Hamlet Act II, Scene ii Arden

 

Hamlet       Act II, Scene ii       Hamlet  
(Arden Edition, Edited by Harold Jenkins.)

This text is featured in our interview with Markus Potter.

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549 Ay, so, God buy to you. Now I am alone.
550 O what a rogue and peasant slave am I!
551 Is it not monstrous that this player here,
552 But in a fiction, in a dream of passion,
553 Could force his soul so to his own conceit
554 That from her working all his visage wann’d,
555 Tears in his eyes, distraction in his aspect,
556 A broken voice, and his whole function suiting
557 With forms to his conceit? And all for nothing!
558 For Hecuba!
559 What’s Hecuba to him, or he to her,
560 That he should weep for her? What would he do
561 Had he the motive and the cue for passion
562 That I have? He would drown the stage with tears,
563 And cleave the general ear with horrid speech,
564 Make mad the guilty and appal the free,
565 Confound the ignorant, and amaze indeed
566 The very faculties of eyes and ears.
567 Yet I,
568 A dull and muddy-mettled rascal, peak
569 Like John-a-dreams, unpregnant of my cause,
570 And can say nothing – no, not for a king,
571 Upon whose property and most dear life
572 A damn’d defeat was made. Am I a coward?
573 Who calls me villain, breaks my pate across,
574 Plucks off my beard and blows it in my face,
575 Tweaks me by the nose, gives me the lie i’the’throat
576 As deep as to the lungs-who does me this?
577 Ha!
578 ‘Swounds, I should take it: for it cannot be
579 But I am pigeon-liver’d and lack gall
580 To make oppression bitter, or ere this
581 I should ha’fatted all the region kites
582 With this slave’s offal. Bloody, bawdy villain!
583 Remorseless, treacherous, lecherous, kindless villain!
584 Why, what an ass am I! This is most brave,
585 That I, the son of a dear father murder’d
586 Prompted to my revenge by heaven and hell,
587 Must like a whore unpack my heart with words
588 And fall a-cursing like a very drab,
589 A scullion! Fie upon’t! Foh!
590 About, my brains. Hum—I have heard
591 That guilty creatures sitting at a play
592 Have, by the very cunning of the scene,
593 Been struck so the soul that presently
594 They have proclaim’d their malefactions.
595 For murder, though it have no tongue, will speak
596 With most miraculous organ. I’ll have these players
597 Play something like the murder of my father
598 Before mine uncle. I’ll observe his looks:
599 I’ll tent him to the quick. If a do blench,
600 I know my course. The spirit that I have seen
601 May be a devil, and the devil hath power
602 T’assume a pleasing shape, yea, and perhaps,
603 Out of my weakness and my melancholy
604 As he is very potent with such spirits,
605 Abuses me to damn me. I’ll have grounds
606 More relative than this. The play’s the thing
607 Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the King.

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