return: #078

09-079

Horatio: Well, my lord,

Return: #079

09-080

If a steal ought the whilst this play is playing

a - he.

Return: #080

09-081

And 'scape detected, I will pay the theft.

'scape detected - escape upon being detected; escape although detected. Horatio is doing more than promising to help Hamlet observe Claudius. Horatio is, in addition, saying that he will prevent Claudius from getting away, if Claudius's guilt is detected.

I will pay the theft - Horatio means that if Claudius escapes with his life, although found guilty, Horatio will pay with his own life. Horatio is taking his duty to Hamlet extremely seriously, as Hamlet wants him to.

Return: #081

09-081-SD

(Claudius and Gertrude enter, with their entourage, preceded by trumpeters and drummers; Polonius and Ophelia enter)

Return: #081-SD

09-082

Hamlet: They are coming to the play. I must be idle,

idle - unoccupied; not busy. Hamlet has the pre-play jitters, which makes him unduly sensitive.

Hamlet is concerned that if Claudius sees him deep in conversation with Horatio, Claudius might suspect he's up to something with Horatio (which Hamlet is.) However, Claudius would not suspect that, nor would anyone. Everyone knows Horatio is Hamlet's friend, so it's normal to see them in conversation.

Shakespeare did a fine job here of showing how nervous Hamlet is. Shakespeare undoubtedly was well acquainted with the pre-play jitters.

Return: #082

09-083

Get you a place.

This is a strategic error by Hamlet. Horatio, himself, is not a person of high rank. On his own, the best spot Horatio will find for himself is going to be some distance back in the audience, well behind Claudius. Horatio will not have a good view of Claudius's face, if he can see it at all. He will have difficulty judging Claudius's reaction to the play.

Hamlet could use his power as the Prince to seat Horatio in an excellent location for keeping an eye on Claudius. With all his other worries, Hamlet doesn't think of that, or, it may be, he does think of it, but is afraid it would look suspicious if he arranged special seating for Horatio (although it would not, since again, everyone knows Horatio is his friend.)

As the play approaches, problems are piling up against Hamlet's plan.

Return: #083

09-084

Claudius: How fares our cousin Hamlet?

Return: #084

09-085

Hamlet: Excellent in faith;

Return: #085

09-086

Of the chameleon's dish, I eat the air,

Of - out of; from.

Return: #086

09-087

Promise-crammed; you cannot feed capons so.

Return: #087

09-088

Claudius: I have nothing with this answer, Hamlet;

Return: #088

09-089

These words are not mine.

Return: #089

09-090

Hamlet: No, nor mine now . . . my Lord.

Return: #090

09-091

You played once i'th university, you say.

Return: #091

09-092

Polonius: That did I, my Lord, and was accounted a good actor.

Return: #092

09-093

Hamlet: What did you enact?

Return: #093

09-094

Polonius: I did enact Julius Caesar; I was killed in the Capital;

Return: #094

09-095

Brutus killed me.

Return: #095

09-096

Hamlet: It was a brute part of him to kill so capital a calf there;

Return: #096

09-097

Be the players ready?

Return: #097

09-098

{Polonius}: Aye, my Lord, they stay upon your patience.

Return: #098

09-099

Gertrude: Come hither, my dear Hamlet, sit by me.

Return: #099

09-100

Hamlet: No, good mother, here's mettle more attractive.

Return: #100

09-100-SD

(Hamlet walks toward Ophelia)

Return: #100-SD

09-101

Polonius (to Claudius): O ho, do you mark that?

Return: #101

09-102

Hamlet: Lady, shall I lie in your lap?

Return: #102

09-103

Ophelia: No, my Lord.

Return: #103

09-103-SD

(Hamlet sits in the chair beside Ophelia)

Return: #103-SD

09-104

Hamlet: Do you think I meant country matters?

Return: #104

09-105

Ophelia: I think nothing, my Lord.

Return: #105

09-106

Hamlet: That's a fair thought to lie between maid's legs.

Return: #106

09-107

Ophelia: What is, my Lord?

Return: #107

09-108

Hamlet: Nothing.

Return: #108

09-109

Ophelia: You are merry, my Lord.

Return: #109

09-110

Hamlet: Who, I?

Return: #110

09-111

Ophelia: 'I' my Lord.

Return: #111

09-112

Hamlet: Oh God, your only jig-maker, what should a man do but

Return: #112

09-113

be merry, for look you how cheerfully my mother looks, and my

Return: #113

09-114

father died within's two hours.

Return: #114

09-115

Ophelia: Nay, 'tis 'twice'... two months, my Lord.

twice - the word "two" spoken with a lisp. This is a mistake in speech by Ophelia, because of her mild speech disorder.

Ophelia does have a lisp. We know that, because Hamlet expressly told us so in the previous Scene. (Scene 8 line 147: "and you lisp; you nickname...")

Ophelia lisped when she first attempted to say "two," and she produced the sound of twice. She then instantly corrected herself, by saying two, as we see. She was quick to make the correction out of fear Hamlet would madly condemn her for her faults again, as he did in Scene 8, from her perspective. (I use the ellipsis to mark the inevitable slight hesitation as Ophelia makes the correction.)

Looking up the word "twice," one finds that it is formed, basically, from (twi-) + (-es.) The "twi-" is a combining form of "two." The suffix "-es" does not signify a plural, it is instead an adverbial genetive ending. (That phrase is not as impressive as it may appear at first glance. An "adverbial genetive ending" is merely an ending that generates an adverb. Tah-dah.)

In sound, one can hear twice as "two" spoken with a lisp. This probably worked better in Shakespeare's day. The pronunciation of English has changed since that time.

For the sound, nowadays, Ophelia's twice might be better understood as simply (tw- + -es.)

It is most important to understand that Ophelia has not stated that one should multiply "two months" by 2 to calculate the length of time. The correct interpretation is that she has lisped and immediately corrected herself.

When Hamlet says "two months" in his following speech, he will be saying exactly what Ophelia said, minus the lisp and correction. Hamlet's "two months" verifies that that is what Ophelia actually said here.

Shakespeare gave Ophelia the speech error as wordplay on the idea of the time since King Hamlet's death happening "twice": first, in reality; second, in representation onstage in the play. Events can happen twice, in a way, by being represented on stage. It is cliche in our own time that one can relive events through movies, tv, or stage performance. Only the last was available to the Elizabethans.

So, for Ophelia, her twice is the product of an error in speech, which she corrects at once, because of fear of how Hamlet may react.

From Shakespeare, the twice is on the point of how one can relive events through the medium of stage presentation.

Return: #115 - or - Extended Note

09-116

Hamlet: So long? Nay! Then let the devil wear black, for I'll have a

Return: #116

09-117

suit of sables; o heavens, die two months ago, and not forgotten yet?

sables - a term for mourning garments, for one thing.

Return: #117

09-118

Then there's hope a great man's memory may outlive his life half a

Return: #118

09-119

year; but, by'r Lady, he must build churches then, or else shall he suffer

Return: #119

09-120

not thinking on - with the hobbyhorse, whose epitaph is: for o, for

Return: #120

09-121

o, the hobbyhorse is forgot.

Return: #121

09-121-SD1

(Hamlet signals for the players to begin)

Return: #121-SD1

09-121-SD2

(trumpets sound, to get the audience's attention; the Players take their positions to perform a dumb show)

Return: #121-SD2

09-121-DS1

Enter a King and a Queen;

Return: #121-DS1

09-121-DS2

the Queen embracing him, and he her; she kneels, and makes show of protestation

The Queen is protesting that the King wants to be left alone for his nap. She wants to remain there, watching over him, because he is so sick, as we will hear stated in the dialogue of the Gonzago / 'Mousetrap' play which follows.

Return: #121-DS2

09-121-DS3

unto him; he takes her up, and declines his head upon her neck; he lies him down

Return: #121-DS3

09-121-DS4
The Second Quarto phrase "come in"

upon a bank of flowers; she, seeing him asleep, leaves him. Anon comes in

comes in - the description says "comes in" but it doesn't say how. The Second Quarto and the First Folio agree on "come/comes in," as the images show. There's no specification of exactly how the Poisoner is supposed to enter.

The correct way for the entry to be done, is that the villainous poisoner slithers in, crawling, imitating a snake as best he can, and costumed as a snake. The Dumb Show is emblematic of "Serpent in the Garden," and this is the entry of the "serpent."

The Folio phrase "comes in"

In this we have the answer to the old question one may find in historical Hamlet commentary in various publications, asking why Claudius doesn't flee the Dumb Show when he sees a depiction of his crime. The answer is, Claudius does not recognize himself as the serpent. Nobody would. Claudius does not see a depiction of his crime as he watches the Dumb Show (even though the depiction is actually there.)

Hamlet is having the Dumb Show performed as "the serpent in the garden" based on his father's death occurring in the orchard, and the Ghost calling Claudius a serpent. Hamlet is the only one who knows the serpent represents Claudius.

Return: #121-DS4

09-121-DS5

another man, takes off his crown, kisses it, pours poison in the sleeper's ears,

Return: #121-DS5

09-121-DS6

and leaves him. The Queen returns, finds the King dead, makes passionate

Return: #121-DS6

09-121-DS7

action; the poisoner, with some three or four, comes in again, seems to

Return: #121-DS7

09-121-DS8

lament with her; the dead body is carried away; the poisoner woos the Queen

Return: #121-DS8

09-121-DS9

with gifts; she seems loath and unwilling awhile, but in the end accepts his love.

Return: #121-DS9

09-121-SD3

(the Players withdraw)

Return: #121-SD3

09-122

Ophelia: What means this, my Lord?

Return: #122

09-123

Hamlet: Marry, this munching malhechor, it means mischief.

Return: #123

09-124

Ophelia: Belike this show imports the argument of the play.

Return: #124

09-125

Hamlet: We shall know by this fellow.

Return: #125

09-125-SD

(the Lead Player enters to do the Prologue)

Return: #125-SD

09-126

The Players cannot keep counsel, they'll tell all.

Return: #126

09-127

Ophelia: Will he tell us what this show meant?

Return: #127

09-128

Hamlet: Aye, or any show that you will show him; be not you ashamed

Return: #128

09-129

to show, he'll not shame to tell you what it means.

Return: #129

09-130

Ophelia: You are naught, you are naught, I'll mark the play.

Return: #130

09-131

Prologue: For us, and for our Tragedy,

Tragedy - the first notice, in the dialogue, that the play to be performed is a tragedy.

Return: #131

09-132

Here stooping to your clemency,

Return: #132

09-133

We beg your hearing patiently.

Return: #133

09-134

Hamlet: Is this a Prologue, or the posy of a ring?

Return: #134

09-135

Ophelia: 'Tis brief, my Lord.

Return: #135

09-136

Hamlet: As woman's love.

Return: #136

09-136-SD

(the play begins: the play King and Queen enter, who are the Lead Player and the Lad, respectively)

Return: #136-SD

09-137

King: Full thirty times hath Phoebus' cart gone round

Return: #137

09-138

Neptune's salt wash, and Tellus' orb'd ground,

Neptune's salt wash - the oceans.

Tellus' orb'd ground - in Roman mythology, Tellus is the goddess of the earth as a world (as opposed to the alchemical element "earth.") So, the phrase means the orb-shaped earth of Tellus, the earth as a spherical world. The globe of the earth.

Tellus is an obscure deity. Not many people know her.

If you don't know her, the phrase sounds like "Tell us, orbed ground." Further, ground can be understood as "dirt." The ground is the dirt.

Does Claudius know Tellus? He is not a classical scholar, by anything in the play. No, he probably doesn't. How does that phrase sound to Claudius, then? To Claudius, it sounds like, "Tell us orbed ground." Which sounds like "Tell us, dirt."

Shakespeare has begun Hamlet's play for Claudius by making it sound to Claudius that the king in the play is talking to the dirt. Claudius thinks the actor has said, so far, "Full thirty times hath Phoebus' cart gone round, Neptune's salt wash, and so tell us, dirt..."

Madness, anyone? Claudius is suddenly convinced this play is crazy.

(The idea of someone talking to the ground, or to the dirt, suggests the "swear" passage in Scene 5, where by appearances, Hamlet talked to the ground, when the Ghost cried out from the earth. Shakespeare did a repetition and variation on that "talking to the ground" concept here, at least for anybody who doesn't know who Tellus is.)

Return: #138 - or - Folio Difference

09-139

And thirty dozen moons with borrowed sheen

Return: #139

09-140

About the world have times twelve thirties been

Return: #140

09-141

Since love our hearts, and Hymen did our hands

Return: #141

09-142

Unite comutual in most sacred bands.

Observe that the King's speech was a sestet, a six-line stanza of rhymed verse.

Return: #142

09-143

Queen: So many journeys may the sun and moon

Return: #143

09-144

Make us again count o'er, ere love be done,

Return: #144

09-145

But woe is me, you are so sick of late,

Return: #145

09-146

So far from cheer, and from your former state,

Return: #146

09-147

That I distrust you, yet though I distrust,

Return: #147

09-148

Discomfort you my Lord it nothing must.

Observe that the above part of the queen's speech is a sestet, so far.

Return: #148

09-149

For women fear too much, even as they love,

This unrhymed line has six lines before it, and six after it, in the play queen's speech. This line is a divider, to preserve the sestet structure of the Gonzago play dialogue.

This line has traditionally been interpreted as some sort of error, but it is not.

The Gonzago play dialogue is in rhymed verse which has a stanza structure. The stanza is six lines, sestets.

Return: #149

09-150

And women's fear and love hold quantity,

Return: #150

09-151

In neither ought, or in extremity,

Return: #151

09-152

Now what my love is, proof hath made you know,

Return: #152

09-153

And as my love is sized, my fear is so,

Return: #153

09-154

Where love is great, the littlest doubts are fear,

Return: #154

09-155

Where little fears grow great, great love grows there.

Return: #155

09-156

King: Faith, I must leave thee, love, and shortly, too;

Return: #156

09-157

My operant powers, their functions leave to do,

Return: #157

09-158

And thou shalt live in this fair world behind,

Return: #158

09-159

Honored, beloved, and haply one as kind,

Return: #159

09-160

For husband shalt thou . . .

Return: #160

09-161

Queen: Oh, confound the rest!

confound - curse; damn.

The queen interrupts the king, quite emphatically. Notice the abrupt change in the tone of the dialogue.

Return: #161

09-162

Such love must needs be treason in my breast;

Return: #162

09-163

In second husband let me be accurst;

Return: #163

09-164

None wed the second, but who killed the first.

Return: #164

09-165

Hamlet: That's wormwood.

wormwood - as used here by Hamlet, his primary meaning is "an antidote to (or cure for) poison," or perhaps it would be better expressed as "an antidote to a poisoning," or "a cure for a poisoning." We know Hamlet hopes the play will "counteract" the poisoning of his father, in a way.

According to herbals, and other writings, wormwood is an antidote to poison, or it counteracts the effects of poisoning. See the Extended Note.

Also, it is said the wormwood plant sprang up in the track of the serpent as it writhed along the ground when driven out of Paradise. (See the cite in the Extended Note.) So, Hamlet's wormwood remark goes along with the "Serpent in the Garden" emblem presented in the Dumb Show, and with Hamlet's hope of "driving out" Claudius.

As to whose "antidote to poisoning" that play line is, it's Hamlet's. It's a line Hamlet wrote for the play. He can't help saying something. Hamlet wrote the eight-line (actually 7 and 1/2 line) queen's speech in which this line appears. We know that because Hamlet speaks, and because of the abrupt change in tone with this speech, and because the speech is an octet in a play written in sestets.

Return: #165 - or - Extended Note

09-166

The instances that second marriage move

Return: #166

09-167

Are base respects of thrift, but none of love,

Return: #167

09-168

A second time I kill my husband dead,

Return: #168

09-169

When second husband kisses me in bed.

Return: #169

09-170

King: I do believe you think what now you speak,

Return: #170

09-171

But what we do determine, oft' we break,

Return: #171

09-172

Purpose is but the slave to memory,

Return: #172

09-173

Of violent birth, but poor validity,

Return: #173

09-174

Which now, like fruit unripe, sticks on the tree,

Return: #174 - or - Folio Difference

09-175

But fall unshaken when they mellow be.

unshaken - in the course of events. By chance, from the human point of view. Not by human intervention, is the essential point.

mellow - ripe. That's the direct meaning, for fruit. It is notable that the word mellow can also mean sweet, gentle, and kind-hearted, if one is speaking of a person.

Return: #175

09-176

Most necessary 'tis that we forget

Return: #176

09-177

To pay ourselves what to ourselves is debt,

Return: #177

09-178

What to ourselves in passion we propose,

Return: #178

09-179

The passion ending, doth the purpose lose,

Return: #179

09-180

The violence of either, grief or joy,

Return: #180

09-181

Their own enactors with themselves destroy,

Return: #181

09-182

Where joy most revels, grief doth most lament,

Return: #182

09-183

Grief joys, joy grieves, on slender accident,

slender - slight. It is notable that slender can mean "frail," ("frailty, thy name is woman." Scene 2#148) The language is appropriate, in terms of the play vocabulary, as directed toward a woman.

The first fourteen lines of the king's speech might be read as a sonnet. If read so, it speaks of something "mellow" (sweet, gentle) falling from a tree, and it ends with the word accident. We are given a "prophetic" hint about the future death of Ophelia.

Return: #183

09-184

This world is not for aye, nor 'tis not strange,

Return: #184

09-185

That even our loves should with our fortunes change:

Return: #185

09-186

For 'tis a question left us yet to prove,

Return: #186

09-187

Whether love lead fortune, or else fortune love;

Return: #187

09-188

The great man down, you mark, his favorite flies,

Return: #188

09-189

The poor advanced, makes friends of enemies,

Return: #189

09-190

And hitherto doth love on fortune tend,

Return: #190

09-191

For who not needs, shall never lack a friend,

Return: #191

09-192

And who in want a hollow friend doth try,

Return: #192

09-193

Directly seasons him his enemy.

Return: #193

09-194

But orderly to end where I begun,

Return: #194

09-195

Our wills and fates do so contrary run,

Return: #195

09-196

That our devises still are overthrown,

devises - contrivances. Schemes; plots; plans.

still - always.

overthrown - the essential meaning is that of ending in failure, then, also with the special connotation that the word "overthrow" has in the context of a monarchy. It is an ominous word.

The sentiment in the line is about the same as in the well-known phrase, "The best laid schemes of mice and men go oft awry." The common saying is paraphrased from the Robert Burns poem "To a Mouse," 1786. Burns's poem is an apology to a mouse whose next was overturned when a field was plowed:

... But, Mousie, thou art no thy lane [you aren't alone] 
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft agley, [often go awry] 
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promised joy.

The Hamlet line goes even further than the Burns line, by make it "still" instead of "oft."

Return: #196

09-197

Our thoughts are ours, their ends none of our own,

Return: #197

09-198

So think thou wilt no second husband wed,

Return: #198

09-199

But die thy thoughts when thy first Lord is dead.

Return: #199

09-200

Queen: Nor earth to me give food, nor heaven light,

Return: #200

09-201

Sport and repose lock from me day and night,

Return: #201

09-202

To desperation turn my trust and hope,

Return: #202

09-203

And anchor's cheer in prison be my scope,

And - Exactly as it appears, the conjunction "and." The word is not "an."

anchor - anchorite = a person who lives in seclusion. Goes back to Greek 'anakhoretes' ("a person who has retired from the world.")

cheer - happiness; joy. A paradoxical, or contrary, usage. One expects no cheer in prison. However, having said that, the word cheer goes back to Anglo-French 'chere' ("the face,") and before that to Old French 'chiere' ("face, countenance, facial expression.") By around AD 1400, cheer could refer to mood, whether happy or sad,) or mental condition, (whether good or bad,) as expressed on the face. Shakespeare may have gone back to the older meaning here, which allows a mood, and facial expression of sadness, so that cheer only looks as if it takes a contrary meaning. (By the way, the idea of "fare" that you'll find in some publications of Hamlet is nonsense.) In action, the queen displays sorrow.

in prison - Here we have the concept of the Queen in prison. That concept, the Queen in prison, is an element of Hamlet's nightmare he suffered between Scenes 5 and 6.

scope - breadth of activity. Domain. Coming from a queen, the word "domain" is probably the best paraphrase.

Return: #203

09-204

Each opposite that blanks the face of joy,

Return: #204

09-205

Meet what I would have well, and it destroy,

Return: #205

09-206

Both here and hence pursue me lasting strife,

Return: #206

09-207

Hamlet: If she should break it now . . .

Return: #207

09-208

If once I be a widow, ever I be a wife.

This line is correct, exactly as it stands in the Second Quarto, as reproduced here. It is not pentameter, it has six iambs. The extra "step" is from the hand of Hamlet, who is not a professional playwright. Hamlet made a minor mistake in his syllable count for this line. Shakespeare provided this "error" to mark the line as one Hamlet wrote.

Return: #208 - or - Folio Difference

09-209

King: 'Tis deeply sworn, sweet leave me here a while,

deeply - from deep inside, i.e. from the heart.

Return: #209

09-210

My spirits grow dull, and fain I would beguile

Return: #210

09-211

The tedious day with sleep.

Return: #211

09-212

Queen: Sleep rock thy brain,

Return: #212

09-213

And never come mischance between us twain.

Return: #213

09-213-SD

(the King and Queen actors exit)

Return: #213-SD

09-214

Hamlet: Madam, how like you this play?

Return: #214

09-215

Gertrude: The Lady doth protest too much, methinks.

Return: #215

09-216

Hamlet: O, but she'll keep her word.

Return: #216

09-217

Claudius: Have you heard the argument? Is there no offense in't?

Return: #217

09-218

Hamlet: No, no, they do but jest, poison in jest, no offense i'th world.

Return: #218

09-219

Claudius: What do you call the play?

Return: #219

09-220

Hamlet: The Mousetrap. Marry how tropically, this play is the image

the image - the play depicts / reflects / is based on (what Hamlet goes on to say.)

Return: #220

09-221

of a murder done in Vienna; Gonzago is the Duke's name, his wife

Return: #221

09-222

Baptista; you shall see anon, 'tis a knavish piece of work, but what of

Return: #222

09-223

that? Your Majesty, and we that have free souls, it touches us not;

Return: #223

09-224

let the galled jade wince, our withers are unwrung. This is one

Return: #224

09-225

Lucianus, Nephew to the King.

Luci- + anus = light/bright + anus. "Bright asshole." Hamlet's play name for the character representing Claudius.

BOOKMARK for me, also look at Lucian of Samosata (Lucianus Samosatensis,) and also Saint Lucian / Saint Lucien / Saint Lucianus of Beauvais.

Return: #225

09-225-SD

(the Lucianus Player enters)

Return: #225-SD

09-226

Ophelia: You are as good as a Chorus, my Lord.

Return: #226

09-227

Hamlet: I could interpret between you and your love

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09-228

If I could see the puppets dallying.

Return: #228

09-229

Ophelia: You are keen, my lord, you are keen.

Return: #229

09-230

Hamlet: It would cost you a groaning to take off mine edge.

Return: #230

09-231

Ophelia: Still better and worse.

Return: #231

09-232

Hamlet: So you mistake your husbands. Begin murderer, leave

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09-233
raven, Corvus corax

thy damnable faces and begin, come, the croaking raven doth bellow

Return: #233

09-234

for revenge.

Return: #234

09-235

Lucianus: Thoughts black, hands apt, drugs fit, and time agreeing,

Return: #235

09-236

Considerate season else no creature seeing,

Considerate -

season - time. In particular, the time for doing something. "To everything, there is a season..." as the saying goes. Lucianus uses season to go along with it being the right time for doing what he's doing.

else - otherwise, however, poetically "other." So, else no creature" = "no other creature (than me.)"

Return: #236

09-237

Thou mixture rank, of midnight weeds collected,

Return: #237

09-238

With Hecats ban thrice blasted, thrice invected,

Hecats -

ban -

thrice -

blasted -

invected - is the correct word. It means "cursed," in a word that looks like "infected" and is fully intended to suggest "infected" as well, thus introducing the idea of "diseased," as well. Shakespeare's word invected is from "invective," which is from Medieval Latin 'invectiva' ("abusive speech.") Abusive speech from a witch (Hecate) would be a curse, we can be sure.

Return: #238

09-239

Thy natural magic, and dire property,

Return: #239

09-240

On wholesome life usurps immediately.

Return: #240

09-241

Hamlet: A poisons him i'th Garden for his estate; his name's

Return: #241

09-242

Gonzago; the story is extant, and written in very choice Italian;

the story is extant - but is Hamlet the only one in Europe who's read it, or heard about it? Of course not.

Where did Claudius get the idea for using poison in the ears, to make the attempt upon his brother's life?

written in ... Italian - So, Hamlet encountered the story in Italian, probably while he was in Wittenberg. It does not occur to Hamlet that the story may also have circulated in other languages, including Danish.

Return: #242

09-243

you shall see anon how the murderer gets the love of Gonzago's wife.

Return: #243

09-244

Ophelia: The King rises.

Ophelia says this for Hamlet's information. She knows she has to tell Hamlet, because Hamlet is looking at her.

Return: #244

09-245

Hamlet: What, frighted with false fire?

Return: #245

09-246

Gertrude: How fares my Lord?

Return: #246

09-247

Polonius: Give o'er the play.

Give o'er - end; stop. Polonius has no authority to say this. It's Polonius's intrinsic bossiness surfacing. The Players are performing for Hamlet; Hamlet is the authority for when the Players perform, or do not perform. However, Hamlet believes the play has accomplished its purpose, so he does not overrule Polonius.

Return: #247

09-248

Claudius: Give me some light; away!

Return: #248

09-249

Polonius: Lights, lights, lights.

Return: #249

09-249-SD

(Claudius rushes out; Gertrude, Polonius and R. and G. trail Claudius, as does the royal entourage; the Players withdraw to their costuming area; the play audience mills about just a bit, and leaves; Hamlet and Horatio take downstage center)

Return: #249-SD

09-250

Hamlet (sings): Why, let the stricken deer go weep,

stricken - wounded (a definition now archaic.) A figurative meaning of "deeply affected." Hamlet takes it that his aim to strike Claudius's conscience has hit home.

There is implicitly a sarcastic deer / "dear" pun. Hamlet is not in grief over "dear" Claudius being stricken.

It was proverbial that fatally wounded deer would run away to seek a hiding place, and shed tears as they died.

Hamlet sees the "wound" to Claudius as fatal, because Hamlet takes it that Claudius's reaction justifies Hamlet to proceed with his revenge.

Return: #250

09-251

The Hart ungalled play,

Return: #251

09-252

For some must watch while some must sleep,

Return: #252

09-253

Thus runs the world away.

Return: #253

09-254

Would not this, sir, & a forest of feathers,

a forest of feathers - a big show of feathers. A "forest" of feathers would be a big show of feathers, no doubt. Hamlet means feathers, plumes, on a hat. In performance, Hamlet is supposed to have a hat, with a plume on it, and he tips his hat to Horatio here. The hat plume need not be especially large, as long as it shows. More on this, below.

forest of feathers can also be understood as referring to a lot of padding. For a show, that means a lot of bombast. There's a dual meaning, as per usual, but this meaning is decidedly secondary. The "big show" meaning is primary for the speech. I use this in the paraphrase, however, because the primary "big show" interpretation spans lines, so it isn't amenable to direct paraphrase.

But, what kind of creature literally has a "forest of feathers" on its head? A bird does. And a bird has a bird... brain. Now, Hamlet is certainly not trying to say he's a birdbrain, but Hamlet did not write his own lines. The concept is there.

Return: #254

09-255
shoes with roses c. 1600
more shoes with roses

if the rest of my fortunes turn Turk with me, with provincial

fortunes - luck. An instance of the Wheel of Fortune Motif in the play.

turn Turk - go bad; go against me. The Turks were enemies of Europe, so the idea is of "going against." For example, most of Hungary was under the control of the Turks by 1541. When Shakespeare was born, Suleiman the Magnificant ruled the Ottoman Empire. The Siege of Vienna was in 1529. Vienna is mentioned in the play. Hamlet is speaking of Fortune being his antagonist. Oh, as for "go bad," turning Muslim would certainly be "going bad" in Christian terms. Turn Turk with me sounds like "turn Turk along with me" which sounds like Hamlet turning into a Muslim. That is not what Hamlet is trying to say, it's just something in the line for amusement.

provincial (roses on my razed shoes) - is a figure of speech. See the next Note. The images show roses (rosettes) on shoes.

Return: #255

09-256

roses on my razed shoes, get me a fellowship in a cry of players?

roses - ornamental ribbon ties. See the image in the previous Note. It shows shoe roses from c. 1600.

razed shoes

razed shoes - shoes that have openings cut into them. See the image, which illustrates such shoes as they would have looked on the feet of noblemen in England from about 1550 to 1600.

The "razing" was probably done mainly for ventilation and flexibility, but would have become a fashion statement when the aristocracy wore them.

So, now... As I mentioned in the previous Note, we're into a figure of speech here.

First, roses - as shown in the image, a "shoe rose" was a decorative way of tying a shoe, by using a ribbon done up in a decorative bow. It was called a "rose" since the appearance suggested the flower. The ribbon was tied as a rosette. Ribbons are still tied in a similar way today, but usually not on shoes. You might see it for an item such as a blue ribbon award. Same type of thing, a ribbon done as a rosette.

image of a rosette done with blue ribbon

Provincial roses probably means Province Roses. The image shows the Province Rose as pictured in Gerard's Herbal ("The Herbal or General History of Plants," John Gerard, London, 1597. The Province Rose illustration is on page 1081. Gerard Latinizes the name, Rosa provincialis, on page 1079.) That is clearly a big, showy rose. Hamlet is talking about having big, showy roses on hixs shoes. A show idea is implicit.

Province Rose, Gerard, 1597

However, look at the images of the shoes. The shoes with roses are not razed (well, they're cut once on each side for a place to thread the ribbon through.) The razed shoes don't have roses. The razed shoes must be slip-ons, that don't require tying. So, what Hamlet is talking about is going so far as to put roses on shoes that don't even need them. That would indeed be "for show." It's like putting a decoration on a loafer. (In fact, the "tassel loafer" is a fairly common kind of shoe today.) Again, there is that concept of "show." With the shoes reference, Hamlet is talking about Putting on a (big) Show, which is the major theme of Hamlet.

So, the shoes reference is a figure of speech about Putting on a Show. The forest of feather phrase, noted above, is also about Putting on a Show.

Feathers on the head... Fancy shoes on the feet... It's reference to putting on a show from head to foot, where from head to foot can be understood as meaning "in all respects." When Hamlet asked about the Ghost's armor in Scene 2, his question was "From top to toe?" He meant "complete?" (Hamlet uses that exact word when he says "complete steel" about the Ghost, in Scene 4.) That is exactly comparable with the meaning of "head to foot" here. Hamlet is talking about a "complete show" from top to toe, from beginning to end, when he speaks of the feathers and the shoes.

This takes a lot longer to explain than it does to understand.

Forest of feathers - a big show on the head. Roses on my razed shoes - a big show on the feet. Altogether then, it's a reference to Putting on a Show, a big one, that's complete in all respects. Complete all the way through, as opposed to being interrupted in the middle, as by the King running out on it. Gerard on Province Rose name

Hamlet's lines boil down to a figurative expression about 'Putting on a Show,' a big one. It is gloriously figurative. There's even a bit more.

In review, In the passage, Hamlet says:

Would not this, sir, & a forest of feathers,
... with provincial roses on my razed shoes,
get me a fellowship in a cry of players?

He means:

Wouldn't this, my show for Claudius -
and a big show for them, complete from beginning to end -
get me a membership in an acting company?

One can only suppose it might, if Hamlet could actually do that.

This is an excellent example of how having a good awareness of the Themes of Hamlet, and especially knowing that Putting on a Show is the major Theme, can be so helpful in interpreting the play. If you don't know about the Theme of Putting on a Show, you'll never get this. That's how I got it, after so many before me have not. I know the Themes, pretty well.

I mentioned there is more. The dialogue was written to be spoken, we know. Razed sounds like "raised." That makes it an instruction for the Hamlet actor.

In action, Hamlet is to raise his shoes, or one of them, to display to Horatio. Hamlet will wiggle his foot a little, of course. That is the action Shakespeare's line dictates, and it is perfect for that line of the play. "Show a raised shoe," Hamlet actor.

So in addition to everything else, razed shoes is a pun with "raised shoes" and is a great pun because as we hear it, we see it, from Hamlet.

Shakespeare was so fabulously brilliant with words, he could work a word into a wonderfully intricate figure of speech, while at the same time using that word as an implicit instruction to the actor, and with a pun tossed in, besides, and with the wording also connecting to something else in the play (here, the Ghost in top-to-toe armor.) Thinking about doing that, without knowing any examples, it sounds impossible. For most, it would be. Shakespeare did that kind of thing all throughout Hamlet. Genius, is the word. Shakespeare was so good with words, it's almost scary.

Oh, one more little tidbit. The words "show" and "shoe" were pronounced virtually the same, or even exactly the same, in Shakespeare's day. Notice that the word "doe" still rhymes with "show." The pronunciation of "shoe" has drifted since then.

cry of players - the players had to cry out, loudly, when they performed, since they had no amplified sound system. So, a company of players could be called a "cry." (The word is not a reference to weeping.) It may be of interest that the word cry goes back to Latin 'quiritare' = raise a public outcry. So, the root meaning has to do with crying out in public, which is what actors do (albeit, the Latin word refers to crying for help.)

Return: #256

09-257

Horatio: Half a share.

Horatio "acts" as a cautious, responsible company manager, and concedes Hamlet half a share.

Return: #257

09-258

Hamlet: A whole one, Aye.

In their "negotiation" Hamlet demands a full share.

Return: #258

09-259

(sings): For thou dost know, oh Damon dear

Damon - refers to Damon and Pythias, legendary best friends. The reference is highly complimentary to Horatio. Hamlet doesn't pause to consider how ominous his thought is for himself, however, when he casts himself as Pythias, the one who was condemned to death for plotting against a tyrant.

The legend of Damon and Pythias is retold in several versions, one of which includes Pythias being captured by pirates. Hamlet will tell of being captured by pirates in a letter to Horatio in Scene 17.

In the legend, Damon was imprisoned when Pythias was absent. Horatio being imprisoned, awaiting execution, is an element that can be deduced of Hamlet's nightmare between Scenes 5 and 6.

The English playwright Richard Edwardes wrote a comedy called Damon and Pythias which was published in 1571. So in addition to knowing of the Damon and Pythias legend from general knowledge, Shakespeare could also have found the story already within recent English theater.

A reprint of the "Damon and Pythias" comedy by Edwardes is available at archive.org:
https://archive.org/details/dramaticwritings00edwauoft

Return: #259

09-260

This realm dismantled was

dismantled - is used according to its Latin derivation from 'dis-' ("apart,") + 'mantellum,' diminutive of 'mantum' ("cloak.") It expresses that the royal cloak was taken away, which is a way to say that the reigning King was removed. It's the perfect, literally correct word choice from Shakespeare.

If one demands a different word in paraphrase, dismantled can be read as "deprived," i.e. "This realm was deprived..."

Return: #260

09-261

Of Jove himself, and now reigns here

Jove himself - we see again how Hamlet idealizes his father.

Return: #261

09-262

A very very . . . peacock.

peacock - the peacock was viewed in Elizabethan times, at least in literature, as a showy bird which lacked higher qualities, especially brain power. The mention of the peacock provides an obvious instance of the Bird Motif, and a subtler instance of the Show Theme. The peacock is a one of the more showy birds. The cry of a peacock can be likened to the braying of a jackass. It is not a pleasant sound.

Hamlet is quite proud that his idea worked, or so he believes. As Hamlet says all this, and as he "reigns" here, in a way, Hamlet is preening himself. So, who's the peacock? It's a hazard of insults that one must be careful they don't backfire.

Return: #262 - or - Extended Note

09-263

Horatio: You might have rhymed.

A rhyming word would have been "ass," in the days of Shakespeare. The word "was" was originally pronounced as it is spelled, with a terminal 's' sound (and a different vowel sound from what we use today.)

Return: #263

09-264

Hamlet: O good Horatio, I'll take the Ghost's word for a thousand

Return: #264

09-265

pound. Did'st perceive?

Return: #265

09-266

Horatio: Very well, my Lord.

Return: #266

09-267

Hamlet: Upon the talk of the poisoning?

Return: #267

09-268

Horatio: I did very well note him.

Return: #268

09-268-SD

(Players approach, with recorders, and gesture to Hamlet, about whether he wants them to play some music)

The Players remain well aware that they are present to offer their services to Hamlet. Whatever happens, they are keeping that in mind.

Return: #268-SD

09-269

Hamlet: Ah ha, come, some music, come, the recorders;

Hamlet is, indeed, in the mood for music.

recorders - the musical instruments known by that name. The word recorder derives from Old French 'recorder' ("to call to mind,") from Latin 'recordārī' ("to remember,") from 're-' + 'cor' "heart.")

In Hamlet the play dialogue is explicit on the point of remembrance, and the idea of "heart" is prominent. Earlier in this Scene we heard Hamlet tell Horatio how he wears Horatio "In my heart's core" (line 064) with the pun between English "core" and Latin 'cor'. Shakespeare's choice of recorders as the musical instruments is exactly thematic, albeit subtle, on the points of both remembrance and heart.

Return: #269

09-270

For if the King like not the Comedy,

Comedy - because as Hamlet sees it, the 'Mousetrap' play had a happy ending.

Return: #270

09-271

Why then belike he likes it not, perdy.

it - music. Therefore, the presence of Claudius is irrelevant to the playing of music.

Return: #271

09-272

Come, some music.

Return: #272

09-272-SD1

(the Players play music for a time)

Return: #272-SD1

09-272-SD2

(Rosencrantz and Guildenstern enter)

Return: #272-SD2

09-273

Guildenstern: Good my Lord, vouchsafe me a word with you.

Return: #273

09-274

Hamlet: Sir, a whole history.

Return: #274

09-275

Guildenstern: The King, sir . . .

The word sir is not the correct way for G. to address the Prince.

Return: #275

09-276

Hamlet: Aye, sir, what of him?

Hamlet interrupts G., and tosses sir back at him, with stress.

Return: #276

09-277

Guildenstern: . . . Is in his retirement marvelous distempered.

retirement - the place where he retires, i.e. the King's Room. We still speak of retiring for the night.

Return: #277

09-278

Hamlet: With drink, sir?

Return: #278

09-279

Guildenstern: No, my Lord, with choler.

Return: #279

09-280

Hamlet: Your wisdom should show itself more richer to signify

Return: #280

09-281

this to the doctor, for, for me to put him to his purgation, would

Return: #281

09-282

perhaps plunge him into more choler.

Return: #282

09-283

Guildenstern: Good my Lord, put your discourse into some frame,

Return: #283

09-284

And stare not so wildly from my affair.

Return: #284

09-285

Hamlet: I am tame, sir, pronounce.

Return: #285

09-286

Guildenstern: The Queen, your mother, in most great affliction of spirit,

Return: #286

09-287

hath sent me to you.

Return: #287

09-288

Hamlet: You are welcome.

Return: #288

09-289

Guildenstern: Nay, good my Lord, this courtesy is not of the right breed; if

Return: #289

09-290

it shall please you to make me a wholesome answer, I will do your

Return: #290

09-291

mothers commandment; if not, your pardon and my return, shall

Return: #291

09-292

be the end of business.

Return: #292

09-293

Hamlet: Sir, I cannot.

Return: #293

09-294

Rosencrantz: What, my Lord?

Return: #294

09-295

Hamlet: Make you a wholesome answer; my wit's diseased; but sir, such

Return: #295

09-296

answer as I can make, you shall command, or rather as you say, my

Return: #296

09-297

mother; therefore no more, but to the matter; my mother, you say?

matter - is from a root meaning of "mother" (Latin 'mater.') Hamlet's ...to the matter, my mother... is clever wordplay.

Return: #297

09-298

Rosencrantz: Then, thus she says: your behavior hath struck her into

Return: #298

09-299

amazement and admiration.

Return: #299

09-300

Hamlet: O wonderful son, that can so astonish a mother! But is there

Return: #300

09-301

no sequel at the heels of this mother's admiration? Impart.

Return: #301

09-302

Rosencrantz: She desires to speak with you in her closet, ere you go to bed.

Return: #302

09-303

Hamlet: We shall obey, were she ten times our mother; have you any

Return: #303

09-304

further trade with us?

Return: #304

09-305

Rosencrantz: My Lord, you once did love me.

Return: #305

09-306

Hamlet: And do still, by these pickers and stealers.

Return: #306

09-307

Rosencrantz: Good my Lord, what is your cause of distemper? You do freely

Return: #307

09-308

bar the door upon your own liberty, if you deny your griefs to

bar the door upon your own liberty - Informs us that Claudius, speaking of Hamlet offstage, was threatening to have him locked up. Ironic, after Hamlet called Denmark a prison while speaking to R & G in Scene 7.

deny your griefs -

Return: #308

09-309

your friend.

Return: #309

09-310

Hamlet: Sir, I lack advancement.

It isn't advancing Hamlet in his intention to kill Claudius to be standing there talking to R and G. R and G don't understand what Hamlet means.

Return: #310

09-311

Rosencrantz: How can that be, when you have the voice of the King, himself,

We see that R and G have been informed of what Claudius proclaimed in Scene 2. As noted earlier, in Scene 7, the explanation is that Claudius informed R and G in private, before we first saw them in public, of what he had proclaimed in Scene 2.

Return: #311

09-312

for your succession in Denmark?

R and G don't know that Hamlet has in mind more than Claudius's word to advance himself in Denmark.

Return: #312

09-313

Hamlet: Aye, sir, but while the grass grows . . . the proverb is something

While the grass grows, the silly steed starves.

Hamlet intends to kill Claudius before any more grass grows under his feet, as the saying has it.

Return: #313

09-314

musty; oh, the recorders, let me see one.

Return: #314

09-314-SD

(Hamlet motions to a Player musician, and takes the recorder; Hamlet draws Guildenstern aside, and stops Rosencrantz from following)

Return: #314-SD

09-315

To withdraw with you . . . Why

Return: #315

09-316

do you go about to recover the wind of me, as if you would drive

Return: #316

09-317

me into a toil?

Return: #317

09-318

Guildenstern: Oh, my Lord, if my duty be too bold, my love is too unmannerly.

Return: #318

09-319

Hamlet: I do not well understand that; will you play upon this pipe?

Return: #319

09-320

Guildenstern: My Lord, I cannot.

Return: #320

09-320-SD

(G. refuses to touch the recorder)

Return: #320-SD

09-321

Hamlet: I pray you.

Return: #321

09-322

Guildenstern: Believe me I cannot.

Return: #322

09-323

Hamlet: I do beseech you.

Return: #323

09-324

Guildenstern: I know no touch of it, my Lord.

Return: #324

09-325

Hamlet: It is as easy as lying; govern these ventages with your fingers

Return: #325

09-326

& thumb, give it breath with your mouth, & it will discourse

Return: #326

09-327

most eloquent music, look you, these are the stops.

Return: #327

09-327-SD

(Hamlet plays a little tune on the recorder, then offers it again to Guildenstern, who again refuses to touch it)

Return: #327-SD

09-328

Guildenstern: But these cannot I command to any utterance of harmony, I

Return: #328

09-329

have not the skill.

Return: #329

09-330

Hamlet: Why look you now, how unworthy a thing you make of

Return: #330

09-331

me, you would play upon me, you would seem to know my stops,

Return: #331

09-332

you would pluck out the heart of my mystery, you would sound me

Return: #332

09-333

from my lowest note to my compass, and there is much music -

Return: #333

09-334

excellent voice - in this little organ, yet cannot you make it speak, s'blood

Return: #334

09-335

do you think I am easier to be played on than a pipe? Call me what

Return: #335

09-336

instrument you will, though you fret me not, you cannot play upon me.

Return: #336

09-337

God bless you, sir.

This is Hamlet's dismissal of Guildenstern. I bother to mention that because elsewhere one may encounter the illiterate interpretation that the line is somehow spoken to Polonius, even though Polonius has not yet entered in either of the "good" original publications, the Second Quarto or the First Folio. Hamlet is obviously not speaking to Polonius when Polonius is not there.

(Even the "bad" First Quarto has Hamlet address its equivalent of this line to Rosencrantz, before the entry of the character it calls "Corambis." So, even if one were unwise enough to use the First Quarto as the guide, that still wouldn't address this line to Polonius. In any publication where you might see this line addressed to Polonius, you are looking at an editorial fraud.)

Return: #337

09-337-SD1

(Hamlet nods to Guildenstern, dismissing him, and G. immediately goes to stand near Rosencrantz; Hamlet returns the recorder to the Player musician)

Return: #337-SD1

09-337-SD2

(Polonius enters)

He enters in a bustling way, moving as fast as he can, which is still not especially fast.

Hoping that he might somehow be the first to tell Hamlet Gertrude wants to talk to him, despite the fact of R & G being there already, Polonius approaches Hamlet directly, without any attention to protocol, propriety, or manners, and speaks insistently.

Return: #337-SD2

09-338

Polonius: My Lord, the Queen would speak with you, & presently.

presently - right away; right now; immediately.

Polonius's manner, that is, his lack of manners, irritates Hamlet, who retaliates verbally in what follows.

Return: #338

09-339
camel as illustrated in 1486

Hamlet: Do you see yonder cloud that's almost in shape of a camel?

Hamlet is teasing Polonius in a way based on the ancient Greek play The Clouds by Aristophanes. In that play, the Socrates character explains that the clouds are goddesses who reshape themselves to reflect the disposition of whoever the clouds see below them. It's Aristophanes's explanation, for theatrical amusement, of what psychologists call "projection," which is the tendency of persons, when they look at an abstract shape, to see something relevant to themselves. Projection is the principle behind the Rorschach inkblot test, and others.

Kronborg windows

The Extended Note has the relevant passage from The Clouds, and a link to that play.

(Kronborg Castle has large, tall windows. The same is true of other such structures from the Renaissance and earlier, including Windsor Castle. Clouds near the horizon would be easily visible through those windows. The point is, there is no implication of Hamlet and Polonius being outdoors, just because they can see a cloud.)

So, the concept Hamlet is using is that of clouds "mirroring" the person. (It is an instance of the Mirror Motif.) When Hamlet asks Polonius, "do you see a camel," he is really asking, "are you a camel?" Polonius does not know what Hamlet is doing.

Picture a camel. A camel is, bluntly speaking, a stupid beast of burden with a heavy body and skinny legs. (Also, of course, it has the well-known hump.)

Hamlet is therefore asking Polonius, "Are you a stupid beast of burden with a heavy body and skinny legs?"

Return: #339 - or - Extended Note

09-340

Polonius: By'th mass and 'tis, like a camel indeed.

When Polonius agrees with Hamlet, and says that the cloud does look like a camel, he is unwittingly saying, "Yes, my goodness, I am indeed a stupid beast of burden with a heavy body and skinny legs."

It is true that Polonius is being stupid in the way he is bearing a message to Hamlet that Hamlet already knows, since Hamlet already learned it from R & G.

Return: #340

09-341
weasel, Mustela nivalis

Hamlet: Me thinks it is like a weasel.

The weasel is the emblem of a sneaky creature. The Elizabethans also thought the weasel was an egg sucker (which is apparently correct, at least to some extent.)

In trying to get Polonius to agree that the cloud looks like a weasel, Hamlet is asking Polonius, "are you a sneaky egg sucker?"

(Also, the weasel humps its back, as the illustration shows. This is another humpbacked animal.)

Return: #341

09-342

Polonius: It is backed like a weasel.

Without knowing what his reply can be taken to mean, Polonius does not disagree that he is a sneaky egg sucker.

In particular Polonius says he is backed like a weasel (again without knowing what he is saying, under the concept Hamlet is using.) So, Polonius says he is humpbacked. This is an important costuming note for the Polonius actor. His costume must supply him with a humpback. The humpback goes along with Polonius's advanced age, but its primary purpose is to make the actor more comfortable when he will have to lie on stage for nearly the entire length of the Closet Scene, Scene 11. Shakespeare was thoughtful enough to provide the Polonius actor with a built-in pillow for his head, for the Closet Scene. No wonder the actors liked Shakespeare so well.

The bad smell associated with members of the weasel family is well known. The word weasel is thought to go back to the Proto-Indo-European prefix 'wis-' ("musk;" "stink,") not that Shakespeare had to know that in particular. In performance, it is correct for this line to be accompanied by a loud noise of flatulence, of which Polonius, himself, takes no notice.

Return: #342

09-343
humpback whale

Hamlet: Or like a whale.

Whales are well known for their blubber. Fat, that is. By the concept from The Clouds, Hamlet is asking Polonius, "are you fat like a whale?"

There is a whale actually named the humpback. This further confirms the costuming note for the Polonius actor.

We can conclude, the cloud they are looking at has a humpback shape, which, with a little imagination, can be seen as any sort of humpbacked creature. Humpbacked cloud formations are so common that the standard cartoon drawing of a cloud has a humpback shape.

Return: #343

09-344

Polonius: Very like a whale.

Polonius replies in the affirmative, that yes he is fat, very much like a whale, and still with no idea of what Hamlet really means.

It is necessary to understand that Polonius does indeed see the various shapes in the cloud. He is not just saying so. He is not "going along to get along" with Hamlet. Polonius is suggestible, and he has some visual imagination.

Return: #344

09-345

Hamlet (to Polonius): Then I will come to my mother, by and by.

By which Hamlet means, "Very well, since we agree that you're a stupid beast of burden, a sneaky egg sucker, and fat like a whale, then I'll go to my mother soon."

Return: #345

09-345-SD

(Polonius exits)

As quickly as he can, hoping to beat R & G in conveying the news to Claudius and Gertrude. However, Polonius, at his age, simply can't move very fast.

Return: #345-SD

09-346

They fool me to the top of my bent.

BOOKMARK

Return: #346

09-347

I will come, by & by.

Hamlet speaks this line to R & G.

Return: #347

09-347-SD

(Rosencrantz and Guildenstern exit)

Return: #347-SD

09-348

Leave me, friends.

Return: #348

09-348-SD

(Horatio exits; the Players exit)

Return: #348-SD

09-349

I will . . . say so. "By and by," is easily said.

Return: #349

09-349-SD

(the distant church bell begins slowly tolling midnight)

Return: #349-SD

09-350

'Tis now the very witching time of night,

Return: #350

09-351

When churchyards yawn, and Hell itself breathes out

Return: #351

09-352

Contagion to this world; now could I drink hot blood,

Return: #352

09-353

And do such business as the bitter day

Return: #353

09-354

Would quake to look on: soft, now to my mother,

now to my mother - Hamlet means he is now turning his thoughts to the subject of his mother. It is important to understand he does not mean he will head for his mother's room immediately at the conclusion of this speech.

Return: #354

09-355

O heart, lose not thy nature, let not ever

nature - the natural feelings of love toward a parent.

Return: #355

09-356

The soul of Nero enter this firm bosom,

soul - spirit.

Nero - ordered the murder of his mother, Agrippina.

Return: #356

09-357

Let me be cruel, not unnatural,

cruel - perhaps the best paraphrase, in the vocabulary of the play, is "unkind." ("More than kin and less than kind," was Hamlet's first line in the play.) The word cruel is from Latin 'crudelis' ("unfeeling;" "hard-hearted.") In the Closet Scene, Scene 11, Hamlet will make a reference to Gertrude as "hard-hearted." So, Hamlet means unsympathetic; hard-hearted; unkind.

not unnatural - not violent. It is not natural to be violent toward one's mother.

Return: #357

09-358

I will speak dagger to her, but use none,

dagger - the singular, as printed in the Second Quarto of Hamlet is correct. In action, Hamlet places his hand on his dagger here. He carries one, thus the singular ("suit the action to the word, the word to the action".)

Return: #358

09-359

My tongue and soul in this be hypocrites,

Return: #359

09-360

How in my words somever she be shent,

How ... somever - Together the words mean "however," i.e. in whatever way.

shent - destroyed. The word shent is archaic, and is the past tense of "shend," which is related to Old English 'scand' ("shame.")

Wiktionary entry for "shend:" https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/shend#English

Return: #360

09-361

To give them seals, never my soul consent.

To give them seals - to put my words into action. In this case, when it comes to harming his mother, Hamlet pledges to himself that he will not "suit his action to his word." However he might threaten her, he will not carry through on any threat. The seals figure of speech refers to sealing a document to make it official, and therefore a basis for action.

soul - spirit. Hamlet is pledging he will never have the spirit to harm his mother.

Return: #361

09-361-SD

(Hamlet exits)

On his way to the Royal Apartments, where he will look for the opportunity to kill Claudius, and then, when he goes to talk to his mother, present the demise of Claudius to her as an accomplished fact, and hope she will tolerate it.

Return: #361-SD

Interscene 9-10

R & G and Polonius have left the Banquet Hall, to tell Gertrude that Hamlet agreed to talk to her. R & G take the shortcut across the Castle courtyard (the same as they did intrascene during Scene 9.) Polonius takes the longer way, staying indoors, (again, as he did intrascene during Scene 9) since at his age he's worried about catching a chill from the night air.

Hamlet, exiting after his "Witching Time" soliloquy, trails only a minute or so behind the others, on his way to the Royal Apartments. Hamlet takes the shortcut across the Castle courtyard. In doing so, he gets ahead of Polonius, who doesn't see him.

R & G arrive at the Queen's Room, and tell Gertrude and Claudius, who is waiting there with her, that Hamlet has agreed to talk to her. While they are all in Gertrude's room, Hamlet arrives and finds the King's Room empty. He steps inside, and hides behind an arras, to wait for Claudius, to kill him.

Claudius and R & G leave Gertrude's room, where she remains waiting for Hamlet, and they go to the King's Room, where Claudius has something he wants to tell R & G. Thus, we find Claudius with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in the King's Room at the start of Scene 10.

Return: End of the Scene Dialogue


Scene Links

Go to: Scene 1 - Scene 2 - Scene 3 - Scene 4 - Scene 5 - Scene 6 - Scene 7 - Scene 8 - Scene 9 - Scene 10
Scene 11 - Scene 12 - Scene 13 - Scene 14 - Scene 15 - Scene 16 - Scene 17 - Scene 18 - Scene 19 - Scene 20


© 2014 Jeffrey Paul Jordan

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