Hamlet

by: William Shakespeare

Act 5 Scene 1

page Act 5 Scene 1 Page 1

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Enter a GRAVEDIGGER and the OTHER gravedigger
A GRAVEDIGGER and the OTHER gravedigger enter.

GRAVEDIGGER

Is she to be buried in Christian burial when she willfully seeks her own salvation?

GRAVEDIGGER

OTHER

I tell thee she is. Therefore make her grave straight. The crowner hath sat on her and finds it Christian burial.

OTHER

I’m telling you, yes. So finish that grave right away. The coroner examined her case and says it should be a Christian funeral.

GRAVEDIGGER

How can that be, unless she drowned herself in her own defense?

GRAVEDIGGER

But how, unless she drowned in self-defense?

OTHER

Why, ’tis found so.

OTHER

That’s what they’re saying she did.

GRAVEDIGGER

It must be se offendendo. It cannot be else. For here lies the point: if I drown myself wittingly, it argues an act. And an act hath three branches—it is to act, to do, to perform. Argal, she drowned herself wittingly.

GRAVEDIGGER

Sounds more like “self-offense,” if you ask me. What I’m saying is, if she knew she was drowning herself, then that’s an act. An act has three sides to it: to do, to act, and to perform. Therefore she must have known she was drowning herself.

OTHER

Nay, but hear you, Goodman Delver—

OTHER

No, listen here, gravedigger sir—

GRAVEDIGGER

Give me leave. Here lies the water. Good. Here stands the man. Good. If the man go to this water and drown himself, it is, will he nill he, he goes. Mark you that. But if the water come to him and drown him, he drowns not himself. Argal, he that is not guilty of his own death shortens not his own life.

GRAVEDIGGER

Let me finish. Here’s the water, right? And here’s a man, okay? If the man goes into the water and drowns himself, he’s the one doing it, like it or not. But if the water comes to him and drowns him, then he doesn’t drown himself. Therefore, he who is innocent of his own death does not shorten his own life.

OTHER

But is this law?

OTHER

Is that how the law sees it?