Hamlet

by: William Shakespeare

  Act 2 Scene 2

page Act 2 Scene 2 Page 22

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POLONIUS

495Come, sirs.

POLONIUS

Come, everyone.

HAMLET

Follow him, friends. We’ll hear a play tomorrow. (to FIRST PLAYER)— Dost thou hear me, old friend? Can you play The Murder of Gonzago?

HAMLET

Follow him, friends. We’ll watch a whole play tomorrow. (to FIRST PLAYER) My friend, can you perform The Murder of Gonzago?

FIRST PLAYER

Ay, my lord.

FIRST PLAYER

Yes, my lord.

HAMLET

We’ll ha ’t tomorrow night. You could, for a need, study a speech of some dozen or sixteen lines which I would set down and insert in ’t, could you not?

HAMLET

Then we’ll see that tomorrow night. By the way, if I were to compose an extra speech of twelve to sixteen lines and stick it into the play, you could learn it by heart for tomorrow, right?

FIRST PLAYER

Ay, my lord.

FIRST PLAYER

Yes, my lord.

HAMLET

Very well. Follow that lord, and look you mock him not.

HAMLET

Very well. Follow that gentleman now, and be careful not to make fun of him.
Exeunt POLONIUS and the PLAYERS
POLONIUS and the PLAYERS exit.
My good friends, I’ll leave you till night. You are welcome to Elsinore.
My good friends, I’ll see you tomorrow. Welcome to Elsinore.

ROSENCRANTZ

Good my lord.

ROSENCRANTZ

Yes, my lord.

HAMLET

Ay, so. Good-bye to you.

HAMLET

Ah yes, good-bye to you both.
Exeunt ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN
ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN exit.
    Now I am alone.
Oh, what a rogue and peasant slave am I!
510Is it not monstrous that this player here,
But in a fiction, in a dream of passion,
Could force his soul so to his own conceit
That from her working all his visage wanned,
Tears in his eyes, distraction in his aspect,
515A broken voice, and his whole function suiting
With forms to his conceit? And all for nothing—
For Hecuba!
What’s Hecuba to him or he to Hecuba
That he should weep for her? What would he do
520Had he the motive and the cue for passion
That I have? He would drown the stage with tears
And cleave the general ear with horrid speech,
Make mad the guilty and appall the free,
Now I’m alone. Oh, what a mean low-life I am! It’s awful that this actor could force his soul to feel made-up feelings in a work of make-believe. He grew pale, shed real tears, became overwhelmed, his voice breaking with feeling and his whole being, even, meeting the needs of his act—and all for nothing. For Hecuba!