From the Play
HAMLET: And am I not the King’s son?
HORATIA: You are.
HAMLET: Well then…
HAMLET: And your mother the Queen married your Uncle Claudius, who was the younger son of the older King, your grandfather, and therefore—
HAMLET: No! That is not the way it should work! When King dies, King’s son becomes new King! Now do you get it, numbskull!
HAMLET: Oh, I’m sorry, Horatia. I am… distracted.
HORATIA: But Hamlet, you will be King.
HAMLET: Ha! Think you so?
HORATIA: Of course! When our wise Council of Elders deems—
HAMLET (Scoffs): And believe you that… bull twaddle?
HORATIA: Do you not?
HAMLET: Oh, Horatia, Horatia! Listen to me. What if I were to tell you that my father, the King… (He thinks)… was murdered?
HORATIA: But why would you tell me that?
HAMLET: Because, numb because… Sweet Horatia… It is true!
HORATIA: Who told you this, Hamlet!
HAMLET (Thinks, pacing): Well, he himself did!
HORATIA: He! You mean… your father? (He nods) But… is he not dead? And if he is dead how could he tell you he was murdered? And if he could tell you he was murdered, then… He must not be dead! (Shakes her head) I don’t get it.
HAMLET (Fumbling): It was not he… exactly. It was… his ghost. Yes, his ghost told me.
HORATIA: His ghost! Whoa! Methinks you are too much in the sun, Hamlet! I know you have had a great shock, but—
HAMLET: It was, blast you… in a dream! In a dream his ghost told me so!
HORATIA: Oh. But Hamlet can we believe in dreams! Sometimes I know that dreams may portend the future, but events in the past? Why, I myself saw your father killed by Fortinbras of Norway in a fair fight.
HAMLET: That is what you believed you saw, Horatia. But just before that fight he was… poisoned, to make it appear as if he were killed in the fight!
HORATIA: (Very skeptically) Poisoned?
HAMLET: ‘Sblood, Horatia! I have it from his very lips!
HORATIA: (Still skeptical) Well Yesss, but… in a dream…
HORATIA: You doubt my word! My dearest friend! Shall I swear it… On a Bible? All right, where is a Bible… (He makes a pretense of searching for a Bible)…
HORATIA (Shaking her head): I don’t wish to doubt, Hamlet, but this story amazes me!
HAMLET: There are stranger things in heaven and earth, Horatia, than your philosophy ever dreamed of!
HORATIA: I’ve heard that. But Hamlet… what do you intend to do about it?
HAMLET: Aye, there’s the rub. For the moment I think it best if I play the ‘Melancholy Prince’ in order to gain time.
HORATIA (Uneasy): Time… for what?
HAMLET: That is where your help is needed. Here is what you must do. You must spread this murder story among the citizens, so that when I make my play I will have the support of the rabble—
HORATIA: The rabble!
HAMLET: I meant… the people…
(Then CLAUDIUS re-enters. HAMLET, seeing him, immediately turns ‘melancholy’)
CLAUDIUS: The feast is being prepared. The cook says we are to have funeral-baked meats. I hope they are not too spoiled!
HAMLET (As if distracted): A Feast, a feast, a feast! And what is a feast!
CLAUDIUS (Alarmed, to HORATIA): What’s this?
HORATIA (Scratching her head): I know not, My Lord.
HAMLET (Whispers to HORATIA, as he passes by her): Melancholy, numbskull…
HORATIA: I know not, but I fear Hamlet is… melancholy.
CLAUDIUS: Oh no! Gentle Hamlet… are you melancholy?
HAMLET: Oh, My Lord, I could be enclosed in a nutshell and consider myself a King of Infinite Space if I did not have… bad dreams…
HORATIA: My Lord! He said the very same to me!
CLAUDIUS (Highly alarmed): This is not a good thing!
HAMLET (Appears to be near tears): I have lost all sense of happiness. My mood is so heavy that this lovely dwelling, this earth seems to me like nothing but a barren rock! What a piece of work is man, how noble in proportion, and yet to me what is this but perfection of dust! No man giveth me delight and neither doth any woman.
GERTRUDE (Entering, is aghast) What’s this! Not thy Mother!
HORATIA: Not thy dearest friend!
HAMLET: Away! Get thee to a nunnery! (He exits)
CLAUDIUS (Shaking his head, watching HAMLET exit): I’m worried about that boy!
GERTRUDE: Oh, Horatia! Know you something of this?
HORATIA (Very uneasy): Methinks it has somewhat to do with his father’s death.
CLAUDIUS: Yes, methought so.
GERTRUDE: But what are we to do!
CLAUDIUS: I will think on it. And in the meantime, Horatia, follow him. Do not let him do anything rash.
HORATIA: I will do’t, My Lord. (She exits)
GERTRUDE: Claudius, he is so melancholy! What are we to do?
CLAUDIUS: I am still thinking.
GERTRUDE: Well, hurry up and think!
CLAUDIUS: I think…
GERTRUDE: Yes, yes…
CLAUDIUS: I think… that Polonius should speak to him.
GERTRUDE: Of course! Polonius, the court chirurgeon…
CLAUDIUS: He is wise and subtle in the workings of the mind.
GERTRUDE: Yes! He’ll know what is to be done! Let’s us get him at once! (They exit)
(As they exit left, OPHELIA and LAETRES then enter from the right)
LAERTES: So then, My Sweet Ophelia, all is settled between you and I?
OPHELIA: ‘Tis Laertes.
LAERTES: But your father…
OPHELIA: ‘Tis his wish also.
LAERTES: ‘Tis? Then am I the most fortunate man on this planet!
OPHELIA: And certain of your love, Laertes, I am the most fortunate woman!
LAERTES: But there is one thing, which worries me.
OPHELIA: What is that?
LAERTES: Know you that Prince Hamlet has returned from Wittenberg?
OPHELIA: What of it?
LAERTES: Well… I know that he professes… some feelings for you.
HAMLET: Then you care not for him?
OPHELIA: That toad! Maketh me not to laugh. (She laughs).
LAERTES: Then I am assured?
OPHELIA: You are, silly Laertes.
LAERTES: Then I am the most happy—
OPHELIA: I know! I know! But why do you not go and speak to my father?
LAERTES (He gulps): Now?
OPHELIA (Caressing him): What better time to strike than while… the iron is hot?
LAERTES (Screwing up his courage): I’ll do’t. But Sweet Ophelia, before I do, may I beg one favor of you…
OPHELIA (Kisses him): Do you have it?
LAERTES (Ecstatically): Vavavoom! (He rushes off)
(And as LAERTES exits to the left, HAMLET once more enters from the right)
HAMLET: Ophelia… Oho, this is well met…
OPHELIA (Irked but polite): How goes it, My Lord?
HAMLET; Ophelia, I… would like to be…
HAMLET: What would you like to be, My Lord?
HAMLET: I’d like to be your Lord… and your Master! (He then tries to kiss her).
OPHELIA: Fie, my Lord! What is this? I will believe you do not respect me!
HAMLET: Oh, I will gladly show you—
OPHELIA: What will you gladly show me, My Lord? No! Striketh that!
HAMLET: Why, I will gladly show you how much I respect you! (He again grabs her).
OPHELIA (Pushing him away): My Lord, this is too much!
HAMLET: Methinks it’s not enough! (He tries again)
OPHELIA: Hamlet, you are rude!
HAMLET: Ha! But methinks you will sing a different tune… when I am King!
OPHELIA: When will that be?
HAMLET: (Slyly): Sooner than you think, Sweet Ophelia, sooner than you think!
OPHELIA: My Lord, I think you are suddenly… not so melancholy!
HAMLET: Melancholy! Yes… melancholy! Oh, but I am… (Assumes a melancholy pose) I am a very melancholy Prince, Ophelia. (He then exits).