Book Sampler: Shakespeare (1 of 27)
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Today's sample play is...
From Act III, Scene I
Hamlet opens with the ghost of Prince Hamlet’s murdered father asking him to seek revenge. However, Hamlet finds it difficult to act, and his complex and changing thoughts lead to increasingly strange behavior. In this famous soliloquy, Hamlet muses on what he should do while Ophelia, a noblewoman, watches in the background.
To be, or not to be,--that is the question:--
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them?--To die,--to sleep,--
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to,--'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die,--to sleep;--
To sleep! perchance to dream:--ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despis'd love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would these fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,--
The undiscover'd country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns,--puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought;
And enterprises of great pith and moment,
With this regard, their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.--Soft you now!
The fair Ophelia!--Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remember'd.
Good my lord,
How does your honour for this many a day?
I humbly thank you; well, well, well.
My lord, I have remembrances of yours
That I have longed long to re-deliver.
I pray you, now receive them.
No, not I;
I never gave you aught.
My honour'd lord, you know right well you did;
And with them words of so sweet breath compos'd
As made the things more rich; their perfume lost,
Take these again; for to the noble mind
Rich gifts wax poor when givers prove unkind.
There, my lord.
Ha, ha! are you honest?
Are you fair?
What means your lordship?
That if you be honest and fair, your honesty should admit no discourse to your beauty.
Could beauty, my lord, have better commerce than with honesty?
Ay, truly; for the power of beauty will sooner transform honesty from what it is to a bawd than the force of honesty can translate beauty into his likeness: this was sometime a paradox, but now the time gives it proof. I did love you once.
Indeed, my lord, you made me believe so.
You should not have believ'd me; for virtue cannot so inoculate our old stock but we shall relish of it: I loved you not.
I was the more deceived.
Get thee to a nunnery: why wouldst thou be a breeder of sinners? I am myself indifferent honest; but yet I could accuse me of such things that it were better my mother had not borne me: I am very proud, revengeful, ambitious; with more offences at my beck than I have thoughts to put them in, imagination to give them shape, or time to act them in. What should such fellows as I do crawling between earth and heaven? We are arrant knaves, all; believe none of us. Go thy ways to a nunnery. Where's your father?
At home, my lord.
Let the doors be shut upon him, that he may play the fool nowhere but in's own house. Farewell.
O, help him, you sweet heavens!
If thou dost marry, I'll give thee this plague for thy dowry,--be thou as chaste as ice, as pure as snow, thou shalt not escape calumny. Get thee to a nunnery, go: farewell. Or, if thou wilt needs marry, marry a fool; for wise men know well enough what monsters you make of them. To a nunnery, go; and quickly too. Farewell.
O heavenly powers, restore him!
I have heard of your paintings too, well enough; God hath given you one face, and you make yourselves another: you jig, you amble, and you lisp, and nickname God's creatures, and make your wantonness your ignorance. Go to, I'll no more on't; it hath made me mad. I say, we will have no more marriages: those that are married already, all but one, shall live; the rest shall keep as they are. To a nunnery, go.
O, what a noble mind is here o'erthrown!
The courtier's, scholar's, soldier's, eye, tongue, sword,
The expectancy and rose of the fair state,
The glass of fashion and the mould of form,
The observ'd of all observers,--quite, quite down!
And I, of ladies most deject and wretched
That suck'd the honey of his music vows,
Now see that noble and most sovereign reason,
Like sweet bells jangled, out of tune and harsh;
That unmatch'd form and feature of blown youth
Blasted with ecstasy: O, woe is me,
To have seen what I have seen, see what I see!
This is the end of the sample of Hamlet. Like it, or know someone who would?
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