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Hamlet

by William Shakespeare

Act 4, Scene 4 Easiest-to-Read Edition

 

 

 

Hamlet Act 4, Scene 4



A Plain in Denmark

Hamlet Act 4 Scene 4

Enter FORTINBRAS with his army and a CAPTAIN

Enter FORTINBRAS with his army and a CAPTAIN

FORTINBRAS

Go, Captain, from me greet the Danish king

Tell him that, by his license, Fortinbras

Craves the conveyance of a promised march

conveyance=escort

Over his kingdom. You know the rendezvous.

over=through

If that his majesty would aught with us,

aught with us=ask a favor of us

We shall express our duty in his eye,

eye=presence

And let him know so.

 

FORTINBRAS

Go, Captain, from me greet the Danish king

Tell him that, by his license, Fortinbras

Craves the conveyance of a promised march

Over his kingdom. You know the rendezvous.

If that his majesty would aught with us,

We shall express our duty in his eye,

And let him know so.

 

CAPTAIN

I will do ’t, my lord.

 

CAPTAIN

I will do ’t, my lord.

 

FORTINBRAS

Go softly on.

softly=slowly

 

FORTINBRAS

Go softly on.

 

Exeunt all except the CAPTAIN

Exeunt all except the CAPTAIN

Enter HAMLET, ROSENCRANTZ,GUILDENSTERN, and others

Enter HAMLET, ROSENCRANTZ,GUILDENSTERN, and others

HAMLET

Good sir, whose powers are these?

 

HAMLET

Good sir, whose powers are these?

 

CAPTAIN

They are of Norway, sir.

 

CAPTAIN

They are of Norway, sir.

 

HAMLET

  How purposed, sir, I pray you?

how purposed=for what purpose

 

HAMLET

  How purposed, sir, I pray you?

 

CAPTAIN

Against some part of Poland.

 

CAPTAIN

Against some part of Poland.

 

HAMLET

    Who commands them, sir?

 

HAMLET

    Who commands them, sir?

 

CAPTAIN

The nephew to old Norway, Fortinbras.

 

CAPTAIN

The nephew to old Norway, Fortinbras.

 

HAMLET

Goes it against the main of Poland, sir,

Or for some frontier?

 

HAMLET

Goes it against the main of Poland, sir,

Or for some frontier?

 

CAPTAIN

Truly to speak, and with no addition,

We go to gain a little patch of ground

That hath in it no profit but the name.

To pay five ducats, five, I would not farm it.

five ducats – in rent

Nor will it yield to Norway or the Pole

A ranker rate, should it be sold in fee.

ranker rate=better price

in fee=outright

 

CAPTAIN

Truly to speak, and with no addition,

We go to gain a little patch of ground

That hath in it no profit but the name.

To pay five ducats, five, I would not farm it.

Nor will it yield to Norway or the Pole

A ranker rate, should it be sold in fee.

 

HAMLET

Why, then the Polack never will defend it.

 

 

HAMLET

Why, then the Polack never will defend it.

 

CAPTAIN

Yes, it is already garrisoned.

(they will – troops are already in position)

 

CAPTAIN

Yes, it is already garrisoned.

 

HAMLET

(to himself) Two thousand souls and twenty thousand ducats

Will not debate the question of this straw.

(will not settle the question of this trifle)

This is th' impostume of much wealth and peace,

impostume=abscess

much=too much

That inward breaks and shows no cause without

Why the man dies.—(to the captain) I humbly thank you, sir.

 

HAMLET

Two thousand souls and twenty thousand ducats

Will not debate the question of this straw.

This is th' impostume of much wealth and peace,

That inward breaks and shows no cause without

Why the man dies.—I humbly thank you, sir.

 

CAPTAIN

God be wi' you, sir.

 

CAPTAIN

God be wi' you, sir.

 

Exit CAPTAIN

Exit CAPTAIN

CAPTAIN

God be wi' you, sir.

 

CAPTAIN

God be wi' you, sir.

 

Exit CAPTAIN

Exit CAPTAIN

ROSENCRANTZ

  Will ’t please you go, my lord?

 

ROSENCRANTZ

  Will ’t please you go, my lord?

 

HAMLET

I’ll be with you straight. Go a little before.

 

HAMLET

I’ll be with you straight. Go a little before.

 

Exeunt all except HAMLET

Exeunt all except HAMLET

How all occasions do inform against me,
inform against me=show me how faulty I am

And spur my dull revenge! What is a man

If his chief good and market of his time

Be but to sleep and feed? A beast, no more.

Sure, he that made us with such large discourse,

Looking before and after, gave us not

That capability and godlike reason

To fust in us unused. Now, whether it be

fust=grow moldy

Bestial oblivion, or some craven scruple

Of thinking too precisely on th' event—

A thought which, quartered, hath but one part wisdom

And ever three parts coward—I do not know

Why yet I live to say “This thing’s to do,”

why yet I live – why it isn’t already done and I am dead

Sith (since) I have cause and will and strength and means

To do ’t. Examples gross as earth exhort me.

Witness this army of such mass and charge

charge=expense

Led by a delicate and tender prince,

Whose spirit with divine ambition puffed

Makes mouths at the invisible event,

makes mouths=makes faces

Exposing what is mortal and unsure

To all that fortune, death, and danger dare,

Even for an eggshell. Rightly to be great

an eggshell=a reason as thin as an eggshell

Is not to stir without great argument,

But greatly to find quarrel in a straw

When honor’s at the stake. How stand I then,

That have a father killed, a mother stained,

Excitements of my reason and my blood,

excitements=provocations

And let all sleep—while, to my shame, I see

The imminent death of twenty thousand men,

That for a fantasy and trick of fame

Go to their graves like beds, fight for a plot

Whereon the numbers cannot try the cause,

numbers cannot try the cause – numbers do not justify bringing such an insignificant cause to court

Which is not tomb enough and continent

which=plot

continent=containment enough

To hide the slain? Oh, from this time forth,

My thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth!

 

How all occasions do inform against me,

And spur my dull revenge! What is a man

If his chief good and market of his time

Be but to sleep and feed? A beast, no more.

Sure, he that made us with such large discourse,

Looking before and after, gave us not

That capability and godlike reason

To fust in us unused. Now, whether it be

Bestial oblivion, or some craven scruple

Of thinking too precisely on th' event—

A thought which, quartered, hath but one part wisdom

And ever three parts coward—I do not know

Why yet I live to say “This thing’s to do,”

Sith I have cause and will and strength and means

To do ’t. Examples gross as earth exhort me.

Witness this army of such mass and charge

Led by a delicate and tender prince,

Whose spirit with divine ambition puffed

Makes mouths at the invisible event,

Exposing what is mortal and unsure

To all that fortune, death, and danger dare,

Even for an eggshell. Rightly to be great

Is not to stir without great argument,

But greatly to find quarrel in a straw

When honor’s at the stake. How stand I then,

That have a father killed, a mother stained,

Excitements of my reason and my blood,

And let all sleep—while, to my shame, I see

The imminent death of twenty thousand men,

That for a fantasy and trick of fame

Go to their graves like beds, fight for a plot

Whereon the numbers cannot try the cause,

Which is not tomb enough and continent

To hide the slain? Oh, from this time forth,

My thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth!

 

Exit

Exit

 

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