Act I
Act II
Act IV
Act V

Enter Claudius, King of Denmark, Gertrude the

Queen, and the Council, including Polonius with his

son Laertes, Hamlet, Voltemand, Cornelius, and



Though yet of Hamlet our dear brother's death

The memory be green, and that it us befitted
green (adj.) 1 fresh, recent, new

To bear our hearts in grief, and our whole kingdom

To be contracted in one brow of woe,
brow (n.) 1 appearance, aspect, countenance See Topics: Frequency count
contract (v.) 1 draw together, cause to shrink

Yet so far hath discretion fought with nature

That we with wisest sorrow think on him

Together with remembrance of ourselves.
remembrance (n.) 3 notice, paying attention

Therefore our sometime sister, now our Queen,
sometime (adj.) former, previous

Th' imperial jointress to this warlike state,
jointress (n.) woman holding a property right from her deceased husband, dowager

Have we, as 'twere with a defeated joy,

With an auspicious and a dropping eye,
auspicious (adj.) smiling, cheerful, happy
dropping (adj.) 1 tearful, falling in teardrops, sorrowful

With mirth in funeral and with dirge in marriage,
dirge (n.) funeral song, song of mourning

In equal scale weighing delight and dole,
dole (n.) 1 grief, sorrow, sadness
scale (n.) 1 balance, quantity, amount

Taken to wife. Nor have we herein barred
bar (v.) 2 keep out, exclude, prohibit
herein (adv.) in here, in this [matter, situation, etc] See Topics: here, there, and where

Your better wisdoms, which have freely gone

With this affair along. For all, our thanks.

Now follows that you know. Young Fortinbras,
that (conj.) 4 that which

Holding a weak supposal of our worth,
supposal (n.) estimate, opinion, notion

Or thinking by our late dear brother's death

Our state to be disjoint and out of frame,
disjoint (adj.) disjointed, out of joint, disconnected
frame (n.) 3 order, definite form, regular shape

Colleagued with this dream of his advantage,
advantage (n.) 2 advantageous position, place of vantage, superiority
colleagued, coleagued (adj.) joined, supported, in league

He hath not failed to pester us with message

Importing the surrender of those lands
importing (prep.) concerning, regarding, relating to

Lost by his father, with all bands of law,
band (n.) 1 bond, obligation, tie

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
bedrid, bed-rid, bedred (adj.) bed-ridden, confined to bed through infirmity
impotent (adj.) helpless, powerless, decrepit

Of this his nephew's purpose – to suppress
purpose (n.) 1 intention, aim, plan See Topics: Frequency count

His further gait herein, in that the levies,
gait (n.) 2 proceedings, course, doings, steps

The lists, and full proportions are all made
list (n.) 2 muster, troop, band, recruitment
proportion (n.) 8 (plural) military material, forces and supplies needed for war

Out of his subject. And we here dispatch
subject (n.) 1 subjects, people [of a state]

You, good Cornelius, and you, Voltemand,

For bearers of this greeting to old Norway,

Giving to you no further personal power
power (n.) 5 exercise of power, authoritative action

To business with the King, more than the scope

Of these delated articles allow.
delated (adj.) reported in detail, detailed, expanded

Farewell; and let your haste commend your duty.
commend (v.) 5 show well, set off to advantage


In that, and all things, will we show our duty.
duty (n.) 2 reverence, due respect, proper attitude


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?
suit (n.) 1 formal request, entreaty, petition See Topics: Frequency count

You cannot speak of reason to the Dane

And lose your voice. What wouldst thou 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,

Than is the throne of Denmark to thy father.

What wouldst thou have, Laertes?
dread (adj.) 1 revered, deeply honoured, held in awe


                         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.
pardon (n.) permission, consent, approval See Topics: Politeness


Have you your father's leave? What says Polonius?


He hath, my lord, wrung from me my slow leave
slow (adj.) 2 reluctant, unwilling, slowly given

By laboursome petition, and at last
laboursome (adj.) laborious, assiduous, hard-working

Upon his will I sealed my hard consent.
hard (adj.) 6 difficult, not easy [to obtain]
seal (v.) 1 confirm, ratify, approve

I do beseech you give him leave to go.


Take thy fair hour, Laertes. Time be thine;
fair hour time of youth, favourable opportunity [as a young man]

And thy best graces spend it at thy will.
grace (n.) 2 virtue, good quality

But now, my cousin Hamlet, and my son –


kind (n.) 6 nature, close natural relationship

A little more than kin, and less than kind!


How is it that the clouds still hang on you?


Not so, my lord. I am too much in the sun.


Good Hamlet, cast thy nighted colour off,
colour (n.) 3 semblance, outward appearance, character
nighted (adj.) 1 dark, black as night

And let thine eye look like a friend on Denmark.

Do not for ever with thy vailed lids
vailed (adj.) lowered, downcast

Seek for thy noble father in the dust.

Thou knowest 'tis common. All that lives must die,

Passing through nature to eternity.


Ay, madam, it is common.


                         If it be,

Why seems it so particular with thee?
particular (adj.) 1 personal, special, private


‘ Seems,’ madam? Nay, it is. I know not ‘ seems.’

'Tis not alone my inky cloak, good mother,

Nor customary suits of solemn black,
solemn (adj.) 3 dark, sombre, gloomy
suit (n.) 4 clothing, dress, garb

Nor windy suspiration of forced breath,
suspiration (n.) deep sighing, intense breathing

No, nor the fruitful river in the eye,
fruitful (adj.) 2 abundant, overflowing, prolific

Nor the dejected 'haviour of the visage,
visage (n.) 1 face, countenance See Topics: Frequency count

Together with all forms, moods, shapes of grief,
mood (n.) 3 mode, manner, variety
shape (n.) 1 appearance, aspect, visible form

That can denote me truly. These indeed ‘seem';
denote (v.) 1 portray, depict, represent

For they are actions that a man might play.

But I have that within which passes show –
pass (v.) 1 surpass, go beyond, outdo

These but the trappings and the suits of woe.
suit (n.) 4 clothing, dress, garb


'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 survivor bound

In filial obligation for some term

To do obsequious sorrow. But to persever
obsequious (adj.) 1 dutiful [without suggesting servility]; appropriate after a death

In obstinate condolement is a course
condolement (n.) 1 grief, sorrowing, lamenting
course (n.) 1 course of action, way of proceeding See Topics: Frequency count

Of impious stubbornness. 'Tis unmanly grief.

It shows a will most incorrect to heaven,
incorrect (adj.) behaving in a contrary way, uncorrected

A heart unfortified, a mind impatient,

An understanding simple and unschooled.
simple (adj.) 3 uninformed, ignorant, unintelligent

For what we know must be, and is as common

As any the most vulgar thing to sense,
vulgar (adj.) 5 familiar, ordinary, everyday

Why should we in our peevish opposition
peevish (adj.) 2 obstinate, perverse, self-willed [contrast modern sense of ‘irritable, morose’]

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

A fault against the dead, a fault to nature,
nature (n.) 6 natural order, ungoverned state, way of the world [often personified]

To reason most absurd, whose common theme

Is death of fathers, and who still hath cried,
still (adv.) 1 constantly, always, continually See Topics: Frequency count

From the first corse till he that died today,
corse (n.) corpse, dead body See Topics: Frequency count

‘ This must be so.’ We pray you throw to earth

This unprevailing woe, and think of us
unprevailing (adj.) unavailing, ineffective, unsuccessful

As of a father. For, let the world take note,

You are the most immediate to our throne;
immediate (adj.) 1 close in succession, proximate, direct

And with no less nobility of love

Than that which dearest father bears his son

Do I impart toward you. For your intent
impart (v.) 2 bestow, give, grant
intent (n.) intention, purpose, aim See Topics: Frequency count

In going back to school in Wittenberg,
school (n.) 1 university

It is most retrograde to our desire;
retrograde (adj.) 2 contrary, opposed, repugnant

And, we beseech you, bend you to remain
bend (v.) 2 turn, direct one's steps, proceed

Here in the cheer and comfort of our eye,
cheer (n.) 6 cheerfulness, mirth, joy

Our chiefest courtier, cousin, and our son.


Let not thy mother lose her prayers, Hamlet.

I pray thee stay with us. Go not to Wittenberg.


I shall in all my best obey you, madam.
best, in all my as far as I can, to the best of my ability


Why, 'tis a loving and a fair reply.

Be as ourself in Denmark. Madam, come.

This gentle and unforced accord of Hamlet
accord (n.) 2 agreement, assent, consent
gentle (adj.) 2 courteous, friendly, kind

Sits smiling to my heart; in grace whereof
grace (n.) 1 honour, favour, recognition, respect

No jocund health that Denmark drinks today
jocund (adj.) merry, joyful, cheerful

But the great cannon to the clouds shall tell,
but (conj.) 2 except that, only with the result that

And the King's rouse the heavens shall bruit again,
bruit (v.) report, announce, proclaim
rouse (n.) full draught (of wine), brimful cup, carousing

Re-speaking earthly thunder. Come away.


Exeunt all but Hamlet


O that this too too sullied flesh would melt,
sullied (adj.) tarnished, blemished, polluted

Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew;
resolve (v.) 8 melt, dissolve, transform
thaw (v.) dissolve, soften, melt

Or that the Everlasting had not fixed

His canon 'gainst self-slaughter. O God, God,
canon (n.) 1 law, decree, rule

How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable
weary (adj.) wearisome, tedious, long-drawn-out

Seem to me all the uses of this world!
use (n.) 1 usual practice, habit, custom

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

That grows to seed. Things rank and gross in nature
gross (adj.) 4 excessively large, coarsely luxuriant
rank (adj.) 1 growing in abundance, excessively luxuriant [often unattractively]

Possess it merely. That it should come to this –
merely (adv.) 1 completely, totally, entirely See Topics: Frequency count

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

So excellent a king, that was to this

Hyperion to a satyr; so loving to my mother

That he might not beteem the winds of heaven
beteem, beteene (v.) allow, permit, let, grant

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.
frailty (n.) 1 moral weakness, shortcoming, liability to give in to temptation

A little month, or e'er 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 wants discourse of reason
discourse (n.) 3 course, process, manner

Would have mourned longer – married with my uncle,
want (v.) 1 lack, need, be without See Topics: Frequency count

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
unrighteous (adj.) insincere, wicked, unjust

Had left the flushing in her galled eyes,
flushing (n.) reddening, redness
galled (adj.) 1 sore, swollen, inflamed

She married. O, most wicked speed, to post
post (v.) 1 hasten, speed, ride fast

With such dexterity to incestuous sheets!
dexterity (n.) agility, adroitness, facility

It is not, nor it cannot come to good.

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

Enter Horatio, Marcellus, and Barnardo


Hail to your lordship!


                         I am glad to see you well.

Horatio – or I do forget myself.


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


Sir, my good friend. I'll change that name with you.

And what make you from Wittenberg, Horatio?



My good lord!


I am very glad to see you. (To Barnardo) Good even, sir.

(To Horatio)

But what, in faith, make you from Wittenberg?


A truant disposition, good my lord.
disposition (n.) 2 natural temperament, normal state of mind


I would not hear your enemy say so,

Nor shall you do my ear that violence

To make it truster of your own report
truster (n.) 1 creditor, believer

Against yourself. I know you are no truant.

But what is your affair in Elsinore?

We'll teach you to drink deep ere you depart.


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


I prithee do not mock me, fellow-student.

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


Indeed, my lord, it followed hard upon.


Thrift, thrift, Horatio. The funeral baked meats
baked meats (n.) pies, pastries

Did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables.
coldly (adv.) 3 in a cold form, as cold dishes

Would I had met my dearest foe in heaven
dear (adj.) 1 dire, grievous, hard

Or ever I had seen that day, Horatio!
or ever (conj.) 2 that ever

My father – methinks I see my father.
methinks(t), methought(s) (v.) it seems /seemed to me See Topics: Frequency count


Where, my lord?


                         In my mind's eye, Horatio.


I saw him once. 'A was a goodly king.


'A was a man. Take him for all in all,

I shall not look upon his like again.


My lord, I think I saw him yesternight.
yesternight (n.) last night


Saw? Who?


My lord, the King your father.


                         The King my father?


Season your admiration for a while
admiration (n.) 1 amazement, astonishment, wonder
season (v.) 2 moderate, temper, control

With an attent ear till I may deliver
attent (adj.) attentive, heedful, intent
deliver (v.) 1 report [to], communicate [to], tell, describe

Upon the witness of these gentlemen

This marvel to you.


                         For God's love, let me hear!


Two nights together had these gentlemen,

Marcellus and Barnardo, on their watch

In the dead waste and middle of the night
waste (n.) 3 desolate time or place

Been thus encountered: a figure like your father,

Armed at point exactly, cap-a-pe,
cap-a-pe, cap-a-pie (adv.) [pron: kapa'pay] from head to foot, from top to toe
exactly (adv.) 1 completely, totally, entirely
point, at / at a in readiness, prepared, armed

Appears before them and with solemn march

Goes slow and stately by them. Thrice he walked

By their oppressed and fear-surprised eyes
fear-surprised (adj.) made helpless by fear, overcome by fear
oppressed (adj.) distressed, troubled, burdened

Within his truncheon's length, whilst they, distilled
distil (v.) 1 melt, reduce, dissolve
truncheon (n.) 1 military baton, staff of office

Almost to jelly with the act of fear,
act (n.) 2 action (upon a person), effect

Stand dumb and speak not to him. This to me

In dreadful secrecy impart they did,
dreadful (adj.) 2 full of dread, fearful, terrified

And I with them the third night kept the watch,

Where, as they had delivered, both in time,
deliver (v.) 1 report [to], communicate [to], tell, describe

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

The apparition comes. I knew your father.

These hands are not more like.
like (adj.) 1 same, similar, alike, equal See Topics: Frequency count


                         But where was this?


My lord, upon the platform where we watch.


Did you not speak to it?


                         My lord, I did,

But answer made it none. Yet once methought
methinks(t), methought(s) (v.) it seems /seemed to me See Topics: Frequency count

It lifted up it head and did address
address (v.) 1 prepare, make ready, poise to act

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.


                         'Tis very strange.


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.


Indeed, indeed, sirs. But this troubles me.

Hold you the watch tonight?


                         We do, my lord.


Armed, say you?


Armed, my lord.


From top to toe?


                         My lord, from head to foot.


Then saw you not his face?


O, yes, my lord. He wore his beaver up.
beaver (n.) visor of a helmet, face-guard See Topics: Body-armour


What, looked he frowningly?


A countenance more in sorrow than in anger.


Pale or red?


Nay, very pale.


                         And fixed his eyes upon you?


Most constantly.
constantly (adv.) 2 resolutely, steadfastly, steadily


                         I would I had been there.


It would have much amazed you.
amaze (v.) 1 confuse, perplex, bewilder


Very like, very like. Stayed it long?
like (adv.) 1 likely, probable / probably See Topics: Frequency count


While one with moderate haste might tell a hundred.
tell (v.) 1 count out, number, itemize


Longer, longer.


Not when I saw't.
grizzled (adj.) grey, sprinkled with grey hairs


                         His beard was grizzled, no?


It was as I have seen it in his life,

A sable silvered.
sable (n.) 1 black
watch (v.) 2 keep the watch, keep guard, be on the look-out


                         I will watch tonight.

Perchance 'twill walk again.
perchance (adv.) 1 perhaps, maybe See Topics: Frequency count
warrant (v.) 1 assure, promise, guarantee, confirm See Topics: Frequency count


                         I warrant it will.


If it assume my noble father's person,
assume (v.) 1 acquire, adopt, take on

I'll speak to it though hell itself should gape

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

If you have hitherto concealed this sight,
hitherto (adv.) 3 up to now

Let it be tenable in your silence still.
tenable (adj.) kept secret, retained, kept back

And whatsomever else shall hap tonight,
hap (v.) happen, take place, come to pass

Give it an understanding but no tongue.

I will requite your loves. So fare you well.
love (n.) 3 act of kindness, affectionate deed

Upon the platform 'twixt eleven and twelve
platform (n.) 2 gun-platform, battery emplacement

I'll visit you.


                         Our duty to your honour.


Your loves, as mine to you. Farewell.

Exeunt all but Hamlet

My father's spirit! In arms! All is not well.

I doubt some foul play. Would the night were come!
doubt (v.) 2 suspect, have suspicions about, fear

Till then sit still, my soul. Foul deeds will rise,
still (adj.) 2 quiet, calm, subdued

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


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