Hamlet: Act IV, Scene iv


Hamlet         Act 4, Scene 4.      Hamlet

(This text is featured in our interviews with Eric Tucker and David Carl)

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  1.   How all occasions do inform against me
  2.   And spur my dull revenge! What is a man,
  3.   If his chief good and market of his time
  4.   Be but to sleep and feed? A beast, no more.
  5.   Sure he that made us with such large discourse,
  6.   Looking before and after, gave us not
  7.   That capability and godlike reason
  8.   To fust in us unus’d. Now, whether it be
  9.   Bestial oblivion, or some craven scruple
  10.   Of thinking too precisely on th’ event,
  11.   A thought which, quarter’d, hath but one part wisdom
  12.   And ever three parts coward,- I do not know
  13.   Why yet I live to say ‘This thing’s to do,’
  14.   Sith I have cause, and will, and strength, and means
  15.   To do’t. Examples gross as earth exhort me.
  16.   Witness this army of such mass and charge,
  17.   Led by a delicate and tender prince,
  18.   Whose spirit, with divine ambition puff’d,
  19.   Makes mouths at the invisible event,
  20.   Exposing what is mortal and unsure
  21.   To all that fortune, death, and danger dare,
  22.   Even for an eggshell. Rightly to be great
  23.   Is not to stir without great argument,
  24.   But greatly to find quarrel in a straw
  25.   When honour’s at the stake. How stand I then,
  26.   That have a father kill’d, a mother stain’d,
  27.   Excitements of my reason and my blood,
  28.   And let all sleep, while to my shame I see
  29.   The imminent death of twenty thousand men
  30.   That for a fantasy and trick of fame
  31.   Go to their graves like beds, fight for a plot
  32.   Whereon the numbers cannot try the cause,
  33.   Which is not tomb enough and continent
  34.   To hide the slain? O, from this time forth,
  35.   My thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth!

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