Hamlet

by: William Shakespeare

  Act 2 Scene 2

page Act 2 Scene 2 Page 11

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GUILDENSTERN

Prison, my lord?

GUILDENSTERN

Prison, my lord?

HAMLET

Denmark’s a prison.

HAMLET

Denmark’s a prison.

ROSENCRANTZ

Then is the world one.

ROSENCRANTZ

Then I guess the whole world is one.

HAMLET

A goodly one, in which there are many confines, wards, and dungeons, Denmark being one o' th' worst.

HAMLET

Yes, quite a large one, with many cells and dungeons, Denmark being one of the worst.

ROSENCRANTZ

We think not so, my lord.

ROSENCRANTZ

We don’t think so, my lord.

HAMLET

Why, then, ’tis none to you, for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. To me it is a prison.

HAMLET

Well, then it isn’t one to you, since nothing is really good or bad in itself—it’s all what a person thinks about it. And to me, Denmark is a prison.

ROSENCRANTZ

Why then, your ambition makes it one. 'Tis too narrow for your mind.

ROSENCRANTZ

That must be because you’re so ambitious. It’s too small for your large mind.

HAMLET

O God, I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams.

HAMLET

Small? No, I could live in a walnut shell and feel like the king of the universe. The real problem is that I have bad dreams.

GUILDENSTERN

Which dreams indeed are ambition, for the very substance of the ambitious is merely the shadow of a dream.

GUILDENSTERN

Dreams are a sign of ambition, since ambition is nothing more than the shadow of a dream.

HAMLET

245A dream itself is but a shadow.

HAMLET

But a dream itself is just a shadow.

ROSENCRANTZ

Truly, and I hold ambition of so airy and light a quality that it is but a shadow’s shadow.

ROSENCRANTZ

Exactly. In fact, I consider ambition to be so light and airy that it’s only the shadow of a shadow.

HAMLET

Then are our beggars bodies, and our monarchs and outstretched heroes the beggars' shadows. Shall we to th' court? For by my fay, I cannot reason.

HAMLET

Then I guess beggars are the ones with bodies, while ambitious kings and heroes are just the shadows of beggars. Should we go inside? I seem to be losing my mind a bit.

ROSENCRANTZ, GUILDENSTERN

We’ll wait upon you.

ROSENCRANTZ, GUILDENSTERN

We’re at your service, whatever you say.