Act IV - Scene I

[Elsinore. A room in the Castle.]

[Enter King and Queen, with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.]

There's matter in these sighs. These profound heaves
You must translate; 'tis fit we understand them.
Where is your son?
Bestow this place on us a little while.

[Rosencrantz and Guildenstern exit.]

Ah, mine own lord, what have I seen tonight!(5)
What, Gertrude? How does Hamlet?
Mad as the sea and wind when both contend
Which is the mightier. In his lawless fit,
Behind the arras hearing something stir,
Whips out his rapier, cries 'A rat, a rat!'(10)
And in this brainish apprehension kills
The unseen good old man.
O heavy deed!
It had been so with us, had we been there.
His liberty is full of threats to all,(15)
To you yourself, to us, to every one.
Alas, how shall this bloody deed be answer'd?
It will be laid to us, whose providence
Should have kept short, restrain'd, and out of haunt
This mad young man. But so much was our love(20)
We would not understand what was most fit,
But, like the owner of a foul disease,
To keep it from divulging, let it feed
Even on the pith of life. Where is he gone?
To draw apart the body he hath kill'd;(25)
O'er whom his very madness, like some ore
Among a mineral of metals base,
Shows itself pure. He weeps for what is done.
O Gertrude, come away!
The sun no sooner shall the mountains touch(30)
But we will ship him hence; and this vile deed
We must with all our majesty and skill
Both countenance and excuse. Ho, Guildenstern!

Enter Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.

Friends both, go join you with some further aid.
Hamlet in madness hath Polonius slain,(35)
And from his mother's closet hath he dragg'd him.
Go seek him out; speak fair, and bring the body
Into the chapel. I pray you haste in this.

[Exeunt Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.]

Come, Gertrude, we'll call up our wisest friends
And let them know both what we mean to do(40)
And what's untimely done. So haply slander
Whose whisper o'er the world's diameter,
As level as the cannon to his blank,
Transports his poisoned shot, may miss our name
And hit the woundless air.—O, come away!(45)
My soul is full of discord and dismay.



  1. What is it that King Claudius hopes "may miss" his name, and what does this thing do?

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  2. What vile deed is King Claudius referring to and why must they "countenance and excuse"?

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  3. What did Hamlet do in "his lawless fit"?

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor