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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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IT was after sun-up now, but we went right on and didn’t tie up. The king and the duke turned out by and by looking pretty rusty; but after they’d jumped overboard and took a swim it chippered them up a good deal. After breakfast the king he took a seat on the corner of the raft, and pulled off his boots and rolled up his britches, and let his legs dangle in the water, so as to be comfortable, and lit his pipe, and went to getting his Romeo and Juliet by heart. When he had got it pretty good him and the duke begun to practice it together. The duke had to learn him over and over again how to say every speech; and he made him sigh, and put his hand on his heart, and after a while he said he done it pretty well; “only,” he says, “you mustn’t bellow out ROME ! that way, like a bull—you must say it soft and sick and languishy, so—R-o-o-meo! that is the idea; for Juliet’s a dear sweet mere child of a girl, you know, and she doesn’t bray like a jackass.” It was after sunrise now, but we didn’t tie the raft up on shore—went right on floating down the river. The king and the duke woke up after a while looking pretty groggy, but they chippered up a lot after jumping overboard and taking a swim. After breakfast, the king took a seat on the corner of the raft, pulled off his boots, rolled up his pantlegs, and let his legs dangle in the water to make himself more comfortable. Then he lit his pipe and started memorizing his lines from Romeo and Juliet. When he had them down, he and the duke began to practice together. The duke had to teach him again and again how to say every line. He made him sigh and put his hands on his heart, and after a while he said the king was doing it pretty well. “Except,” he said, “You can’t yell, ‘ROME!’ like that as if you were a bull or something—you have to say it softly and sweetly, like you’re swooning: ‘R-o-o-meo!’ That’s how you do it. Juliet’s supposed to be a sweet mere child; she doesn’t bray like a donkey.”
Well, next they got out a couple of long swords that the duke made out of oak laths, and begun to practice the sword fight—the duke called himself Richard III.; and the way they laid on and pranced around the raft was grand to see. But by and by the king tripped and fell overboard, and after that they took a rest, and had a talk about all kinds of adventures they’d had in other times along the river. Next they pulled out a couple of long swords that the duke had made out of laths, and they began to practice the swordfight. The duke called himself Richard III the whole time. It was quite a fine sight to see the way they carried on and pranced around the raft. But after a while the king tripped and fell overboard, so after that they rested and talked about all kinds of adventures they’d had up and down the river in times past.
After dinner the duke says: After dinner, the duke said:
“Well, Capet, we’ll want to make this a first-class show, you know, so I guess we’ll add a little more to it. We want a little something to answer encores with, anyway.” “Well, Capet, we’ll want to make this a first class show, you know, so I guess we should add a bit more to it. We’ll want a little something to put on after the encores, anyway.”
“What’s onkores, Bilgewater?” “What are encores, Bilgewater?”
The duke told him, and then says: The duke told him, then said:
“I’ll answer by doing the Highland fling or the sailor’s hornpipe; and you—well, let me see—oh, I’ve got it—you can do Hamlet’s soliloquy.” “I’ll do the Highland fling or the sailor’s hornpipe dances for my encore, and you can… well, let me see… oh, I’ve got it! You can do Hamlet’s soliloquy.”
“Hamlet’s which?” “Hamlet’s what?”
“Hamlet’s soliloquy, you know; the most celebrated thing in Shakespeare. Ah, it’s sublime, sublime! Always fetches the house. I haven’t got it in the book—I’ve only got one volume—but I reckon I can piece it out from memory. I’ll just walk up and down a minute, and see if I can call it back from recollection’s vaults.”

Hamlet’s Soliloquy

the duke butchers Hamlet’s soliloquy by changing the meaning and adding lines from other characters in Hamlet and other Shakespeare plays

Hamlet’s Soliloquy
. You know—the most famous lines in all of Shakespeare. Ah, it’s fantastic! Fantastic! The audience always loves it. I don’t have it in the book—I only have one volume of Shakespeare’s plays—but I guess I can piece it together from memory. Let me just walk a minute here while I try to recall it.”
So he went to marching up and down, thinking, and frowning horrible every now and then; then he would hoist up his eyebrows; next he would squeeze his hand on his forehead and stagger back and kind of moan; next he would sigh, and next he’d let on to drop a tear. It was beautiful to see him. By and by he got it. He told us to give attention. Then he strikes a most noble attitude, with one leg shoved forwards, and his arms stretched away up, and his head tilted back, looking up at the sky; and then he begins to rip and rave and grit his teeth; and after that, all through his speech, he howled, and spread around, and swelled up his chest, and just knocked the spots out of any acting ever I see before. This is the speech—I learned it, easy enough, while he was learning it to the king: So he went pacing back and forth, thinking and frowning deeply every now and then. Then he would raise his eyebrows, squeeze his hand on his forehead, stagger back, and kind of moan. Then he would sigh and pretend to cry a little. It was pretty impressive to see him. After a minute he got it. He told us to pay attention. Then he made a very noble face, put one leg forward, stretched his arm way up in the air, tilted his head back, and looked up into the sky. He began to cuss and swear and grit his teeth before finally starting the speech. The whole time he was speaking, he howled and flung his arms around and puffed his chest. He gave a performance that blew every other actor I’d ever seen out of the water. This was his speech—I learned it pretty easily while he was teaching it to the king:
To be, or not to be; that is the bare bodkin That makes calamity of so long life; For who would fardels bear, till Birnam Wood do come to Dunsinane, But that the fear of something after death Murders the innocent sleep, Great nature’s second course, And makes us rather sling the arrows of outrageous fortune Than fly to others that we know not of. There’s the respect must give us pause: Wake Duncan with thy knocking! I would thou couldst; For who would bear the whips and scorns of time, The oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely, The law’s delay, and the quietus which his pangs might take, In the dead waste and middle of the night, when churchyards yawn In customary suits of solemn black, But that the undiscovered country from whose bourne no traveler returns, Breathes forth contagion on the world, And thus the native hue of resolution, like the poor cat i’ the adage, Is sicklied o’er with care, And all the clouds that lowered o’er our housetops, With this regard their currents turn awry, And lose the name of action. ’Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished. But soft you, the fair Ophelia: Ope not thy ponderous and marble jaws, But get thee to a nunnery—go! To be, or not to be; that is the bare bodkin That makes calamity of so long life; For who would fardels bear, till Birnam Wood do come to Dunsinane, But that the fear of something after death Murders the innocent sleep, Great nature's second course, And makes us rather sling the arrows of outrageous fortune Than fly to others that we know not of. There's the respect must give us pause: Wake Duncan with thy knocking! I would thou couldst; For who would bear the whips and scorns of time, The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely, The law's delay, and the quietus which his pangs might take, In the dead waste and middle of the night, when churchyards yawn In customary suits of solemn black, But that the undiscovered country from whose bourne no traveler returns, Breathes forth contagion on the world, And thus the native hue of resolution, like the poor cat i' the adage, Is sicklied o'er with care, And all the clouds that lowered o'er our housetops, With this regard their currents turn awry, And lose the name of action. 'Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished. But soft you, the fair Ophelia: Ope not thy ponderous and marble jaws, But get thee to a nunnery—go!

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