Hamlet

by: William Shakespeare

Original Text

Modern Text

They clepe us drunkards and with swinish phrase
Soil our addition. And indeed it takes
From our achievements, though performed at height,
The pith and marrow of our attribute.
25So oft it chances in particular men
That for some vicious mole of nature in them—
As in their birth (wherein they are not guilty,
Since nature cannot choose his origin),
By the o'ergrowth of some complexion,
30Oft breaking down the pales and forts of reason,
Or by some habit that too much o'erleavens
The form of plausive manners—that these men,
Carrying, I say, the stamp of one defect,
Being nature’s livery or fortune’s star,
35Their virtues else (be they as pure as grace,
As infinite as man may undergo)
Shall in the general censure take corruption
From that particular fault. The dram of evil
Doth all the noble substance of a doubt
40To his own scandal.
They call us drunks and insult our noble titles. And our drunkenness does detract from our achievements, as great as they are, and lessens our reputations. It’s just like what happens to certain people who have some birth defect (which they are not responsible for, since nobody chooses how he’s born), or some weird habit or compulsion that changes them completely. It happens sometimes that one little defect in these people, as wonderful and talented as they may be, will make them look completely bad to other people. A tiny spot of evil casts doubt on their good qualities and ruins their reputations.
Enter GHOST
The GHOST enters.
HORATIO
Look, my lord, it comes!
HORATIO
Look, sir—here it comes!
HAMLET
Angels and ministers of grace defend us!
Be thou a spirit of health or goblin damned,
Bring with thee airs from heaven or blasts from hell,
45Be thy intents wicked or charitable,
Thou comest in such a questionable shape
That I will speak to thee. I’ll call thee “Hamlet,”
“King,” “Father,” “royal Dane.” O, answer me!
Let me not burst in ignorance, but tell
50Why thy canonized bones, hearsed in death,
Have burst their cerements; why the sepulcher,
HAMLET
Oh angels, protect us! Whether you’re a good spirit or a cursed demon, whether you bring heavenly breezes or blasts of hell fire, whether your intentions are good or evil, you look so strange I want to talk to you. I’ll call you “Hamlet Senior,” “King,” “Father,” “royal Dane.” Answer me! Don’t drive me crazy with curiosity, but tell me why your church-buried bones have burst out of their coffin, and why your tomb,