Main Text


Editor’s Note Enter Claudius, Gertrude, Polonius, Ophelia, Critical Apparatus Rosencrantz, Guildenstern
Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus1

claudius And can you by no drift of circumstance

Editor’s Note2Get from him why he puts on this confusion,

pg 237

Editor’s Note Link 3Grating so harshly all his days of quiet

Link 4With turbulent and dangerous lunacy?

Link 5

rosencrantz He does confess he feels himself distracted,

Critical Apparatus6But from what cause he will by no means speak.

Editor’s Note7

guildenstern Nor do we find him forward to be sounded,

Editor’s Note8But with a crafty madness keeps aloof

Link 9When we would bring him on to some confession

10Of his true state.


gertrude Did he receive you well?


rosencrantz Most like a gentleman.

Editor’s Note13

guildenstern But with much forcing of his disposition.

Editor’s Note Link 14

rosencrantz Niggard of question, but of our demands

Editor’s Note15Most free in his reply.

Link 16

gertrude Did you assay him to any pastime?

Link 17

rosencrantz Madam, it so fell out that certain players

Editor’s Note18We o'er-raught on the way. Of these we told him;

19And there did seem in him a kind of joy

Critical Apparatus20To hear of it. They are about the court,

21And, as I think, they have already order

22This night to play before him.

polonius 'Tis most true;

23And he beseeched me to entreat your majesties

24To hear and see the matter.

Editor’s Note25

claudius With all my heart; and it doth much content me

pg 238

26To hear him so inclined.

Editor’s Note Link 27Good gentlemen, give him a further edge,

Critical Apparatus28And drive his purpose on to these delights.

Critical Apparatus29

rosencrantz We shall, my lord.

Exeunt Rosencrantz and Guildenstern

claudius Sweet Gertrude, leave us too;

Editor’s Note Link 30For we have closely sent for Hamlet hither,

Critical Apparatus31That he, as 'twere by accident, may here

Editor’s Note Link 32Affront Ophelia.

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus33Her father and myself, lawful espials,

Critical Apparatus34Will so bestow ourselves that, seeing unseen,

35We may of their encounter frankly judge,

Editor’s Note Link 36And gather by him, as he is behaved,

37If't be th'affliction of his love or no

38That thus he suffers for.

gertrude I shall obey you.—

Editor’s Note39And for your part, Ophelia, I do wish

Editor’s Note40That your good beauties be the happy cause

Link 41Of Hamlet's wildness; so shall I hope your virtues

42Will bring him to his wonted way again,

43To both your honours.

ophelia Madam, I wish it may.

Critical Apparatus Exit Gertrude
Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus44

polonius Ophelia, walk you here.—Gracious, so please you,

Editor’s Note45We will bestow ourselves.—Read on this book,

pg 239

Editor’s Note46That show of such an exercise may colour

Critical Apparatus47Your loneliness. We are oft to blame in this,

Editor’s Note Link 48'Tis too much proved, that with devotion's visage

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus Link 49And pious action we do sugar o'er

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus50The devil himself.

claudius (aside) O, 'tis too true.

Link 51How smart a lash that speech doth give my conscience.

Editor’s Note Link 52The harlot's cheek, beautied with plast'ring art,

Editor’s Note53Is not more ugly to the thing that helps it

Editor’s Note Link 54Than is my deed to my most painted word.

55O heavy burden.

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus56

polonius I hear him coming; let's withdraw, my lord.

Claudius and Poloniushide behind the arras⌉. Critical Apparatus Enter Hamlet
Editor’s Note Link 57

hamlet To be, or not to be—that is the question:

Editor’s Note Link 58Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer

Editor’s Note Link 59The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,

pg 240

Editor’s Note Link 60Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus Link 61And by opposing end them? To die, to sleep—

62No more ; and by a sleep to say we end

Editor’s Note Link 63The heartache and the thousand natural shocks

Editor’s Note Link 64That flesh is heir to—'tis a consummation

Critical Apparatus Link 65Devoutly to be wished: to die, to sleep.

Editor’s Note Link 66To sleep, perchance to dream. Ay, there's the rub;

Link 67For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,

Editor’s Note Link 68When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,

Editor’s Note69Must give us pause. There's the respect

Editor’s Note70That makes calamity of so long life.

Editor’s Note Link 71For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,

Critical Apparatus Link 72The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus Link 73The pangs of disprized love, the law's delay,

Editor’s Note Link 74The insolence of office, and the spurns

Critical Apparatus Link 75That patient merit of the unworthy takes,

Editor’s Note76When he himself might his quietus make

pg 241

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus77With a bare bodkin? Who would these fardels bear,

78To grunt and sweat under a weary life,

Link 79But that the dread of something after death,

Editor’s Note Link 80The undiscovered country, from whose bourn

Editor’s Note81No traveller returns, puzzles the will,

Editor’s Note82And makes us rather bear those ills we have

83Than fly to others that we know not of?

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus84Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;

Editor’s Note85And thus the native hue of resolution

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus Link 86Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus87And enterprises of great pith and moment

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus88With this regard their currents turn away

Link 89And lose the name of action.—Soft you now,

Editor’s Note90The fair Ophelia.—Nymph, in thy orisons

pg 242

91Be all my sins remembered.

ophelia Good my lord,

Editor’s Note Link 92How does your honour for this many a day?

Critical Apparatus93

hamlet I humbly thank you, well, well, well.

Editor’s Note94

ophelia My lord, I have remembrances of yours

95That I have longèd long to re-deliver.

Critical Apparatus96I pray you now receive them.

Critical Apparatus97

hamlet No, no, not I. I never gave you aught.

Critical Apparatus98

ophelia My honoured lord, I know right well you did,

99And with them words of so sweet breath composed

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus100As made the things more rich. Their perfume lost,

Editor’s Note101Take these again; for to the noble mind

Link 102Rich gifts wax poor when givers prove unkind.

103There, my lord.

Editor’s Note104

hamlet Ha, ha? Are you honest?


ophelia My lord?


hamlet Are you fair?


ophelia What means your lordship?

Critical Apparatus108

hamlet That if you be honest and fair, your honesty should Editor’s Note109admit no discourse to your beauty.

pg 243 Editor’s Note110

ophelia Could beauty, my lord, have better commerce than Critical Apparatus111with honesty?


hamlet Ay, truly; for the power of beauty will sooner trans-113form honesty from what it is to a bawd than the force of Editor’s Note114honesty can translate beauty into his likeness. This was Editor’s Note115sometime a paradox, but now the time gives it proof. I did Editor’s Note116love you once.


ophelia Indeed, my lord, you made me believe so.

Editor’s Note118

hamlet You should not have believed me. For virtue can-Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus Link 119not so inoculate our old stock but we shall relish of it. I 120loved you not.


ophelia I was the more deceived.

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus122

hamlet Get thee to a nunnery. Why, wouldst thou be a Editor’s Note123breeder of sinners? I am myself indifferent honest, but yet 124I could accuse me of such things that it were better my 125mother had not borne me. I am very proud, revengeful, Editor’s Note126ambitious, with more offences at my beck than I have Critical Apparatus127thoughts to put them in, imagination to give them shape, 128or time to act them in. What should such fellows as I do Critical Apparatus129crawling between heaven and earth? We are arrant pg 244Critical Apparatus130knaves all. Believe none of us. Go thy ways to a nunnery. Editor’s Note131Where's your father?

Editor’s Note132

ophelia At home, my lord.

Editor’s Note133

hamlet Let the doors be shut upon him, that he may play Critical Apparatus134the fool nowhere but in's own house. Farewell.


ophelia O help him, you sweet heavens!

Editor’s Note136

hamlet If thou dost marry, I'll give thee this plague for thy Editor’s Note137dowry: be thou as chaste as ice, as pure as snow, thou Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus138shalt not escape calumny. Get thee to a nunnery, go, 139farewell. Or if thou wilt needs marry, marry a fool; for Editor’s Note140wise men know well enough what monsters you make of 141them. To a nunnery go, and quickly too. Farewell.

Critical Apparatus142

ophelia O heavenly powers, restore him.

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus143

hamlet I have heard of your paintings too, well enough. Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus144God has given you one face, and you make yourselves Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus145another. You jig, you amble, and you lisp, and nickname pg 245Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus146God's creatures, and make your wantonness your ig-147norance. Go to, I'll no more on't, it hath made me mad. Critical Apparatus148I say we will have no more marriages. Those that are Editor’s Note149married already—all but one—shall live. The rest shall 150keep as they are. To a nunnery, go.

Editor’s Note Link 151

ophelia O, what a noble mind is here o'erthrown!

Editor’s Note152The courtier's, soldier's, scholar's, eye, tongue, sword;

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus153Th'expectancy and rose of the fair state,

Editor’s Note Link 154The glass of fashion and the mould of form,

Editor’s Note Link 155Th'observed of all observers—quite, quite down!

Critical Apparatus Link 156And I, of ladies most deject and wretched,

Critical Apparatus157That sucked the honey of his music vows,

Critical Apparatus158Now see that noble and most sovereign reason

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus Link 159Like sweet bells jangled out of tune and harsh;

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus160That unmatched form and feature of blown youth

161Blasted with ecstasy. O woe is me

Critical Apparatus162T'have seen what I have seen, see what I see.

Enter Claudius and Polonius
pg 246 Editor’s Note163

claudius Love? His affections do not that way tend;

Link 164Nor what he spake, though it lacked form a little,

Critical Apparatus165Was not like madness. There's something in his soul

Editor’s Note Link 166O'er which his melancholy sits on brood;

Editor’s Note Link 167And I do doubt the hatch and the disclose

Critical Apparatus168Will be some danger; which for to prevent,

169I have in quick determination

Editor’s Note170Thus set it down; he shall with speed to England

Editor’s Note Link 171For the demand of our neglected tribute.

172Haply the seas, and countries different,

Editor’s Note173With variable objects, shall expel

Editor’s Note Link 174This something-settled matter in his heart,

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus Link 175Whereon his brain's still beating puts him thus

176From fashion of himself. What think you on't?


polonius It shall do well. But yet do I believe

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus Link 178The origin and commencement of this grief

179Sprung from neglected love.—How now, Ophelia?

180You need not tell us what Lord Hamlet said;

181We heard it all.—My lord, do as you please;

182But, if you hold it fit, after the play

Link 183Let his queen mother all alone entreat him

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus184To show his griefs. Let her be round with him;

pg 247

Critical Apparatus185And I'll be placed, so please you, in the ear

Editor’s Note186Of all their conference. If she find him not,

187To England send him, or confine him where

188Your wisdom best shall think.

claudius It shall be so.

Critical Apparatus189Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.


Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
3.1.0 The Lords called for by Q2 and F have nothing whatever to do in this scene, and have, therefore, been omitted from this initial direction. Shakespeare seems to have begun it thinking he would need them, and then to have forgotten all about them.
Critical Apparatus Guildenstern] capell; Guildenstern, and Lords fq2 (subs.)
Critical Apparatus
1 circumstance] f conference q2
Editor’s Note
1 drift of circumstance i.e. manipulation of the course of your talk. The circumstance of F looks very much like a 'second thought'. The conference, meaning 'conversation', of Q2 makes excellent sense, but it does not carry the overtones of deliberately roundabout methods that circumstance does. Compare Merchant 1.1.153–4, 'You know me well, and herein spend but time | To wind about my love with circumstance'.
Editor’s Note
2 puts on assumes. Claudius is evidently becoming suspicious about the genuineness of Hamlet's 'madness'.
confusion mental disturbance
Editor’s Note
3 Grating … quiet i.e. making his life, which should be tranquil and harmonious, so harshly discordant and cacophonous. The analogy is a musical one. Compare Antony 1.1.18, 'Grates me! the sum'.
Critical Apparatus
6 he] f; a q2
Editor’s Note
7 forward at all inclined
Editor’s Note
8 crafty (1) cunning (2) feigned. Compare K. John 4.1.53–4, 'you may think my love was crafty love, | And call it cunning.'
Editor’s Note
13 disposition real inclination
Editor’s Note
14 Niggard of question reluctant to start a conversation (OED question sb. 2)
of our as regards our (Abbott 173)
Editor’s Note
15 free forthcoming
assay tempt (Schmidt), woo (compare Merry Wives 2.1.22, 'that he dares in this manner assay me?')
Editor’s Note
18 o'er-raught overtook, came up with
Critical Apparatus
20 about] f; heere about q2
Editor’s Note
3.1.25–8 With … delights ] pope; f divides after 'me', 'gentlemen' and 'on'; q2 divides after 'heart', 'me', 'inclined' and 'edge'.
Editor’s Note
27 edge incitement, stimulus (OED sb. 2C)
Critical Apparatus
28 on to] f; into q2
Critical Apparatus
29 Exeunt Rosencrantz and Guildenstern] q2 (Exeunt Ros. & Guyl); Exeunt f
too] f; two q2
Editor’s Note
30 closely privately (OED 3)
Critical Apparatus
31 here] q2; there f
Editor’s Note
32 Affront Ophelia meet Ophelia face to face (OED affront v. 4): earliest instance of affront in this sense cited by OED
Editor’s Note
32–3 Affront … espials ] johnson; as one line ending 'espials' f; as one line ending 'myself' q2
Critical Apparatus
33 lawful espials] f; not in q2
Editor’s Note
33 espials spies
Critical Apparatus
34 Will] f; Wee'le q2
Editor’s Note
36 by … behaved i.e. from his behaviour. In this verbose expression by means 'about', and behaved means 'mannered, conducted' as it still does in well-behaved and the like. The construction is not pre-Shakespearian (Onions).
Editor’s Note
39–43 And … honours Gertrude offers Ophelia a plausible reason for taking part in the scheme, and, at the same time, makes it clear that she has no objection to a union between Ophelia and Hamlet.
Editor’s Note
40 beauties 'the several parts and qualities which constitute the beauty of a person or thing' (Schmidt)
Critical Apparatus
43 Exit Gertrude] theobald; not in fq2
Critical Apparatus
44 please you] q2; please ye f
Editor’s Note
44 Gracious i.e. my gracious lord. This use of gracious, unaccompanied by a noun, as a vocative, though uncommon, is not unique. The Prologue Thomas Heywood wrote for the performance of The Jew of Malta before Charles I and his Court in 1633 opens thus: 'Gracious and great …'
Editor’s Note
45 book As the context shows, the book is a devotional work.
Editor’s Note
46 exercise religious exercise
Editor’s Note
46–7 colour | Your loneliness serve to explain your being alone
Critical Apparatus
47 loneliness] f; lowlines q2
Editor’s Note
48 too much proved i.e. all ton common an experience
Critical Apparatus
49 sugar] q2; surge f
Editor’s Note
49 sugar o'er give a sugar-coating to, set a deceptively pleasing appearance on
Critical Apparatus
50 too] q2; not in f
Editor’s Note
50–5 O, 'tis … burden This speech is the first sign that Claudius has a conscience.
Editor’s Note
52 beautied beautified: not elsewhere in Shakespeare
plast'ring art skilful application of (1) cosmetics (2) curative plasters and ointments
Editor’s Note
53 to the thing that helps It when compared to the 'plaster' that improves its appearance
Editor’s Note
54 painted specious, deceptive (like the 'harlot's cheek')
Critical Apparatus
56 let's] f; not in q2
Claudius and Polonius hide behind the arras] Exeunt f; not in q2q1
Editor’s Note
56.1 Claudius … behind the arras Since they are following the plan outlined by Polonius at 2.2.163–4, the King and Polonius presumably go behind the arras at this point, instead of leaving the stage altogether, though none of the early texts makes this clear. The direction in F is, however, sufficient to show plainly that, apart from the presence of Ophelia, the stage proper is unoccupied as Hamlet enters.
Critical Apparatus
56.1 Enter Hamlet] f; before 56 q2
Editor’s Note
57–89 To be … action One thing can be said with some confidence about this much discussed and debated soliloquy: it is cast in general terms. Hamlet speaks of we, us, who, and he, without using I or me once.
Editor’s Note
58 nobler in the mind It is not evident whether in the mind is meant to go with to suffer or with nobler. The latter possibility seems more likely, for nobler in the mind can signify 'more magnanimous'; and magnanimity had two different but related senses, corresponding to the two courses Hamlet goes on to consider: 'fortitude in endurance' and 'courage in resistance'.
Editor’s Note
59 slings Shakespeare uses this word at one other place in his writings, Henry V 4.7.57, 'the old Assyrian slings', an allusion 'to Judith, 9:7, "The Assyrians … trust in shield, spear, and bow, and sling'" (Taylor). The linking of bow and sling there may have suggested the linking of slings and arrows here.
Editor’s Note
60 a sea of troubles proverbial (Dent S177.1)
Critical Apparatus
61–2 To die, to sleep— | No more] pope (subs.); to dye, to sleepe | No more f; to die to sleepe | No more q2
Editor’s Note
61 end them 'Not by overcoming them but (paradoxically) by being overcome by them' (Jenkins).
Editor’s Note
61–2 To die … more i.e. dying is no more than sleeping
Editor’s Note
63 natural shocks i.e. assaults by disease and the like. Compare Timon 4.3.6–7, 'nature, | To whom all sores lay siege'.
Editor’s Note
64 consummation fitting end. Compare Cymbeline 4.2.281, 'Quiet consummation have'.
Critical Apparatus
65 wished: to] F (wish'd. To); wisht˄ to q2
Editor’s Note
66 rub obstacle, difficulty—a metaphor derived from the game of bowls, in which a rub is 'an obstacle or impediment by which a bowl is hindered in, or diverted from, its proper course' (OED). Shakespeare's use of it here seems to have made 'Ay, there's the rub' proverbial (Tilley R196).
Editor’s Note
68 this mortal coil (1) this turmoil and trouble of living (2) this mortal flesh, the 'too too solid flesh' of 1.2.129, which encloses within its coils or folds our essential being and has to be shuffled off at death as a snake sloughs its old skin. An extended gloss on this second sense is provided by Chapman in his The Revenge of Bussy D'Ambois 5.5.168–75.
Editor’s Note
69 give us pause i.e. make us stop and think respect consideration
Editor’s Note
70 makes calamity of so long life 'makes those afflicted by calamity willing to endure it for so long' (Spencer)
Editor’s Note
71–5 For who … takes Compare Sonnets 66 for a similar survey of the injustices of life.
Editor’s Note
71 whips and scorns of time i.e. lacerating injuries and insults inflicted on us by the world we live in
Critical Apparatus
72 The oppressor's] f; Th'oppressors q2
proud] q2; poore f
Critical Apparatus
73 disprized] f; despiz'd q2
Editor’s Note
73 disprized undervalued, held in contempt. Compare Troilus 4.5.74–5, 'disprizing the knight opposed'.
Editor’s Note
74 office people in official positions
Critical Apparatus
75 the unworthy] f; th'vnworthy q2
Editor’s Note
76 his quietus make secure his release from life. Quietus est written on an account signified 'paid'. The debt in question here is man's debt to God, who lent him life, which he pays by dying. Compare 1 Henry IV 5.1.126, 'thou owest God a death', and Tilley Q16.
Critical Apparatus
77 these] f; not in q2
Editor’s Note
77 bare bodkin mere dagger
fardels burdens, loads—often used with reference to 'sin, sorrow, etc.' (OED sb.1 2b). In its literal sense of bundle, fardel is also found in Winter's Tale 4.4.697, 707, etc.
Editor’s Note
80–1 The undiscovered country … returns These words seem to owe something to Mortimer's farewell to Queen Isabella and the world in Marlowe's Edward II: 'Farewell, fair queen: weep not for Mortimer, | That scorns the world, and, as a traveller, | Goes to discover countries yet unknown' (5.6.64–6). It has frequently been objected that this statement is inconsistent with Hamlet's own experience, since he has seen a returned traveller—the Ghost. Coleridge's answer to this point deserves quotation: 'If it be necessary to remove the apparent contradiction—if it be not rather a great beauty—surely, it were easy to say, that no traveller returns to this world, as to his home, or abiding place' (Coleridge's Essays and Lectures on Shakespeare |Everyman ed.| p. 150). In fact, Hamlet is stating one of the great commonplaces about death: that the road leading to it is a one-way street, or, as Horace puts it, omnes una manet nox | Et calcanda semel via leti (Odes 1.28.15–6).
Editor’s Note
80 bourn frontier. See OED bourne sb.1, where it is pointed out that the word first appears in Lord Berners' Froissart (1523), reappears in Shakespeare, who uses it seven times, and then disappears once more until the 18th century, 'the modern use being due to Shakespeare, and in a large number of cases alluding to [this] passage in Hamlet.'
Editor’s Note
81 puzzles confounds, bewilders
Editor’s Note
82–3 makes us … of Shakespeare's version of the common saying 'Better the harm I know than that I know not' (Tilley H166).
Critical Apparatus
84 of us all] fq1; not in q2
Editor’s Note
84 conscience one's sense of right and wrong (the normal meaning of the word in Shakespeare)
Editor’s Note
85 native hue natural colour (ruddy or sanguine)
Critical Apparatus
86 sicklied] f; sickled q2
Editor’s Note
86 sicklied o'er covered all over with a sickly hue. This use of sickly as a verb is a Shakespearian invention.
cast of thought tinge or shade of melancholy (OED cast sb. 35)—a usage introduced by Shakespeare in this passage
Critical Apparatus
87 pith] f; pitch q2
Editor’s Note
87 pith and moment gravity and importance. The Cambridge editors, while preferring Q2's 'pitch' to F's 'pith', point out that the Players' Quartos of 1676, 1683, 1695, and 1703, 'have, contrary to their custom, followed the Folios, which may possibly indicate that 'pith' was the reading according to the stage tradition' (Note XVI).
Critical Apparatus
88 away] f; awry q2
Editor’s Note
88 With this regard because of this consideration
Editor’s Note
90 Nymph … orisons Wilson calls these two words 'pretentious', and thinks Hamlet is speaking 'ironically'. But Shakespeare had used both, before writing Hamlet, in contexts where they cannot possibly be either pretentious or ironical. Valentine thinks of Sylvia as 'Thou gentle nymph' (Two Gentlemen 5.4.12); and Juliet says, 'I have need of many orisons' (Romeo 4.3.3).
Editor’s Note
92 for this many a day all this long time
Critical Apparatus
93 well, well, well.] f; well, q2
Editor’s Note
94 remembrances Ophelia's choice of this word is a most unhappy one. To her it means 'love-tokens', the sense it carries at Othello 3.3.293, 'This was her first remembrance from the Moor'. But to Hamlet, haunted by memories and sworn to remember, it serves as a reminder—another meaning of remembrance—of how, according to the Ghost, Claudius seduced Gertrude 'with witchcraft of his wit, with traitorous gifts' (1.5.43). The thought that his presents to Ophelia could be regarded in the same light as Claudius's gifts to his mother is anathema to Hamlet. He therefore denies that he ever gave her any, and then goes on to warn her against following the example of Gertrude, whose honesty was not strong enough 'to admit no discourse to [her] beauty'. In fact, the Prince's remembrance of his mother's fall colours the rest of his dialogue with Ophelia and goes far towards explaining, and so partly excusing, its bitterness.
Critical Apparatus
96 you now] q2; you now, f
Critical Apparatus
97 No, no, not I. I] This edition; No, no, I f; No, not I, I q2
Critical Apparatus
98 I know] f; you know q2q1
Critical Apparatus
100 the] f; these q2
rich.] q4 (subs.); , fq2
Their perfume lost,] q2; then perfume left; F
Editor’s Note
100 perfume i.e. the perfume given to the gifts by the 'words of so sweet breath composed'
Editor’s Note
101–2 for to … unkind Compare the much used and much varied saying, 'A gift is valued by the mind of the giver' (Tilley G97).
Editor’s Note
104 honest (1) speaking the truth (2) chaste
Critical Apparatus
108 your honesty should] f; you should q2
Editor’s Note
109 admit no discourse to permit no familiar conversation with
Editor’s Note
110–11 Could … honesty Ophelia brings Hamlet's explanation into line with the common saying 'Beauty and chastity seldom meet' (Tilley B163).
Editor’s Note
110 commerce (1) social intercourse (the sense Ophelia has in mind) (2) trade (the sense Hamlet gives it)
Editor’s Note
110–11 Could … honesty ] f; q2 divides after 'commerce'.
Critical Apparatus
111 with] q2q1; your f
Editor’s Note
114 translate transform
Editor’s Note
115 sometime once, formerly
paradox absurd statement, 'statement or tenet contrary to received opinion' (Onions)
the time … proof the time we live in (which is 'out of joint') shows its accuracy (in the behaviour of Gertrude)
Editor’s Note
116 once once upon a time, i.e. in the golden age when my father was king and true love was possible
Editor’s Note
118–19 virtue … of it i.e. virtue, when grafted on to our original nature tainted by the sin of Adam, cannot so change that nature that we retain no flavour of it. The image is drawn from the practice of grafting a slip or bud (oculus in Latin) taken from a good apple-tree on to the vigorous stock provided by a crab-tree, whose fruit has a bitter astringent taste. Compare Winter's Tale 4.4.92–3, 'we marry | A gentler scion to the wildest stock'.
Critical Apparatus
119 inoculate] f (innocculate); euocutat q2
Editor’s Note
119–20 I loved you not i.e. my love for you was not true love (how could it be, since I am the son of my mother?)
Critical Apparatus
122 to] f; not in q2
Why,] jenkins; Why˄ fq2q1
Editor’s Note
122 Get thee to a nunnery Hamlet means precisely what he says here. Only by entering a nunnery can Ophelia ensure that she will not become a breeder of sinners. The injunction makes it clear that nunnery is not being used here in the sense of 'brothel', as it is in Christ's Tears over Jerusalem, for example, where a nunnery is synonymous with a college of courtesans (Nashe, ii. 151–2).
Why As Jenkins has pointed out, Why here is an interjection.
Editor’s Note
123 indifferent honest fairly virtuous, decent enough as men go
Editor’s Note
126 at my beck ready to be called on (like so many servants eager for work)
Critical Apparatus
127 in, imagination] q2; in˄ imagination f
Critical Apparatus
129 heaven and earth] fq1; earth and heauen q2
Critical Apparatus
130 all] fq1; not in q2
Editor’s Note
131 Where's your father? It has often been suggested that this question is prompted by a suspicion that Polonius is within ear-shot; but there is no need for any such assumption. Polonius himself virtually anticipated some reaction of this kind from Hamlet when he provided Ophelia with a book to explain her loneliness (ll. 45–7).
Editor’s Note
132 At home, my lord Ophelia's lie, like Desdemona's lie (Othello 3.4.51), is an excusable one. What else can she say?
Editor’s Note
133–4 Let … house Ironically enough, Hamlet's advice is even sounder than he realizes. Had Polonius been locked up in his own house, he would not have been killed.
Editor’s Note
133–4 Let … farewell ] f; q2 divides after 'him' and 'house'.
Critical Apparatus
134 nowhere] q2 (no where) q1; no way f
Editor’s Note
136 plague affliction
Editor’s Note
137 as chaste … snow These two conventional similes (Tilley [1, S591) make a fitting beginning to a diatribe that is, in essence, also conventional, though Hamlet has the grace to admit that some of it may be calumny.
Critical Apparatus
138 go] f; not in q2
Editor’s Note
138 calumny Compare Measure 3.2.174–5, 'back-wounding calumny | The whitest virtue strikes.'
Editor’s Note
140 monsters (because cuckolds were supposed to sprout horns). Compare Othello 4.1.62, 'A horned man's a monster', and Dent C876.2.
Critical Apparatus
142 O] f; not in q2
Critical Apparatus
143 paintings too] q1; pratlings too f; paintings q2
Editor’s Note
143–7 I have … ignorance Hamlet may well say 'I have heard'; for charges such as these were the stock in trade of the Elizabethan satirist, and can be paralleled in many works of the time. Ben Jonson dramatizes face-painting, and its Implications, in the most mordant and detailed manner in Act 2 (53–136) of his Sejanus (1603).
Critical Apparatus
144 has] f; hath q2q1
face] q2q1; pace f
yourselves] q2 (your selfes) q1; your selfe f
Editor’s Note
144 you i.e. women in general
Critical Apparatus
145 jig, you] f (gidge, you); gig & q2; fig, and you q1
lisp,] f; list˄ q2
and nickname] f; you nickname q2; and you nickname q1
Editor’s Note
145 You jig … lisp Compare Nashe's portrait of 'Mistress Minx, a merchant's wife' in his Pierce Penilesse (1592). She 'looks as simperingly as if she were besmeared, and jets it as gingerly as if she were dancing the canaries. She is so finical in her speech, as though she spake nothing but what she had first sewed over before in her samplers; and the puling accent of her voice is like a feigned treble or one's voice that interprets to the puppets' (Nashe, i. 173).
jig i.e. 'move with a rapid jerky motion' (Onions)—earliest instance of jig, in this sense, cited by OED
amble i.e. move in an exaggeratedly smooth and fluid fashion
lisp Compare Romeo 2.4.28–9, 'such antic, lisping, affecting fantasticoes'.
Editor’s Note
145–6 nickname God's creatures i.e. make up fancy names for creatures that were given their proper names by Adam (Genesis 2:19)
Critical Apparatus
146 wantonness your] fq1; wantonnes q2
Editor’s Note
146–7 make … ignorance i.e. pretend that what you do out of sheer affectation is the result of simple ignorance
Critical Apparatus
148 more marriages] fq1 mo marriage q2
Editor’s Note
149 all but one The one is obviously Claudius; and, as Spencer observes, Hamlet's voicing this threat at this point makes it most unlikely that he suspects the King is listening.
Editor’s Note
151–5 O … observers These lines provide the one full-length portrait the play gives of Hamlet as he was—the ideal Renaissance prince—before his father's death.
Editor’s Note
152 The courtier's … sword Shakespeare lists the roles the prince was expected to fill, together with the prime attribute each role demanded, without bothering to preserve exactly the same order in the two parts of the list. Lucrece 615–6 offers a close parallel: 'For princes are the glass, the school, the book, | Where subjects' eyes do learn, do read, do look.'
Critical Apparatus
153 expectancy] f; expectation q2
Editor’s Note
153 expectancy 'that from which expectations are entertained' (OED 2c)—first instance of this sense cited by OED
rose As the primate among flowers, the rose symbolized youth and beauty. Compare Antony 3.13.20–1, 'he wears the rose | Of youth upon him'.
Editor’s Note
154 glass model, ideal. Compare 2 Henry IV 2.3.21.
mould of form pattern of perfect behaviour (OED mould sb.1 5)
Editor’s Note
155 observed of all observers i.e. object of every true courtier's respectful attention (OED observe v. 4)
Critical Apparatus
156 And] q2; Haue f
Critical Apparatus
157 music] f; musickt q2
Critical Apparatus
158 that] f; what q2
Critical Apparatus
159 tune] f; time q2
Editor’s Note
159 out of tune For the figurative use of this phrase, well established by Shakespeare's day, see Dent T598.1.
Critical Apparatus
160 feature] f; stature q2
Editor’s Note
160 feature bodily proportion, complete physical appearance. Compare Antony 2.5.111–14, 'bid him | Report the feature of Octavia, her years, | Her inclination; let him not leave out | The colour of her hair.'
blown youth youth in full bloom. Compare 3.3.81.
Critical Apparatus
162 see.] fq2 uncorr.; see. Exit. q2 corr. q1
Editor’s Note
163 affections inclinations, emotions. Compare Caesar 2.1.20–1, 'I have not known when his affections swayed | More than his reason.'
Critical Apparatus
165 soul˄ ] q2; soule? f
Editor’s Note
166 sits on brood sits brooding like a hen
Editor’s Note
167 doubt fear, suspect
disclose disclosure, hatching-out (OED disclose sb. Obs. and v. 3c)
Critical Apparatus
168 for] q2; not in f
Editor’s Note
170 set it down resolved (OED set v. 143g)
Editor’s Note
171 For … tribute See Bullough, vii. 185 for the topical element in this reference to the Danegeld.
Editor’s Note
173 variable objects various sights
Editor’s Note
174 something-settled matter i.e. obsession that has taken rather a hold. Jenkins argues that something is an adjective meaning 'indefinite'; but had Shakespeare intended this, he would, presumably, have written 'This something matter settled in his heart'.
Critical Apparatus
175 brain's] This edition; Braines fq2
Editor’s Note
175 brain's There is no way of deciding with certainty whether the braines of Q2 and F is nominative plural, genitive singular, or genitive plural. The genitive singular is preferred here because it gives the simplest construction.
still beating constant hammering. For still signifying 'constant, unremitting', see Richard III 4.4.229, 'still use of grief makes wild grief tame'.
Editor’s Note
175–6 puts … himself i.e. makes him so unlike his usual self
Editor’s Note
175–8 Whereon … grief ] f; q2 divides after 'beating', 'himself', 'on't' and 'well'.
Critical Apparatus
178 this] f; his q2
Editor’s Note
178 grief troubled state of mind
Critical Apparatus
184 griefs] f (Greefes); griefe q2
Editor’s Note
184 griefs grievances
round blunt, outspoken
Critical Apparatus
185 placed, so please you,] q2 (plac'd (so please you)); plac'd so, please you˄ f
Editor’s Note
186 find him not i.e. does not find out what is the matter with him (OED find v. 8)
Critical Apparatus
189 un watched] f; vnmatcht q2
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