Hamlet

by: William Shakespeare

  Act 2 Scene 2

page Act 2 Scene 2 Page 21

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POLONIUS

That’s good. “Moblèd queen” is good.

POLONIUS

That’s good. “The muffled queen” is good.

FIRST PLAYER

Run barefoot up and down, threatening the flames
With bisson rheum, a clout upon that head
470 Where late the diadem stood, and for a robe,
About her lank and all o'erteemèd loins,
A blanket, in the alarm of fear caught up
Who this had seen, with tongue in venom steeped,
'Gainst fortune’s state would treason have pronounced.
475 But if the gods themselves did see her then
When she saw Pyrrhus make malicious sport
In mincing with his sword her husband’s limbs,
The instant burst of clamor that she made,
(Unless things mortal move them not at all)
480 Would have made milch the burning eyes of heaven,
And passion in the gods.

FIRST PLAYER

Running back and forth, spraying the flames with her tears, a cloth on that head where a crown had recently sat and a blanket instead of a robe wrapped around her body, which has withered from childbearing: anyone seeing her in such a state, no matter how spiteful he was, would have cursed Lady Luck for bringing her down like that. If the gods had seen her while she watched Pyrrhus chopping her husband into bits, the terrible cry she uttered would have made all the eyes in heaven burn with hot tears—unless the gods don’t care at all about human affairs.

POLONIUS

Look whe'e he has not turned his color and has tears in ’s eyes.—Prithee, no more.

POLONIUS

Look how flushed the actor is, with tears in his eyes. All right, that’s enough, please.

HAMLET

(to FIRST PLAYER) 'Tis well. I’ll have thee speak out the rest soon. (to POLONIUS) Good my lord, will you see the players well bestowed? Do you hear, let them be well used, for they are the abstract and brief chronicles of the time. After your death you were better have a bad epitaph than their ill report while you live.

HAMLET

(to FIRST PLAYER) Very fine. I’ll have you perform the rest of it soon. (to POLONIUS)—My lord, will you make sure the actors are made comfortable? Make sure you’re good to them, since what they say about us later will go down in history. It’d be better to have a bad epitaph on our graves than to have their ill will while we’re alive.

POLONIUS

490My lord, I will use them according to their desert.

POLONIUS

My lord, I will give them all they deserve.

HAMLET

God’s bodykins, man, much better. Use every man after his desert, and who should ’scape whipping? Use them after your own honor and dignity. The less they deserve, the more merit is in your bounty. Take them in.

HAMLET

Good heavens, man, give them more than that! If you pay everyone what they deserve, would anyone ever escape a whipping? Treat them with honor and dignity.
The less they deserve, the more your generosity is worth. Lead them inside.