Hamlet

by: William Shakespeare

Original Text

Modern Text

A noise within
A noise offstage.

GERTRUDE

    Alack, what noise is this?

GERTRUDE

Oh, no—what’s that noise?

CLAUDIUS

Where are my Switzers? Let them guard the door.

CLAUDIUS

Listen! Where are my bodyguards? Let them guard the door.
Enter a MESSENGER
A MESSENGER enters.
What is the matter?
What is it?

MESSENGER

  Save yourself, my lord.
The ocean, overpeering of his list,
Eats not the flats with more impiteous haste
75Than young Laertes, in a riotous head,
O'erbears your officers. The rabble call him “lord”
And—as the world were now but to begin,
Antiquity forgot, custom not known,
The ratifiers and props of every word—
80They cry, “Choose we! Laertes shall be king!”
Caps, hands, and tongues applaud it to the clouds:
“Laertes shall be king, Laertes king!”

MESSENGER

You must save yourself, my lord. The young Laertes, like the ocean when it floods the shore and devours the lowlands, is leading a rebellion against your government. The crowd calls him “lord” and shouts, “We want Laertes to be king!” It’s as if they were starting the world from scratch right now, throwing out the traditions and ancient customs that are the support of every word we utter. They throw their caps in the air and yell, “Laertes will be king! Laertes king!”

GERTRUDE

How cheerfully on the false trail they cry.
O, this is counter, you false Danish dogs!

GERTRUDE

They sound so cheerful as they hunt down the wrong prey! Oh, you’re on the wrong track, you disloyal Danish dogs!
Noise within
A noise offstage.

CLAUDIUS

85The doors are broke.

CLAUDIUS

The doors have been smashed open.
Enter LAERTES with others
LAERTES enters with others.