Hamlet By William Shakespeare Act III: Scene 2

Scene II. A hall in the Castle.

[Enter Hamlet and cartain Players.]

Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to you,
trippingly on the tongue: but if you mouth it, as many of your
players do, I had as lief the town crier spoke my lines. Nor do
not saw the air too much with your hand, thus, but use all
gently: for in the very torrent, tempest, and, as I may say,
whirlwind of passion, you must acquire and beget a
temperance that may give it smoothness. O, it offends me to the
soul, to hear a robustious periwig-pated fellow tear a passion to
tatters, to very rags, to split the cars of the groundlings, who,
for the most part, are capable of nothing but inexplicable dumb
shows and noise: I would have such a fellow whipped for o'erdoing
Termagant; it out-herods Herod: pray you avoid it.

I warrant your honour.

Be not too tame neither; but let your own discretion be your
tutor: suit the action to the word, the word to the action; with
this special observance, that you o'erstep not the modesty of
nature: for anything so overdone is from the purpose of playing,
whose end, both at the first and now, was and is, to hold, as
'twere, the mirror up to nature; to show virtue her own image,
scorn her own image, and the very age and body of the time his
form and pressure. Now, this overdone, or come tardy off, though
it make the unskilful laugh, cannot but make the judicious
grieve; the censure of the which one must in your allowance,
o'erweigh a whole theatre of others. O, there be players that I
have seen play, — and heard others praise, and that highly, — not
to speak it profanely, that, neither having the accent of
Christians, nor the gait of Christian, pagan, nor man, have so
strutted and bellowed that I have thought some of nature's
journeymen had made men, and not made them well, they imitated
humanity so abominably.

I hope we have reform'd that indifferently with us, sir.

O, reform it altogether. And let those that play your clowns
speak no more than is set down for them: for there be of them
that will themselves laugh, to set on some quantity of barren
spectators to laugh too, though in the meantime some necessary
question of the play be then to be considered: that's villanous
and shows a most pitiful ambition in the fool that uses it. Go
make you ready.

[Exeunt Players.]

[Enter Polonius, Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern.]

How now, my lord! will the king hear this piece of work?

And the queen too, and that presently.

Bid the players make haste.

[Exit Polonius.]

Will you two help to hasten them?

We will, my lord.

[Exeunt Ros. and Guil.]

What, ho, Horatio!

[Enter Horatio.]

Here, sweet lord, at your service.

Horatio, thou art e'en as just a man
As e'er my conversation cop'd withal.

O, my dear lord, —

Continued on next page...

Back to Top

Take the Quiz

Approximately how much time has passed between the death of King Hamlet and the remarriage of Gertrude to Claudius?