Act I
Act II
Act IV
Act V

Enter the King and Queen, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern,

with attendants


Welcome, dear Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.

Moreover that we much did long to see you,
moreover (adv.) as well as the fact, besides the fact

The need we have to use you did provoke

Our hasty sending. Something have you heard

Of Hamlet's transformation – so call it,

Sith nor th' exterior nor the inward man

Resembles that it was. What it should be,

More than his father's death, that thus hath put him

So much from th' understanding of himself

I cannot dream of. I entreat you both

That, being of so young days brought up with him,
young days, of so from such an early age

And sith so neighboured to his youth and 'haviour,
haviour (n.) behaviour, manner, demeanour
neighbour (v.) be close, be well acquainted [with]

That you vouchsafe your rest here in our court
rest (n.) 4 residence, lodging, stay

Some little time, so by your companies
company (n.) 4 (plural) companionship, fellowship, comradeship

To draw him on to pleasures, and to gather

So much as from occasion you may glean,
occasion (n.) 1 circumstance, opportunity

Whether aught to us unknown afflicts him thus,
aught (n.) anything, [with negative word] nothing See Topics: Frequency count

That, opened, lies within our remedy.
open (v.) 1 reveal, uncover, disclose


Good gentlemen, he hath much talked of you,

And sure I am two men there is not living

To whom he more adheres. If it will please you

To show us so much gentry and good will
gentry (n.) 1 courtesy, gentlemanliness, good breeding

As to expend your time with us awhile
expend (v.) 1 spend, employ, use

For the supply and profit of our hope,
profit (n.) 2 furtherance, progress, advancement

Your visitation shall receive such thanks

As fits a king's remembrance.
fit (v.) 1 suit, befit, be suitable [for]
remembrance (n.) 3 notice, paying attention


                         Both your majesties

Might, by the sovereign power you have of us,
power (n.) 3 authority, government

Put your dread pleasures more into command
dread (adj.) 1 revered, deeply honoured, held in awe

Than to entreaty.


                         But we both obey,

And here give up ourselves in the full bent
bent (n.) 3 degree, capacity, extent [to which a bow can be bent]

To lay our service freely at your feet,

To be commanded.


Thanks, Rosencrantz and gentle Guildenstern.
gentle (adj.) 1 well-born, honourable, noble See Topics: Frequency count


Thanks, Guildenstern and gentle Rosencrantz.

And I beseech you instantly to visit

My too much changed son. – Go, some of you,

And bring these gentlemen where Hamlet is.


Heavens make our presence and our practices
practice (n.) 4 doings, proceedings, dealings

Pleasant and helpful to him!


                         Ay, amen!

Exeunt Rosencrantz and

Guildenstern with attendants

Enter Polonius


The ambassadors from Norway, my good lord,

Are joyfully returned.


Thou still hast been the father of good news.
still (adv.) 1 constantly, always, continually See Topics: Frequency count


Have I, my lord? Assure you, my good liege,

I hold my duty as I hold my soul,

Both to my God and to my gracious King.

And I do think – or else this brain of mine

Hunts not the trail of policy so sure
policy (n.) 1 statecraft, statesmanship, diplomacy
sure (adv.) 2 surely, assuredly, certainly
trail (n.) [hunting] scent, track

As it hath used to do – that I have found

The very cause of Hamlet's lunacy.
very (adj.) 2 true, real, genuine


O, speak of that! That do I long to hear.


Give first admittance to th' ambassadors.

My news shall be the fruit to that great feast.
fruit (n.) dessert, last course


Thyself do grace to them and bring them in.
grace (n.) 1 honour, favour, recognition, respect

Exit Polonius

He tells me, my dear Gertrude, he hath found

The head and source of all your son's distemper.
distemper (n.) 1 malady, illness, derangement


I doubt it is no other but the main,
doubt (v.) 2 suspect, have suspicions about, fear
main (n.) 4 main concern, chief point

His father's death and our o'erhasty marriage.


Well, we shall sift him.
sift (v.) 1 question carefully, examine closely

Enter Voltemand and Cornelius, the ambassadors,

with Polonius

                         Welcome, my good friends.

Say, Voltemand, what from our brother Norway?


Most fair return of greetings and desires.
desire (n.) 1 good wishes, regards

Upon our first, he sent out to suppress
first, upon our on our first raising the matter

His nephew's levies, which to him appeared
levy (n.) recruitment of soldiers, conscription of men

To be a preparation 'gainst the Polack,
Polack (n.) Poles, Polish people

But, better looked into, he truly found

It was against your highness; whereat grieved,

That so his sickness, age, and impotence
impotence (n.) helplessness, powerlessness, decrepitude

Was falsely borne in hand, sends out arrests
arrest (n.) order to obey the law, summons to stop
bear in hand 1 abuse, take advantage of, delude, deceive

On Fortinbras; which he in brief obeys,

Receives rebuke from Norway, and in fine
fine, in in the end, finally, in conclusion See Topics: Discourse markers

Makes vow before his uncle never more

To give th' assay of arms against your majesty.
assay (n.) 2 attack, attempt, trial

Whereon old Norway, overcome with joy,

Gives him three thousand crowns in annual fee

And his commission to employ those soldiers,

So levied as before, against the Polack,

With an entreaty, herein further shown,

(He gives a paper to the King)
pass (n.) 3 passage, crossing, thoroughfare

That it might please you to give quiet pass

Through your dominions for this enterprise,

On such regards of safety and allowance
regard (n.) 2 consideration, respect, factor

As therein are set down.
like (v.) 1 please, suit See Topics: Politeness


                         It likes us well.

And at our more considered time we'll read,
considered (adj.) with opportunity for careful thought

Answer, and think upon this business.

Meantime we thank you for your well-took labour.

Go to your rest. At night we'll feast together.

Most welcome home!

Exeunt the ambassadors


                         This business is well ended.

My liege and madam, to expostulate
expostulate (v.) 1 expound, debate, discourse

What majesty should be, what duty is,

Why day is day, night night, and time is time,

Were nothing but to waste night, day, and time.

Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,
soul (n.) 1 driving force, animating principle
wit (n.) 1 intelligence, wisdom, good sense, mental ability See Topics: Frequency count

And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
flourish (n.) 3 ornamentation, decoration, adornment

I will be brief. Your noble son is mad.

Mad call I it. For, to define true madness,

What is't but to be nothing else but mad?

But let that go.
art (n.) 8 rhetorical art, verbal artistry
matter (n.) 1 subject-matter, content, substance


                         More matter, with less art.


Madam, I swear I use no art at all.

That he's mad, 'tis true. 'Tis true, 'tis pity,

And pity 'tis 'tis true – a foolish figure.
figure (n.) 2 figure of speech, device, piece of rhetoric

But farewell it; for I will use no art.

Mad let us grant him then. And now remains

That we find out the cause of this effect –

Or rather say, the cause of this defect,

For this effect defective comes by cause.

Thus it remains, and the remainder thus.

perpend (v.) consider, ponder, reflect

I have a daughter – have while she is mine –

Who in her duty and obedience, mark,
mark (v.) 1 note, pay attention [to], take notice [of] See Topics: Frequency count

Hath given me this. Now gather, and surmise.
gather (v.) 2 collect one's thoughts
surmise (v.) imagine, suppose, conjecture

(He reads the letter)

To the celestial, and my soul's idol, the most beautified

Ophelia – That's an ill phrase, a vile phrase; ‘ beautified ’
ill (adj.) 3 poor, inadequate, miserable

is a vile phrase. But you shall hear. Thus:

(He reads)

In her excellent white bosom, these, et cetera.


Came this from Hamlet to her?


Good madam, stay awhile. I will be faithful.

(He reads)

Doubt thou the stars are fire.

Doubt that the sun doth move.

Doubt truth to be a liar.
doubt (v.) 2 suspect, have suspicions about, fear

But never doubt I love.

O dear Ophelia, I am ill at these numbers. I have not art
ill (adj.) 6 unskilful, inexpert, unskilled
number (n.) 1 (plural) verses, lines

to reckon my groans. But that I love thee best, O most best,

believe it. Adieu.

Thine evermore, most dear lady, whilst

this machine is to him,
machine (n.) 1 body, human frame


This in obedience hath my daughter shown me,

And more above hath his solicitings,
above (adv.) 2 in addition, as well
soliciting (n.) importuning, entreaty, urging [not necessarily immoral]

As they fell out by time, by means, and place,

All given to mine ear.


                         But how hath she

Received his love?


                         What do you think of me?


As of a man faithful and honourable.


I would fain prove so. But what might you think
fain (adv.) gladly, willingly See Topics: Frequency count

When I had seen this hot love on the wing –

As I perceived it, I must tell you that,

Before my daughter told me – what might you,

Or my dear majesty your Queen here, think

If I had played the desk or table-book,
table-book (n.) notebook, memo pad, memorandum book

Or given my heart a winking, mute and dumb,
winking (n.) shutting the eyes

Or looked upon this love with idle sight?
idle (adj.) 8 careless, inattentive, lax

What might you think? No, I went round to work,
round (adv.) openly, roundly, in a straightforward way

And my young mistress thus I did bespeak:

‘ Lord Hamlet is a prince, out of thy star.
star (n.) 4 sphere, fortune, rank

This must not be.’ And then I prescripts gave her,
prescript (n.) order, direction, instruction

That she should lock herself from his resort,
resort (n.) 1 visits, visitings, approaches

Admit no messengers, receive no tokens.
token (n.) 5 keepsake, present, memento

Which done, she took the fruits of my advice,

And he, repelled, a short tale to make,

Fell into a sadness, then into a fast,
fast (n.) fasting, hunger

Thence to a watch, thence into a weakness,
watch (n.) 3 sleepless state, wakefulness

Thence to a lightness, and, by this declension,
declension (n.) decline, deterioration, downward course
lightness (n.) 3 lightheadedness, faintness, dizziness

Into the madness wherein now he raves

And all we mourn for.


                         Do you think 'tis this?


It may be, very like.
like (adv.) 1 likely, probable / probably See Topics: Frequency count


Hath there been such a time – I would fain know that –
fain (adv.) gladly, willingly See Topics: Frequency count

That I have positively said ‘ 'Tis so ’

When it proved otherwise?


                         Not that I know.


Take this from this, if this be otherwise.

If circumstances lead me, I will find
circumstance (n.) 4 condition, state, situation

Where truth is hid, though it were hid indeed

Within the centre.
centre (n.) 1 centre of the Earth, axis
try (v.) 1 prove, ascertain, find out


                         How may we try it further?


You know sometimes he walks four hours together

Here in the lobby.


                         So he does indeed.


At such a time I'll loose my daughter to him.

Be you and I behind an arras then.
arras (n.) tapestry hanging

Mark the encounter. If he love her not,
encounter (n.) 4 liaison, intercourse, amorous affair
mark (v.) 1 note, pay attention [to], take notice [of] See Topics: Frequency count

And be not from his reason fallen thereon,

Let me be no assistant for a state,

But keep a farm and carters.


                         We will try it.

Enter Hamlet
sadly (adv.) 1 seriously, gravely, solemnly


But look where sadly the poor wretch comes reading.


Away, I do beseech you both, away.

I'll board him presently. O, give me leave.
board (v.) 1 accost, address, approach, tackle
presently (adv.) 2 after a short time, soon, before long

Exeunt the King and Queen

How does my good Lord Hamlet?


Well, God-a-mercy.


Do you know me, my lord?


Excellent well. You are a fishmonger.


Not I, my lord.


Then I would you were so honest a man.


Honest, my lord?


Ay, sir. To be honest, as this world goes, is to be

one man picked out of ten thousand.


That's very true, my lord.


For if the sun breed maggots in a dead dog,

being a good kissing carrion – have you a daughter?
carrion (n.) 2 dead putrifying flesh, rotting carcass


I have, my lord.


Let her not walk i'th' sun. Conception is a blessing.

But as your daughter may conceive, friend, look



still (adv.) 1 constantly, always, continually See Topics: Frequency count

How say you by that? Still harping on

my daughter. Yet he knew me not at first. 'A said I was

a fishmonger. 'A is far gone, far gone. And truly in my

youth I suffered much extremity for love, very near
extremity (n.) 3 utmost severity, extreme intensity, hardship

this. I'll speak to him again. – What do you read, my



Words, words, words.


What is the matter, my lord?
matter (n.) 1 subject-matter, content, substance


Between who?


I mean the matter that you read, my lord.


Slanders, sir. For the satirical rogue says here

that old men have grey beards, that their faces are

wrinkled, their eyes purging thick amber and plum-tree
purge (v.) 6 exude, discharge, void

gum, and that they have a plentiful lack of wit, together
wit (n.) 1 intelligence, wisdom, good sense, mental ability See Topics: Frequency count

with most weak hams; all which, sir, though I most
hams (n.) thighs, legs

powerfully and potently believe, yet I hold it not
potently (adv.) mightily, strongly, powerfully

honesty to have it thus set down. For yourself, sir, shall
honesty (n.) 4 decency, decorum, good manners

grow old as I am – if, like a crab, you could go backward.



Though this be madness, yet there

is method in't. – Will you walk out of the air, my lord?
air (n.) 4 fresh air, open air


Into my grave?


Indeed, that's out of the air. (aside) How

pregnant sometimes his replies are! A happiness that
happiness (n.) 2 felicity, aptness, appropriateness [of expression]
pregnant (adj.) 4 meaningful, compelling, convincing

often madness hits on, which reason and sanity could

not so prosperously be delivered of. I will leave him
suddenly (adv.) 1 immediately, at once, without delay

and suddenly contrive the means of meeting between
contrive (v.) 1 scheme, plot, conspire

him and my daughter. – My honourable lord, I will

most humbly take my leave of you.


You cannot, sir, take from me anything that I

will not more willingly part withal – except my life,

except my life, except my life.


Fare you well, my lord.


These tedious old fools!

Enter Guildenstern and Rosencrantz


You go to seek the Lord Hamlet. There he is.


(to Polonius)

God save you, sir!

Exit Polonius


My honoured lord!


My most dear lord!


My excellent good friends.

How dost thou, Guildenstern? Ah, Rosencrantz!

Good lads, how do you both?


As the indifferent children of the earth.
indifferent (adj.) 3 average, ordinary, typical


Happy in that we are not over-happy.

On Fortune's cap we are not the very button.
button (n.) 2 knob at the top of a cap or hat See Topics: Clothing


Nor the soles of her shoe?


                         Neither, my lord.


Then you live about her waist, or in the middle

of her favours?


Faith, her privates we.
private (n.) 3 intimate, favourite


In the secret parts of Fortune? O, most true!

She is a strumpet. What news?
strumpet (n.) harlot, prostitute, whore


None, my lord, but that the world's

grown honest.


Then is Doomsday near. But your news is not

true. Let me question more in particular. What have
particular (n.) 1 individual issue, point of detail

you, my good friends, deserved at the hands of Fortune

that she sends you to prison hither?


Prison, my lord?


Denmark's a prison.


Then is the world one.


A goodly one; in which there are many confines,
confine (n.) 4 prison, place of confinement

wards, and dungeons, Denmark being one o'th' worst.
ward (n.) 3 cell [in a prison]


We think not so, my lord.


Why, then 'tis none to you. For there is nothing

either good or bad but thinking makes it so. To me it is

a prison.


Why, then your ambition makes it one.

'Tis too narrow for your mind.


O God, I could be bounded in a nutshell and

count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I

have bad dreams.


Which dreams indeed are ambition.

For the very substance of the ambitious is merely the
merely (adv.) 1 completely, totally, entirely See Topics: Frequency count

shadow of a dream.


A dream itself is but a shadow.
shadow (n.) 4 illusion, unreal image, delusion


Truly; and I hold ambition of so airy and

light a quality that it is but a shadow's shadow.


Then are our beggars bodies, and our monarchs

and outstretched heroes the beggars' shadows. Shall
outstretched (adj.) 1 over-inflated, puffed up, swollen [by ambition]

we to th' court? For, by my fay, I cannot reason.
reason (v.) 2 argue rationally [about], debate the pros and cons [of]


We'll wait upon
wait on / upon (v.) 1 accompany, attend



No such matter. I will not sort you with the rest
sort (v.) 3 place, classify, put in the same class

of my servants. For, to speak to you like an honest man,

I am most dreadfully attended. But in the beaten way
attend (v.) 2 serve, follow, wait [on/upon]
beaten (adj.) well-tried, well-trodden

of friendship, what make you at Elsinore?


To visit you, my lord. No other occasion.


Beggar that I am, I am even poor in thanks.

But I thank you. And sure, dear friends, my thanks are

too dear a halfpenny. Were you not sent for? Is it your

own inclining? Is it a free visitation? Come, come, deal

justly with me. Come, come. Nay, speak.


What should we say, my lord?


Why, anything but to th' purpose. You were
purpose (n.) 2 point at issue, matter in hand

sent for. And there is a kind of confession in your looks,

which your modesties have not craft enough to colour.
colour (v.) 1 disguise, conceal, cloak
modesty (n.) 3 feelings of shame, sense of propriety

I know the good King and Queen have sent for you.


To what end, my lord?


That you must teach me. But let me conjure
conjure (v.) 1 ask solemnly, entreat earnestly, beseech

you by the rights of our fellowship, by the consonancy
consonancy (n.) 1 accord, harmony [of companionship]

of our youth, by the obligation of our ever-preserved

love, and by what more dear a better proposer can charge

you withal, be even and direct with me whether you
even (adj.) 1 straightforward, forthright, direct

were sent for or no.


(aside to Guildenstern)

What say you?



Nay then, I have an eye of you. – If you

love me, hold not off.
hold off (v.) be reticent, keep distance


My lord, we were sent for.


I will tell you why. So shall my anticipation

prevent your discovery, and your secrecy to the King
discovery (n.) 1 disclosure, admission, revelation
prevent (v.) 1 forestall, anticipate

and Queen moult no feather. I have of late – but wherefore

I know not – lost all my mirth, forgone all custom

of exercises. And indeed it goes so heavily with my
exercise (n.) 1 habitual activity, usual occupation, employment

disposition that this goodly frame the earth seems to
frame (n.) 1 framework, structure, construction

me a sterile promontory. This most excellent canopy,
canopy (n.) 1 sky, firmament

the air, look you, this brave o'erhanging firmament,
brave (adj.) 1 fine, excellent, splendid, impressive See Topics: Frequency count

this majestical roof fretted with golden fire – why, it
fret (v.) 7 adorn elaborately, decorate ornately [as a carved ceiling]

appeareth nothing to me than a foul and pestilent congregation
congregation (n.) mass, gathering, assemblage

of vapours. What a piece of work is a man,
piece (n.) 2 specimen, masterpiece
vapour (n.) 1 exhalation, steamy emission, mistiness

how noble in reason, how infinite in faculties, in form
faculty (n.) function, power, capability

and moving how express and admirable, in action how
express (adj.) 3 well-formed, well-designed, exact

like an angel, in apprehension how like a god: the
apprehension (n.) 1 powers of comprehension, understanding

beauty of the world, the paragon of animals! And yet

to me what is this quintessence of dust? Man delights
quintessence (n.) purest form, most perfect manifestation

not me – nor woman neither, though by your smiling

you seem to say so.


My lord, there was no such stuff in my
stuff (n.) 2 matter, notion, idea



Why did ye laugh then, when I said ‘ Man

delights not me?’


To think, my lord, if you delight not in

man, what lenten entertainment the players shall
lenten (adj.) 2 dismal, meagre, scanty

receive from you. We coted them on the way. And
cote (v.) 1 [from the movement of dogs in hare coursing] overtake, outstrip, pass by

hither are they coming to offer you service.
hither (adv.) here, to this place / time / end See Topics: hither, thither, and whither


He that plays the king shall be welcome – his

majesty shall have tribute of me; the adventurous
tribute (n.) payment, money [acknowledging esteem]

knight shall use his foil and target; the lover shall not
foil (n.) 1 sword, rapier See Topics: Weapons
target (n.) light round shield See Topics: Weapons

sigh gratis; the humorous man shall end his part in
gratis (adv.) for nothing, without payment
humorous (adj.) 1 capricious, moody, temperamental

peace; the clown shall make those laugh whose lungs

are tickle o'th' sere; and the lady shall say her mind
sere (n.) trigger-catch [of a gun]
tickle (v.) 1 move easily, affect readily

freely, or the blank verse shall halt for't. What players
halt (v.) limp, proceed lamely

are they?


Even those you were wont to take such
wont (v.) be accustomed, used [to], be in the habit of See Topics: Frequency count

delight in, the tragedians of the city.
tragedian (n.) actor, strolling player [not only of tragedy]


How chances it they travel? Their residence,
chance (v.) 1 happen [to], transpire, come about
residence (n.) normal place of performance, usual venue [in the city]

both in reputation and profit, was better both ways.


I think their inhibition comes by the
inhibition (n.) formal prohibition, official ban [from playing in the city]

means of the late innovation.
innovation (n.) 2 new fashion; or: insurrection
late (adj.) 1 recent, not long past


Do they hold the same estimation they did when
estimation (n.) 1 esteem, respect, reputation

I was in the city? Are they so followed?


No, indeed are they not.


How comes it? Do they grow rusty?


Nay, their endeavour keeps in the wonted
keep (v.) 6 continue, carry on, remain
wonted (adj.) accustomed, usual, customary

pace. But there is, sir, an eyrie of children, little eyases,
aery (n.) brood [of a bird of prey], nestful
eyas (n.) [young hawk taken from the nest for the purpose of training] one whose training is complete

that cry out on the top of question and are most tyrannically
question (n.) 1 argument, contention, dispute
tyrannically (adv.) outrageously, vehemently, violently

clapped for't. These are now the fashion, and so

berattle the common stages – so they call them – that
berattle (v.) rattle away on, fill with clamour

many wearing rapiers are afraid of goosequills and dare
goosequill (n.) pen made from a goose quill

scarce come thither.


What, are they children? Who maintains 'em?

How are they escoted? Will they pursue the quality no
escote (v.) pay for, support, maintain
quality (n.) 4 profession, occupation, business

longer than they can sing? Will they not say afterwards,

if they should grow themselves to common players – as

it is most like, if their means are not better – their
like (adv.) 1 likely, probable / probably See Topics: Frequency count

writers do them wrong to make them exclaim against
exclaim against / on (v.) decry, cry out against, rail at

their own succession?
succession (n.) 5 future [occupation as actors]


Faith, there has been much to-do on both

sides, and the nation holds it no sin to tarre them to
tarre (v.) incite, provoke, arouse

controversy. There was, for a while, no money bid for

argument unless the poet and the player went to cuffs
argument (n.) 2 story, subject, plot
cuffs, go to come to blows

in the question.
question (n.) 1 argument, contention, dispute


Is't possible?


O, there has been much throwing about

of brains.


Do the boys carry it away?
carry it (away) [from a falconry term ‘to fly away with the game’] win the day, have the advantage, succeed


Ay, that they do, my lord – Hercules and

his load too.


It is not very strange. For my uncle is King of

Denmark, and those that would make mows at him
mow (n.) derisive grimace, pout, mocking expression

while my father lived give twenty, forty, fifty, a hundred

ducats apiece for his picture in little. 'Sblood, there is
little, in on a small scale, in miniature

something in this more than natural, if philosophy could
philosophy (n.) natural philosophy, i.e. science

find it out.

A flourish


There are the players.


Gentlemen, you are welcome to Elsinore. Your

hands. Come then. Th' appurtenance of welcome is
appurtenance (n.) usual accompaniment, accessory

fashion and ceremony. Let me comply with you in this
comply (v.) 2 observe the formalities, show polite conduct
fashion (n.) 2 conventional behaviour, conformity, customary use

garb, lest my extent to the players, which I tell you must
extent (n.) 1 [of politeness] extending, showing, exercise of behaviour
garb (n.) manner, style, fashion

show fairly outwards, should more appear like entertainment
entertainment (n.) 2 pleasant reception, favourable welcome
fairly (adv.) 1 cordially, warmly, becomingly

than yours. You are welcome. But my uncle-father

and aunt-mother are deceived.


In what, my dear lord?


I am but mad north-north-west. When the wind

is southerly, I know a hawk from a handsaw.
handsaw (n.) heron [probably a variant of ‘heronshaw’, i.e. a young heron]

Enter Polonius


Well be with you, gentlemen.


Hark you, Guildenstern – and you too – at each

ear a hearer. That great baby you see there is not yet

out of his swaddling clouts.
swathing-clothes / clouts (n.) swaddling clothes, cloths for wrapping round a new-born baby


Happily he is the second time come to
happily (adv.) 1 perhaps, by chance, maybe

them. For they say an old man is twice a child.


I will prophesy he comes to tell me of the
mark (v.) 1 note, pay attention [to], take notice [of] See Topics: Frequency count

players. Mark it. – You say right, sir. 'A Monday morning,
a (prep.) 5 variant form of ‘on’

'twas then, indeed.


My lord, I have news to tell you.


My lord, I have news to tell you. When Roscius

was an actor in Rome –


The actors are come hither, my lord.


Buzz, buzz.


Upon my honour –


Then came each actor on his ass –


The best actors in the world, either for

tragedy, comedy, history, pastoral, pastoral-comical,

historical-pastoral, tragical-historical, tragical-comical-historical-pastoral,

scene individable, or poem unlimited.
individable (adj.) indivisible [with no changes in the location of action]; or: unclassifiable
unlimited (adj.) allowing changes in the location of action; or: all-inclusive

Seneca cannot be too heavy, nor Plautus too
heavy (adj.) 2 grave, serious, weighty

light. For the law of writ and the liberty, these are the
liberty (n.) 5 plays not written according to traditional rules of drama; also: district not subject to a sheriff's legal order [i.e. more suitable for theatres]
writ (n.) 5 plays written according to traditional rules of drama; also: a district of the city subject to a sheriff's legal order [i.e. less suitable for theatres]

only men.


O Jephthah, judge of Israel, what a treasure

hadst thou!


What a treasure had he, my lord?



‘ One fair daughter, and no more,

The which he loved passing well.’
passing (adv.) very, exceedingly, extremely



Still on my daughter.


Am I not i'th' right, old Jephthah?


If you call me Jephthah, my lord, I have a

daughter that I love passing well.
passing (adv.) very, exceedingly, extremely


Nay, that follows not.


What follows then, my lord?



‘ As by lot, God wot,’
lot, by by chance
wot (v.) 1 learn, know, be told See Topics: Frequency count

and then you know,

‘ It came to pass, as most like it was.’
like (adv.) 1 likely, probable / probably See Topics: Frequency count

The first row of the pious chanson will show you more.
row (n.) stanza, verse

For look where my abridgement comes.
abridgement (n.) 2 curtailment, cutting off, shortening

Enter the Players

You are welcome, masters, welcome, all. – I am glad to

see thee well. – Welcome, good friends. – O old friend,

why, thy face is valanced since I saw thee last. Comest
valanced (adj.) fringed [with a beard]

thou to beard me in Denmark? – What, my young lady
beard (v.) defy, affront, oppose openly

and mistress? By'r Lady, your ladyship is nearer to

heaven than when I saw you last by the altitude of a

chopine. Pray God your voice, like a piece of uncurrent
chopine (n.) type of shoe with a high base
uncurrent (adj.) 1 unacceptable, not legally current, worthless

gold, be not cracked within the ring. – Masters, you are
crack (v.) 6 clip [of gold illegally taken from a coin]
ring (n.) 2 circle surrounding the sovereign's head [on a coin]; ringing [of the voice]

all welcome. We'll e'en to't like French falconers: fly
even to't just go for it

at anything we see. We'll have a speech straight. Come,
straight (adv.) straightaway, immediately, at once See Topics: Frequency count

give us a taste of your quality. Come, a passionate
quality (n.) 4 profession, occupation, business



What speech, my good lord?


I heard thee speak me a speech once, but it was

never acted, or if it was, not above once. For the play, I

remember, pleased not the million. 'Twas caviary to the
caviary (n.) caviare

general. But it was – as I received it, and others, whose
general (n.) 1 ordinary people, general public, populace
receive (v.) 1 consider, believe, regard

judgements in such matters cried in the top of mine –
cry (v.) 1 speak loudly, shout out, proclaim
top of, in the (prep.) above, superior to, higher than

an excellent play, well digested in the scenes, set down
digest, disgest (v.) 3 arrange, organize, order

with as much modesty as cunning. I remember one said
cunning (n.) 1 skill, ability, expertise
modesty (n.) 1 moderation, restraint, discipline

there were no sallets in the lines to make the matter
matter (n.) 1 subject-matter, content, substance
sallet (n.) 2 [= salad] tasty bit

savoury, nor no matter in the phrase that might indict
indict (v.) charge, convict, accuse
matter (n.) 5 reason, cause, ground
phrase (n.) 1 phrasing, language, mode of expression

the author of affectation, but called it an honest method,
affection (n.) 8 affectation, posing, artificiality

as wholesome as sweet, and by very much more handsome
handsome (adj.) 1 naturally graceful, artlessly elegant

than fine. One speech in't I chiefly loved. 'Twas
fine (adj.) 4 artificially beautiful, showily decorative

Aeneas' tale to Dido; and thereabout of it especially

when he speaks of Priam's slaughter. If it live in your

memory, begin at this line – let me see, let me see.

‘ The rugged Pyrrhus, like th' Hyrcanian beast – ’

'Tis not so. It begins with Pyrrhus.

‘ The rugged Pyrrhus, he whose sable arms,
rugged (adj.) 1 hairy, shaggy, bristling

Black as his purpose, did the night resemble
purpose (n.) 1 intention, aim, plan See Topics: Frequency count

When he lay couched in th' ominous horse,
couch (v.) 1 conceal, hide, lie hidden
ominous (adj.) fateful, portentous

Hath now this dread and black complexion smeared
complexion (n.) 1 appearance, look, colouring
dread (adj.) 2 frightening, terrifying, fearful

With heraldy more dismal. Head to foot
dismal (adj.) 1 disastrous, calamitous, devastating
heraldry (n.) heraldic devices, armorial bearings

Now is he total gules, horridly tricked
gules (adj.) [heraldry] red
total (adj.) completely, entirely, totally
tricked (adj.) [heraldry] delineated, spotted

With blood of fathers, mothers, daughters, sons,

Baked and impasted with the parching streets,
impasted (adj.) made into a paste, crusted

That lend a tyrannous and a damned light
tyrannous (adj.) cruel, pitiless, oppressive

To their lord's murder; roasted in wrath and fire,

And thus o'er-sized with coagulate gore,
coagulate (adj.) coagulated, clotted, congealed
over-size (v.) paint over, smear [i.e. cover with a substance resembling size]

With eyes like carbuncles, the hellish Pyrrhus
carbuncle (n.) 1 fiery red precious stone

Old grandsire Priam seeks.’
grandsire (n.) 2 old man, aged person

So, proceed you.


'Fore God, my lord, well spoken, with good

accent and good discretion.
discretion (n.) 2 judgement, discernment, awareness


                         ‘ Anon he finds him,

Striking too short at Greeks. His antique sword,
anon (adv.) 1 soon, shortly, presently See Topics: Frequency count

Rebellious to his arm, lies where it falls,
rebellious (adj.) not obeying, disobedient, mutinous

Repugnant to command. Unequal matched,
repugnant (adj.) opposing, resisting, refusing

Pyrrhus at Priam drives, in rage strikes wide,
drive (v.) 3 fall, rush, dash

But with the whiff and wind of his fell sword
fell (adj.) 1 cruel, fierce, savage

Th' unnerved father falls. Then senseless Ilium,
senseless (adj.) 1 lacking human sensation, incapable of feeling
unnerved (adj.) weak, drained of strength

Seeming to feel this blow, with flaming top

Stoops to his base, and with a hideous crash
hideous (adj.) terrifying, frightful, horrifying

Takes prisoner Pyrrhus' ear. For lo! his sword,

Which was declining on the milky head
decline (v.) 2 fall, descend, come down
milky (adj.) 1 of the colour of milk; white-haired

Of reverend Priam, seemed i'th' air to stick.
reverend (adj.) revered, worthy, respected

So as a painted tyrant Pyrrhus stood,
painted (adj.) 5 frozen, motionless [as in a painting]

And like a neutral to his will and matter
matter (n.) 5 reason, cause, ground

Did nothing.

But as we often see, against some storm,

A silence in the heavens, the rack stand still,
rack (n.) 1 clouds, cloud formations
still (adj.) 1 silent, quiet

The bold winds speechless, and the orb below
orb (n.) 3 earth, world

As hush as death; anon the dreadful thunder
hush (adj.) hushed, silent, quiet

Doth rend the region; so after Pyrrhus' pause,
anon (adv.) 1 soon, shortly, presently See Topics: Frequency count
region (n.) 1 sky, air, heavens

A roused vengeance sets him new a-work,

And never did the Cyclops' hammers fall

On Mars's armour, forged for proof eterne,
eterne (adj.) eternal, everlasting, for ever
proof (n.) 1 tested strength, proven power of resistance, impenetrability

With less remorse than Pyrrhus' bleeding sword
remorse (n.) 1 pity, regret, sorrow

Now falls on Priam.

Out, out, thou strumpet Fortune! All you gods,
strumpet (n.) harlot, prostitute, whore

In general synod, take away her power!
power (n.) 7 control, influence, sway
synod (n.) assembly, council, gathering

Break all the spokes and fellies from her wheel,
felly (n.) piece of curved wood forming part of a wheel rim

And bowl the round nave down the hill of heaven,
nave (n.) 1 [of wheels] hub, pivot

As low as to the fiends!’


This is too long.


It shall to the barber's, with your beard. –

Prithee say on. He's for a jig or a tale of bawdry, or he
bawdry (n.) bawdiness, lewdness, obscenity

sleeps. Say on. Come to Hecuba.


‘ But who, ah woe!, had seen the mobled Queen –’
mobled (adj.) with face muffled up, veiled


‘ The mobled Queen?’


That's good. ‘ Mobled Queen ’ is good.


‘ Run barefoot up and down, threatening the flames

With bisson rheum; a clout upon that head
bisson (adj.) 2 blinding, dazzling
clout (n.) 1 piece of cloth, rag; handkerchief
rheum (n.) 1 tears

Where late the diadem stood; and for a robe,
late (adv.) recently, a little while ago / before

About her lank and all o'er-teemed loins,
over-teemed (adj.) excessively productive, exhausted by childbearing

A blanket in the alarm of fear caught up –
alarm, alarum, 'larm, 'larum (n.) 4 alarm, agitation, excited feeling

Who this had seen, with tongue in venom steeped,

'Gainst Fortune's state would treason have pronounced.

But if the gods themselves did see her then,

When she saw Pyrrhus make malicious sport
sport (n.) 1 recreation, amusement, entertainment See Topics: Frequency count

In mincing with his sword her husband's limbs,
mince (v.) 4 chop into pieces, cut into tiny bits

The instant burst of clamour that she made,

Unless things mortal move them not at all,

Would have made milch the burning eyes of heaven
milch (adj.) 2 [milky] moist, tearful

And passion in the gods.’


Look, whe'er he has not turned his colour,
whe'er (conj.) [whether] if

and has tears in's eyes. Prithee no more.


'Tis well. I'll have thee speak out the rest of this

soon. – Good my lord, will you see the players well

bestowed? Do you hear? Let them be well used, for
bestow (v.) 4 accommodate, lodge, quarter

they are the abstract and brief chronicles of the time.
abstract (n.) 1 summary, digest

After your death you were better have a bad epitaph
ill (adj.) 1 bad, adverse, unfavourable See Topics: Frequency count

than their ill report while you live.


My lord, I will use them according to their



God's bodkin, man, much better! Use every

man after his desert, and who shall 'scape whipping?
after (prep.) 1 according to
scape, 'scape (v.) escape, avoid See Topics: Frequency count

Use them after your own honour and dignity. The less

they deserve, the more merit is in your bounty. Take

them in.


Come, sirs.


Follow him, friends. We'll hear a play tomorrow.
follow (v.) 1 seek after, pursue, strive for, court

(aside to First Player) Dost thou hear me, old

friend? Can you play The Murder of Gonzago?


Ay, my lord.


We'll ha't tomorrow night. You could, for a

need study a speech of some dozen or sixteen lines,
need, for a if necessary, if need be, at a pinch
study (v.) 3 learn by heart, commit to memory

which I would set down and insert in't, could you not?


Ay, my lord.


Very well. – Follow that lord, and look you mock
follow (v.) 1 seek after, pursue, strive for, court
mock (v.) 1 make fun of, ridicule

him not.

Exeunt Polonius and Players

My good friends, I'll leave you till night. You are welcome

to Elsinore.


Good my lord.


Ay, so, God bye to you.

Exeunt Rosencrantz and Guildenstern

                         Now I am alone.

O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I!
peasant (adj.) 1 base, low, villainous

Is it not monstrous that this player here,

But in a fiction, in a dream of passion,

Could force his soul so to his own conceit
conceit (n.) 1 imagination, fancy, wit

That from her working all his visage wanned,
visage (n.) 1 face, countenance See Topics: Frequency count
wan (v.) grow pale, turn pale

Tears in his eyes, distraction in his aspect,
aspect (n.) 1 [of a human face] look, appearance, expression

A broken voice, and his whole function suiting
function (n.) 1 activity, action, performance

With forms to his conceit? And all for nothing.
conceit (n.) 1 imagination, fancy, wit
form (n.) 9 physical expression, outward behaviour

For Hecuba!

What's Hecuba to him, or he to her,

That he should weep for her? What would he do

Had he the motive and the cue for passion

That I have? He would drown the stage with tears

And cleave the general ear with horrid speech,
general (adj.) 1 common, of everyone, public
horrid (adj.) horrifying, frightful, terrifying

Make mad the guilty and appal the free,
appal (v.) turn pale, terrify, dismay
free (adj.) 5 innocent, guiltless

Confound the ignorant, and amaze indeed
amaze (v.) 1 confuse, perplex, bewilder
confound (v.) 6 amaze, dumbfound, stun
ignorant (n.) [those who are] unaware, unconscious

The very faculties of eyes and ears. Yet I,

A dull and muddy-mettled rascal, peak
dull (adj.) 1 dead, lifeless, sluggish, inactive
muddy-mettled (adj.) sluggish, dull-spirited
peak (v.) 1 mope about, brood, languish

Like John-a-dreams, unpregnant of my cause,
John-a-dreams (n.) dreamer, idle muser
unpregnant of (adj.) unresponsive to, unmoved by

And can say nothing, no, not for a king

Upon whose property and most dear life

A damned defeat was made. Am I a coward?
defeat (n.) act of destruction, ruin

Who calls me villain? Breaks my pate across?
pate (n.) head, skull See Topics: Frequency count

Plucks off my beard and blows it in my face?

Tweaks me by the nose? Gives me the lie i'th' throat
lie (n.) accusation of lying, charge of falsehood

As deep as to the lungs? Who does me this?

Ha, 'swounds, I should take it. For it cannot be
take (v.) 13 put up with, accept

But I am pigeon-livered and lack gall
gall (n.) 3 spirit of anger, venom, ability to be angry

To make oppression bitter, or ere this
ere (prep.) before

I should ha' fatted all the region kites
region (adj.) in the sky, of the air

With this slave's offal. Bloody, bawdy villain!
bawdy (adj.) filthy, obscene, abominable

Remorseless, treacherous, lecherous, kindless villain!
kindless (adj.) inhuman, unnatural, monstrous

O, vengeance!

Why, what an ass am I! This is most brave,
brave (adj.) 1 fine, excellent, splendid, impressive See Topics: Frequency count

That I, the son of a dear father murdered,

Prompted to my revenge by heaven and hell,

Must like a whore unpack my heart with words

And fall a-cursing like a very drab,
drab (n.) harlot, slut, whore

A stallion! Fie upon't, foh!
scullion (n.) 1 menial, lackey, domestic servant
stallion (n.) 1 prostitute, hooker, whore

About, my brains. Hum – I have heard
about (adv.) 1 about your business, into action

That guilty creatures sitting at a play

Have by the very cunning of the scene
cunning (n.) 1 skill, ability, expertise

Been struck so to the soul that presently
presently (adv.) 1 immediately, instantly, at once See Topics: Frequency count

They have proclaimed their malefactions.
malefaction (n.) evil-doing, criminal act

For murder, though it have no tongue, will speak

With most miraculous organ. I'll have these players

Play something like the murder of my father

Before mine uncle. I'll observe his looks.

I'll tent him to the quick. If 'a do blench,
blench (v.) 1 flinch, start, shrink
quick (n.) 1 sensitive parts [of the body], tender flesh
tent (v.) 2 probe, explore, investigate

I know my course. The spirit that I have seen
course (n.) 1 course of action, way of proceeding See Topics: Frequency count

May be a devil, and the devil hath power

T' assume a pleasing shape, yea, and perhaps

Out of my weakness and my melancholy,

As he is very potent with such spirits,
potent (adj.) 1 powerful, influential

Abuses me to damn me. I'll have grounds
abuse (v.) 1 deceive, mislead, fool, cheat

More relative than this. The play's the thing
relative (adj.) pertinent, relevant, substantial

Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the King.


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