Scene 13

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Synopsis

In a hallway, Hamlet has just finished hiding Polonius's body underneath the stairs that go up to the Lobby. He is standing only a few feet from the stairs as R & G enter. Hamlet refuses to tell them where Polonius's body is, and all leave to return to Claudius, (leaving Polonius's body unfound, only a few feet from where R & G were speaking to Hamlet. R & G, and the others with them, did not even search for Polonius's body, and when Hamlet refused to tell them where it was, they were baffled. In modern terms, R & G's ability as "detectives" could be expressed by the sarcastic question, "are you guys really from Scotland Yard?")

Characters

The Scene 13 Characters are: Hamlet, Rosencrantz, Guildenstern.

Passage Links

Jump down to the Notes.


Dialogue

Scene 13      [ ~ Where's the Body? ~ ]      (Act 4 Scene 2)

#13-Setting: Inside the Castle;
            A mostly-empty hallway;
            Soon after the previous Scene.

#13-000-SD  (Hamlet enters;
            Rosencrantz and Guildenstern enter,
             with a sleepy guard and a sleepy servant.)

#13-001  Hamlet:  Safely stowed.
                        Safely hidden.
#13-002 (Both R. and G., in the distance):  Hamlet, Lord Hamlet.
                        Hamlet . . . Lord Hamlet!
#13-003  Hamlet:  But soft, what noise, who calls on Hamlet?
                        But hush, what's that noise, who calls for me?
#13-004        Oh, here they come.
                        Oh, here they come.
#13-005  Rosencrantz:  What have you done, my Lord, with the dead body?
                        What have you done, my Lord, with the body?
#13-006  Hamlet:  Compounded it with dust whereto 'tis kin.
                        Mingled it with the dust that it's akin to.
#13-007  Rosencrantz:  Tell us where 'tis, that we may take it thence,
                        Tell us where it is, so that we can take it from there,
#13-008        And bear it to the chapel.
                        And carry it to the chapel.
#13-009  Hamlet:  Do not believe it.
                        Don't believe it.
#13-010  Rosencrantz:  Believe what?
                        Don't believe what?
#13-011  Hamlet:  That I can keep your counsel, & not mine own; besides,
                        That I can keep your secret but not my own.  Besides that, for me
#13-012        to be demanded of a sponge, what replication should be made by
                        to be ordered around by a sponge, what retaliation should be made by
#13-013        the son of a king?
                        the son of a King?
#13-014  Rosencrantz:  Take you me for a sponge, my Lord?
                        Do you think I'm a sponge, my Lord?
#13-015  Hamlet:  Aye, sir, that soaks up the King's countenance, his rewards, his
                        Yes, sir, one whose ego swells up, from the King's patronage, his rewards, and his
#13-016        authorities; but such officers do the King best service in the end; he
                        powers; but officers like you do the King their best service in the end.  He
#13-017        keeps them like an ape an apple in the corner of his jaw, first mouthed to be
                        holds them like an ape holds an apple, in the corner of his mouth - first mouthed,
#13-018        last swallowed; when he needs what you have gleaned, it is but squeezing
                        last swallowed - then, when he wants back whatever you have acquired, he need only squeeze
#13-019        you, and sponge, you shall be dry again.
                        you, and sponge, you will be dry again.
#13-020  Rosencrantz:  I understand you not, my Lord.
                        I don't understand you, my Lord.
#13-021  Hamlet:  I am glad of it; a knavish speech sleeps in a foolish ear.
                        I'm glad of that.  A wicked speech can't be heard by a foolish ear.
#13-022  Rosencrantz:  My Lord, you must tell us where the body is, and go with us
                        My Lord, you must tell us where the body is, and then go with us
#13-023        to the King.
                        to the King.
#13-024  Hamlet:  The body is with the King, but the King is not with the
                        The body is with the King, but the King is not with the
#13-025        body.  The King is a thing . . .
                        body.  The King is a thing . . .
#13-026  Guildenstern:  A thing, my Lord?
                        A thing, my Lord?
#13-027  Hamlet:  Of nothing; bring me to him.
                        Of nothing.  Take me to him.
#13-027-1      Hide, fox, and all after!

#13-027-SD    (all exit)

 End of Scene 13

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.

13-Setting
  • Place - A bare hallway, whose only feature is the lower end of a staircase, with a dark space under the stairs.
  • Time of Day - Only a few minutes after the previous Scene.
  • Calendar Time -

Return: #Setting

13-000-SD

(Hamlet enters; Rosencrantz and Guildenstern enter, with a sleepy guard and a sleepy servant.)

Hamlet enters by crawling out from under the stairs. He is very dusty.

Return: #000-SD

13-001

Hamlet: Safely stowed.

Return: #001

13-002

(Both R. and G., in the distance): Hamlet, Lord Hamlet.

From just offstage, or at least, it must be clear to the audience that they are not within the hallway. They must not see Hamlet crawl out from under the stairs.

Return: #002

13-003

Hamlet: But soft, what noise, who calls on Hamlet?

Hamlet is surprised. He didn't think anyone saw him since he left Gertrude's room, and Hamlet thinks he talked Gertrude into staying in her room. Why is someone calling him?

Return: #003

13-004

Oh, here they come.

Lo and behold, it's R & G.

Return: #004

13-005

Rosencrantz: What have you done, my Lord, with the dead body?

Well, someone did see him, Hamlet supposes. However, he's standing there all dusty, and the only place anywhere near, where a body could be, is under the stairs. And R has to ask?

Return: #005

13-006

Hamlet: Compounded it with dust whereto 'tis kin.

It is correct in action for Hamlet to brush dust from his clothing when he says this line. Hamlet's line is a play on the "dust to dust" idea about burying a body.

Return: #006

13-007

Rosencrantz: Tell us where 'tis, that we may take it thence,

There's only one place it could be.

Return: #007

13-008

And bear it to the chapel.

Return: #008

13-009

Hamlet: Do not believe it.

Hamlet means, "I don't believe this, so you shouldn't either." In other words, "you're putting me on."

Back under the stairs is the only place Polonius's body could be. There isn't anyplace else where it could be hidden. It has to be there.

Return: #009

13-010

Rosencrantz: Believe what?

Return: #010

13-011

Hamlet: That I can keep your counsel, & not mine own; besides,

Return: #011

13-012

to be demanded of a sponge, what replication should be made by

Return: #012

13-013

the son of a king?

Return: #013

13-014

Rosencrantz: Take you me for a sponge, my Lord?

Return: #014

13-015

Hamlet: Aye, sir, that soaks up the King's countenance, his rewards, his

Return: #015

13-016

authorities; but such officers do the King best service in the end; he

Return: #016

13-017

keeps them like an ape an apple in the corner of his jaw, first mouthed to be

Return: #017

13-018

last swallowed; when he needs what you have gleaned, it is but squeezing

Return: #018

13-019

you, and sponge, you shall be dry again.

Return: #019

13-020

Rosencrantz: I understand you not, my Lord.

Return: #020

13-021

Hamlet: I am glad of it; a knavish speech sleeps in a foolish ear.

Return: #021

13-022

Rosencrantz: My Lord, you must tell us where the body is, and go with us

Return: #022

13-023

to the King.

Return: #023

13-024

Hamlet: The body is with the King, but the King is not with the

Return: #024

13-025

body. The King is a thing . . .

Return: #025

13-026

Guildenstern: A thing, my Lord?

Return: #026

13-027

Hamlet: Of nothing; bring me to him.

Return: #027

13-027-1

Hide, fox, and all after!

Return: #027-1

13-027-SD

(all exit)

Return: #027-SD


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


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