by: William Shakespeare

Original Text

Modern Text

That we find out the cause of this effect,
105Or rather say, the cause of this defect,
For this effect defective comes by cause.
Thus it remains, and the remainder thus. Perpend.
I have a daughter—have while she is mine—
Who in her duty and obedience, mark,
110Hath given me this. Now gather and surmise.
(reads a letter) “To the celestial and my soul’s idol, the most beautified Ophelia”That’s an ill phrase, a vile phrase. “Beautified” is a vile phrase. But you shall hear. Thus: (reads the letter)“In her excellent white bosom, these,” etc.—
Now, if we agree Hamlet’s crazy, then the next step is to figure out the cause of this effect of craziness, or I suppose I should say the cause of this defect, since this defective effect is caused by something. This is what we must do, and that’s exactly what needs to be done. Think about it. I have a daughter (I have her until she gets married) who’s given me this letter, considering it her duty. Listen and think about this: (he reads a letter) “To the heavenly idol of my soul, the most beautified Ophelia”—By the way, “beautified” sounds bad, it sounds awful, it sounds crude, it’s a terrible use of the word. But I’ll go on: (he reads the letter) “In her excellent white bosom,” et cetera, et cetera—you don’t need to hear all this stuff—
Came this from Hamlet to her?
Hamlet wrote this letter to Ophelia?
Good madam, stay a while. I will be faithful.
(reads the letter)
  “Doubt thou the stars are fire,
  Doubt that the sun doth move,
  Doubt truth to be a liar,
  But never doubt I love.
 O dear Ophelia, I am ill at these numbers. I have not art to reckon my groans, but that I love thee best, oh, most best, believe it. Adieu.
  Thine evermore, most dear lady,
  whilst this machine is to him,
115This in obedience hath my daughter shown me,
And more above, hath his solicitings,
As they fell out by time, by means, and place,
All given to mine ear.
Madam, please be patient. I’ll read it to you.
(he reads the letter)
 “You may wonder if the stars are fire,
You may wonder if the sun moves across the sky.
You may wonder if the truth is a liar,
But never wonder if I love.
Oh, Ophelia, I’m bad at poetry. I can’t put my feelings into verse, but please believe I love you best, oh, best of all. Believe it.
Yours forever, my dearest one,
as long as I live—still chugging along,
Dutifully and obediently my daughter showed me this letter, and more like it. She’s told me all about how Hamlet has been courting her—all the details of where, and what he said, and when.
But how hath she received his love?
And how did she react to all this?
120What do you think of me?
Sir, what is your opinion of me?