Act 3 Scene 4

Act III, Scene 4

The Queen’s closet.


Enter Queen and Polonius.

[Polonius hides behind the arras.] Enter Hamlet.

  • Hamlet. What’s the matter now?

[Makes a pass through the arras and] kills Polonius.

  • Hamlet. Nay, but to live
    In the rank sweat of an enseamed bed,
    Stew’d in corruption, honeying and making love
    Over the nasty sty!
  • Hamlet. A murderer and a villain
    A slave that is not twentieth part the tithe
    Of your precedent lord; a vice of kings;
    A cutpurse of the empire and the rule,
    That from a shelf the precious diadem stole
    And put it in his pocket!

Enter the Ghost

  • Hamlet. On him, on him! Look you how pale he glares!
    His form and cause conjoin’d, preaching to stones,
    Would make them capable.- Do not look upon me,
    Lest with this piteous action you convert
    My stern effects. Then what I have to do
    Will want true colour- tears perchance for blood.
  • Gertrude. To whom do you speak this?
  • Hamlet. Do you see nothing there?
  • Gertrude. Nothing at all; yet all that is I see.
  • Hamlet. Nor did you nothing hear?
  • Gertrude. No, nothing but ourselves.
  • Hamlet. Why, look you there! Look how it steals away!
    My father, in his habit as he liv’d!
    Look where he goes even now out at the portal!

Exit Ghost.

  • Gertrude. This is the very coinage of your brain.
    This bodiless creation ecstasy
    Is very cunning in.
  • Hamlet. Ecstasy?
    My pulse as yours doth temperately keep time
    And makes as healthful music. It is not madness
    That I have utt’red. Bring me to the test,
    And I the matter will reword; which madness
    Would gambol from. Mother, for love of grace,
    Lay not that flattering unction to your soul
    That not your trespass but my madness speaks.
    It will but skin and film the ulcerous place,
    Whiles rank corruption, mining all within,
    Infects unseen. Confess yourself to heaven;
    Repent what’s past; avoid what is to come;
    And do not spread the compost on the weeds
    To make them ranker. Forgive me this my virtue;
    For in the fatness of these pursy times
    Virtue itself of vice must pardon beg-
    Yea, curb and woo for leave to do him good.
  • Gertrude. O Hamlet, thou hast cleft my heart in twain.
  • Hamlet. O, throw away the worser part of it,
    And live the purer with the other half,
    Good night- but go not to my uncle’s bed.
    Assume a virtue, if you have it not.
    That monster, custom, who all sense doth eat
    Of habits evil, is angel yet in this,
    That to the use of actions fair and good
    He likewise gives a frock or livery,
    That aptly is put on. Refrain to-night,
    And that shall lend a kind of easiness
    To the next abstinence; the next more easy;
    For use almost can change the stamp of nature,
    And either [master] the devil, or throw him out
    With wondrous potency. Once more, good night;
    And when you are desirous to be blest,
    I’ll blessing beg of you.- For this same lord,
    I do repent; but heaven hath pleas’d it so,
    To punish me with this, and this with me,
    That I must be their scourge and minister.
    I will bestow him, and will answer well
    The death I gave him. So again, good night.
    I must be cruel, only to be kind;
    Thus bad begins, and worse remains behind.
    One word more, good lady.
  • Gertrude. What shall I do?
  • Hamlet. Not this, by no means, that I bid you do:
    Let the bloat King tempt you again to bed;
    Pinch wanton on your cheek; call you his mouse;
    And let him, for a pair of reechy kisses,
    Or paddling in your neck with his damn’d fingers,
    Make you to ravel all this matter out,
    That I essentially am not in madness,
    But mad in craft. ‘Twere good you let him know;
    For who that’s but a queen, fair, sober, wise,
    Would from a paddock, from a bat, a gib
    Such dear concernings hide? Who would do so?
    No, in despite of sense and secrecy,
    Unpeg the basket on the house’s top,
    Let the birds fly, and like the famous ape,
    To try conclusions, in the basket creep
    And break your own neck down.
  • Gertrude. Be thou assur’d, if words be made of breath,
    And breath of life, I have no life to breathe
    What thou hast said to me.
  • Hamlet. I must to England; you know that?
  • Gertrude. Alack,
    I had forgot! ‘Tis so concluded on.
  • Hamlet. There’s letters seal’d; and my two schoolfellows,
    Whom I will trust as I will adders fang’d,
    They bear the mandate; they must sweep my way
    And marshal me to knavery. Let it work;
    For ’tis the sport to have the enginer
    Hoist with his own petar; and ‘t shall go hard
    But I will delve one yard below their mines
    And blow them at the moon. O, ’tis most sweet
    When in one line two crafts directly meet.
    This man shall set me packing.
    I’ll lug the guts into the neighbour room.-
    Mother, good night.- Indeed, this counsellor
    Is now most still, most secret, and most grave,
    Who was in life a foolish peating knave.
    Come, sir, to draw toward an end with you.
    Good night, mother.
  • [Exit the Queen. Then] Exit Hamlet, tugging in Polonius.