Textausgabe + Lektüreschlüssel. William Shakespeare: Hamlet - Andrew Williams - ebook

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William Shakespeare


Lektüreschlüssel von Andrew Williams


1993, 2009, 2013 Philipp Reclam jun. GmbH & Co. KG, StuttgartGesamtherstellung: Reclam, DitzingenMade in Germany 2017RECLAM ist eine eingetragene Marke der Philipp Reclam jun. GmbH & Co. KG, StuttgartISBN 978-3-15-960348-3ISBN der Buchausgaben:William Shakespeare: Hamlet: 978-3-15-009292-7Andrew Williams: Lektüreschlüssel. William Shakespeare: Hamlet: 978-3-15-015419-9



William Shakespeare: Hamlet

Editorische Notiz




Hinweis zur E-Book-Ausgabe

Andrew Williams: Lektüreschlüssel. Hamlet

1. Erstinformation zum Werk

2. Inhalt

3. Personen

4. Werkstruktur

5. Sprache und dramatische Darstellung

6. Interpretation

7. Autor und Zeit

8. Rezeption

9. Checklist: Revision for Term Papers & Finals

10. Lektüretipps



William Shakespeare


Herausgegeben vonHolger Klein

Redaktionelle Mitarbeit: Susanne Lenz




Editorische Notiz




[3] The Tragedy of Hamlet,Prince of Denmark

[4] Dramatis Personae

CLAUDIUS King of Denmark

GERTRUDE Queen of Denmark, Hamlet’s mother

THE GHOST of Hamlet’s father

HAMLET Prince of Denmark, son to the former and nephew to the present king

POLONIUS chief councillor and Lord Chamberlain

OPHELIA daughter to Polonius

LAERTES son to Polonius

REYNALDO servant to Polonius





Danish gentlemen:










The Scene: the royal Castle at Elsinore and the Danish Coast

Lord Chamberlain: Hofmarschall.

sentinel: Wache, Wachtposten.

clown: Dorfbewohner, Dörfler; bäurischer Tölpel.

attendants (pl.): Bedienstete, Diener, Gefolge.

Elsinore: Helsingør (dänische Stadt auf der Insel Seeland mit der auf einer Halbinsel gelegenen Festung Kronborg).

[5] Act I

Scene 1

[Midnight; a platform upon the fortifications of the castle at Elsinore]

Francisco stands guard; enter Bernardo.

BERNARDO. Who’s there?

FRANCISCO. Nay, answer me:1 Stand and unfold yourself.

BERNARDO. Long live the King!

FRANCISCO. Bernardo?


FRANCISCO. You come most carefully upon your hour.

BERNARDO. ’Tis now struck twelve, get thee to bed, Francisco.2

FRANCISCO. For this reliefmuch thanks, ’tis bitter cold,

And I am sick at heart.

BERNARDO. Have you had quiet guard?

FRANCISCO.                                Not a mouse stirring.

BERNARDO. Well, good night;

If you do meet Horatio and Marcellus,

The rivals of my watch, bid them make haste.

[Turns away.]

Enter Horatio and Marcellus.

FRANCISCO. I think I hear them. – Stand, ho! Who is there?

[6]HORATIO. Friends to this ground.

MARCELLUS.                         And liegemen to the Dane.

FRANCISCO. Give you good night.

MARCELLUS.                         O, farewell, honest soldier;

Who hath relieved you?

FRANCISCO.                 Bernardo hath my place;

Give you good night.


MARCELLUS.             Holla, Bernardo!

BERNARDO.                                            Say –

What, is Horatio there?

HORATIO. [Gives his hand.] A piece of him.

BERNARDO. Welcome, Horatio, welcome, good Marcellus.

HORATIO. What, has this thing appeared again to-night?3

BERNARDO. I have seen nothing.

MARCELLUS. Horatio says ’tis but our fantasy,

And will not let belief take hold of him

Touching this dreaded sight twice seen of us;

Therefore I have entreated him along

With us to watch the minutes of this night,

That, if again this apparition come,

He may approve our eyes and speak to it.4

HORATIO. Tush, tush, ’twill not appear.

BERNARDO.                                Sit down awhile,

[7] And let us once again assail your ears,

That are so fortified against our story,

What we have two nights seen.

HORATIO.                          Well, sit we down,

And let us hear Bernardo speak of this.

BERNARDO. Last night of all,

When yond same star that’s westward from the pole

Had made his5 course t’illume that part of heaven

Where now it burns, Marcellus and myself,

The bell then beating one …

Enter Ghost, in armour and bearing a marshal’s truncheon.

MARCELLUS. Peace, break thee off, look where it comes again!

[They start up.]

BERNARDO. In the same figure like the King that’s dead.

MARCELLUS. Thou art a scholar, speak to it, Horatio.

BERNARDO. Looks ’a not like the King? Mark it, Horatio.

HORATIO. Most like, it harrows me with fear and wonder.

BERNARDO. It would be spoke to.

MARCELLUS.                         Speak to it, Horatio.

HORATIO. What art thou that usurp’st this time of night,

Together with that fair and warlike form

[8] In which the majesty of buried Denmark

Did sometimes march? By heaven, I charge thee, speak.

MARCELLUS. It is offended.

BERNARDO.                  See, it stalks away.

HORATIO. Stay, speak, speak, I charge thee, speak!

Exit Ghost.

MARCELLUS. ’Tis gone and will not answer.

BERNARDO. How now, Horatio, you tremble and look pale,

Is not this something more than fantasy?

What think you on’t?

HORATIO. Before my God, I might not this believe

Without the sensible and true avouch

Of mine own eyes.

MARCELLUS.           Is it not like the King?

HORATIO. As thou art to thyself.

Such was the very armour he had on6

When he the ambitious Norwaycombated,

So frowned he once, when, in an angry parle,

He smote the sleddedPolacks on the ice.

’Tis strange.

[9]MARCELLUS. Thus twice before, and jump at this dead hour,

With martialstalk hath he gone by our watch.

HORATIO. In what particular thought7 to work I know not,

But in the gross and scope of mine opinion

This bodes some strange eruption to our state.

MARCELLUS. Good now, sit down, and tell me he that knows,

Why this same strict and most observant watch

So nightly toils the subject of the land,

And why such daily cast of brazen cannon

And foreign mart for implements of war,

Why such impress of shipwrights whose sore task

Does not divide the Sunday from the week –

What might be toward that this sweaty haste

Doth make the night joint-labourer with the day:

Who is’t that can inform me?

HORATIO.                        That can I,

[10] At least the whisper goes so: Our last King,

Whose image even but now appeared to us,

Was, as you know, by Fortinbras of Norway,

Thereto pricked on by a most emulate pride,

Dared to the combat; in which our valiant Hamlet

(For so this side of our known world esteemed him)

Did slay this Fortinbras, who by a sealedcompact,

Well ratified by law and heraldy,

Did forfeit (with his life) all those his lands8

Which he stood seized of, to the conqueror,

Against the which a moietycompetent

Was gagèd by our King, which had returned

To the inheritance of Fortinbras,

Had he been vanquisher, as by the same co-mart,

[11] And carriage of the articledesigned,

His fell to Hamlet. Now, sir, young Fortinbras,

Of unimprovèdmettle hot and full,

Hath in the skirts of Norway here and there

Sharked up a list of lawless resolutes,

For food and diet,9 to some enterprise

That hath a stomach in’t, which is no other –

As it doth well appear unto our state –

But to recover of us by strong hand

And terms compulsatory, those foresaid lands

So by his father lost; and this, I take it,

Is the main motive of our preparations,

The source of this our watch, and the chief head

Of this post-haste and rummage in the land.

BERNARDO. I think it be no other but e’en so;

Well may it sort that this portentous figure

[12] Comes armèd through our watch so like the King

That was and is the question of these wars.

HORATIO. A mote it is to trouble the mind’s eye.10

In the most high and palmy state of Rome,

A little ere the mightiest Julius fell,11

The graves stood tenantless, and the sheeted dead

Did squeak and gibber in the Roman streets …

As12 stars with trains of fire, and dews of blood,

Disasters in the sun; and the moist star

Upon whose influence Neptune’s empire stands,

Was sick almost to doomsday with eclipse.13

And even the like precurse of fierce events,

As harbingers preceding still the fates

And prologue to the omen coming on,

Have heaven and earth together demonstrated

[13] Unto our climatures and countrymen.

Re-enter Ghost.

But soft, behold, lo where it comes again!

[They start up.]

I’ll cross it though it blast me.

He spreads his arms.

                       – Stay, illusion!

If thou hast any sound or use of voice,

Speak to me.

If there be any good thing to be done

That may to thee do ease,14 and grace to me,

Speak to me.

If thou art privy to thy country’s fate

Which, happily, foreknowing may avoid,

O, speak!

Or if thou hast uphoarded in thy life

Extorted treasure in the womb of earth,

For which, they say, you spirits oft walk in death,

Speak of it –

The cock crows

     stay and speak – stop it, Marcellus!

MARCELLUS. Shall I strike at it with my partisan?

HORATIO. Do, if it will not stand.

BERNARDO.                         ’Tis here!

HORATIO.                                       ’Tis here!

Exit Ghost.

[14]MARCELLUS. ’Tis gone …

We do it wrong, being so majestical,

To offer it the show of violence,

For it is, as the air, invulnerable,

And our vain blows maliciousmockery.

BERNARDO. It was about to speak when the cock crew.

HORATIO. And then it started like a guilty thing

Upon a fearful summons. I have heard,

The cock, that is the trumpet to the morn,

Doth with his lofty and shrill-sounding throat

Awake the god of day, and at his warning,

Whether in sea or fire, in earth or air,15

Th’ extravagant and erring spirit hies

To his confine; and of the truth herein

This present object made probation.

MARCELLUS. It faded on the crowing of the cock.

Some say that ever ’gainst that season comes

Wherein our Saviour’s birth is celebrated,

This bird of dawning singeth all night long;

[15] And then, they say, no spirit dare stir abroad,

The nights are wholesome, then no planets strike,16

No fairytakes, nor witch hath power to charm,

So hallowed and so gracious is that time.

HORATIO. So have I heard and do in part believe it. –

But look, the morn in russet mantle clad

Walks o’er the dew of yon high eastward hill.

Break we our watch up; and by my advice

Let us impart what we have seen to-night

Unto young Hamlet, for upon my life,

This spirit, dumb to us, will speak to him.

Do you consent we shall acquaint him with it,

As needful in our loves, fitting our duty?

MARCELLUS. Let’s do’t, I pray, and I this morning know

Where we shall find him most convenient.


[16] Scene 2

[The hall of the castle]

Flourish; enter Claudius, King of Denmark, Gertrude the Queen, Council: as Polonius and his son Laertes, Hamlet, [clad in black,] and others, among them Voltemand and Cornelius; Attendants.

KING. Though yet of Hamlet our17 dear brother’s death

The memory be green, and that it us befitted

To bear our hearts in grief, and our whole kingdom

To be contracted in one brow of woe,

Yet so far hath discretion fought with nature

That we with wisest sorrow think on him,

Together with remembrance of ourselves:

Therefore our sometimesister18, now our queen,

Th’ imperial jointress to this warlike state,

Have we, as ’twere with a defeated joy,

With an auspicious and a dropping eye,

With mirth in funeral and with dirge in marriage,

In equal scale weighing delight and dole,

[17] Taken to wife; nor have we herein barred

Your better wisdoms, which have freely gone

With this affair along19 – for all, our thanks.

Now follows that you know young Fortinbras,

Holding a weak supposal of our worth,

Or thinking by our late dear brother’s death

Our state to be disjoint and out of frame,

Co-leaguèd with this dream of his advantage,

He hath not failed to pester us with message

Importing the surrender of those lands

Lost by his father, with all bands of law,

To our most valiant brother – so much for him.

Now for ourself, and for this time of meeting,

Thus much the business is: We have here writ

To Norway, uncle of young Fortinbras –

Who, impotent and bedrid, scarcely hears

Of this his nephew’s purpose – to suppress

[18] His further gait herein, in that the levies,

The lists, and full proportions are all made

Out of his subject. And we here dispatch

You, good Cornelius, and you, Voltemand,

For bearers of this greeting to old Norway,

Giving to you no further personal power

To business with the King, more than the scope

Of these dilated articles allow.

[Hands over papers.]

Farewell, and let your haste commend your duty.





In that and all things, will we show our duty.

KING. We doubt it nothing, heartily farewell.

Exeunt Voltemand and Cornelius.

And now, Laertes, what’s the news with you?

You told us of some suit, what is’t, Laertes?

You cannot speak of reason to the Dane

And lose your voice; what wouldst thou20 beg, Laertes,

That shall not be my offer, not thy asking?

The head is not more native to the heart,

The hand more instrumental to the mouth,

[19] Than is the throne of Denmark to thy father.

What wouldst thou have, Laertes?

LAERTES.                              My dread lord,

Your leave and favour to return to France,

From whence though willingly I came to Denmark

To show my duty in your coronation,

Yet now, I must confess, that duty done,

My thoughts and wishes bend again toward France

And bow them to your gracious leave and pardon.

KING. Have you your father’s leave? What says Polonius?

POLONIUS. ’A hath, my lord, wrung from me my slow leave

By laboursomepetition, and at last

Upon his will I sealed my hard consent;

I do beseech you, give him leave to go.

KING. Take thy fair hour, Laertes, time be thine,

And thy best graces spend it at thy will. –

But now, my cousin Hamlet, and my son …

HAMLET. [Aside]. A little more than kin, and less than kind.21

KING. How is it that the clouds still hang on you?

HAMLET. Not so, my lord, I am too much in the “son”.

[20]QUEEN. Good Hamlet, cast thy nighted colour off,

And let thine eye look like a friend on Denmark;

Do not for ever with thy vailèd lids

Seek for thy noble father in the dust,

Thou know’st ’tis common, all that lives must die,

Passing through nature to eternity.22

HAMLET. Ay, madam, it is common.

QUEEN.                                If it be,

Why seems it so particular with thee?

HAMLET. Seems, madam! Nay, it is, I know not “seems”.

’Tis not alone my inky cloak, good mother,

Nor customary suits of solemn black,

Nor windysuspiration of forced breath,

No, nor the fruitful river in the eye,

Nor the dejectedhaviour of the visage,

Together with all forms, modes, shapes of grief,

That can denote me truly. These indeed seem,

For they are actions that a man might play,

But I have that within which passes show –

These but the trappings and the suits of woe.

[21]KING. ’Tis sweet and commendable in your nature, Hamlet,

To give these mourning duties to your father,

But you must know your father lost a father,

That father lost, lost his, and the survivorbound

In filial obligation for some term

To do obsequious sorrow. But to persever

In obstinate condolement is a course

Of impiousstubbornness, ’tis unmanly grief,

It shows a will most incorrect to heaven,

A heart unfortified, a mind impatient,

An understanding simple and unschooled.

For what we know must be and is as common

As any the most vulgar thing to sense,

Why should we in our peevish opposition

Take it to heart? Fie, ’tis a fault to heaven,

A fault against the dead, a fault to nature,

To reason most absurd, whose common theme

Is death of fathers, and who still hath cried,

[22] From the first corse23 till he that died to-day,

“This must be so“ … We pray you, throw to earth

This unprevailing woe, and think of us

As of a father – for let the world take note,

You are the most immediate to our throne,24

And with no less nobility of love

Than that which dearest father bears his son,

Do I impart toward you … For your intent

In going back to school in Wittenberg25,

It is most retrograde to our desire,

And we beseech you, bend you to remain

Here in the cheer and comfort of our eye,

Our chiefest courtier, cousin, and our son.

QUEEN. Let not thy mother lose her prayers, Hamlet:

I pray thee, stay with us, go not to Wittenberg.

HAMLET. I shall in all my best obey you, madam.

KING. Why, ’tis a loving and a fair reply,

Be as ourself in Denmark. – Madam, come,

This gentle and unforced accord of Hamlet

Sits smiling to my heart, in grace whereof,

No jocundhealth that Denmark drinks to-day

[23] But the great cannon to the clouds shall tell,

And the king’s rouse the heaven shall bruit again,

Re-speaking earthly thunder; come away.

Flourish, exeunt all but Hamlet.

HAMLET. O, that this too toosullied flesh would melt,

Thaw and resolve itself into a dew,

Or that the Everlasting had not fixed

His canon ’gainst self-slaughter!26 O God, God,

How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable

Seem to me all the uses of this world!

Fie on’t, ah fie, ’tis an unweeded garden

That grows to seed, things rank and gross in nature

Possess it merely. That it should come thus,

But two months dead, nay, not so much, not two,27

So excellent a king, that was to this

Hyperion to a satyr, so loving to my mother,

[24] That he might not beteem the winds of heaven

Visit her face too roughly – heaven and earth,

Must I remember? Why, she would hang on him

As if increase of appetite had grown

By what it fed on, and yet within a month,

Let me not think on’t … frailty, thy name is woman!

A little month, or ere those shoes were old

With which she followed my poor father’s body

Like Niobe, all tears, why she, even she –

O God, a beast that wantsdiscourse of reason

Would have mourned longer – married with my uncle,

My father’s brother, but no more like my father

Than I to Hercules … within a month,

Ere yet the salt of most unrighteous tears

Had left the flushing in her gallèd eyes,

She married. O most wicked speed, to post

With such dexterity to incestuous28 sheets!

It is not, nor it cannot come to good –

But break, my heart, for I must hold my tongue.

[25] Enter Horatio, Marcellus, and Bernardo.

HORATIO. Hail to your lordship!

HAMLET.                          I am glad to see you well –

Horatio, or I do forget myself!

HORATIO. The same, my lord, and your poor servant ever.

HAMLET. Sir: my good friend, I’ll change that name with you.

[They clasp hands.]

And what make you from Wittenberg, Horatio? –


[Gives his hand.]

MARCELLUS. My good lord!

HAMLET. I am very glad to see you –

[To Bernardo]                                  good even, sir.

[To Horatio.]

But what, in faith, make you from Wittenberg?

HORATIO. A truant disposition, good my lord.

HAMLET. I would not hear your enemy say so,

Nor shall you do my ear that violence

To make it truster of your own report

Against yourself. I know you are no truant,

But what is your affair in Elsinore?

We’ll teach you for to drink ere you depart.

HORATIO. My lord, I came to see your father’s funeral.

HAMLET. I prithee, do not mock me, fellow-student,

I think it was to see my mother’s wedding.

HORATIO. Indeed, my lord, it followed hard upon.

[26]HAMLET. Thrift, thrift, Horatio, the funeral baked meats

Did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables.

Would I had met my dearestfoe in heaven

Or ever I had seen that day, Horatio –

My father, methinks I see my father.

HORATIO. Where, my lord?

HAMLET.                     In my mind’s eye, Horatio.

HORATIO. I saw him once, ’a was a goodly King …

HAMLET. ’A was a man, take him for all in all,

I shall not look upon his like again.

HORATIO. My lord, I think I saw him yesternight.

HAMLET. Saw, who?

HORATIO.. My lord, the King your father.

HAMLET.                                     The King my father!

HORATIO. Season your admiration for a while

With an attent ear, till I may deliver,

Upon the witness of these gentlemen,

This marvel to you.

HAMLET. For God’s love let me hear!

HORATIO. Two nights together had these gentlemen,

Marcellus and Bernardo, on their watch

In the dead waste and middle of the night,

[27] Been thus encountered: A figure like your father,

Armèd at pointexactly, cap-a-pe,

Appears before them, and with solemn march

Goes slow and stately by them; thrice he walked

By their oppressed and fear-surprisèd eyes

Within his truncheon’s length, whilst they, distilled

Almost to jelly with the act of fear,

Stand dumb and speak not to him. This to me

In dreadfulsecrecy impart they did,

And I with them the third night kept the watch,

Where, as they had delivered, both in time,

Form of the thing, each word made true and good,

The apparition comes: I knew your father,

These hands are not more like.

HAMLET.                          But where was this?

MARCELLUS. My lord, upon the platform where we watch.

HAMLET. Did you not speak to it?

HORATIO.                             My lord, I did,

But answer made it none; yet once methought

It lifted up it head, and did address

[28] Itself to motion like as it would speak;

But even then the morning cock crew loud,

And at the sound it shrunk in haste away

And vanished from our sight.

HAMLET.                        ’Tis very strange.

HORATIO. As I do live, my honoured lord, ’tis true,

And we did think it writ down in our duty

To let you know of it.

HAMLET. Indeed, indeed, sirs, but this troubles me.

Hold you the watch to-night?

ALL.                            We do, my lord.

HAMLET. Armed, say you?

ALL. Armed, my lord.

HAMLET. From top to toe?

ALL.                        My lord, from head to foot.

HAMLET. Then saw you not his face.

HORATIO. O yes, my lord, he wore his beaver up.

HAMLET. What looked he, frowningly?

HORATIO. A countenance more in sorrow than in anger.

HAMLET. Pale, or red?

HORATIO. Nay, very pale.

HAMLET.                   And fixed his eyes upon you?

HORATIO. Most constantly.

HAMLET.                     I would I had been there.

HORATIO. It would have much amazed you.

HAMLET. Very like, very like … stayed it long?

HORATIO. While one with moderate haste might tell a hundred.





Longer, longer.

[29]HORATIO. Not when I saw’t.

HAMLET.                      His beard was grizzled, no?

HORATIO. It was as I have seen it in his life,

A sable silvered.

HAMLET.           I will watch to-night,

Perchance ’twill walk again.

HORATIO.                      I warr’nt it will.

HAMLET. If it assume my noble father’s person,

I’ll speak to it though hell itself should gape29

And bid me hold my peace. I pray you all,

If you have hitherto concealed this sight,

Let it be tenable in your silence still,

And whatsomever else shall hap to-night,

Give it an understanding, but no tongue.

I will requite your loves; so fare you well:

Upon the platform ’twixt eleven and twelve

I’ll visit you.

ALL.         Our duty to your honour.

HAMLET. Your loves, as mine to you, farewell.

Exeunt Horatio, Marcellus, and Bernardo.

My father’s spirit – in arms! – all is not well;

I doubt some foul play; would the night were come …

Till then sit still, my soul; foul deeds will rise,

Though all the earth o’erwhelm them, to men’s eyes.30


[30] Scene 3

[A room in Polonius’ quarters.]

Enter Laertes and Ophelia, his sister

LAERTES. My necessaries are embarked, farewell …

And, sister, as the winds give benefit

And convoy is assistant, do not sleep,

But let me hear from you.

OPHELIA.                    Do you doubt that?

LAERTES. For Hamlet, and the trifling of his favour,

Hold it a fashion, and a toy in blood,

A violet in the youth of primy nature,

Forward, not permanent, sweet, not lasting,

The perfume and suppliance of a minute,

No more.

OPHELIA. No more but so?

LAERTES.                     Think it no more.

For nature crescent does not grow alone

[31] In thews and bulk, but as this templewaxes

The inward service of the mind and soul

Grows wide withal. Perhaps he loves you now,

And now no soil nor cautel doth besmirch

The virtue of his will, but you must fear,

His greatness weighed, his will is not his own,

For he himself is subject to his birth:

He may not, as unvalued persons do,

Carve for himself, for on his choice depends

The safety and health of this whole state;

And therefore must his choice be circumscribed

Unto the voice and yielding of that body

Whereof he is the head. Then if he says he loves you,

It fits your wisdom so far to believe it

As he in his particular act and place

May give his saying deed, which is no further

Than the main voice of Denmark goes withal.

[32] Then weigh what loss your honour may sustain

If with too credent ear you list his songs,

Or lose your heart, or your chaste treasure open

To his unmasteredimportunity.

Fear it, Ophelia, fear it, my dear sister,

And keep you in the rear of your affection,

Out of the shot31 and danger of desire.

“The chariest maid is prodigal enough

If she unmask her beauty to the moon32.”33

“Virtue itself ’scapes not calumnious strokes.”

“The cankergalls the infants of the spring

Too oft before their buttons be disclosed,

And in the morn and liquid dew of youth

Contagiousblastments are most imminent.”

Be wary then; best safety lies in fear,

Youth to itself rebels, though none else near.

[33]OPHELIA. . I shall the effect of this good lesson keep

As watchman to my heart. But, good my brother,

Do not, as some ungracious pastors do,

Show me the steep and thorny way to heaven,34

Whiles like a puffed and reckless libertine

Himself the primrose path of dalliance treads,

And recks not his own rede.

LAERTES.                       O, fear me not …

I stay too long –

Enter Polonius

         but here my father comes.

A double blessing is a double grace,


Occasion smiles upon a second leave.

POLONIUS. Yet here, Laertes? aboard, aboard, for shame!

The wind sits in the shoulder of your sail,

And you are stayed for. There …

[Laying his hand on Laertes’ head]

                           my blessing with thee,

[Laertes rises]

And these few precepts in thy memory

Look thou character: Give thy thoughts no tongue,

[34] Nor any unproportioned thought his act.

Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar;

Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,

Grapple them unto thy soul with hoops of steel,

But do not dull thy palm with entertainment

Of each new-hatched, unfledgedcourage. Beware

Of entrance to a quarrel, but, being in,

Bear’t that th’ opposèd may beware of thee.

Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice,

Take each man’s censure, but reserve thy judgement.

Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy,

But not expressed in fancy; rich, not gaudy,

For the apparel oft proclaims the man,

And they in France of the best rank and station

Are of a most select and generous chief in that.

[35] Neither a borrower nor a lender be,

For loan oft loses both itself and friend,

And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.

This above all, to thine own self be true,

And it must follow as the night the day

Thou canst not then be false to any man.

Farewell – my blessing season this in thee.

LAERTES. Most humbly do I take my leave, my lord.

POLONIUS. The time invests you, go, your servants tend.

LAERTES. Farewell, Ophelia, and remember well

What I have said to you.

OPHELIA.                   ’Tis in my memory locked,

And you yourself shall keep the key of it.

LAERTES. Farewell.


POLONIUS. What is’t, Ophelia, he hath said to you?

OPHELIA. So please you, something touching the Lord Hamlet.

POLONIUS. Marry, well bethought:

’Tis told me he hath very oft of late

Given private time to you, and you yourself

Have of your audience been most free and bounteous.

If it be so – as so ’tis put on me,

And that in way of caution – I must tell you,

You do not understand yourself so clearly

[36] As it behoves my daughter and your honour.

What is between you? Give me up the truth.

OPHELIA. He hath, my lord, of late made many tenders

Of his affection to me.

POLONIUS. Affection, pooh! You speak like a green girl,

Unsifted in such perilouscircumstance.

Do you believe his tenders, as you call them?

OPHELIA. I do not know, my lord, what I should think.

POLONIUS. Marry, I will teach you: think yourself a baby,

That you have ta’en these tenders for true pay,

Which are not sterling; tender yourself more dearly,

Or (not to crack the wind of the poor phrase,

Running it thus) you’ll tender me a fool.

OPHELIA. My lord, he hath importuned me with love

In honourable fashion.

POLONIUS. Ay, fashion you may call it, go to, go to …

OPHELIA. And hath given countenance to his speech, my lord,

With almost all the holy vows of heaven.

[37]POLONIUS. Ay, springes to catch woodcocks. I do know

When the blood burns, how prodigal the soul

Lends the tongue vows. These blazes, daughter,

Giving more light than heat, extinct in both,

Even in their promise, as it is a-making,

You must not take for fire. From this time

Be somethingscanter of your maiden presence,

Set your entreatments at a higher rate

Than a command to parle;35 for Lord Hamlet,

Believe so much in him that he is young,

And with a larger tether may he walk

Than may be given you. In few, Ophelia,

Do not believe his vows, for they are brokers

Not of that dye which their investments show,

But mere implorators of unholy suits,

Breathing like sanctified and pious bonds

[38] The better to beguile … This is for all,

I would not, in plain terms, from this time forth

Have you so slander any moment leisure

As to give words or talk with the Lord Hamlet.

Look to’t, I charge you, come your ways.

OPHELIA. I shall obey, my lord.


Scene 4

[The platform upon the fortifications.]

Enter Hamlet, Horatio, and Marcellus.

HAMLET. The air bites shrewdly, it is very cold.

HORATIO. It is a nipping and an eager air.

HAMLET. What hour now?

HORATIO.                     I think it lacks of twelve.

MARCELLUS. No, it is struck.

HORATIO. Indeed? I heard it not … it then draws near the season,

Wherein the spirit held his wont to walk.

A flourish of trumpets, and ordnance shot off.

What does this mean, my lord?

HAMLET. The King doth wake to-night and takes his rouse,

[39] Keeps wassailand the swagg’ring up-spring reels:

And, as he drains his draughts of Rhenish down,

The kettle-drum and trumpet thus bray out

The triumph of his pledge.

HORATIO.                     Is it a custom?

HAMLET. Ay, marry is’t,

But to my mind, though I am native here

And to the manner born, it is a custom

More honoured in the breach than the observance.

This heavy-headed revel east and west

Makes us traduced and taxed of other nations.

They clepe us drunkards, and with swinish phrase

Soil our addition, and indeed it takes

From our achievements, though performed at height,

The pith and marrow of our attribute.

So, oft it chances in particular men,

That for some vicious moleof nature in them,

[40]As in their birth, wherein they are not guilty

(Since nature cannot choose his36 origin),

By the o’ergrowth of some complexion,

Oft breaking down the pales and forts of reason,

Or by some habit that too much o’er-leavens

The form of plausive manners … that these men,

Carrying, I say, the stamp of one defect,

Being nature’s livery or fortune’s star,

His virtues else be they as pure as grace,

As infinite as man may undergo,

Shall in the general censure take corruption

From that particular fault: the dram of evil

Doth all the noble substance often dout,

To his37 own scandal.

Enter Ghost.

HORATIO.                Look, my lord, it comes!

HAMLET. Angels and ministers of grace, defend us!

Be thou a spirit of health, or goblin damned,38

[41] Bring with thee airs from heaven or blasts from hell,

Be thy intents wicked or charitable,

Thou com’st in such a questionable shape

That I will speak to thee. I’ll call thee Hamlet,

King, father, royal Dane – O, answer me!

Let me not burst in ignorance, but tell

Why thy canonized bones, hearsèd in death,

Have burst their cerements? Why the sepulchre

Wherein we saw thee quietlyinterred

Hath oped his ponderous and marble jaws

To cast thee up again? What may this mean

That thou, dead corse, again in complete steel

Revisits thus the glimpses of the moon,

Making night hideous, and we fools of nature

So horridly to shake our disposition

With thoughts beyond the reaches of our souls?

Say, why is this? wherefore? what should we do?

Ghost beckons Hamlet.

HORATIO. It beckons you to go away with it,

[42] As if it some impartment did desire

To you alone.

MARCELLUS.      Look with what courteous action

It waves you to a more removèd ground,

But do not go with it.

HORATIO.               No, by no means.

HAMLET. It will not speak, then I will follow it.

HORATIO. Do not, my lord.

HAMLET.                     Why, what should be the fear?

I do not set my life at a pin’s39fee,

And for my soul, what can it do to that,

Being a thing immortal as itself;

It waves me forth again, I’ll follow it.

HORATIO. What if it tempt you toward the flood, my lord,

Or to the dreadful summit of the cliff

That beetles o’er his base into the sea,

And there assume some other horrible form

Which might deprive your sovereignty of reason,

And draw you into madness? Think of it –

The very place puts toys of desperation,

Without more motive, into every brain

That looks so many fathoms to the sea

And hears it roar beneath.

HAMLET.                     It waves me still. –

Go on, I’ll follow thee.

MARCELLUS. You shall not go, my lord.

[Grips him.]

HAMLET.                                 Hold off your hands.

[43]HORATIO. Be ruled, you shall not go.

[Helps Marcellus.]

HAMLET.                               My fate cries out,

And makes each pettyartery in this body

As hardy as the Nemean lion’snerve;

Still am I called, unhand me, gentlemen,

[He breaks from them, drawing his sword]

By heaven, I’ll make a ghost of him that lets me!

I say, away! – Go on, I’ll follow thee.

Exeunt Ghost and Hamlet.

HORATIO. He waxes desperate with imagination.

MARCELLUS. Let’s follow, ’tis not fit thus to obey him.

HORATIO. Have after … to what issue will this come?

MARCELLUS. Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.

HORATIO. Heaven will direct it.

MARCELLUS.                       Nay, let’s follow him!

Exit Marcellus, Horatio after him.

[44] Scene 5

[A remote part of the fortifications]

Enter Ghost, and Hamlet.

HAMLET. Whither wilt thou lead me? Speak, I’ll go no further.

GHOST. [Turns.]Mark me.

HAMLET.                     I will.

GHOST.                              My hour is almost come,

When I to sulph’rous and tormenting flames

Must render up myself.

HAMLET.                  Alas, poor ghost!

GHOST. Pity me not, but lend thy serious hearing

To what I shall unfold.

HAMLET.                 Speak, I am bound to hear.

GHOST. So art thou to revenge, when thou shalt hear.


GHOST. I am thy father’s spirit,

Doomed for a certain term to walk the night,

And for the day confinedto fast in fires,

Till the foul crimes done in my days of nature

Are burnt and purged away; but that I am forbid

To tell the secrets of my prison-house,

I could a tale unfold whose lightest word

Would harrow up thy soul, freeze thy young blood,

Make thy two eyes like stars start from their spheres,40

[45] Thy knotted and combinèdlocks to part,

And each particular hair to stand an end,

Like quills upon the fearfulporpentine.

But this eternal blazon must not be

To ears of flesh and blood. List, list, O, list!

If thou didst ever thy dear father love …


GHOST. Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder.

HAMLET. Murder?

GHOST. Murder most foul, as in the best it is,

But this most foul, strange and unnatural.

HAMLET. Haste me to know’t, that I with wings as swift

As meditation or the thoughts of love,

May sweep to my revenge.

GHOST.                       I find thee apt,

And dullershouldst thou be than the fat weed

That roots itself in ease on Lethewharf,

Wouldst thou not stir in this. Now, Hamlet, hear:

[46] ’Tis given out that, sleeping in my orchard,

A serpent stung me; so the whole ear of Denmark

Is by a forgedprocess of my death

Ranklyabused. But know, thou noble youth,

The serpent that did sting thy father’s life

Now wears his crown.

HAMLET.                O my prophetic soul!

My uncle?

GHOST. Ay, that incestuous, that adulterate beast,

With witchcraft of his wit, with traitorous gifts –

O wicked wit and gifts, that have the power

So to seduce – won to his shameful lust

The will of my most seeming-virtuous queen.

O Hamlet, what a falling-off was there

From me, whose love was of thatdignity

That it went hand in hand even with the vow

I made to her in marriage; and to decline

Upon a wretch whose natural gifts were poor

To those of mine.

But virtue, as it never will be moved,

[47] Though lewdnesscourt it in a shape of heaven,

So lust, though to a radiant angel linked,

Will sate itself in a celestial bed

And prey on garbage.

But soft, methinks I scent the morning air,

Brief let me be: sleeping within my orchard,

My custom always of the afternoon,

Upon my secure hour thy uncle stole

With juice of cursèd hebona in a vial,

And in the porches of my ears did pour

The leprousdistilment, whose effect

Holds such an enmity with blood of man

That swift as quicksilver it courses through

The natural gates and alleys of the body,

And with a sudden vigour it doth posset

And curd, like eagerdroppings into milk,

The thin and wholesome blood;41 so did it mine,

And a most instanttetterbarked about,

[48] Most lazar-like, with vile and loathsome crust

All my smooth body …

Thus was I, sleeping, by a brother’s hand

Of life, of crown, of queen at oncedispatched,

Cut off even in the blossoms of my sin,

Unhouseled, disappointed, unaneled,

No reck’ning made, but sent to my account

With all my imperfections on my head.

HAMLET. O, horrible! O, horrible! most horrible!42

GHOST. If thou hast nature in thee, bear it not,

Let not the royal bed of Denmark be

A couch for luxury and damned incest.

But howsomever thou pursues this act,

Taint not thy mind, nor let thy soul contrive

Against thy mother aught, leave her to heaven,

And to those thorns that in her bosom lodge

To prick and sting her. Fare thee well at once,

[49] The glow-worm shows the matin to be near,

And ’ginsto pale his uneffectual fire.

Adieu, adieu, adieu, remember me.


HAMLET. O all you host of heaven! O earth! What else?

And shall I couple hell? O fie! Hold, hold, my heart,

And you, my sinews, grow not instant old,

But bear me stiffly up … Remember thee?

Ay, thou poor ghost, whiles memory holds a seat

In this distractedglobe. Remember thee?

Yea, from the table of my memory

I’ll wipe away all trivial fond records,

All saws of books, all forms, all pressures past

That youth and observation copied there,

And thy commandment all alone shall live

Within the book and volume of my brain,

Unmixed with baser matter – yes, by heaven!

[50] O most pernicious woman!

O villain, villain, smiling, damnèd villain!

My tables, meet it is I set it down

That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain,


At least I am sure it may be so in Denmark …

So, uncle, there you are. Now, to my Word,

It is “Adieu, adieu, remember me” …

[Lays his hand upon the hilt of his sword.]

I have sworn’t.43

[Kneels and prays.]

HORATIO. My lord, my lord!

[From afar.]

MARCELLUS. [From afar.] Lord Hamlet!

HORATIO. [From afar.]                                 Heavens secure him!

HAMLET. So be it.


MARCELLUS. [Nearer.]Illo, ho, ho, my lord!

HAMLET. Hillo, ho, ho, boy! Come, bird, come.44

Enter Horatio and Marcellus.

MARCELLUS. How is’t, my noble lord?

HORATIO. What news, my lord?

HAMLET. O, wonderful!

HORATIO. Good my lord, tell it.

HAMLET. No, you will reveal it.

HORATIO. Not I, my lord, by heaven.

MARCELLUS. Nor I, my lord.

[51]HAMLET. How say you then, would heart of man once think it?

But you’ll be secret?

BOTH.                 Ay, by heaven, my lord.

HAMLET. There’s never a villain dwelling in all Denmark

But he’s an arrant knave.

HORATIO. There needs no ghost, my lord, come from the grave,

To tell us this.

HAMLET.        Why, right, you are in the right,

And so, without more circumstance at all,

I hold it fit that we shake hands and part:

You, as your business and desire shall point you,

For every man hath business and desire,

Such as it is, and for my own poor part,

I will go pray.

HORATIO. These are but wild and whirling words, my lord.

HAMLET. I am sorry they offend you, heartily,

Yes, faith, heartily.

HORATIO.             There’s no offence, my lord.

HAMLET. Yes, by Saint Patrick, but there is, Horatio,

And much offence too. Touching this vision here,

It is an honest ghost, that let me tell you;

For your desire to know what is between us,

O’ermaster’tas you may. And now, good friends,

As you are friends, scholars, and soldiers,

Give me one poor request.

HORATIO. What is’t, my lord? We will.

HAMLET. Never make known what you have seen to-night.

[52]BOTH. My lord, we will not.

HAMLET.                       Nay, but swear’t.

HORATIO.                                           In faith,

My lord, not I.

MARCELLUS.      Nor I, my lord, in faith.

HAMLET. Upon my sword.


MARCELLUS.                   We have sworn, my lord, already.

HAMLET. Indeed, upon my sword, indeed.

GHOST. [Beneath.] Swear!

HAMLET. Ha, ha, boy! say’st thou so? Art thou there, truepenny? –

Come on, you hear this fellow in the cellarage,

Consent to swear.

HORATIO.            Propose the oath, my lord.

HAMLET. Never to speak of this that you have seen,

Swear by my sword.

[They lay their hands upon the hilt.]

GHOST. [Beneath.] Swear!

HAMLET. Hic et ubique? Then we’ll shift our ground:

Come hither, gentlemen,

And lay your hands again upon my sword.

Swear by my sword,

Never to speak of this that you have heard.

[They lay their hands upon the hilt.]

GHOST. [Beneath.] Swear by his sword!

HAMLET. Well said, old mole! Canst work i’th’ earth so fast?

A worthy pioner! Once more remove, good friends.

[53]HORATIO. O day and night, but this is wondrous strange!

HAMLET. And therefore as a stranger give it welcome.

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,

Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.45

But come:

Here, as before, never, so help you mercy,

How strange or odd some’er I bear myself

(As I perchance hereafter shall think meet

To put an antic disposition on),

That you, at such times seeing me, never shall,

With arms encumbered thus, or this head-shake,

Or by pronouncing of some doubtful phrase,

As “Well, well, we know”, or “We could an if we would”,

Or “If we list to speak”, or “There be an if they might”,

Or such ambiguousgiving out, to note

That you know aught of me – this do swear,

So grace and mercy at your most need help you.

[They lay their hands upon the hilt.]

GHOST. [Beneath.] Swear!

HAMLET. Rest, rest, perturbèd spirit! – So, gentlemen,

With all my love I do commend me to you,

And what so poor a man as Hamlet is

May do t’express his love and friending to you,

God willing, shall not lack. Let us go in together;

[54] And still your fingers on your lips, I pray.

Moves off; Horatio and Marcellus fall respectfully behind.]

The time is out of joint, O cursèd spite,

That ever I was born to set it right! –

Nay, come, let’s go together.


platform: Terrasse, Aussichtswarte.

fortifications (pl.): Befestigung, Festungsanlage.

to unfold o.s. : kundtun, wer man ist, sich identifizieren (to unfold:enthüllen, offenbaren).

relief: (Wach-)Ablösung.

much thanks:many thanks (thanks wird hier als Sammelbegriff und daher als Singular verstanden).

rival: Gefährte.

ho: he, heda!

liegeman: Lehnsmann, Vasall.

Dane: (oberster) Däne, Dänenherrscher, dänischer König.

Give you good night:God give you good night.

to relieve s.o.: jdn. ablösen.

exit (Lat.): er, sie geht ab.

what: einleitender Ausruf; wie, nun.

fantasy: Einbildung.

touching: bezüglich, hinsichtlich.

dreaded: furchterregend.

seen of us:seen by us.

to entreat: eindringlich bitten.

to approve: Recht geben.