Hamlet

by: William Shakespeare

  Act 3 Scene 3

page Act 3 Scene 3 Page 3

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That cannot be, since I am still possessed
55Of those effects for which I did the murder:
My crown, mine own ambition, and my queen.
May one be pardoned and retain th' offense?
In the corrupted currents of this world
Offense’s gilded hand may shove by justice,
60And oft ’tis seen the wicked prize itself
Buys out the law. But ’tis not so above.
There is no shuffling. There the action lies
In his true nature, and we ourselves compelled,
Even to the teeth and forehead of our faults,
65To give in evidence. What then? What rests?
Try what repentance can. What can it not?
Yet what can it when one can not repent?
O wretched state! O bosom black as death!
O limèd soul that, struggling to be free,
70Art more engaged! Help, angels. Make assay.
Bow, stubborn knees, and, heart with strings of steel,
Be soft as sinews of the newborn babe.
All may be well. (kneels)
That won’t work, since I’m still reaping the rewards of that murder: my crown and my queen. Can a person be forgiven and still keep the fruits of his crime? In this wicked world, criminals often take the money they stole and use it to buy off the law, shoving justice aside. But not in heaven. Up there, every action is judged for exactly what it’s worth, and we’re forced to confront our crimes. So what can I do? What is there left to do? Offer whatever repentance I can—that couldn’t hurt. But it can’t help either! Oh, what a lousy situation I’m in. My heart’s as black as death. My soul is stuck to sin, and the more it struggles to break free, the more it sticks. Help me, angels! C’mon, make an effort. Bend, stubborn knees. Steely heart, be soft as a newborn babe, so I can pray. Perhaps everything will turn out okay after all. (he kneels)
Enter HAMLET
HAMLET enters.

HAMLET

Now might I do it pat. Now he is a-praying.
75And now I’ll do ’t. And so he goes to heaven.
And so am I revenged.—That would be scanned.
A villain kills my father, and, for that,
I, his sole son, do this same villain send
To heaven.
80Oh, this is hire and salary, not revenge.
He took my father grossly, full of bread,
With all his crimes broad blown, as flush as May.
And how his audit stands who knows save heaven?
But in our circumstance and course of thought
85'Tis heavy with him. And am I then revenged

HAMLET

I could do it easily now. He’s praying now. And now I’ll do it. (he draws out his sword) And there he goes, off to heaven. And that’s my revenge. I’d better think about this more carefully. A villain kills my father, and I, my father’s only son, send this same villain to heaven. Seems like I just did him a favor. He killed my father when my father was enjoying life, with all his sins in full bloom, before my father could repent for any of them. Only God knows how many sins my father has to pay for. As for me, I don’t think his prospects look so good.