Scene 16

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Synopsis

In the Throne Room, Horatio and a Gentleman persuade Gertrude to speak with Ophelia. At first, Gertrude doesn't want to see Ophelia because, since her son has killed Ophelia's father, Gertrude anticipates an unpleasant confrontation.

Ophelia enters slowly, doing a leisurely, graceful dance, as Gertrude speaks her "guilt" speech aside. Ophelia then speaks oddly to Gertrude, and sings.

Claudius enters, because he heard the singing. Ophelia sings more. Claudius speaks of Ophelia and grief, as he draws the wrong conclusion. Ophelia exits.

Claudius says that Laertes has returned, and Laertes is hearing condemnations of Claudius in connection with the death of Polonius. Loud noises are heard, and a messenger enters, to inform Claudius that Laertes is leading a riotous rabble to storm the Castle.

Laertes enters, sword in hand, and irate. He demands Claudius explain things.

While Claudius is talking with Laertes, Ophelia reenters. Ophelia sings to Laertes, and hands him flowers. He is totally at a loss, except he's sure she's mad. Ophelia departs, with a final word of blessing for everyone. Gertrude and her ladies follow Ophelia, to keep watch on her.

Claudius asks to meet with Laertes and his "wisest friends" to explain his innocence in the death of Polonius. Laertes says he's willing to listen, and they exit.

Characters

The Scene 16 Characters are: Gertrude, Gentleman, Horatio, Ophelia, Claudius, Messenger, Laertes, Ruffians.

Passage Links

Claudius entry #038-SD, Ophelia first exit #071-SD, Messenger entry #092-SD2
Laertes entry #108-SD, Ophelia reentry #158-SD, Ophelia last exit #199-SD

Jump down to the Notes.


Dialogue

Scene 16      [ ~ Baker's Daughter ~ ]      (Act 4 Scene 5)

#16-Setting: Inside the Castle;
            The Throne Room;
            Daytime.

#16-000-SD  (Gertrude enters;
               Horatio enters, accompanied by the Gentleman)

#16-001  Gertrude:  I will not speak with her.
                        I will not speak with her.
#16-002  Gentleman:  She is importunate,
                        She is insistent for attention,
#16-003        Indeed distract; her mood will needs be pitied.
                        Distracted in what she does.  Her state of mind will necessarily be pitied.
#16-004  Gertrude:  What would she have?
                        What does she want?
#16-005  Gentleman:  She speaks much of her father, says she hears
                        She says a lot about her father, and says she hears
#16-006        There's tricks in the world, and hems, and beats her heart,
                        There's tricks in the world, and equivocates, and pounds her chest,
#16-007        Spurns enviously at straws, speaks things in doubt
                        Reacts scornfully, in a bad natured way, over trifles, and says things in suspicion,
#16-008        That carry but half sense; her speech is nothing,
                        That sound only half sensible.  Her speech is naughty,
#16-009        Yet the unshaped use of it doth move
                        Still, the illogical employment of her speech motivates
#16-010        The hearers to collection; they yawn at it,
                        Those who hear it to try to gather meaning from it.  They gape at what she says,
#16-011        And botch the words up fit to their own thoughts,
                        And misconstrue her words in fitting them to their own preconceptions,
#16-012        Which as her winks, and nods, and gestures yield them,
                        Which, as her winks, and nods, and gestures yield to them,
#16-013        Indeed would make one think there would be thought,
                        Indeed would make one think there should be grief,
#16-014        Though nothing sure, yet much unhappily.
                        Although not for sure, still very expressive of misfortune.
#16-015  Horatio:  'Twere good she were spoken with, for she may strew
                        It would be good to speak with her, for she might breed
#16-016        Dangerous conjectures in ill-breeding minds.           #16-016-SD (Gertrude nods to Horatio)
                        Hazardous surmises in minds that jump to conclusions.
#16-017  (to the doorman):  Let her come in.         #16-017-SD1 (said as Horatio and the Gentleman walk to the door)
                        Let her come in.

#16-017-SD2  (Horatio and the Gentleman exit;
                   Ophelia enters, dancing)

#16-018  Gertrude (aside):  To my sick soul, as sin's true nature is,
                        To my sick soul, (which is the true nature of sin,)
#16-019        Each toy seems prologue to some great amiss,
                        Each idea that crosses my mind seems to lead to disaster.
#16-020        So full of artless jealousy is guilt,
                        Guilt is so full of natural misery,
#16-021        It spills itself, in fearing to be spilt.
                        It reveals itself, from its fear of being revealed.
#16-022  Ophelia:  Where is the beauteous Majesty of Denmark?
                        Where is the beauteous Majesty of Denmark?
#16-023  Gertrude:  How now, Ophelia?
                        Greetings, Ophelia?
#16-024  Ophelia (sings):  How should I your true love know
                              How can I, your true love, know you
#16-025                   From another one?
                              From someone else?
#16-026                   By his cockle hat, and staff,
                              By his cock-le top, and shaft
#16-027                   And his sendal shoon.
                              And his silken slippers.
#16-028  Gertrude:  Alas, sweet Lady, what imports this song?
                        Alas, sweet Lady, what brings out that song?
#16-029  Ophelia:  Say you?  Nay, pray you mark:
                        You can't say?  No, please pay attention:
#16-030  (sings):  He is dead & gone, Lady,
                        He is dead and gone, Lady
#16-031           He is dead and gone;
                        He is dead and gone
#16-032           At his head a grass green turf,
                        At his head there is green grass turf
#16-033           At his heels a stone.
                        At his heels there is a stone
#16-034  (exclaims):  Oh ho!
                        Oh ho!
#16-035  Gertrude:  Nay, but Ophelia . . .
                        No, but Ophelia . . .
#16-036  Ophelia:  Pray you, mark!
                        Please pay attention!
#16-037  (sings):  White his shroud as the mountain snow.        #16-037-SD  (Claudius enters)
                        His shroud was as white as mountain snow
#16-038  Gertrude:  Alas, look here, my Lord.           #16-038-SD (Gertrude points Claudius to Ophelia)
                        Alas, look there, my Lord.
#16-039  Ophelia (sings):  Larded all with sweet flowers,
                        With sweet flowers strewn all around,
#16-040           Which bewept to the grave did not go         #16-040-SD (the word "not" is spoken aside)
                        Which, falling like tears on the grave did -not- go
#16-041           With true love showers.
                        Accompanied by any shower of real love.
#16-042  Claudius:  How do you, pretty Lady?
                        How are you feeling, pretty Lady?
#16-043  Ophelia:  Well good 'dild' you;
                        Well may goodness refrain you, musically.
#16-044        They say the owl was a baker's daughter;
                        They say the owl was a baker's daughter.
#16-045        Lord, we know what we are, but know not what we may be.
                        Lord, I know what I am now, but don't know what I may become.
#16-046        God be at your table.
                        May God be at work on your gravestone, now.
#16-047  Claudius:  Conceit upon her father.
                        A caprice due to her father's death.
#16-048  Ophelia:  Pray, let's have no words of this - but when they ask you
                        Please, let's have no words about him - but if anyone asks you
#16-049        what it means, say you this:
                        what all this means, you can tell them this:
#16-050  (sings):  Tomorrow is Saint Valentine's day,
                        Tomorrow is Saint Valentine's Day, and
#16-051           All in the morning, betime,
                        Quite in the morning, before it's too late,
#16-052           And I, a maid at your window,
                        There's me, a maiden tapping at your window
#16-053           To be your Valentine.
                        To be your valentine
#16-054           Then up he rose, and donned his clothes, and dupt the chamber door;
                        So he rose up, put on some clothes, and opened up his bedroom door,
#16-055           Let in the maid, that out a maid, never departed more.
                        Let in the maiden, who never again went out as a virgin.
#16-056  Claudius:  Pretty, Ophelia.
                        Pretty, Ophelia.
#16-057  Ophelia:  Indeed!  La!  Without an oath, I'll make an end on it;
                        Indeed!  La!  Without an oath, I'll make an end to it.
#16-058  (sings): By Gis and by Saint Charity,
                        By Jesus and by Saint Charity,
#16-059              alack, and fie, for shame,
                        oh dear, and fie, for shame,
#16-060          Young men will do't if they come to't,
                        Young men will do it if they come to it
#16-061              by Cock, they are to blame.
                        by cock they are to blame.
#16-062          Quoth she:  Before you tumbled me, you promised me to wed,
                        Said she:  Before you tumbled me, you promised me to wed,
#16-063          (He answers):  So would I 'a done by yonder sun
                        (He answers):  So would I have done, by yonder sun,
#16-064              And thou hadst not come to my bed.
                        If you had not come to my bed.
#16-065  Claudius:  How long hath she been thus?
                        How long has she been like this?
#16-066  Ophelia:  I hope all will be well; we must be patient, but I cannot choose
                        I hope all will be well.  I must be patient, but I cannot choose
#16-067        but weep to think they should lay him in the cold ground; my brother
                        but weep to think they would lay him in the cold ground.  My brother
#16-068        shall know of it; and so, I thank you for your good counsel.  Come
                        shall learn of it - and so I thank you for your good counsel.  Come
#16-069        my coach; good night, Ladies, good night.
                        my coach, goodnight, Ladies, goodnight.
#16-070        Sweet Lady, good night, good night.
                        Sweet Lady, goodnight, goodnight.

#16-070-SD  (Ophelia exits)

#16-071  Claudius:  Follow her close; give her good watch, I pray you.        #16-071-SD (the ladies-in-waiting curtsy,
                        Follow her closely, and keep a close watch on her, please.           and exit to follow Ophelia)
#16-072        Oh this is the poison of deep grief; it springs all from her father's
                        Oh, this is the poison of deep grief, it all springs from her father's
#16-073        death, and now behold; Oh Gertrude, Gertrude,
                        death, and now behold the result.  Oh, Gertrude, Gertrude,
#16-074        When sorrows come, they come not single spies,
                        When sorrows come, they don't come one at a time,
#16-075        But in battalions.  First her father slain,
                        But in battalions.  First, her father slain,
#16-076        Next, your son gone, and he most violent author
                        Next, your son gone - and he himself the very violent cause
#16-077        Of his own just remove, the people muddied,
                        Of his own justified departure - the people stirred up,
#16-078        Thick and unwholesome in thoughts, and whispers
                        Dense and unhealthy in their minds, and rumor mongering
#16-079        For good Polonius' death - and we have done but greenly
                        Over good Polonius's death - and I have acted only recently,
#16-080        In hugger mugger to inter him - poor Ophelia
                        In seclusion, to have him buried - poor Ophelia,
#16-081        Divided from herself, and her fair judgment -
                        Beside herself, and diverted from her good judgment -
#16-082        Without the which we are pictures, or mere beasts -
                        Without which we humans are mindless as images in pictures, or mere beasts -
#16-083        Last, and as much containing as all these:
                        Last - and as difficult to deal with as all of those, combined -
#16-084        Her brother is in secret come from France,
                        Her brother has returned, in secret, from France, and
#16-085        Feeds on this wonder, keeps himself in clouds,
                        Takes in all these strange events, keeps out of sight,
#16-086        And wants not buzzers to infect his ear
                        And has no lack of scandalmongers to poison his mind
#16-087        With pestilent speeches of his father's death,
                        With pernicious gossip about his father's death,
#16-088        Wherein necessity, of matter beggared,
                        In which they feel the need to blame sombody, and lacking the facts,
#16-089        Will nothing stick our person to arraign
                        They'll stop at nothing to accuse me
#16-090        In ear and ear.  Oh my dear Gertrude, this
                        As the word goes from ear to ear.  Oh, my dear Gertrude, this,
#16-091        Like to a murdering piece, in many places
                        Like a huge shotgun, hits me in many vital spots, and
#16-092        Gives me superfluous death.         #16-092-SD1 (an uproar is heard outside the Throne Room)
                        Just kills me, over and over.

#16-092-SD2  (a messenger enters)

#16-093  Gertrude:  Alack, what noise is this?
                        Alack, what's that noise?
#16-094  Claudius:  Attend!  Where is my Swissers?  Let them guard the door!
                        Attention, everyone!  Where are my Swiss guards?  Have them guard the door!
#16-095        What is the matter?
                        What is the trouble?
#16-096  Messenger:  Save yourself, my Lord!
                        Save yourself, my Lord!
#16-097        The ocean, over-peering of his list
                        The ocean, overflowing at its margins,
#16-098        Eats not the flats with more impiteous haste
                        Does not engulf the flats with more merciless speed
#16-099        Than young Laertes, in a riotous head
                        Than young Laertes, at the head of the riot,
#16-100        O'er-bears your officers.  The rabble call him "Lord,"
                        Overwhelms your soldiers and guards.  The rabble call him "Lord,"
#16-101        And, as the world were now but to begin,
                        And, as if the human world were only now beginning,
#16-102        Antiquity forgot, custom not known,
                        Precedent forgotten, ceremony unknown,
#16-103        The ratifiers and props of every word,
                        The only validators and supports for their every word is
#16-104        The cry "choose we!"  Laertes shall be King!
                        The outcry: "We choose!"  "Laertes shall be King!
#16-105        Caps, hands, and tongues applaud it to the clouds.
                        They toss their caps in the air, raise their hands, and cheer it to the clouds:
#16-106        Laertes shall be King, Laertes, King!
                        Laertes shall be King, Laertes, King!
#16-107  Gertrude:  How cheerfully on the false trail they cry!       #16-107-SD (loud noise just outside the
                        How cheerfully they cry, as they follow this false trail!     closed door to the Lobby)
#16-108        Oh, this is counter, you false Danish dogs!
                        Oh, this is the wrong way, you traitorous Danish dogs!

#16-108-SD  (Laertes enters, sword drawn, escorted by town ruffians)

#16-109  Claudius:  The doors are broke.
                        The doors are broken in.
#16-110  Laertes:  Where is this King?  Sirs, stand you all, without.
                        Where is this so-called "King?"  Sirs, wait outside.
#16-111  Ruffians:  No, lets come in!
                        No, let us come in!
#16-112  Laertes:  I pray you, give me leave.
                        I beg you, allow me to talk to him.
#16-113  Ruffians:  We will, we will.
                        Alright, we will, we will.
#16-114  Laertes:  I thank you; keep the door; oh thou vile King,
                        I thank you.  Control the doorway.  Oh, you vile King,
#16-115        Give me my father.
                        Give me my father!

#16-115-SD  (Gertrude steps between Laertes and Claudius)

#16-116  Gertrude:  Calmly, good Laertes.
                        Be calm, good Laertes.
#16-117  Laertes:  That drop of blood that's calm proclaims me bastard,
                        If any drop of my blood is calm it reveals I'm a bastard,
#16-118        Cries cuckold to my father, brands the harlot
                        Shouts that my father was a cuckold, puts the brand of the harlot
#16-119        Even here between the chaste, unsmirched brow
                        Right here, between the chaste, undefiled brows
#16-120        Of my true mother.
                        Of my virtuous mother.
#16-121  Claudius:  What is the cause, Laertes,
                        What is the reason, Laertes,
#16-122        That thy rebellion looks so giant-like?
                        That the rebellion you lead looks so ambitious?
#16-123        Let him go, Gertrude, do not fear our person;
                        Let him go, Gertrude, do not worry about my personal safety.
#16-124        There's such divinity doth hedge a King,
                        There's such divinity to shield a King,
#16-125        That treason can but peep to what it would,
                        That treason can only peek at what it wants, and
#16-126        Acts little of his will; tell me, Laertes,
                        Acts little of what it desires.  Tell me, Laertes,
#16-127        Why thou art thus incensed; let him go Gertrude.
                        Why you are so incensed.  Let him go, Gertrude.
#16-128        Speak, man.
                        Speak, man.
#16-129  Laertes:  Where is my father?
                        Where is my father?
#16-130  Claudius:  Dead.
                        Dead.
#16-131  Gertrude:  But not by him.
                        But not killed by him!
#16-132  Claudius:  Let him demand his fill.
                        Let him question until he's satisfied.
#16-133  Laertes:  How came he dead?  I'll not be juggled with,
                        What led to his death?  I won't tolerate any tricks!
#16-134        To hell allegiance, vows to the blackest devil,
                        To hell with loyalty to the crown, and religious dedication - to the most evil devil!
#16-135        Conscience and grace, to the profoundest pit;
                        Conscience, and nobility, into the deepest pit!
#16-136        I dare damnation.  To this point I stand,
                        I dare damnation!  On this point I make my stand,
#16-137        That both the worlds I give to negligence,
                        That, for my fate in both this world and the next, I couldn't care less.
#16-138        Let come what comes, only I'll be revenged
                        Let whatever happens, happen, but I'll have revenge
#16-139        Most throughly for my father.
                        In every way, for my father.
#16-140  Claudius:  Who shall stay you?
                        Who will stop you?
#16-141  Laertes:  My will, not all the world's.
                        Only my own will, no matter what the rest of the world wants!
#16-142        And for my means, I'll husband them so well,
                        As for my resources, I'll manage them so well,
#16-143        They shall go far with little.
                        They'll take me far, though they be slight.
#16-144  Claudius:  Good Laertes, if you desire to know the certainty
                        Good Laertes, if you desire to know the reliable truth
#16-145        Of your dear father, is it writ in your revenge,
                        About your dear father, is it "officially written" in your duty for revenge
#16-146        That swoopstake, you will draw both friend and foe
                        That, (as in winning a sweepstakes,) you will execute both friend and foe,
#16-147        Winner and loser?
                        Only yourself the winner, anyone else, the loser?
#16-148  Laertes:  None but his enemies.
                        I'll kill no one except his enemies.
#16-149  Claudius:  Will you know them, then?
                        Will you know who his enemies are, then?
#16-150  Laertes:  To his good friends, thus wide I'll ope' my arms,        #16-150-SD (Laertes sheaths his sword)
                        To his good friends, I'll spread my arms wide, like this,
#16-151        And like the kind, life-rendering pelican,
                        And, like the proverbially caring, life-sustaining pelican,
#16-152        Repast them with my blood.
                        Nourish them with my own blood.
#16-153  Claudius:  Why, now you speak
                        Why, now you speak
#16-154        Like a good child, and a true gentleman.
                        Like a good child, and a real gentleman.
#16-155        That I am guiltless of your father's death,
                        That I am free of guilt in your father's death,
#16-156        And am most sensible in grief for it,
                        And am fully rational in my grief over it,
#16-157        It shall as level to your judgment pierce
                        It will get through to your judgment as truly,
#16-158        As day does to your eye.
                        As day does, to your eye.

#16-158-SD  (noise is heard at the doorway;
               Ophelia enters)

#16-159  Laertes:  How now, what noise is that?  Let her come in.
                        What's happening?  Why the noise?  Let her come in.
#16-160        O heat, dry up my brains, tears seven times salt
                        Oh heat, dry up my brains, tears seven times as irritating as pure salt,
#16-161        Burn out the sense and virtue of mine eye,
                        Burn out the vision and goodness of my eyes!
#16-162        By Heaven, thy madness shall be paid with weight
                        By Heaven, your madness will be repaid with weight
#16-163        Till our scale turn the beam.  O Rose of May!
                        Until the scales of justice swings its beam.  Oh, Rose of May!
#16-164        Dear maid, kind sister, sweet Ophelia!
                        Dear maiden, kind sister, sweet Ophelia!
#16-165        O heavens, is it possible a young maid's wits
                        Oh, heavens, is it possible a young maiden's intelligence
#16-166        Should be as mortal as an old man's life?
                        Could be as mortal as an old man's life?
#16-167        Nature is fine in love, and where 'tis fine,
                        Human nature, in love, is delicate, and when it's delicate,
#16-168        It sends some precious instance of itself
                        It sends a valuable part of its human nature,
#16-169        After the thing it loves.
                        After the object of its love.
#16-170  Ophelia (sings):  They bore him bare-faced on the bier,
                        They carried him bare-faced on the bier,
#16-171        And in his grave rained many a tear;
                        And into his grave rained many a tear.
#16-172        Hey non nony, nony, hey nony;
                        Hey non nony, nony, hey nony;
#16-173  (speaks):  Fare you well, my dove!
                        Fare you well, my dove!
#16-174  Laertes:  Hadst thou thy wits, and did'st persuade revenge
                        If you had your wits about you, and prevailed on me to seek revenge,
#16-175        It could not move thus.
                        It could not move me as much as this does.
#16-176  Ophelia:  You must sing a down, a down,
                        You must sing a down, a down,
#16-177        And you call him a down a.  Oh, how the wheel becomes it,
                        And you call him a down a.  Oh, how the refrain befits it!
#16-178        It is the false Steward that stole his Master's daughter.
                        It is lying Hamlet who stole Jesus's daughter from the nunnery.
#16-179  Laertes:  This nothing's more than matter.
                        This nothingness tells me more than an explanation would.
#16-180  Ophelia:  There's rosemary, that's for remembrance; (pray you love,
                        There's rosemary, that's for remembrance, (pray you love,
#16-181        remember;) and there is pansies, that's for thoughts.
                        remember,) and there is pansies, that's for thoughts.
#16-182  Laertes:  A document in madness, thoughts and remembrance fitted.
                        A lesson in madness, thoughts and remembrance tangled in a fit.
#16-183  Ophelia:  There's fennel for you, and columbines; there's rue for
                        There's fennel for you, and columbines.  There's rue for
#16-184        you, & here's some for me; we may call it herb o' grace on Sundays;
                        you, and here's some for me.  We may call it "herb of grace" on Sundays.
#16-185        you may wear your rue with a difference; there's a daisy;  I would
                        You may wear your rue with a difference.  There's a daisy.  I would
#16-186        give you some violets, but they withered all when my father died;
                        give you some violets but they all died when my father did.
#16-187        they say he made a good end.
                        They say he did well at the end.
#16-188  (sings):  For bonny sweet Robin is all my joy!
                        For bonny sweet Robin is all my joy!
#16-189  Laertes:  Thought and affliction!  Passion!  Hell itself
                        Grief and torment!  Agony!  She makes Hell itself
#16-190        She turns to favor and to prettiness.
                        Look like a favor, and something pretty.
#16-191  Ophelia (sings):  And will he not come again?
                        And will he not come again?
#16-192        And will he not come again?
                        And will he not come again?
#16-193        No, no, he is dead; go to thy death bed!
                        No, no, he is dead.  Go to thy death bed!
#16-194        He never will come again.
                        He never will come again.
#16-195        His beard was as white as snow,
                        His beard was as white as snow,
#16-196        Flaxen was his poll,
                        The skin of his head was yellowish,
#16-197        He is gone, he is gone, and we cast away moan.
                        He is gone, he is gone, and we cast away moan.
#16-198  (speaks):  God 'a mercy on his soul, and of all Christians' souls,
                        God have mercy on his soul, and on all Christians' souls.
#16-199        God buy you.
                        Goodbye to you.

#16-199-SD  (Ophelia exits;
                       Gertrude exits to follow her)

#16-200  Laertes:  Do you this, O God?
                        Have you done this, oh God?
#16-201  Claudius:  Laertes, I must commune with your grief,
                        Laertes, I must share your grief,
#16-202        Or you deny me right; go but apart,
                        Or you deny me my right.  But go your own way,
#16-203        Make choice of whom your wisest friends you will,
                        Choose from among your wisest friends whomever you wish,
#16-204        And they shall hear and judge 'twixt you and me;
                        And they shall hear and judge, between you and me.
#16-205        If by direct, or by collateral hand
                        If in any direct or indirect way
#16-206        They find us touched, we will our kingdom give,
                        They find me touched by guilt, I'll give up my kingdom,
#16-207        Our crown, our life, and all that we call ours
                        My crown, my life, and all that I call mine,
#16-208        To you in satisfaction; but if not,
                        To you in satisfaction, of your revenge. But if not,
#16-209        Be you content to lend your patience to us,
                        Be content to give me time,
#16-210        And we shall jointly labor with your soul
                        And I will work together with you
#16-211        To give it due content.
                        To make you content in your soul.
#16-212  Laertes:  Let this be so.
                        Let it be so.
#16-213        His means of death, his obscure burial,
                        The way he was killed . . . his hidden burial,
#16-214        No trophy sword, nor hatchment o'er his bones,
                        No trophy sword . . . nor coat of arms over his body,
#16-215        No noble rite, nor formal ostentation,
                        No noble privilege . . . nor formal exhibition -
#16-216        Cry to be heard as 'twere, from Heaven to earth,
                        All of that cries out so much to be understood, as it were, from Heaven to earth,
#16-217        That I must call it in question.
                        That I must call it all into question.
#16-218  Claudius:  So you shall,
                        So you may,
#16-219        And where the offense is, let the great axe fall.
                        And where the guilt lies, let the executioner's axe fall on him.
#16-220        I pray you go with me.
                        Please go with me.

#16-220-SD    (Claudius and Laertes exit)

End of Scene 16

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.

16-Setting
  • Place - The Throne Room.
  • Time of Day -
  • Calendar Time -

Return: #Setting

16-000-SD

(Gertrude enters; Horatio enters, accompanied by the Gentleman)

Gertrude's ladies-in-waiting are present with the Queen in the Throne Room. Claudius is absent, for whatever reason.

Return: #000-SD

16-001

Gertrude: I will not speak with her.

Gertrude supposes that Ophelia wants to complain to her about the death of Polonius, and to demand justice, but there is nothing Gertrude can do about the death of Polonius, or about Claudius sending Hamlet to England. This is not to imply Gertrude would condemn her son, even if she could. We see elsewhere in the play that Gertrude likes Ophelia, so one can understand that Gertrude does not wish to face Ophelia's reproaches.

Gertrude has no inkling of what Ophelia's speech and behavior will turn out to be, as the Scene continues.

Return: #001

16-002

Gentleman: She is importunate,

importunate - assertive. Resolute. Forward.

For the second, "resolute," recall Horatio's mention in Scene 1 of "landless resolutes," (Scene 1#108,) as Horatio spoke of determined men.

For the third, "forward," see Shakespeare Sonnet 99, which is partly about Shakespeare's choice of flowers for Ophelia's "crownet weeds" which Gertrude tells us of in Scene 18.

The forward violet thus did I chide:
Sweet thief, whence didst thou steal thy sweet that smells,
If not from my love's breath?  The purple pride
Which on thy soft cheek for complexion dwells
In my love's veins thou hast too grossly dyed.
The lily I condemned for thy hand, ...

Return: #002

16-003

Indeed distract; her mood will needs be pitied.

Indeed - primarily takes the literal meaning "in deed," referring to what she does, how she acts. Second, can be read as "very," or "truly."

distract - distracted - emotionally disturbed. The way she acts reveals emotional disturbance.

mood - state of mind.

needs - of necessity; necessarily.

pitied - viewed with sympathy.

Return: #003

16-004

Gertrude: What would she have?

Gertrude wonders if there's anything in particular Ophelia wants her to do. If so, perhaps it might be possible.

Return: #004

16-005

Gentleman: She speaks much of her father, says she hears

Return: #005

16-006

There's tricks in the world, and hems, and beats her heart,

hems - equivocates. The meaning of what she says is not clear. Can also be interpreted as in "hem and haw."

Return: #006

16-007

Spurns enviously at straws, speaks things in doubt

Return: #007

16-008

That carry but half sense; her speech is nothing,

nothing - naughty. Nothing is "naught," so nothing speech is naughty speech, which we shall hear from Ophelia as the Scene continues.

Return: #008

16-009

Yet the unshaped use of it doth move

Return: #009

16-010

The hearers to collection; they yawn at it,

collection - gathering. The figure of speech is as in the use of "gather." An example modern sentence would be, "As I gather from what he said, he meant..."

yawn - gape. Stare open-mouthed, as if yawning.

Return: #010

16-011

And botch the words up fit to their own thoughts,

Return: #011

16-012

Which as her winks, and nods, and gestures yield them,

Return: #012

16-013

Indeed would make one think there would be thought,

thought - grief (a definition now obsolete.) For example, see Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde:

But if thou wene I be thus sik for drede,  575
It is not so, and ther-for scorne nought;
Ther is a-nother thing I take of hede
Wel more than ought the Grekes han y-wrought,
Which cause is of my deeth, for sorwe and thought.
...

It is supposed that Ophelia would be suffering from grief, over her father's death, but what she's saying and doing is not a display of the classic symptoms of grief.

Return: #013 - or - Folio Difference

16-014

Though nothing sure, yet much unhappily.

Return: #014

16-015

Horatio: 'Twere good she were spoken with, for she may strew

Return: #015

16-016

Dangerous conjectures in ill-breeding minds.

Return: #016

16-016-SD

(Gertrude nods to Horatio)

Return: #016-SD

16-017

Let her come in.

Return: #017

16-017-SD1

(said as Horatio and the Gentleman walk to the door)

Return: #017-SD1

16-017-SD2

(Horatio and the Gentleman exit; Ophelia enters, dancing)

Return: #017-SD2

16-018

Gertrude (aside): To my sick soul, as sin's true nature is,

Return: #018

16-019

Each toy seems prologue to some great amiss,

toy - idea, something the mind plays with, turning it over, looking at it with the mind's eye. Can be understood as a puzzle Gertrude is trying to solve, to get a favorable outcome (but with no luck.)

prologue - lead-in; introduction. In this usage, prologue means "that which leads to some consequence."

amiss - failure, to achieve what she wants, like missing a target. So, great amiss - great failure; disaster.

Every idea Gertrude can come up with, when she examines it, and turns it over in her mind, it leads to disaster.

Return: #019

16-020

So full of artless jealousy is guilt,

artless - natural.

jealousy - anxiety; misery. Wretchedness. Intensely unpleasant emotion. Could be extended to "malice." The word jealousy here is a kind of figure of speech, the use of a more specific word to express a more general concept.

Return: #020

16-021

It spills itself, in fearing to be spilt.

Return: #021

16-022

Ophelia: Where is the beauteous Majesty of Denmark?

Said because after agreeing to grant Ophelia an audience, Gertrude is not on the throne. Gertrude stepped down and wandered away from the throne for her "guilt" speech, aside.

beauteous - Ophelia is returning the compliment Gertrude earlier bestowed on Ophelia, in Scene 8, "That your good beauties be the happy cause..." (Scene 8#043) Ophelia was gratified by Gertrude's compliment to her beauty, remembered it, and is returning it.

Return: #022

16-023

Gertrude: How now, Ophelia?

Gertrude has now returned to her throne, in response to Ophelia's question.

How now - greetings. Quite similar to the modern slang greeting, "what's up?"

Return: #023

16-024

Ophelia (sings): How should I your true love know

Return: #024

16-025

From another one?

Return: #025

16-026

By his cockle hat, and staff,

Return: #026

16-027

And his sendal shoon.

sendal - silk, that is, a silk fabric. Mentioned by Chaucer, among others.
The Middle English Dictionary lists it "cendā̆l" as their primary spelling, which is impossible to find with an ordinary lookup, but anyway, here it is.
http://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/m/mec/med-idx?type=id&id=MED7072
(checked 06/02/2015)

For where Shakespeare might have learned sendal, see for example The Canterbury Tales, General Prologue, The Physician, line 442:

But of greet norissyng, and digestible.
His studie was but litel on the Bible.
In sangwyn and in pers he clad was al,
Lyned with taffata and with sendal;

Further, according to some writers, sendal was the shrouding fabric used to wrap the body of Jesus Christ.

shoon - an archaic plural of "shoe." Shoes.

sendal shoon - silk shoes; silk slippers. Dancing shoes. As compared to all the ordinary pilgrims wearing sandals, Ophelia pictures Hamlet on his "pilgrimage" wearing silk slippers.

Also, with the death of her father Ophelia has put on her dancing shoes.

Return: #027 - or - Folio Difference

16-028

Gertrude: Alas, sweet Lady, what imports this song?

imports - to import is to bring, in some way: bring out, bring up, bring forth. The question is, "what brings forth this song?"

There is simultaneously the question of what import the song has, what its significance is. Shakespeare implied both of the relevant definitions of imports.

Return: #028

16-029

Ophelia: Say you? Nay, pray you mark:

Return: #029

16-030

(sings): He is dead & gone, Lady,

Return: #030

16-031

He is dead and gone;

Return: #031

16-032

At his head a grass green turf,

Return: #032

16-033

At his heels a stone.

Return: #033

16-034

(exclaims): Oh ho!

An exclamation of delight.

Recall what we have seen of Polonius and Ophelia.

First, in Scene 3, Polonius forbade Ophelia to have any further communication with her fiance, Prince Hamlet. She obeyed, but she did not like that.

When Hamlet rushed to Ophelia's room, before Scene 6, Ophelia then went to Polonius to try to get him to change his mind, and allow her to talk to Hamlet, to find out why he did that. She never even got the chance to ask Polonius, who decided immediately to take Ophelia and Hamlet's private relationship public. She did not like that.

Polonius then confiscated (or just read "stole") Ophelia's love letters from Hamlet, since Polonius wanted tangible evidence to show the King, that Hamlet had expressed love for Ophelia. When Ophelia tried to fight back, to keep her love letters, and threatened to tell Hamlet, Polonius locked Ophelia in her room, to prevent her resort to Hamlet. She hated that.

Polonius then persuaded Ophelia to participate in the Nunnery Scene eavesdropping scheme, on the ground that it would get her married to Hamlet, when the King heard Hamlet express love for her. The scheme turned into a disaster, that left her abandoned and heartbroken. It was her father's scheme, and she blamed her father for the result.

At that point, Ophelia, being a young lady of normal psychology, was wishing her father would get out of her life, and just drop dead. In this Scene, she is not grieving over his death. She is hysterically happy.

The other characters have not seen everything we in the audience have seen, and they do not understand this. They think Ophelia is displaying some weird, mad symptom of grief.

Return: #034

16-035

Gertrude: Nay, but Ophelia . . .

Return: #035

16-036

Ophelia: Pray you, mark!

Return: #036

16-037

(sings): White his shroud as the mountain snow.

Return: #037

16-037-SD

(Claudius enters)

Claudius enters because he heard a woman singing in the Throne Room. His first thought is that it's Gertrude, since Gertrude is the woman anyone would associate with the Throne Room. Claudius is curious why Gertrude would be singing.

Return: #037-SD

16-038

Gertrude: Alas, look here, my Lord.

From the way Claudius looks at her, Gertrude realizes Claudius thought she was the one singing. So she points at Ophelia, and tells Claudius, look here.

here - not here. "There," that is. When Gertrude says look here she means "look there," at Ophelia. Claudius is looking here, at Gertrude, and she says here to tell him to look "not here."

The language is perfectly understandable to anybody familiar with English, while the explanation sounds like madness. It is a peculiarity of English that the word here can mean "there," (and the word "there" can mean here,) depending on what is indicated. Shakespeare had some fun in the play with "here" v "there," (and also "this" v "that.")

When Gertrude says look here, and points at Ophelia, we all understand she means "look there." Claudius does so.

Return: #038

16-038-SD

(Gertrude points Claudius to Ophelia)

Claudius, curious, approaches Ophelia as she sings.

Return: #038-SD

16-039

Ophelia (sings): Larded all with sweet flowers,

Return: #039

16-040

Which bewept to the grave did not go

Return: #040

16-040-SD

(the word "not" is spoken aside)

The other characters don't hear Ophelia sing not, only the audience hears it.

Return: #040-SD

16-041

With true love showers.

Return: #041

16-042

Claudius: How do you, pretty Lady?

Return: #042

16-043

Ophelia: Well good 'dild' you;

dild' - dildo. It is an obsolete music term. Also appears in The Winter's Tale.

Winter's Tale Act 4 scene 4,

Servant:  He hath songs for man or woman, of all sizes; ...
... with such delicate 
burthens of dildos and fadings, ...

A dildo is a nonsense phrase within the burden of a ditty, such as the "hey nonny nonny" mentioned in Much Ado about Nothing, Act 2 scene 3:

Balthasar. Sigh no more, ladies, ...
...
And be you blithe and bonny, 
Converting all your sounds of woe 
Into Hey nonny, nonny.
...

The term comes from the fact of the word dildo itself being used, as in Thomas Morley's Will You Buy a Fine Dog?:

Will you buy a fine dog, with a hole in his head?
With a dildo, dildo, dildo; ...

The entire song can be found here:
http://www3.cpdl.org/wiki/index.php/Will_you_buy_a_fine_dog%3F_(Thomas_Morley)

Dildo in this sense is the same sort of thing as "hey diddle diddle" in the Mother Goose nursery rhyme. It's some wording that is rhythmic, and rhymes, but has no meaning apart from its use in the verse.

However, having said that, it is not possible to exclude the better-known, vulgar meaning, since that meaning did also exist in Shakespeare's time. For example, see the lewd verse "Choise of Valentines or the Merie Ballad of Nash his Dildo," T. Nashe, c.1593, which can be found at the Project Gutenberg website:
http://www.gutenberg.org/files/17779/17779-h/17779-h.htm

It is safe to say that Ophelia's remark to Claudius is not entirely polite. An interpretation is available for Ophelia to be saying that, in her opinion, Claudius would benefit from the insertion into him of a dildo. That is not, however, her primary meaning. We once again have multiple meanings from the Bard.

Primarily, she is saying she would like to sing a dildo about Claudius being dead, to go with her song about her father being dead.

Ophelia says she wants Claudius to die, so she can sing about it.

Claudius does not understand her.

Return: #043

16-044

They say the owl was a baker's daughter;

Return: #044

16-045

Lord, we know what we are, but know not what we may be.

Return: #045

16-046

God be at your table.

Return: #046

16-047

Claudius: Conceit upon her father.

Return: #047

16-048

Ophelia: Pray, let's have no words of this - but when they ask you

Return: #048

16-049

what it means, say you this:

Return: #049

16-050

(sings): Tomorrow is Saint Valentine's day,

Return: #050

16-051

All in the morning, betime,

Return: #051

16-052

And I, a maid at your window,

Return: #052

16-053

To be your Valentine.

Return: #053

16-054

Then up he rose, and donned his clothes, and dupt the chamber door;

clothes - a dressing gown, probably. A robe, as Americans now call it. We are not talking about the gentleman taking time to dress himself up in black tie and tails. He just grabs his robe, to go to the door. Well, more particularly, in the case of Hamlet, he'll grab his cloak, at least to wrap around himself.

dupt - dupped, in current standard spelling, a spelling which matters not at all since nobody says this any more. The word "dup" is formed merely from "do" + "up" and goes back to Middle English 'don up' which meant "to open," and probably referred to lifting up the simple kind of door latch used in those days. To open a door, one "did up" the latch.

Return: #054

16-055

Let in the maid, that out a maid, never departed more.

Return: #055

16-056

Claudius: Pretty, Ophelia.

Return: #056

16-057

Ophelia: Indeed! La! Without an oath, I'll make an end on it;

Return: #057

16-058

(sings): By Gis and by Saint Charity,

Return: #058

16-059

alack, and fie, for shame,

Return: #059

16-060

Young men will do't if they come to't,

Return: #060

16-061

by Cock, they are to blame.

Return: #061

16-062

Quoth she: Before you tumbled me, you promised me to wed,

Return: #062

16-063

(He answers): So would I 'a done by yonder sun

Return: #063

16-064

And thou hadst not come to my bed.

Return: #064

16-065

Claudius: How long hath she been thus?

Return: #065

16-066

Ophelia: I hope all will be well; we must be patient, but I cannot choose

Return: #066

16-067

but weep to think they should lay him in the cold ground; my brother

Return: #067

16-068

shall know of it; and so, I thank you for your good counsel. Come

(my brother) shall know of it - and won't he have a fit!

Return: #068

16-069

my coach; goodnight, Ladies, goodnight.

Ladies - spoken to Queen Gertrude's ladies-in-waiting.

Return: #069 - or - Folio Difference

16-070

Sweet Lady, goodnight, goodnight.

Sweet Lady - spoken to Queen Gertrude.

BOOKMARK for me, address Q2 "Ladyes"

Return: #070 - or - Folio Difference

16-070-SD

(Ophelia exits)

Running like Cinderella running to her coach at midnight, before it turns into a pumpkin.

Return: #070-SD

16-071

Claudius: Follow her close; give her good watch, I pray you.

Spoken to the Queen's ladies-in-waiting.

Return: #071

16-071-SD

(the ladies-in-waiting curtsy, and exit to follow Ophelia)

Return: #071-SD

16-072

Oh this is the poison of deep grief; it springs all from her father's

Return: #072

16-073

death, and now behold; Oh Gertrude, Gertrude,

Return: #073

16-074

When sorrows come, they come not single spies,

Return: #074

16-075

But in battalions. First her father slain,

Return: #075

16-076

Next, your son gone, and he most violent author

Return: #076

16-077

Of his own just remove, the people muddied,

just remove - justified removal; justified departure.

muddied - astir; stirred up. The way clear water in a brook becomes muddy when it's stirred up.

Return: #077

16-078

Thick and unwholesome in thoughts, and whispers

Return: #078

16-079

For good Polonius' death - and we have done but greenly

greenly - freshly; recently. Claudius is using the same figure of speech he used in speaking of his brother in Scene 2, in Claudius's first two lines in the play. (Scene 2 #001 "Though yet of Hamlet, our dear brother's, death, The memory be green..."

Fresh plantings are green. Claudius again speaks of a recent funeral as a "recent plant." This goes along with the analogy of Claudius with Cain, who was a tiller of the ground.

Return: #079

16-080

In hugger mugger to inter him - poor Ophelia

In hugger mugger - surreptitiously. Without public ceremony. Claudius wanted to draw as little attention to Polonius's death as possible, since Claudius did not take the usual legal action against Hamlet, and Claudius knows the public will wonder why not.

Return: #080

16-081

Divided from herself, and her fair judgment -

Return: #081

16-082

Without the which we are pictures, or mere beasts -

Return: #082

16-083

Last, and as much containing as all these:

Return: #083

16-084

Her brother is in secret come from France,

Return: #084

16-085

Feeds on this wonder, keeps himself in clouds,

in clouds - hidden from Claudius's sight. The figure of speech is that of a "sun (son) hidden in clouds," so that one cannot see it. There is an implicit son/sun pun.

Properly, Laertes would have presented himself to the King upon his return, but Laertes has not done so. (We know Laertes ought to have presented himself to Claudius upon his return, because he needed Claudius's permission to leave, as we saw in Scene 2. Laertes is a Danish courtier, or is otherwise under some obligation to the Throne, probably because Polonius arranged a government position for Laertes.)

Return: #085

16-086

And wants not buzzers to infect his ear

buzzers - gossips; rumor mongers. Recall Hamlet facetiously saying "buzz buzz" to Polonius in Scene 7.

Return: #086

16-087

With pestilent speeches of his father's death,

Return: #087

16-088

Wherein necessity, of matter beggared,

Return: #088

16-089

Will nothing stick our person to arraign

How could Claudius be blamed? Look at the most basic facts. 1) Hamlet killed Polonius. 2) Claudius sent Hamlet on a trip out of the country, beyond the reach of Danish law, to get a lot of money.

By appearance, it looks like "hire and salary." A person could argue, just from that, that Claudius hired Hamlet to kill Polonius. We know better, but the average person in the local town has not seen what we have seen.

Return: #089

16-090

In ear and ear. Oh my dear Gertrude, this

Return: #090

16-091

Like to a murdering piece, in many places

murdering piece - a cannon loaded with small projectiles, to produce a spray of shot, analogous to a shotgun blast. A murdering piece was so called because it was especially designed to kill enemy personnel, as opposed to knocking down walls.

Return: #091

16-092

Gives me superfluous death.

Return: #092

16-092-SD1

(an uproar is heard outside the Throne Room)

Men shouting. Scuffling sounds, loud thuds. Some noise of steel hitting steel.

Return: #092-SD1

16-092-SD2

(a messenger enters)

Running, excited.

Return: #092-SD2

16-093

Gertrude: Alack, what noise is this?

Addressed to the Messenger.

Return: #093

16-094
Second quarto swissers.jpg

Attend! Where is my Swissers? Let them guard the door!

Attend - take heed. From Latin 'attendere' ("give heed to.")

Swissers - Swiss guards. The modern standard spelling is "Switzer," but I see no overwhelming need to change the original Second Quarto spelling. Claudius is calling for his royal guards, his bodyguards.

Where are they? Well since Claudius entered the way he did, just coming in out of curiosity to see what the singing was about, and did not enter the Throne Room in his usual kingly style, the Swissers probably don't even know he's in the Throne Room. They were not mustered for the royal entourage, to accompany Claudius.

Return: #094 - or - Folio Difference

16-095

What is the matter?

Also addressed to the Messenger.

Return: #095

16-096

Messenger: Save yourself, my Lord!

Return: #096

16-097

The ocean, over-peering of his list

over-peering - a peer is at the same level. Therefore, to over-peer is to rise higher, to rise above, to achieve a higher elevation than that which was formerly at the same level.

list - boundary; bounds. In this case, the former bounds.

Return: #097

16-098

Eats not the flats with more impiteous haste

Eats - engulfs.

flats - same as it means today: "flat land at the edge of the sea." See the current term "mud flat," or "mud flats."

impiteous - unconscionable; undutiful. BOOKMARK for me Originates in Latin 'pietas' ("dutiful conduct.") Duty Theme instance.

Return: #098

16-099

Than young Laertes, in a riotous head

in a riotous head - has the double meaning, "at the head of the riot," and "riotous in his thoughts."

Return: #099

16-100

O'er-bears your officers. The rabble call him "Lord,"

Lord - may be Laertes's technically-correct title. Polonius was a lord, and one would suppose Laertes has inherited the title. However, the title might depend upon royal ratification. The title inheritance is not clear in the play. Laertes continues to be called "sir" (except by the rabble, apparently.)

Return: #100

16-101

And, as the world were now but to begin,

Return: #101

16-102

Antiquity forgot, custom not known,

Return: #102

16-103

The ratifiers and props of every word,

Return: #103

16-104

The cry "choose we!" Laertes shall be King!

Return: #104

16-105

Caps, hands, and tongues applaud it to the clouds.

Return: #105

16-106

Laertes shall be King, Laertes, King!

Return: #106

16-107

Gertrude: How cheerfully on the false trail they cry!

Return: #107

16-107-SD

(loud noise just outside the closed door to the Lobby)

Return: #107-SD

16-108

Oh, this is counter, you false Danish dogs!

counter - the wrong way. Strictly, counter is when a dog goes the wrong way on a scent trail, getting farther from the game rather than closer.

Return: #108

16-108-SD

(Laertes enters, sword drawn, escorted by town ruffians)

Return: #108-SD

16-109

Claudius: The doors are broke.

Important to note, for some actions that happen later. The rabble are breaking down doors throughout the Castle.

Return: #109

16-110

Laertes: Where is this King? Sirs, stand you all, without.

Return: #110

16-111

Ruffians: No, lets come in!

Return: #111

16-112

Laertes: I pray you, give me leave.

Return: #112

16-113

Ruffians: We will, we will.

Return: #113

16-114

Laertes: I thank you; keep the door; oh thou vile King,

Return: #114

16-115

Give me my father.

Return: #115

16-115-SD

(Gertrude steps between Laertes and Claudius)

Contrary to appearances, she is not primarily protecting Claudius, she is primarily protecting Hamlet's succession.

Return: #115-SD

16-116

Gertrude: Calmly, good Laertes.

Return: #116

16-117

Laertes: That drop of blood that's calm proclaims me bastard,

Return: #117 - or - Folio Difference

16-118

Cries cuckold to my father, brands the harlot

Return: #118

16-119

Even here between the chaste, unsmirched brow

Return: #119

16-120

Of my true mother.

Return: #120

16-121

Claudius: What is the cause, Laertes,

cause - reason. One might compare this to Claudius's use of "reason" in Scene 2 (Scene 2 #044 "You cannot speak of reason to the Dane...")

Return: #121

16-122

That thy rebellion looks so giant-like?

Return: #122

16-123

Let him go, Gertrude, do not fear our person;

Return: #123

16-124

There's such divinity doth hedge a King,

Has reference to the "divine right of kings."

Return: #124

16-125

That treason can but peep to what it would,

Return: #125

16-126

Acts little of his will; tell me, Laertes,

Return: #126

16-127

Why thou art thus incensed; let him go Gertrude.

Return: #127

16-128

Speak, man.

Return: #128

16-129

Laertes: Where is my father?

Return: #129

16-130

Claudius: Dead.

Return: #130

16-131

Gertrude: But not by him.

Return: #131

16-132

Claudius: Let him demand his fill.

Return: #132

16-133

Laertes: How came he dead? I'll not be juggled with,

Return: #133

16-134

To hell allegiance, vows to the blackest devil,

Return: #134

16-135

Conscience and grace, to the profoundest pit;

Return: #135

16-136

I dare damnation. To this point I stand,

Return: #136

16-137

That both the worlds I give to negligence,

both the worlds - the world of the living, and the afterlife.

Return: #137

16-138

Let come what comes, only I'll be revenged

Return: #138

16-139

Most throughly for my father.

throughly - is the exact word printed in the Second Quarto. The words "through" and "thorough" were not clearly distinguished until Early Modern English. Throughly is probably the intended word, with no printing error. It can be understood as "completely," or as "through and through," that is, "in every way." A substitution of modern "thoroughly" would probably be acceptable, if one were neurotic about modernizing the text to the greatest degree possible.

Return: #139

16-140

Claudius: Who shall stay you?

Return: #140

16-141

Laertes: My will, not all the world's.

Return: #141

16-142

And for my means, I'll husband them so well,

means - resources, especially financial resources. It does not seem to have occurred yet to Laertes that he must have a valuable inheritance, since Polonius was a rich man. There's no hint in the play of any other heir Polonius might have.

husband - manage, simply put. Further, husband can mean "conserve" or "manage thriftily," which is probably the intended full meaning, based on the idea of "thrift" already expressed in the play (Scene 2 #182 "Hamlet: Thrift, thrift, Horatio...")

Return: #142

16-143

They shall go far with little.

Return: #143

16-144

Claudius: Good Laertes, if you desire to know the certainty

Return: #144

16-145

Of your dear father, is it writ in your revenge,

writ - used figuratively to mean "officially written" (like a law, or a king's order.) Claudius knows that Laertes's desire for revenge has no written conditions.

Return: #145

16-146

That swoopstake, you will draw both friend and foe

swoopstake - the original word, which I retain because it doesn't necessarily mean exactly the same as modern "sweepstake." Clearly, the meaning is close to the modern term. BOOKMARK, for me.

draw -

Return: #146

16-147

Winner and loser?

Return: #147

16-148

Laertes: None but his enemies.

Return: #148

16-149

Claudius: Will you know them, then?

Return: #149

16-150

Laertes: To his good friends, thus wide I'll ope' my arms

Return: #150

16-150-SD

(Laertes sheaths his sword)

Return: #150-SD

16-151
image of a pelican

And like the kind, life-rendering pelican,

pelican -

Return: #151 - or - Folio Difference

16-152

Repast them with my blood.

Return: #152

16-153

Claudius: Why, now you speak

Return: #153

16-154

Like a good child, and a true gentleman.

Return: #154

16-155

That I am guiltless of your father's death,

Return: #155

16-156

And am most sensible in grief for it,

Return: #156

16-157

It shall as level to your judgment pierce

Return: #157

16-158

As day does to your eye.

Return: #158

16-158-SD

(noise is heard at the doorway; Ophelia enters)

Return: #158-SD

16-159

Laertes: How now, what noise is that? Let her come in.

Return: #159

16-160

O heat, dry up my brains, tears seven times salt

Return: #160

16-161

Burn out the sense and virtue of mine eye,

Return: #161

16-162

By Heaven, thy madness shall be paid with weight

Return: #162

16-163

Till our scale turn the beam. O Rose of May!

Return: #163

16-164

Dear maid, kind sister, sweet Ophelia!

Return: #164

16-165

O heavens, is it possible a young maid's wits

Return: #165

16-166

Should be as mortal as an old man's life?

Return: #166

16-167

Nature is fine in love, and where 'tis fine,

Return: #167

16-168

It sends some precious instance of itself

Return: #168

16-169

After the thing it loves.

Return: #169

16-170

Ophelia (sings): They bore him bare-faced on the bier,

Informs us of Danish funeral practices. Polonius was borne to his grave like that, and Ophelia will be, shrouded but with the face visible.

Return: #170

16-171

And in his grave rained many a tear;

Return: #171

16-172

Hey non nony, nony, hey nony;

Return: #172

16-173

(speaks): Fare you well, my dove!

Ophelia acts releasing a dove in the direction of Hamlet. The sight of a dove in flight is a good omen. Ophelia is intending to show Hamlet that the death of Polonius is a good omen for them, she believes.

By the way, the use of an actual dove in stage performance would be authentic, where that is possible. The Globe was an outdoor theater.

Return: #173

16-174

Laertes: Hadst thou thy wits, and did'st persuade revenge

Return: #174

16-175

It could not move thus.

Return: #175

16-176

Ophelia: You must sing a down, a down,

Return: #176

16-177

And you call him a down a. Oh, how the wheel becomes it,

Return: #177

16-178

It is the false Steward that stole his Master's daughter.

Return: #178

16-179

Laertes: This nothing's more than matter.

Return: #179

16-180

Ophelia: There's rosemary, that's for remembrance; (pray you love,

rosemary blooms

rosemary - Rosmarinus officinalis is a traditional funeral flower. We know of a recent funeral, that of Polonius.

The available colors of rosemary include purple and white. Ophelia's "crownet weeds" that will be mentioned in Scene 18 have the colors of purple, and white.

Ophelia gives the rosemary to Laertes, who was not present for his father's funeral. Correctly performed, Ophelia gives all the flowers to Laertes.

The word rosemary is from Latin 'rosmarinus' ("dew of the sea.") So, rosemary implicitly presents the "dew" idea again, that Hamlet brought to some prominence in Scene 2. (Scene 2#132) The English spelling of rosemary was influenced by "rose" and the name "Mary."

In the "language of flowers" rosemary says "remembrance. So, rosemary is indeed the traditional flower of remembrance, as Ophelia says.

This line is partly to Laertes, and partly aside, aside in the ordinary sense, that is; it is not an "aside" in theatrical jargon. The others hear it. Ophelia turns away from Laertes when she says, "(pray you love, remember.)" She is addressing that to Hamlet. Traditionally, rosemary is also associated with weddings. Ophelia is praying that Hamlet will remember he asked her to marry him. The word love is on the mark. From its use as a wedding flower, rosemary is considered a love charm.

Gerard's Herbal, page 1293, says that rosemary is good for "all infirmities of the head and brain" (at least where the infirmity is from a "cold and moist cause,") and that it "quickens the senses and memory." Also, rosemary will "strengthen the sinewy parts." The head and brain, the senses, and the memory are all significant, repeated elements in the play dialogue, and both Hamlet (Scene 5#098) and Claudius (Scene 10#074) speak of the sinews. It becomes easy to see why Shakespeare included rosemary as one of the flowers in Hamlet.

Return: #180

16-181

remember;) and there is pansies, that's for thoughts.

Viola tricolor, "pansy"

(pray you love, remember) - spoken in the direction where Ophelia supposes Hamlet to be. She turns aside from Laertes for this, but it is not an aside in the theatrical sense. The others hear it, although they do not know what to make of it.

pansies - like the rosemary, is also a traditional funeral flower. The name is from Old French 'pensée' ("thought.") This is not the modern cultivated pansy, it is the wild pansy, Viola tricolor. It is a flower in the violet family, Viola.

(The play dialogue associates the violet with Ophelia, in lines spoken by Laertes, and by Ophelia, herself. (Scene 3#008,) (line 186 below,) and (Scene 19#208.) Where Shakespeare wrote "violet" he probably meant the sweet violet, Viola odorata, with its heart-shaped leaves.)

As with the rosemary, the color is once again purple and white (or close enough to that.) The Viola tricolo may have yellow on the lower petal, but that would not be out of place, since the daisy, that Ophelia will soon mention, has a yellow center.

The rosemary and pansies are flowers from Polonius's funeral which Ophelia saved for Laertes since he wasn't there. It was kind and thoughtful of her to save them for him. However, Laertes has no idea where the flowers came from, or why she's giving them to him. Laertes doesn't know about flowers, and, well, he is not very smart. It doesn't occur to him where these flowers must have come from.

In a painfully tragic irony, by Ophelia giving Laertes these funeral flowers, she is providing him with flowers for her funeral. None of them knows that.

In the language of flowers, pansies do indeed express "thoughts," as Ophelia says. The meaning is sometimes expanded to "loving thoughts," but that is not possible here, since in Middle English, and on into Shakespeare's time, "thought" could mean "grief," as I note for line 013 above. Love and grief are both highly significant concepts in Hamlet, so neither kind of "thoughts" for the pansies should be ruled out.

The pansy is also called "love-in-idleness." Shakespeare used that name in Midsummer Night's Dream Act 2 scene 1, Oberon speaking:

...
Yet mark'd I where the bolt of Cupid fell:
It fell upon a little western flower,
Before milk-white, now purple with love's wound,
And maidens call it love-in-idleness.
...

Notice the mention of white and purple colors.

The word "idle" goes back to Old English 'idel' ("vain,") so the name love-in-idleness can be read as "love in vain." That can be seen, tragically, to apply to Ophelia.

In Gerard's Herbal the wild pansy is listed under the name "Hearts ease." Knowing that Ophelia will die after a fall, one may be intrigued to find Gerard recommends the pansy as a cure for "falling sickness." Gerard meant epilepsy, but still.

The name heartsease may come both from the pansy being used in love potions, and in its being used for heart ailments. THe "heart" concept is highly significant in Hamlet.

In action, Ophelia gives all of the rosemary and pansies to Laertes. She is giving him all the remembrance and thoughts of their father.

Return: #181

16-182

Laertes: A document in madness, thoughts and remembrance fitted.

document - lesson. Latin 'documentum' "lesson," from 'docere' "to teach." It's unclear what Laertes supposes he is learning from it, since he didn't even understand the funeral flowers.

fitted - in a fit, "fit" as in an attack or paroxysm. Joined in a fit, tangled in a fit, of madness.

Or, fitted to madness, that is, "thoughts and remembrance fitted to madness," or "adapted to fit madness." The multiplicity of meaning is intentional in the author's phrasing, we can be sure.

Return: #182

16-183

Ophelia: There's fennel for you, and columbines; there's rue for

fennel blooms

All of these flowers are also given to Laertes, when the play is correctly done. This is an encounter between Laertes and Ophelia following the death of their father. It's a family matter, even if Laertes can't grasp it. Gertrude and Claudius are "audience to this act," to quote from the last Scene. They are watching, and wondering what it all means.

fennel - Foeniculum vulgare. It has tiny yellow flowers. Hardly worth calling a flower at all, it is a culinary herb, and a medicinal herb.

Ophelia's meaning with the fennel is "open your eyes," "see clearly." Fennel is used in herbal medicine as an eye remedy, or to preserve eyesight. (Gerard, Herbal, page 1032.)

Ophelia is telling Laertes to open his eyes, and see that these flowers have meaning. It is reasonable to take it that she is also trying to tell him to open his eyes to things in general. The fennel provides an implicit instance of the Vision Motif in the play.

columbine flower
columbine blooms

columbines - from Latin 'columbīnus' ("dovelike.") As the image to the right shows, the flower can be likened to a group of five doves facing each other.

The scientific classification is Aquilegia vulgaris. The genus name, Aquilegia, comes from 'aquila', the Latin word for eagle, perhaps because the flower petals of some varieties can be seen to resemble an eagle's claw, or perhaps because some may take the "doves" of the flower for eagles, instead.

The color is purple and white.

In the language of flowers, the columbine expresses "folly," or, "you're a fool." Ophelia is calling Laertes a fool, who is engaged in folly. After Laertes said, above, that he would "dare damnation" to get revenge, in other words, throw away his soul, one cannot help but think Ophelia is right. Ophelia was not present to hear Laertes say that, but she knows her brother.

We recall the Player, in Scene 7, speaking of breaking all the follies from the Wheel of Fortune. (Scene 7#474) A tragic, unfortunate death would be such a folly. In Scene 18, we will hear Laertes call Ophelia's death "this folly." None of them knows it, but the "folly" that the columbine expresses is ominous for Ophelia, herself, when the Wheel of Fortune will take a bad turn for her.

common rue

rue - Ruta graveolens, known as common rue, or herb-of-grace. The blooms are yellow. Like fennel, it is not much for being a flower, but it is a traditional medicinal herb, and has found sparing use as a culinary herb. It has a strong smell. Gerard's chapter on rue, "Of Rue, or herbe Grace. Chap. 511" begins on Herball page 1070.

In the language of flowers, rue expresses "regret," however, Ophelia will go on to speak of a "difference."

Gerard's Herbal credits it with many virtues, including its use in tonics for making vision sharp and clear, for remedying "dim eyes," to cure earache, to cure headache, as an antidote to poison, and as a "counterpoison" against scorpion and insect stings, and serpent bites. The eyes, the ears, the head, and poison are all significant concepts in the play.

As already mentioned, all of the flowers are given to Laertes, when the play is correctly performed.

Return: #183

16-184

you, & here's some for me; we may call it herb o' grace on Sundays;

Return: #184

16-185

you may wear your rue with a difference; there's a daisy; I would

rue with a difference - no regret. The difference Ophelia means is the negative. Ophelia is symbolically telling Laertes to feel no regret over the death of Polonius, since she does not.

In older Hamlet commentary you may see difference interpreted according to heraldic definition, but that does not work. Laertes is now the senior male of the family, so he does not use a heraldic difference, and Ophelia knows Laertes's status after their father's death (as did Shakespeare, of course.)

there's a daisy

daisy - Ophelia shows the daisy to everyone, but keeps it. By the way, it isn't hard to guess where it came from, what it signifies, and why she keeps it.

Return: #185

16-186

give you some violets, but they withered all when my father died;

violets -

BOOKMARK knowing enough of the play, once can appreciate that the violet can deaden the sense of smell

Return: #186

16-187

they say he made a good end.

Ophelia approves that people should say the end of her father was good. She makes it sound like a more socially acceptable sentiment.

Return: #187

16-188

(sings): For bonny sweet Robin is all my joy!

Adapted by Shakespeare from Greensleeves. Observe the last line below.

Alas, my love, you do me wrong,
To cast me off discourteously.
For I have loved you well and long,
Delighting in your company.

Greensleeves was all my joy
...

There was apparently also in Shakespeare's time a song called "Bonny Robin," or perhaps "Bonny Sweet Robin," of which the lyrics have not survived. Greensleeves is written to a woman. Ophelia "masculinizes" the lyric by substituting "bonny sweet Robin" for "Greensleeves," and Ophelia also makes it present tense.

Sendal is mentioned in the old lyrics of Greensleeves, from the Tudor era, by the way.

With this line, we are privileged to learn that "Robin" is Ophelia's pet nickname for Hamlet. Among the characters, only she and Hamlet know that.

(The question might arise, what is Hamlet's pet name for Ophelia? Has Shakespeare given us the privilege of knowing that? Well... there's a daisy.)

Return: #188

16-189

Laertes: Thought and affliction! Passion! Hell itself

Thought - Grief.

affliction - torment.

Passion - Agony.

Return: #189

16-190

She turns to favor and to prettiness.

favor - Laertes means Ophelia acts as if the hell of madness were a favor.

BOOKMARK more here

Return: #190

16-191

Ophelia (sings): And will he not come again?

Return: #191

16-192

And will he not come again?

Return: #192

16-193

No, no, he is dead; go to thy death bed!

Return: #193

16-194

He never will come again.

Return: #194

16-195

His beard was as white as snow,

But Polonius's beard was neatly trimmed, we suppose, after what Hamlet said to Polonius (that Polonius misunderstood) in Scene 7. (Scene 7#478)

This is, of course, a costuming note for the Polonius character. It is mandatory that his beard be white. Nothing else will do.

Return: #195

16-196

Flaxen was his poll,

Flaxen - pale yellow.

poll - head, that is, the skin of his head. Polonius was borne bare-faced on the bier, as Ophelia just told us, which means that Ophelia could see the skin of his face. The yellowing of his skin was part of what finally convinced her that Polonius was really dead, and it wasn't only a mean trick, to fool her.

Return: #196

16-197

He is gone, he is gone, and we cast away moan.

Return: #197

16-198

(speaks): God 'a mercy on his soul, and of all Christians' souls,

Return: #198

16-199

God buy you.

Return: #199

16-199-SD

(Ophelia exits; Gertrude exits to follow her)

Gertrude will reclaim her clothing and jewelry.

Return: #199-SD

16-200

Laertes: Do you this, O God?

Return: #200

16-201

Claudius: Laertes, I must commune with your grief,

Return: #201

16-202

Or you deny me right; go but apart,

Return: #202

16-203

Make choice of whom your wisest friends you will,

Return: #203

16-204

And they shall hear and judge 'twixt you and me;

Return: #204

16-205

If by direct, or by collateral hand

Return: #205

16-206

They find us touched, we will our kingdom give,

Return: #206

16-207

Our crown, our life, and all that we call ours

Return: #207

16-208

To you in satisfaction; but if not,

Return: #208

16-209

Be you content to lend your patience to us,

Return: #209

16-210

And we shall jointly labor with your soul

Return: #210

16-211

To give it due content.

Return: #211

16-212

Laertes: Let this be so.

Return: #212

16-213

His means of death, his obscure burial,

obscure burial - which Claudius ordered in hopes the death of Polonius would attract little attention, and not cause him trouble.

Return: #213 - or - Folio Difference

16-214

No trophy sword, nor hatchment o'er his bones,

Return: #214

16-215

No noble rite, nor formal ostentation,

Return: #215

16-216

Cry to be heard as 'twere, from Heaven to earth,

Return: #216

16-217

That I must call it in question.

Return: #217

16-218

Claudius: So you shall,

Return: #218

16-219

And where the offense is, let the great axe fall.

great axe - executioner's axe.

Claudius believes he has already arranged that, for Hamlet in England.

Return: #219

16-220

I pray you go with me.

Return: #220

16-220-SD

(Claudius and Laertes exit)

Return: #222-SD


Scene Links

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Scene 11 - Scene 12 - Scene 13 - Scene 14 - Scene 15 - Scene 16 - Scene 17 - Scene 18 - Scene 19 - Scene 20


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