Each Edition Includes:
• Comprehensive explanatory notes
• Vivid introductions and the most up-to-date scholarship
• Clear, modernized spelling and punctuation, enabling contemporary readers to understand the Elizabethan English
• Completely updated, detailed bibliographies and performance histories
• An interpretive essay on film adaptations of the play, along with an extensive filmography
About the Author
Date of Death:2018
Place of Birth:Stratford-upon-Avon, United Kingdom
Place of Death:Stratford-upon-Avon, United Kingdom
Read an Excerpt
ghost of Hamlet, the former King of Denmark
Claudius, King of Denmark, the former King's brother
Gertrude, Queen of Denmark, widow of the former King and now wife of Claudius
Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, son of the late King and of Gertrude
Polonius, councillor to the King
Laertes, his son
Ophelia, his daughter
Reynaldo, his servant
Horatio, Hamlet's friend and fellow student
Guildenstern, members of the Danish court
Francisco, officers and soldiers on watch
Fortinbras, Prince of Norway
captain in his army
Three or Four players, taking the roles of prologue, player king, player queen, and Lucianus
Two clowns, a gravedigger and his companion
first ambassador from England
Lords, Soldiers, Attendants, Guards, other Players, Followers of Laertes, other Sailors, another Ambassador or Ambassadors from England
FRANCISCO, officers and soldiers on watch
FORTINBRAS, Prince of Norway
CAPTAIN in His army
Three or Four PLAYERS, taking the roles of PROLOGUE, PLAYER KING, PLAYER QUEEN, and LUCIANUS
Two CLOWNS, a gravedigger and his companion
FIRST AMBASSADOR from England
Lords, Soldiers, Attendants, Guards, other Players, Followers of Laertes, other Sailors, another Ambassador or Ambassadors from England
1.1 Location: Elsinore castle. A guard platform.
2 me (Francisco emphasizes that he is the sentry currently on watch.) unfold yourself reveal your identity.
14 rivals partners
16 ground country land.
17 liegemen to the Dane men sworn to serve the Danish king.
18 Give May God give
BERNARDO Who's there?
Nay, answer me. Stand and unfold yourself. 2 BERNARDO Long live the King!
You come most carefully upon your hour.
'Tis now struck twelve. Get thee to bed, Francisco.
For this relief much thanks. 'Tis bitter cold,
And I am sick at heart.
BERNARDO Have you had quiet guard? FRANCISCO Not a mouse stirring.
BERNARDO Well, good night.
If you do meet Horatio and Marcellus,
The rivals of my watch, bid them make haste. 14
Enter Horatio and Marcellus.
I think I hear themStand, ho! Who is there?
HORATIO Friends to this ground. 16
MARCELLUS And liegemen to the Dane. 17
FRANCISCO Give you good night. 18
Oh, farewell, honest soldier. Who hath relieved you?
27 fantasy imagination
30 along to come along
31 watch keep watch during
33 approve corroborate
39 Last... all i.e., This very last night. (Emphatic.)
40 pole polestar, north star
41 his its. t'illuine to illuminate
Bernardo hath my place. Give you good night.
MARCELLUS Holla! Bernardo! BERNARDO Say, what, is Horatio there?
HORATIO A piece of him.
Welcome, Horatio. Welcome, good Marcellus.
What, has this thing appeared again tonight?
BERNARDO I have seen nothing.
Horatio says 'tis but our fantasy, 27
And will not let belief take hold of him
Touching this dreaded sight twice seen of us.
Therefore I have entreated him along 30
With us to watch the minutes of this night, 31
That if again this apparition come
He may approve our eyes and speak to it. 33
Tush, tush, 'twill not appear.
BERNARDO Sit down awhile And let us once again assail your ears, That are so fortified against our story, What we have two nights seen.
HORATIO Well, sit we down, And let us hear Bernardo speak of this.
BERNARDO Last night of all, 39
When yond same star that's westward from the pole 40
Had made his course t'illume that part of heaven 41
Where now it burns, Marcellus and myself,
The bell then beating one Enter Ghost.
46 scholar one learned enough to know how to question a ghost properly
49 It... to (It was commonly believed that a ghost could
not speak until spoken to.)
50 usurp'st wrongfully takes over
52 buried Denmark the buried King of Denmark
53 sometimes formerly
59 on't of it.
61 sensible confirmed by the senses. avouch warrant,
Peace, break thee off! Look where it comes again!
In the same figure like the King that's dead.
Thou art a scholar. Speak to it, Horatio. 46
Looks 'a not like the King? Mark it, Horatio. 47
Most like. It harrows me with fear and wonder.
It would be spoke to.
MARCELLUS Speak to it, Horatio. 49 HORATIO
What art thou that usurp'st this time of night, 50
Together with that fair and warlike form
In which the majesty of buried Denmark 52
Did sometimes march? By heaven, I charge thee, speak! 53 MARCELLUS
It is offended.
BERNARDO See, it stalks away.
Stay! Speak, speak! I charge thee, speak! Exit Ghost. MARCELLUS 'Tis gone and will not answer.
How now, Horatio? You tremble and look pale.
Is not this something more than fantasy?
What think you on't?
Before my God, I might not this believe
Without the sensible and true avouch 61
Of mine own eyes.
MARCELLUS Is it not like the King?
65 Norway King of Norway
66 parle parley
67 sledded traveling on sleds. Polacks Poles
69 jump exactly
70 stalk stride
71 to work i.e., to collect my thoughts and try to understand this
72 gross and scope general drift
74 Good now (An expression denoting entreaty or expostulation.)
76 toils causes to toil. subject subjects
77 cast casting
78 mart shopping
79 impress impressment, conscription
81 toward in preparation
87 Thereto... pride (Refers to old Fortinbras, not the Danish King.) pricked on incited. emulate emubus, ambitious
89 this ... world i.e., all Europe, the Western world
90 sealed certified, confirmed
91 heraldry chivalry
93 seized possessed
HORATIO As thou art to thyself.
Such was the very armor he had on
When he the ambitious Norway combated. 65
So frowned he once when, in an angry parle, 66
He smote the sledded Polacks on the ice. 67
Thus twice before, and jump at this dead hour, 69 With martial stalk hath he gone by our watch. 70
In what particular thought to work I know not, 71
But in the gross and scope of mine opinion 72
This bodes some strange eruption to our state.
Good now, sit down, and tell me, he that knows, 74
Why this same strict and most observant watch
So nightly toils the subject of the land, 76
And why such daily cast of brazen cannon 77
And foreign mart for implements of war, 78
Why such impress of shipwrights, whose sore task 79
Does not divide the Sunday from the week.
What might be toward, that this sweaty haste 81
Doth make the night joint-laborer with the day?
Who is't that can inform me? HORATIO That can I;
At least, the whisper goes so. Our last king,
Whose image even but now appeared to us,
Was, as you know, by Fortinbras of Norway,
Thereto pricked on by a most emulate pride, 87
Dared to the combat; in which our valiant Hamlet-For so this side of our known world esteemed him 89
Did slay this Fortinbras; who by a sealed compact 90
Well ratified by law and heraldry 91
Did forfeit, with his life, all those his lands
Which he stood seized of, to the conqueror; 93
94 Against the in return for. moiety competent corresponding portion
95 gaged engaged, pledged. had returned would have passed
96 inheritance possession
97 cov'nant i.e., the sealed compact of line 90
98 carriage... designed purport of the artide referred to
100 unimproved mettle untried, undisciplined spirits
101 skirts outlying regions, outskirts
1024 Sharked... in't rounded up (as a shark scoops up fish) a troop of lawless desperadoes to feed and supply an enterprise of considerable daring
110 head source
111 posthaste and rummage frenetic activity and bustle
113 Well.., sort That would explain why
115 question focus of contention
116 mote speck of dust
117 paliny flourishing
118 Julius Julius Caesar
119 sheeted shrouded
121 As (This abrupt transition suggests that matter is possibly omitted between lines 120 and 121.) trains trails
122 Disasters unfavorable signs or aspects. moist star i.e., moon, governing tides
123 Neptune's ... stands the sea depends
124 Was ... eclipse was eclipsed nearly to the cosmic darkness predicted for the second coming of Christ and the ending of the world. (See Matthew 24:29 and Revelation 6:12.)
125 precurse heralding, foreshadowing
126 harbingers forerunners. still always
Against the which a moiety competent 94
Was gaged by our king, which had returned 95
To the inheritance of Fortinbras 96
Had he been vanquisher, as, by the same cov'nant 97
And carriage of the article designed, 98
His fell to Hamlet. Now, sir, young Fortinbras,
Of unimproved mettle hot and full, 100
Hath in the skirts of Norway here and there ioi
Sharked up a list of lawless resolutes i02
For food and diet to some enterprise 103
That hath a stomach in't, which is no other 104
As it doth well appear unto our state-But to recover of us, by strong hand
And terms compulsatory, those foresaid lands
So by his father lost. And this, I take it,
Is the main motive of our preparations,
The source of this our watch, and the chief head I 10
Of this posthaste and rummage in the land. iii
I think it be no other but e'en so.
Well may it sort that this portentous figure 113
Comes armed through our watch so like the King
That was and is the question of these wars. 115
A mote it is to trouble the mind's eye. 116
In the most high and palmy state of Rome, I 17
A little ere the mightiest Julius fell, I 18
The graves stood tenantless, and the sheeted dead 119
Did squeak and gibber in the Roman streets;
As stars with trains of fire and dews of blood, 121
Disasters in the sun; and the moist star 122
Upon whose influence Neptune's empire stands 123
Was sick almost to doomsday with eclipse. 124
And even the like precurse of feared events, 125
As harbingers preceding still the fates 126
127 omen calamitous event
129 climatures dimes, regions
130 soft i.e., enough, break off
131 cross stand in its path, confront. blast wither, strike
with a curse.
131 s.d. his its
137 privy to in on the secret of
138 happily haply perchance
144 partisan long-handled spear.
1467 'Tis here! / 'Tis here! (Perhaps they attempt to strike at the Ghost, but are baffled by its seeming ability to be here and there and nowhere.)
And prologue to the omen coming on, 127
Have heaven and earth together demonstrated
Unto our climatures and countrymen. 129
But soft, behold! Lo, where it comes again! 130
I'll cross it, though it blast me. (It spreads his arms.) Stay,
If thou hast any sound or use of voice,
Speak to me!
If there be any good thing to be done
That may to thee do ease and grace to me,
Speak to me!
If thou art privy to thy country's fate, 137
Which, happily, foreknowing may avoid, 138
Or if thou hast uphoarded in thy life
Extorted treasure in the womb of earth,
For which, they say, you spirits oft walk in death,
Speak of it! (The cock crows.) Stay and speak!-Stop it, Marcellus.
Shall I strike at it with my partisan? 144
HORATIO Do, if it will not stand. [They strike at it.]
BERNARDO 'Tis here! 146
HORATIO 'Tis here! [Exit Ghost.] 147
MARCELLUs 'Tis gone.
We do it wrong, being so majestical,
To offer it the show of violence,
For it is as the air invulnerable,
And our vain blows malicious mockery.
It was about to speak when the cock crew.
156 trumpet trumpeter
160 extravagant and erring wandering beyond bounds. (The words have similar meaning.) hies hastens
162 probation proof
164 'gainst just before
168 strike destroy by evil influence
169 takes bewitches. charm cast a spell, control by enchantment
170 gracious full of grace
172 russet reddish brown
And then it started like a guilty thing
Upon a fearful summons. I have heard
The cock, that is the trumpet to the morn, 156
Doth with his lofty and shrill-sounding throat
Awake the god of day, and at his warning,
Whether in sea or fire, in earth or air,
Th'extravagant and erring spirit hies 160
To his confine; and of the truth herein
This present object made probation. i 62
It faded on the crowing of the cock.
Some say that ever 'gainst that season comes 164
Wherein our Savior's birth is celebrated,
This bird of dawning singeth all night long,
And then, they say, no spirit dare stir abroad;
The nights are wholesome, then no planets strike, 168
No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm, 169
So hallowed and so gracious is that time. 170
So have I heard and do in part believe it.
But, look, the morn in russet mantle clad 172
Walks o'er the dew of yon high eastward hill.
Break we our watch up, and by my advice
Let us impart what we have seen tonight
Unto young Hamlet; for upon my life,
This spirit, dumb to us, will speak to him.
Do you consent we shall acquaint him with it,
As needful in our loves, fitting our duty?
Let's do't, I pray, and I this morning know
Where we shall find him most conveniently.
1.2 Location: The castle.
0.2 as i.e., such as, induding.
0.3 cum aijis with others
1 our my (The royal "we"; also in the following lines.)
8 sometime former
9 jointress woman possessing property with her husband
11 With.., eye with one eye smiling and the other weeping
13 dole grief
17 Now... know Next, you need to be informed that
18 weak supposal low estimate
20 disjoint... frame in a state of total disorder
21 Co-leagued... advantage joined to his illusory sense of having the advantage over us and to his vision of future success
23 Importing having for its substance
24 ..... .law (See 1.1.91, "Well ratified by law and heraldry")
[1.2] Flourish. Enter Claudius, King of Denmark, Gertrude the Queen, [the] Council, as Polonius and his son Laertes, Hamlet, cum aliis [including Voltimand and Cornelius].
Though yet of Hamlet our dear brother's death
The memory be green, and that it us befitted
To bear our hearts in grief and our whole kingdom
To be contracted in one brow of woe,
Yet so far hath discretion fought with nature
That we with wisest sorrow think on him
Together with remembrance of ourselves.
Therefore our sometime sister, now our queen, 8
Thimperial jointress to this warlike state, 9
Have we, as 'twere with a defeated joy With an auspicious and a dropping eye, ii
With mirth in funeral and with dirge in marriage,
In equal scale weighing delight and dole- 13 Taken to wife. Nor have we herein barred
Your better wisdoms, which have freely gone
With this affair along. For all, our thanks.
Now follows that you know young Fortinbras, 17
Holding a weak supposal of our worth, 18
Or thinking by our late dear brother's death
Our state to be disjoint and out of frame, 20
Co-leagued with this dream of his advantage, 21
He hath not failed to pester us with message
Importing the surrender of those lands 23
Lost by his father, with all bonds of law, 24
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-
29 impotent helpless
31 His i.e., Fortinbras'. gait proceeding
313 in that.., subject since the levying of troops and supplies is drawn entirely from the King of Norway's own subjects
38 dilated set out at length
39 let... duty let your swift obeying of orders, rather than mere words, express your dutifulness.
41 nothing not at all.
44 the Dane the Danish king
45 lose your voice waste your speech.
47 native dosely connected, related
48 instrumental serviceable
51 leave and favor kind permission
56 bow... pardon entreatingly make a deep bow, asking your permission to depart.