Hamlet

by: William Shakespeare

  Act 1 Scene 5

page Act 1 Scene 5 Page 2

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Make thy two eyes, like stars, start from their spheres,
Thy knotted and combinèd locks to part
And each particular hair to stand on end,
20Like quills upon the fearful porpentine.
But this eternal blazon must not be
To ears of flesh and blood. List, list, O, list!
If thou didst ever thy dear father love—
make your eyes jump out of their sockets, and your hair stand on end like porcupine quills. But mortals like you aren’t allowed to hear this description of the afterlife. Listen, listen! If you ever loved your poor dear father—

HAMLET

O God!

HAMLET

Oh God!

GHOST

25Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder.

GHOST

Take revenge for his horrible murder, that crime against nature.

HAMLET

Murder?

HAMLET

Murder?

GHOST

Murder most foul, as in the best it is.
But this most foul, strange and unnatural.

GHOST

His most horrible murder. Murder’s always horrible, but this one was especially horrible, weird, and unnatural.

HAMLET

Haste me to know ’t, that I, with wings as swift
30As meditation or the thoughts of love,
May sweep to my revenge.

HAMLET

Hurry and tell me about it, so I can take revenge right away, faster than a person falls in love.

GHOST

    I find thee apt,
And duller shouldst thou be than the fat weed
That roots itself in ease on Lethe wharf,
Wouldst thou not stir in this. Now, Hamlet, hear.
35'Tis given out that, sleeping in my orchard,
A serpent stung me. So the whole ear of Denmark
Is by a forgèd process of my death
Rankly abused. But know, thou noble youth,
The serpent that did sting thy father’s life
40Now wears his crown.

GHOST

I’m glad you’re eager. You’d have to be as lazy as a weed on the shores of

Lethe

Lethe was a river in the underworld of classical Greek mythology, whose waters induced forgetfulness.

Lethe
not to get riled up here. Now listen, Hamlet. Everyone was told that a poisonous snake bit me when I was sleeping in the orchard. But in fact, that’s a lie that’s fooled everyone in Denmark. You should know, my noble son, the real snake that stung your father is now wearing his crown.

HAMLET

O my prophetic soul! My uncle?

HAMLET

I knew it! My uncle?