by: William Shakespeare

Original Text

Modern Text

Ophelia, walk you here. (to CLAUDIUS) Gracious, so please you,
45We will bestow ourselves. (to OPHELIA)Read on this book
That show of such an exercise may color
Your loneliness.—We are oft to blame in this,
'Tis too much proved, that with devotion’s visage
And pious action we do sugar o'er
50The devil himself.
Ophelia, come here.—(to CLAUDIUS) Your Majesty, we will hide. (to OPHELIA)—Read from this prayer book, so it looks natural that you’re all alone. Come to think of it, this happens all the time—people act devoted to God to mask their bad deeds.
(aside) Oh, ’tis too true!
How smart a lash that speech doth give my conscience!
The harlot’s cheek, beautied with plastering art,
Is not more ugly to the thing that helps it
Than is my deed to my most painted word.
55O heavy burden!
(to himself) How right he is! His words whip up my guilty feelings. The whore’s pockmarked cheek made pretty with make-up is just like the ugly actions I’m disguising with fine words. What a terrible guilt I feel!
I hear him coming. Let’s withdraw, my lord.
I hear him coming. Quick, let’s hide, my lord.
HAMLET enters.
To be, or not to be? That is the question—
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
60Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And, by opposing, end them? To die, to sleep—
No more—and by a sleep to say we end
The heartache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to—’tis a consummation
65Devoutly to be wished! To die, to sleep.
To sleep, perchance to dream—ay, there’s the rub,
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause. There’s the respect
70That makes calamity of so long life.
The question is: is it better to be alive or dead? Is it nobler to put up with all the nasty things that luck throws your way, or to fight against all those troubles by simply putting an end to them once and for all? Dying, sleeping—that’s all dying is—a sleep that ends all the heartache and shocks that life on earth gives us—that’s an achievement to wish for. To die, to sleep—to sleep, maybe to dream. Ah, but there’s the catch: in death’s sleep who knows what kind of dreams might come, after we’ve put the noise and commotion of life behind us. That’s certainly something to worry about. That’s the consideration that makes us stretch out our sufferings so long.