This page contains the original text of Hamlet Act 1, Scene 4. Shakespeare’s original Hamlet text is extremely long, so we’ve split the text into one Scene per page. All Acts and Scenes are listed on theoriginal Hamlet text page, or linked to from the bottom of this page.


ACT 1, SCENE 4. The platform.

Enter HAMLET, HORATIO, and MARCELLUS

HAMLET

The air bites shrewdly; it is very cold.

HORATIO

It is a nipping and an eager air.

HAMLET

What hour now?

HORATIO

I think it lacks of twelve.

HAMLET

No, it is struck.

HORATIO

Indeed? I heard it not: then it draws near the season
Wherein the spirit held his wont to walk.

A flourish of trumpets, and ordnance shot off, within

What does this mean, my lord?

HAMLET

The king doth wake to-night and takes his rouse,
Keeps wassail, and the swaggering up-spring reels;
And, as he drains his draughts of Rhenish down,
The kettle-drum and trumpet thus bray out
The triumph of his pledge.

HORATIO

Is it a custom?

HAMLET

Ay, marry, is’t:
But to my mind, though I am native here
And to the manner born, it is a custom
More honour’d in the breach than the observance.
This heavy-headed revel east and west
Makes us traduced and tax’d of other nations:
They clepe us drunkards, and with swinish phrase
Soil our addition; and indeed it takes
From our achievements, though perform’d at height,
The pith and marrow of our attribute.
So, oft it chances in particular men,
That for some vicious mole of nature in them,
As, in their birth–wherein they are not guilty,
Since nature cannot choose his origin–
By the o’ergrowth of some complexion,
Oft breaking down the pales and forts of reason,
Or by some habit that too much o’er-leavens
The form of plausive manners, that these men,
Carrying, I say, the stamp of one defect,
Being nature’s livery, or fortune’s star,–
Their virtues else–be they as pure as grace,
As infinite as man may undergo–
Shall in the general censure take corruption
From that particular fault: the dram of eale
Doth all the noble substance of a doubt
To his own scandal.

HORATIO

Look, my lord, it comes!

Enter Ghost

HAMLET

Angels and ministers of grace defend us!
Be thou a spirit of health or goblin damn’d,
Bring with thee airs from heaven or blasts from hell,
Be thy intents wicked or charitable,
Thou comest in such a questionable shape
That I will speak to thee: I’ll call thee Hamlet,
King, father, royal Dane: O, answer me!
Let me not burst in ignorance; but tell
Why thy canonized bones, hearsed in death,
Have burst their cerements; why the sepulchre,
Wherein we saw thee quietly inurn’d,
Hath oped his ponderous and marble jaws,
To cast thee up again. What may this mean,
That thou, dead corse, again in complete steel
Revisit’st thus the glimpses of the moon,
Making night hideous; and we fools of nature
So horridly to shake our disposition
With thoughts beyond the reaches of our souls?
Say, why is this? wherefore? what should we do?

Ghost beckons HAMLET

HORATIO

It beckons you to go away with it,
As if it some impartment did desire
To you alone.

MARCELLUS

Look, with what courteous action
It waves you to a more removed ground:
But do not go with it.

HORATIO

No, by no means.

HAMLET

It will not speak; then I will follow it.

HORATIO

Do not, my lord.

HAMLET

Why, what should be the fear?
I do not set my life in a pin’s fee;
And for my soul, what can it do to that,
Being a thing immortal as itself?
It waves me forth again: I’ll follow it.

HORATIO

What if it tempt you toward the flood, my lord,
Or to the dreadful summit of the cliff
That beetles o’er his base into the sea,
And there assume some other horrible form,
Which might deprive your sovereignty of reason
And draw you into madness? think of it:
The very place puts toys of desperation,
Without more motive, into every brain
That looks so many fathoms to the sea
And hears it roar beneath.

HAMLET

It waves me still.
Go on; I’ll follow thee.

MARCELLUS

You shall not go, my lord.

HAMLET

Hold off your hands.

HORATIO

Be ruled; you shall not go.

HAMLET

My fate cries out,
And makes each petty artery in this body
As hardy as the Nemean lion’s nerve.
Still am I call’d. Unhand me, gentlemen.
By heaven, I’ll make a ghost of him that lets me!
I say, away! Go on; I’ll follow thee.

Exeunt Ghost and HAMLET

HORATIO

He waxes desperate with imagination.

MARCELLUS

Let’s follow; ’tis not fit thus to obey him.

HORATIO

Have after. To what issue will this come?

MARCELLUS

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.

HORATIO

Heaven will direct it.

MARCELLUS

Nay, let’s follow him.

Exeunt

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Read more scenes from Hamlet:

Hamlet in modern English | Hamlet original text
|
Modern Hamlet Act 1, Scene 1 | Hamlet text Act 1, Scene 1
Modern Hamlet Act 1, Scene 2 | Hamlet text Act 1, Scene 2
Modern Hamlet Act 1, Scene 3 | Hamlet text Act 1, Scene 3
Modern Hamlet Act 1, Scene 4 | Hamlet text Act 1, Scene 4
Modern Hamlet Act 1, Scene 5 | Hamlet text Act 1, Scene 5
|
Modern Hamlet Act 2, Scene 1 | Hamlet text Act 2, Scene 1
Modern Hamlet Act 2, Scene 2 | Hamlet text Act 2, Scene 2
|
Modern Hamlet Act 3, Scene 1 | Hamlet text Act 3, Scene 1
Modern Hamlet Act 3, Scene 2 | Hamlet text Act 3, Scene 2
Modern Hamlet Act 3, Scene 3 | Hamlet text Act 3, Scene 3
Modern Hamlet Act 3, Scene 4 | Hamlet text Act 3, Scene 4
|
Modern Hamlet Act 4, Scene 1 | Hamlet text Act 4, Scene 1
Modern Hamlet Act 4, Scene 2 | Hamlet text Act 4, Scene 2
Modern Hamlet Act 4, Scene 3 | Hamlet text Act 4, Scene 3
Modern Hamlet Act 4, Scene 4 | Hamlet text Act 4, Scene 4
Modern Hamlet Act 4, Scene 5 | Hamlet text Act 4, Scene 5
Modern Hamlet Act 4, Scene 6 | Hamlet text Act 4, Scene 6
Modern Hamlet Act 4, Scene 7 | Hamlet text Act 4, Scene 7
|
Modern Hamlet Act 5, Scene 1 | Hamlet text Act 5, Scene 1
Modern Hamlet Act 5, Scene 2 | Hamlet text Act 5, Scene 2
|

 

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