Read Shakespeare’s ‘Now Might I Do It Pat’ soliloquy from Hamlet below with modern English translation and analysis, plus a video performance.

‘Now Might I Do It Pat’, Spoken by Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 3

Now might I do it pat, now he is praying;
And now I’ll do’t. And so he goes to heaven;
And so am I revenged. That would be scann’d:
A villain kills my father; and for that,
I, his sole son, do this same villain send
To heaven.
O, this is hire and salary, not revenge.
He took my father grossly, full of bread;
With all his crimes broad blown, as flush as May;
And how his audit stands who knows save heaven?
But in our circumstance and course of thought,
‘Tis heavy with him: and am I then revenged,
To take him in the purging of his soul,
When he is fit and season’d for his passage?
Up, sword; and know thou a more horrid hent:
When he is drunk asleep, or in his rage,
Or in the incestuous pleasure of his bed;
At gaming, swearing, or about some act
That has no relish of salvation in’t;
Then trip him, that his heels may kick at heaven,
And that his soul may be as damn’d and black
As hell, whereto it goes. My mother stays:
This physic but prolongs thy sickly days.

‘Now Might I Do It Pat’ Soliloquy Translation

As Hamlet passed the chapel on his way to his mother’s room he saw the light in the chapel. He paused and stood silently at the door. He saw the still form of his uncle kneeling before the altar. He drew his sword and tiptoed into the chapel and stood at the back. He could do it, right now, easily, while he was praying. And he would. Right now. He took a step forward then stopped. And so he would go to heaven, and what kind of revenge would that be? That was something to think about. A villain kills his father; and for that his son sends that villain to heaven. Oh, that would be a service he was giving that villain, not revenge. He killed his father most grossly, full of unresolved sins himself, with all his crimes in blossom, like the flowers of May. And no-one knew how his father’s audit stood in heaven. As far he knew it stood seriously. So would he be revenged if he took his uncle while he was purging his soul, when he was fit and ready for his death? No! He put his sword back. He would find a more suitable occasion, when he was drunk, or asleep, or in a rage, or in the incestuous pleasure of his bed, or gambling, swearing, or some other act that had no taste of salvation in it. Then he would trip him so that his heels would kick out at heaven. His soul would then be damned as black as the hell it was destined for. His mother was waiting, but this delay would only prolong his uncle’s last sickly days. He turned and went out quietly.

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