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  Act 1 Scene 3

page Act 1 Scene 3 Page 2

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25It fits your wisdom so far to believe it
As he in his particular act and place
May give his saying deed, which is no further
Than the main voice of Denmark goes withal.
Then weigh what loss your honor may sustain
30If with too credent ear you list his songs,
Or lose your heart, or your chaste treasure open
To his unmastered importunity.
Fear it, Ophelia. Fear it, my dear sister,
And keep you in the rear of your affection,
35Out of the shot and danger of desire.
The chariest maid is prodigal enough
If she unmask her beauty to the moon.
Virtue itself ’scapes not calumnious strokes.
The canker galls the infants of the spring
40Too oft before their buttons be disclosed.
And in the morn and liquid dew of youth,
Contagious blastments are most imminent.
Be wary, then. Best safety lies in fear.
Youth to itself rebels, though none else near.
So if he says he loves you, you should be wise enough to see that his words only mean as much as the state of Denmark allows them to mean. Then think about how shameful it would be for you to give in to his seductive talk and surrender your treasure chest to his greedy hands. Watch out, Ophelia. Just keep your love under control, and don’t let yourself become a target of his lust. Simply exposing your beauty to the moon at night is risky enough—you don’t have to expose yourself to him. Even good girls sometimes get a bad reputation. Worms ruin flowers before they blossom. Baby blooms are most susceptible to disease. So be careful. Fear will keep you safe. Young people often lose their self-control even without any help from others.


45I shall the effect of this good lesson keep
As watchman to my heart. But, good my brother,
Do not, as some ungracious pastors do,
Show me the steep and thorny way to heaven
Whiles, like a puffed and reckless libertine,
50Himself the primrose path of dalliance treads
And recks not his own rede.


I’ll keep your words of wisdom close to my heart. But, my dear brother, don’t be like a bad priest who fails to practice what he preaches, showing me the steep and narrow way to heaven while you frolic on the primrose path of sin.


    O, fear me not.


Don’t worry, I won’t.
POLONIUS enters.
I stay too long. But here my father comes.
A double blessing is a double grace.
Occasion smiles upon a second leave.
I’ve been here too long. And here comes father. What good luck, to have him bless my leaving not once but twice.