Modern English Hamlet Ebook Sample: Act 1, Scene 5

The ghost kept walking. Hamlet held it in sight, afraid that it would disappear. ‘Where are you leading me to?’ he called. ‘Speak. I won’t go any further.’

The ghost stopped and turned. Hamlet found himself looking into the blank, staring white face of the man who had been his father.


It was his father’s voice, but cold and expressionless.

‘I will.’

‘The time has almost come when I must surrender myself to sulphur and tormenting flames.’

‘Alas, poor ghost!’

‘Don’t pity me. Listen carefully to what I’m going to tell you.’

‘Speak. I have to hear it.’

‘You will also have to revenge when you hear it.’


‘I am your father’s spirit, doomed for a certain time to walk the night, and for the day to burn in fires, till the foul crimes done during my lifetime have been burnt and purged away. But that I am forbidden to tell the secrets of my prison-house I could tell a tale whose lightest word would shrivel up your soul, freeze your young blood, make your eyes start from their sockets and your hair stand up on end like the quills of a frightened porcupine. But this eternal torture is not for ears of flesh and blood. Listen, oh listen! If you ever loved your dear father…’

The ghost broke off and let out an anguished wail.

‘Oh God!’ It was too much for Hamlet.

‘…revenge his foul and most unnatural murder.’


‘Murder most foul, as murder always is, but this one was most foul, strange and unnatural.’

‘Tell me quickly so that, with wings as swift as meditation or thoughts of love, I may sweep to my revenge.’

‘I find you willing, the ghost said, ‘and if you didn’t act on this you would be more drowsy than the fat weed that roots itself in the comfort of the banks of Lethe, the river of forgetfulness. Now Hamlet, hear: It’s been reported that, sleeping in my orchard, a snake bit me. So the ear of Denmark has been grossly abused by a fraudulent account of my death.’ The ghost paused again and seemed to be overwhelmed by the thought he had just pronounced. Then his voice came again, as steady and cold as it had been up until now. ‘But know this, you noble youth. The serpent that did take your father’s life now wears his crown.’

‘Oh, I had almost thought that!’ exclaimed Hamlet. ‘My uncle!’

‘Yes, that incestuous, that adulterous, beast. With the witchcraft of his intelligence, with his traitorous qualities – oh evil intelligence and qualities that have the power to seduce like that – he forced the will of my most seeming-virtuous queen to his shameful lust. Oh Hamlet, what a falling-off was there!’

Hamlet stood in shocked silence.

The ghost continued: ‘From me, whose love was of that dignity that it was of the same high order as the vow I made to her in marriage, to descend to the level of a wretch whose natural gifts were poor compared with mine! But in the same way as virtue will never allow itself to be seduced by lewdness, even if it comes in the shape of heaven, lust, though disguised as a radiant angel, preys on the garbage to be found in a holy bed.’

The ghost turned his head slightly towards the east then looked at Hamlet again. ‘I think I can smell the morning air,’ it said. ‘Let me be brief. Sleeping in my orchard, which as you know was my custom in the afternoon, your uncle crept up with a vial of poisonous yew when he was certain that I would be asleep and poured the poisonous liquid into my ear. This substance is so alien to a man’s blood that it glides rapidly, like quicksilver, through the veins and arteries, and with mighty energy, thickens and curdles the thin and wholesome blood like lemon juice in milk. And so it did mine. I was instantly scurvy, like a leper, my smooth body covered with scabs. And in that way, sleeping, at the hands of a brother, I was summarily deprived of my wife and my crown. I was cut off, right in the fullness of my sins, without benefit of sacrament or the last rites of repentance, no chance of atonement but sent to my judgment with all my imperfections on my head.’

The ghost raised its head and howled. It was the most desolate and anguished sound and Hamlet blocked his ears.

‘Oh horrible! Oh horrible! Most horrible!’ The ghost took a moment before it continued. ‘If you loved your father refuse to accept it. Don’t allow the royal bed of Denmark to be a couch for lechery and damnable incest. However you decide to pursue this act, do not let it corrupt your mind, nor let your soul contrive against your mother. Leave it to heaven to deal with, and to her conscience that will prick and sting her heart like thorns. Farewell. The fading stars show the morning to be near. Adieu, adieu, Hamlet. Remember me.’

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Read Hamlet translated into modern English online

Download the complete Modern English Hamlet ebook now for $14.95

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About Hamlet Ebook
  • Translated as an easy to read, exciting teenage novel
  • Follows the acts & scenes of original Hamlet text
  • Allows you to master the plot, characters & language of Hamlet
Ebook Resources

Search all of Shakespeare’s sonnets:

Sonnet 1, Sonnet 2, Sonnet 3, Sonnet 4, Sonnet 5, Sonnet 6, Sonnet 7, Sonnet 8, Sonnet 9, Sonnet 10, Sonnet 11, Sonnet 12, Sonnet 13, Sonnet 14, Sonnet 15, Sonnet 16, Sonnet 17, Sonnet 18, Sonnet 19, Sonnet 20, Sonnet 21, Sonnet 22, Sonnet 23, Sonnet 24, Sonnet 25, Sonnet 26, Sonnet 27, Sonnet 28, Sonnet 29, Sonnet 30, Sonnet 31, Sonnet 32, Sonnet 33, Sonnet 34, Sonnet 35, Sonnet 36, Sonnet 37, Sonnet 38, Sonnet 39, Sonnet 40, Sonnet 41, Sonnet 42, Sonnet 43, Sonnet 44, Sonnet 45, Sonnet 46, Sonnet 47, Sonnet 48, Sonnet 49, Sonnet 50, Sonnet 51, Sonnet 52, Sonnet 53, Sonnet 54, Sonnet 55, Sonnet 56, Sonnet 57, Sonnet 58, Sonnet 59, Sonnet 60, Sonnet 61, Sonnet 62, Sonnet 63, Sonnet 64, Sonnet 65, Sonnet 66, Sonnet 67, Sonnet 68, Sonnet 69, Sonnet 70, Sonnet 71, Sonnet 72, Sonnet 73, Sonnet 74, Sonnet 75, Sonnet 76, Sonnet 77, Sonnet 78, Sonnet 79, Sonnet 80, Sonnet 81, Sonnet 82, Sonnet 83, Sonnet 84, Sonnet 85, Sonnet 86, Sonnet 87, Sonnet 88, Sonnet 89, Sonnet 90, Sonnet 91, Sonnet 92, Sonnet 93, Sonnet 94, Sonnet 95, Sonnet 96, Sonnet 97, Sonnet 98, Sonnet 99, Sonnet 100, Sonnet 101, Sonnet 102, Sonnet 103, Sonnet 104, Sonnet 105, Sonnet 106, Sonnet 107, Sonnet 108, Sonnet 109, Sonnet 110, Sonnet 111, Sonnet 112, Sonnet 113, Sonnet 114, Sonnet 115, Sonnet 116, Sonnet 117, Sonnet 118, Sonnet 119, Sonnet 120, Sonnet 121, Sonnet 122, Sonnet 123, Sonnet 124, Sonnet 125, Sonnet 126, Sonnet 127, Sonnet 128, Sonnet 129, Sonnet 130, Sonnet 131, Sonnet 132, Sonnet 133, Sonnet 134, Sonnet 135, Sonnet 136, Sonnet 137, Sonnet 138, Sonnet 139, Sonnet 140, Sonnet 141, Sonnet 142, Sonnet 143, Sonnet 144, Sonnet 145, Sonnet 146, Sonnet 147, Sonnet 148, Sonnet 149, Sonnet 150, Sonnet 151, Sonnet 152, Sonnet 153, Sonnet 154,

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