Hamlet Screenplay 4
[ bottom ]


The whole scene is shot from just outside the room, with a hovering camera.  It starts with a CLOSE SHOT of the wall, and TRAVELS to REVEAL the INTERIOR OF THE CHAMBER, through a window.  The fourth wall, the one opposite the camera, is missing, and a vast audience is visible, watching, and stretching out to an infinite distance.  Only the nearer rows are illuminated enough so that we may make out the watchers: they are DAMNED SOULS, many misshapen and grotesque in appearance.

Gertruda remains where she was, weeping.  Enter Claudius, Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern.  Gertruda ignores them, continuing to weep.  When Claudius speaks aside, he speaks to his audience, not the camera.

			There’s matter in these sighs,
				(to Gertruda)
								...these profound heaves,
			You must translate.  ‘Tis fit we understand them.
			Where is your son?

			Bestow this place on us a little while.

Exit Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, who peek in from the other room.

			Oh, mine own lord, what have I seen tonight.

			What, Gertruda?  How does Hamlet?

Gertruda thinks fast, and comes up with a good lie.

			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,’
			And in this brainish apprehension kills
			The unseen good old man.

				(to himself)
			O heavy deed!
			It had been so with us had we been there.
			His liberty is full of threats to all:
				(to Gertruda)
			To you yourself, to us, to everyone.
				(to himself)
			Alas, how shall this bloody deed be answered?
			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,
			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.
				(to Gertruda)
			Where is he gone?

			To draw apart the body he hath kill’d,
			O’er whom -- his very madness, like some ore
			Among a mineral of metals base,
			Shows itself pure -- a weeps for what is done.

			O Gertruda, come away.

She just cries harder.

				(continuing; aside)
			The sun no sooner shall the mountains touch
			But we must with all our majesty and skill
			Both countenance and excuse.
				(to Guildenstern)
			Ho, Guildenstern!

Enter Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, hastily.

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

Exit Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.

	(continuing; to Gertruda)
Come, Gertruda, we’ll call up our wisest frineds,
And let them know both what we mean to do, and what’s untimely done.
So envious slander,
Whose whisper o’er the worlds diameter,
As level as the arrow to his mark,
Transports his poison’d tip, may miss our name
And hit the woundless air.
	(to Gertruda)
O come away,
My soul is full of discord and dismay.

Exit Claudius and Gertruda.  The camera suddenly DROPS DOWN, as if falling past the castle walls.

										DISSOLVE TO:


LONG SHOT through a window.  Enter Hamlet.


Safely stowed.

There is a noise of a search party.

	(continuing; aside)
But soft, what noise?  
Who calls on Hamlet?
Here they come.

Enter Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.

What have you done, my lord, with the dead body?

Compounded it with dust, whereto ‘tis kin.

Do you want to make something of it?

Tell us where ‘tis, that we may take it thence 
and bear it to the chapel.

Do not believe it.

	(finally losing patience
	 with this maneuver)
Believe what?

That I can keep your counsel and not mine own.
	(angry in turn)
Besides, to be demanded of a sponge: what
replication should be made by the son of
a king?

You take me for a sponge, my lord?

Hamlet is openly hostile, and Rosencrantz barely retains his composure, after an effort.

Ay, sir, that soaks up the King’s countenance, his rewards, his authorities.  But such officers do the King best service in the end: he keeps them, like an ape, in the corner of his jaw, first mouthed, to be last swallowed.  When he needs what you have gleaned, it is but squeezing you and, sponge, you shall be dry again.

I understand you not, my lord.

	(almost a joke)
I am glad of it.  A knavish speech sleeps in a foolish ear.

My lord, you must tell us where the body is and go with us to the King.

The body is with the King, but the King is not with the body.  The King is a thing --

Hamlet is comparing Claudius to his father, and Guildenstern is catching on.

A thing, my lord?

Of nothing.  Bring me to him.


Enter Claudius and THREE LORDS.  Claudius has a desk, lit with candles, and strewn with maps and model soldiers.

I have sent to seek him and to find the body.
How dangerous is it that this man goes loose.
Yet must not we put the strong law on him:
He’s lov’d of the distracted multitude,
Who like not with their judgment but their eyes,
And where ‘tis so, th’offender’s scourge is weigh’d,
But never the offence.  To bear all smooth and even,
This sudden sending him away must seem 
Deliberate pause.  
Diseases desperate grown
By desperate appliance are reliev’d,
Or not at all.

Enter Rosencrantz and TWO SOLDIERS.  Claudius is agitated, and now tries to calm himself, not too successfully.

How now, what hath befall’n?

Where the dead body is bestow’d, my lord,
We cannot get from him.

Yet another negative answer from Rosencrantz irritates Claudius.

But where is he?

Without, my lord, guarded, to know your pleasure.

Bring him before us!

Claudius paces.  The three Lords are immobile.

Ho!  Bring in the lord!

Enter Hamlet with guards.  The guards are none other than Marcellus, Barnardo, and the Narrator (dressed as a guard).  Claudius is trying to be reasonable, but fails miserably, lapsing immediately into a domineering anger.  Hamlet feels himself to be in no danger whatsoever, and is in fact in a most dangerous mood.

Now, Hamlet, where’s Polonius?

At supper.

At supper?  Where?

Hamlet replies, to start with as if explaining something to a child, but ending up in open contempt.

Not where he eats, but where he is eaten. A certain convocation of politic worms are e’en at him.  You worm is your only emperor for diet: we fat all creatures else to fat us, and we fat ourselves for maggots.  Your fat king and your lean beggar is but variable service -- two dishes, but one table.

No response from anybody, although Claudius is lost in thought, thinking back to their first encounter with the Ghost.

And that’s the end.

Alas, alas.

	(following up the point)
A man may fish with the worm that hath eat of a king, and eat of the fish that hath fed of that worm.

What dost thou mean by this?

The Narrator is snickering.

	(trying to pick a fight)
Nothing but to show you how a king may go a progress through the guts of a beggar.

Where is Polonius?

In heaven.  Send thither to see.  
	(leaning closer to Claudius)
If your messenger find him not there, seek him i’th’other place yourself.

The Narrator muffles a laugh, and Marcellus and Barnardo start snickering.
	(continuing; to all)
But if indeed you find him not within this month, you shall nose him as you go up the stairs into the lobby.

	(to Soldiers)
Go seek him there!

Exit two Soldiers. 
A will stay till you come.

The Narrator laughs outright, and Marcellus and Barnardo can barely maintain.  Claudius is fuming, and on his part barely able to control his voice at first, which initially sounds odd and somewhat mechanical, but he gets a hold of himself by the end of his utterance.

Hamlet, this deed...for thine especial safety --
Which we do tender, as we dearly grieve
For that which thou hast done -- send thee hence
With fiery quickness.  Therefore prepare thyself.
The bark is ready, and the wind at help,
The associates tend, and everything is bent
For England.

Hamlet almost thinks better of the game he is playing, and responds with a false bravado.  Claudius has calmed down, and assumed an air of menace.

For England?

Ay, Hamlet.


He turns to go.

So it is, if thou knew’st our purposes.

Hamlet says the following while exiting, toward the camera.

	(as if in good humor)
I see a cherub that sees them.  But come, for England.  Farewell, dear mother.

Thy loving father, Hamlet.

Oops.  That did it.  Hamlet stops, in CLOSE-UP.  Then he whirls, and bounds back to where Claudius is sitting.  He sweeps the model soldiers and candles off the desk, and bellows at Claudius.

My mother!  Father and mother is man and wife, man and wife is one flesh; SO MY MOTHER!!

Hamlet glares at Claudius, and flips him off.  No one else makes a move.
	(continuing; motioning to
Come, for England.

Hamlet and all the guards exit, with the Narrator laughing very hard.  Claudius sits there a moment, and then jumps up, and rips one of the maps on his desk to shreds.  Then he looks back to the Lords, who say nothing but regard him with derision.

Follow him at foot.  Tempt him with speed aboard,
Delay it not, I’ll have him hence tonight.
Away, for everything is seal’d and done
	(to Lords)
That else leans on th’affair.  Pray you make haste.

The Lords look at each other, and then exit.  Claudius collapses into a chair.


TRAVELLING SHOT.  Claudius is seeking Gertruda’s chamber.  The Narrator’s laughter fades in slowly underneath his speech, and then builds.

And England, if my love thou hold’st at aught --
As my great power thereof may give thee sense,
Since yet thy cicatrice looks raw and red
After the Danish sword, and thy free awe
Pays homage to us -- thou mayst not coldly set
Our sovereign process, which imports at full,
But letters congruing to that effect,
The present death of Hamlet.  Do it, England;
For like the hectic in my blood he rages,
And thou must cure me.  Till I know ‘tis done,
Howe’er my haps, my joys were ne’er begun.

We see Claudius walk off through the passageway, with the sound of the Narrator’s laughter reaching a pitch of maniacal frenzy, echoing throughout the castle.



A bleak windswept landscape near the coast.  We settle on an ENCAMPMENT.  Present are FORTINBRAS of Norway, and many NORWEYAN LORDS.  Fortinbras is again studying his maps.

Go, captain, from me greet the Danish King.
Tell him that by his licence Fortinbras
Craves the conveyance of a promis’d march
Over his kingdom.  You know the rendezvous.
If that his Majesty would aught with us,
We shall express our duty in his eye;
And let him know so.

I Will do’t, my lord.

Go softly on.


Hamlet and several GUARDS, including Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, come into frame.  They take a break, and have something to eat.  Rosencrantz moves off a bit to urinate.  Suddenly the Norweyan army appears, marching.  The Danes watch this in amazement.  Hamlet musters courage to approach the column.

			Good sir, whose powers are these?

They are of Norway, sir.

How purposed, sir, I pray you?

Against some part of Poland.

Who commands them, sir?

The nephew to old Norway, Fortinbras.

Goes it against the main of Poland, sir,
Or for some frontier?

Truly to speak, and with no addition,
We go to gain a little patch of ground
That hath in it no profit but the name.
To pay five ducats -- five -- I would not farm it;
Nor will it yield to Norway or the Pole
A better rate should it be sold in fee.

Why, then the Polack never will defend it.

Yes, it is already garrison’d.

Two thousand souls and twenty thousand ducats
Will not debate the question of this straw.
This is the impostume of much wealth and peace,
That inward breaks, and show no cause without
Why the man dies.
	(to Captain)
I humbly thank you, sir.

‘God be with you,’ sir.

The Captain marches off, joining again with the army.  They traipse on.  Hamlet watches it for a time.

Will it please you go, my lord.

I’ll be with you straight.  Go a little before.

The others move on ahead, not without some suspicion about what Hamlet might do next.

	(to himself)
How all occasions do inform against me,
And spur my dull revenge.
What is a man
If his chief good and market of his time
Be but to sleep and feed?  A beast, no more.
Sure he that made us with such large discourse,
Looking before and after, gave us not
That capability and godlike reason
To fust in us unus’d.  Now whether it be
Bestial oblivion, or some craven scruple
Of thinking too precisely on th’event --
A thought which, quarter’d, hath but one part wisdom
And ever three parts coward -- I do not know
Why yet I live to say this thing’s to do,
Since I have cause, and will, and strength, and means
To do’t.
	(to himself)
Examples gross as earth exhort me,

Witness this army of such mass and charge,
Led by a delicate and tender prince,
Whose spirit, with divine ambition puff’d,
Makes mouths at the invisible event,

	(to himself)
Exposing what is mortal and unsure
To all that fortune, death, and danger dare,
Even for an eggshell.  Rightly to be great
Is not to stir without great argument,
But greatly to find quarrel in a straw
When honour’s at the stake.
How stand I then,
That have a father kill’d, a mother stain’d,
Excitements of my reason and my blood,
And let all sleep, while to my shame I see
The imminent death of twenty thousand men
That, for a fantasy and trick of fame,
Go to their graves like beds, fight for a plot
Whereon the numbers cannot try the cause,
Which is not tomb enough and continent
To hide the slain?  O, from this time forth
My thoughts be bloody or be nothing worth.

Hamlet turns and walks after Rosencrantz and the others.  The Norweyan host marches on, under a vast and threatening sky.


A CLOSE SHOT of a Rock Wall.  PULL BACK.  PAN TO ANOTHER WALL.  On it a gigantic “screen” is visible, which shows Ophelia in a ROOM IN THE CASTLE: alone, she is crouching on the floor, slowly rocking and moaning.  The images of Ophelia are M.O.S.

Enter Narrator, dressed as Reynaldo, but with her hair down.  She is carrying a whip, loosely coiled.  She is lecturing, and in the course of this refers to certain other entities as being visible in the frame with Ophelia, but they are not visible to us.

Moving on to the next stage, you see here Ophelia.  It’s been hard: hard to break her down, but necessary.  
	(points with whip)
Right here you see Shushwa, working on her left nipple.  And on the opposite side we’ve got Klodny: he’s been at it for over 72 hours, and is about to be relieved.  Same thing for her private parts: it’s been tag-team work for weeks.  But worth it: we will have the victory.  Ophelia was the key.  A gracious Ophelia would have softened Hamlet, not much, but just enough to make him unsuitable for our business; or rather, most likely unsuitable -- you never really know.  But our projections indicated a ninety-two percent chance of success with Ophelia...’neutralized.’

She shrugs; the image of Ophelia cuts to CLOSE-UP SHOT of her skull done with X-rays.

	(points with whip)
Right here you have her Limbic system: not exactly the seat of the soul, but the seat of her sexuality, anyway.

Groans from an unseen audience.  DOLLY IN to Narrator.  She is removing her upper garment.

	(blows a lewd kiss)
That’s my territory.

More groans from the audience.  The Narrator CRACKS HER WHIP, and another round of louder groans breaks out. 


Enter Gertruda, Horatio, and a GENTLEMAN: the Narrator dressed as Reynaldo.  Gertruda is hustling along, as if trying to be rid of them.

			I will not speak with her.

			She is importunate,
			Indeed distract.  Her mood will needs be pitied.

			What will she have?

She speaks much of her father, says she hears
There’s tricks i’th’world, and hems, and beats her heart,
Spurns enviously at straws, speaks things in doubt
That carry but half sense.  Her speech is nothing,
Yet the unshaped use of it doth move
The hearers to inductions.  They aim at it,
And botch the words up fit to their own thoughts,
Which, as her winks and nods and gestures yield them,
Indeed would make one think there might be thought,
Though nothing sure, yet much unhappily.

‘Twere good she were spoken with, for she may strew
Dangerous conjectures in ill-breeding minds.

Let her come in.

Exit Narrator.

To my sick soul, as sin’s true nature is,
Each toy seems prologue to some great amiss.
So full of artless jealousy is guilt,
It spills itself in fearing to be spilt.


Ophelia, with her hair down, is hurrying along, as if on an important mission.  She is followed by TWO GENTLEWOMEN.  She arrives at:


The same one where Gertruda waits.  Ophelia waves very informally at Gertruda, continues into the room without breaking stride, looks about, comes around to the middle of the room, regards the scene thoughtfully, and then looks out to the audience.  The two Gentlewomen also enter.  The Gentlewomen fear Ophelia exceedingly. The Narrator’s voice is added to Ophelia’s in voice-over.

			Where now is the beauteous majesty of Denmark?

This is obviously not a reference to Gertruda, who is confused by the rhetorical question.

			How now, Ophelia?

Ophelia sings a little song, concerning Gertruda and her loves.

How should I your true love know
From another one?
By his cockle hat and staff
And his sandal shoon --

			Alas, sweet lady, what imports this song?

			Say you?  Nay, pray you mark.
He is dead and gone, lady,
He is dead and gone,
At his head a grass-green turf,
At his heels a stone.

They look at each other a moment.  Then Gertruda looks away.  Ophelia follows her gaze and suddenly sees something interesting.

			O ho!

She moves over to where she seems to see a man.  She reaches down, appears to grasp his member, and then mounts it, in pantomime.  Then she mimics Gertruda (this being her favorite position with Claudius), and moans.

				(striking her)
			Nay, but Ophelia.

Ophelia stops rocking, giggles, then starts singing again.  She is still on the floor.

			Pray you mark.
			White his shroud as the mountain snow...


The funeral of Old Hamlet.  He is shrouded in white.


Enter Narrator, dressed as Reynaldo, with Claudius.

			Alas, look here, my lord.

				(sing; to Gertruda)
...Larded with sweet flowers
Which bewept to the grave did not go
With true-love showers.

Claudius moves near Ophelia, who is looking away, as if off into space.  Claudius is feeling sorry for her.

			How do you, pretty lady?

Ophelia looks around, straight at Claudius’s crotch.

Well, God dild you!

She laughs, then looks up to Claudius’s face.

They say the owl was a baker’s daughter.  Lord, we know what we are, but know not what we may be.  
	(more softly)
God be at your table.

				(to Gertruda)
			Conceit upon her father.

Pray let’s have no words of this, but when they ask you what it means, say you this.
	(sing; to Claudius)
Tomorrow is Saint Valentine’s day,
All in the morning betime,
And I a maid at your window,
To be your Valentine.
Then up he rose, and donn’d his clo’es,
And dupp’d the chamber door,
	(points to Gertruda)
Let in the maid that out a maid 
Never departed more.

Claudius and Gertruda look at each other, beginning to realize the song is about them.  Ophelia sees this.

			Pretty Ophelia --

Indeed, without an oath, I’ll make an end on’t.

She gets up and strikes a pose.

	(sing; to Gertruda and Claudius)
By Jes’ and by Saint Charity,
Alack and fie for shame,
Young men will do’t if they come to’t,
By cock they are to blame.
	(taking Gertruda’s part)
Quoth she, ‘Before you tumbled me,
You promised me to wed.’
	(taking Claudius’s part)
‘So would I a done, by yonder sun,
If thou hadst not come to my bed.’

Gertruda looks away in consternation.  Claudius is rattled.

			How long hath she been thus?

Ophelia approaches Gertruda, consoling her, but also running her fingers over Gertruda’s hair with erotic intent.
	(quoting Claudius)
‘I hope all will be well.  We must be patient.’

She kisses Gertruda on the cheek, with a certain energy of passion, then moves to Claudius and consoles herself against him.

	(continuing; quoting Gertruda)
‘But I cannot choose but weep to think they would lay him i’th’cold ground.’

Claudius starts, remembering the quotation; he looks over at Gertruda accusingly, who denies it with a subtle shake of her head.
Ophelia now changes tack, looking straight at Claudius, and referring to Laertes.  This adds another level of discomfiture.

  My brother shall know of it.

Ophelia suddenly moves off and pirouettes.  Then comes back to Claudius and kneels down.
	(continuing; to Claudius’s crotch)
And so I thank you for your good counsel.

She stands up and smiles at him.  She affects Gertruda’s bearing.

	(continuing; aside)
Come, my coach.  Good night, ladies, good night.
	(to the Gentlewomen)
Sweet ladies, good night, good night.

Ophelia runs out of the room, laughing, and flapping her arms as if they were wings.  The Gentlewomen cross themselves.

				(to Horatio)
Follow her close; give her good watch, I pray you.

Horatio follows Ophelia, motioning to the two Gentlewomen.  They follow Horatio, as does the Narrator.  Gertruda collapses to the floor and weeps.

				(continuing; aside)
O, this is the poison of deep grief: it springs
All from her father’s death.  And now behold --
	(to Gertruda)
O Gertruda, Gertruda,
When sorrows come, they come not single spies,
But in battalions.  First, her father slain;
Next, your son gone, and he most violent author 
Of his own just remove; 
				...the people muddied,
Thick and unwholesome in their thoughts and whispers
For good Polonius’ death, and we have done but greenly
In hugger-mugger to inter him; poor Ophelia
Divided from herself and her fair judgment,
Without the which we are pictures, or mere beasts;
Last, and as much containing as all these,
Her brother is in secret come from France,
Feeds on this wonder, keeps himself in clouds,
And wants not buzzers to infect his ear
With pestilent speeches of his father’s death,
Wherein necessity, of matter beggar’d,
Will nothing stick our person to arraign
In ear and ear.  
	(to Gertruda)
O my dear Gertruda, this,
Like to a murd’ring sword, in many places 
Gives me superfluous death.

Noise of a commotion from outside.

	(continuing; to himself)
Where is my Switzers?  Let them guard the door.

Nobody comes, however, except a single MESSENGER.  Claudius is deeply afraid.

What is the matter?

	(out of breath)
Save yourself, my lord!
The ocean, overpowering of his list,
Eats not the flats with more impetuous haste
Than young Laertes, in a riotous head,
O’erbears your officers.  The rabble call him lord,
And, as the world were now but to begin,
Antiquity forgot, custom not known --
The ratifiers and props of every word --
They cry, ‘Choose we!  Laertes shall be king!’
Caps, hands, and tongues applaud it to the clouds,
‘Laertes shall be king, Laertes shall be king!’

How cheerfully on the false trail they cry.
O, this is counter, you false Danish dogs.

The noise of the commotion grows louder.

The doors are broke!

Enter Laertes with FOLLOWERS -- they are outside the room, in a PASSAGEWAY.

Where is this king!

They encounter a door, and Laertes deduces the king is lying behind it.

Sirs, stand you all without.

No, let’s come in!

I pray you give me leave.

	(cheering him on)
We will, we will!

I thank you.  Keep the door.

Laertes passes through the door, and approaches Claudius threateningly.

O thou vile king, 
Give me my father!

Gertruda intercepts him, according the plan she and Claudius have made in the few moments available.

Calmly, good Laertes.

That drop of blood that’s calm proclaims me bastard,
Cries cuckold to my father, brands the harlot
Even here between the chaste unsmirched brow
Of my true mother!

	(to Laertes)
What is the cause, Laertes,
That thy rebellion looks so giant-like?
	(to Gertruda)
Let him go, Gertruda.  Do not fear our person.

Gertruda kisses him, and Laertes lurches forward, but Gertruda hangs on; she produces a knife and holds it to Laertes’s throat.

There’s such divinity doth hedge a king
That treason can but peep to what it would,
Acts little of his will.
	(to Laertes)
Tell me, Laertes,
Why thou art thus incens’d.  
	(to Gertruda)
Let him go, Gertruda.

Gertruda lets him go, backing away suddenly and deliberately, and standing about thirty degrees off the line from Laertes to Claudius.
	(continuing; to Laertes)
Speak, man.

Where is my father!


But not by him.

Let him demand his fill.

How came he dead?  I’ll not be juggled with.
To hell, allegiance.  Vows to the blackest devil!
Conscience and grace, to the profoundest pit!
I dare damnation.

There is voice-over laughter from the shadows.

To this point I stand,
That both the worlds I give to negligence,
Let come what comes, only I’ll be reveng’d 
Most throughly for my father.

Who shall stay you?

My will, not all the world’s.
And for my means, I’ll husband them so well,
They shall go far with little.

Good Laertes,
If you desire to know the certainty...

Claudius shakes his head almost imperceptibly towards Gertruda.


Gertruda sheathes her dagger.

...Of your dear father, is’t writ in your revenge
That, swoopstake, you will draw both friend and foe,
Winner and loser?

None but his enemies.

	(proud of him)
Will you know them, then?

Is that a question?

Your father had many friends in this small land.

To his good friends, thus wide I’ll ope my arms,
And, like the kind life-rend’ring pelican,
Repast them with my blood.

Why, now you speak
Like a good child...
	(nods to Gertruda)
			 ...and a true gentleman.
That I am guiltless of your father’s death
And am most sensibly in grief for it,
It shall as level to your judgment ‘pear
As day does to your eye.

An eerie moaning is heard from without.

Let her come in.

How now, what noise is that?

Gertruda obeys, and fetches Ophelia.  Ophelia has her upper arms lashed to a yoke, to which is fastened a heavy wooden cross-bar that is secured to her waist and extends down to the floor.  She carries a bouquet of flowers in one hand.  She continues moaning as she enters.  Horatio follows.  Laertes is horrified.

	(to himself)
O heat, dry up my brains!  Tears seven times salt
Burn out the sense and virtue of mine eye.
By heaven, thy madness shall be paid with weight
Till our scale turn the beam.
	(to Ophelia)
O rose of May!
Dear maid, kind sister, sweet Ophelia --

Ophelia looks at him but does not recognize him; she props herself on the apparatus and moans.

	(continuing; to God)
Lord God!  Is’t possible a young maid’s wits
Should be as mortal as an old man’s life?
	(to himself)
Nature is fine in love, and where ‘tis fine
It sends some precious instance of itself
After the thing it loves.

They bore him bare-fac’d on the bier,
And in his grave rain’d many a tear.

She looks at Laertes, and as with a gift of second sight, perceives his imminent death.

	(continuing; to Laertes)
Fare you well, my dove.

	(to Ophelia)
Hadst thou thy wits and didst persuade revenge,
It could not move thus.

Ophelia smiles at him, approving the thought. 

You must sing A-down a down, and you Call him a-down a.  O, how the wheel becomes it.  
	(to Claudius)
It is the false steward that stole his master’s daughter.

This nothing’s more than matter.

She gives him the rosemary.

	(kissing Laertes)
There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance -- pray you, love, remember.

She gives him the pansies.

And there is pansies, that’s for thoughts.

Thoughts and remembrance, right.

A document in madness: thoughts and remembrance fitted.

	(giving to Gertruda)
There’s fennel for you, and columbines.

That means she’s unfaithful to her husband.

	(giving to Claudius)
There’s rue for you.  And here’s some for me.

She still holding out some hope of deliverance.  No way.

We may call it herb of grace a Sundays.
	(giving to Horatio)
You must wear your rue with a difference.


	(to Horatio)
I would give you some violets, but they withered all when my father died.
	(to Laertes)
They say a made a good end.

She tries to reach down with her arms, but is prevented by the thongs binding her.

For Bonnie sweet Robin is all my joy.

She looks to Gertruda as if for aid and then thrusts herself toward her, but Gertruda moves aside and Ophelia, wearied, props herself on the yoke again.

					NARRATOR (V.O.)
			Pussy.  ‘Sweet Robin’ means her pussy.

Thought and affliction, passion, hell itself!

Ophelia tries in vain to wrench herself into a position where she can access her private parts.  She starts singing again, this time about Hamlet, whom she has seen dead in a vision.

And will a not come again?
And will a not come again?
No, no, he is dead,
Go to thy death-bed,
He never will come again.

And now she sings of Polonius, at a last.

His beard was as white as snow,
All flaxen was his poll.
He is gone, he is gone, 
And we cast away moan.
God a mercy on his soul.
	(speaks to Laertes)
And of all Christian souls,
God be with you.

This is the last straw for Laertes: Ophelia losing her grip on her heritage.  Ophelia collapses into a heap.  Horatio comforts Gertruda.

	(to God)
Do you see this, O God?

	(seeing his chance)
Laertes, I must commune with your grief,
Or you deny me right.  Go but apart,
Make choice of whom your wisest friends you will,
And they shall hear and judge ‘twixt you and me.
If by direct or by collateral hand
They find us touch’d, we will our kingdom give,
Our crown, our life, and all that we call ours
To you in satisfaction; but if not,
Be you content to lend your patience to us,
And we shall jointly labour with your soul
To give it due content.

	(to God)
Let this be so.
	(to Claudius)
His means of death, his obscure funeral --
No trophy, sword, nor hatchment o’er his bones,
No noble rite, nor formal ostentation --
Cry to be heard, as ‘twere from heaven to earth,
That I must call’t in question.

Claudius draws Laertes apart and they walk off into another part of the castle.  Gertruda weeps against Horatio, who regards Ophelia with horror.

So you shall.
And where th’offence is, let the great axe fall.
I pray you go with me.


There is storm at sea, and a full moon.  A ship comes INTO FRAME from the right, and goes OUT OF FRAME to the left.  It is a large trading vessel, not a Viking longboat.  As it goes out of frame, the Dragon appears, also from the right, flying along behind the ship.  PAN LEFT WITH THE DRAGON: the ship and the Dragon fade away into the storm.


It is a bright spring morning, and a few birds are chirping.  Horatio is conversing with the Narrator, dressed as Reynaldo.

What are they that would speak with me?

Seafaring men, sir.  They say they have letters for you.

	(thinks, then)
Let them come in.

Exit Narrator.

I do not know from what part of the world
I should be greeted if not from Lord Hamlet.

Enter TWO SAILORS: Vikings.  SAILOR 1 looks at Horatio a moment, surmises he is a Christian priest, and forms an appropriate greeting.

God bless you, sir.

Let him bless thee, too.

A shall, sir, if it please him.  There’s a letter for you, sir.  It came from th’ambassador that was bound for England -- if your name be Horatio, as I am let to know it is.

	(reads, very slowly, mumbling
      to himself)
Horatio, when thou shalt have overlooked this, give these fellows some means to the King.  They have letters for him.  Ere we were two days old at sea, a pirate of very warlike appointment gave us chase.  Finding ourselves too slow of sail, we put on a compelled valour, and in the grapple I boarded them.  On the instant they got clear of our ship, so I alone became their prisoner.  They have dealt with me like thieves of mercy.  But they knew what they did: I am to do a turn for them.  Let the King have the letters I have sent, and repair thou to me with as much speed as thou wouldest fly death.  I have words to speak in thine ear will make thee dumb; yet are they much too light for the bore of the matter.  These good fellows will bring thee where I am.  Rosencrantz and Guildenstern hold their course for England; of them I have much to tell thee.  Farewell.  He that thou knowest thine, Hamlet.
	(to Sailors)
Come, I will give you way for these your letters,
And do’t the speedier that you may direct me
To him from whom you brought them.


Claudius is finishing writing out an order.  He then signs it, attaches his seal, and gives it to one of TWO SOLDIERS.  The Soldiers exit.  At the door, the Narrator, dressed as Reynaldo, lets them by, and holds the door open for Laertes, who enters to the king.  He stops opposite the writing desk.  They regard each other a moment.

Now must your conscience seal my innocence,
And you must place me in your heart as friend,
Since you have heard, and with a knowing ear,
That he who hath your noble father slain
Pursued my life.

It well appears.  But tell me
Why you proceeded not against these tricks,
So crimeful and so capital in nature,
Which, by your safety, greatness, wisdom, all things 	else,
You chiefly were aroused?

Claudius is fiddling with a geometric compass.

O, for two special reasons,
Which may to you perhaps seem much unsinew’d,
But yet to me th’are strong.  The Queen his mother
Lives almost by his looks, and for myself,
My virtue or my plague, be it either which --
	(to Laertes)
She is so conjunctive to my life and soul
That, as the star moves not but in his sphere,
I could not but by her.  The other motive
Why to a public charge I might not go
Is the great love the common folk bear him,
Who, dipping all his faults in their affection,
Work like the spring that turneth wood to gold,
Convert his guilts to graces, so that my arrows,
Too slightly timbered for so loud a wind,
Would have reverted to my bow again,
But not where I had aim’d them.

And so I have a noble father lost,
A sister driven into desp’rate terms,
Whose worth, if praises may describe what was,
Stood challenger on mount of all the age
For her perfections.

In other words, he loved her.

But my revenge will come.

	(sotto voce)
Good boy.

Lose not your sleep for that.  You must not think
That we are made of stuff so flat and dull
That we can let our beard be shook with danger
And think it a game.  You shortly shall hear more.
I lov’d your father, and we love ourself,
And that, I hope, will teach you to imagine --

Enter a MESSENGER with letters.  It’s OSRIC.

These to your Majesty, this to the Queen.

Claudius opens one and is startled.

From Hamlet!  Who brought them?

Sailors, my lord, they say.  I saw them not.
They were given me by Claudio.  He receiv’d them of him that brought them.

Claudius opens the one intended for Gertruda, and is disgusted.

Laertes, you shall hear them.
	(to Osric)
Leave us.

Exit Osric.  Claudius reads the first letter.  He has trouble with it, reading it very slowly, and squinting at it because the letters are too small.

High and mighty, you shall know I am set naked on your kingdom.  Tomorrow shall I beg leave to see your kingly eyes, when I shall, first asking your pardon, thereunto recount the occasion of my sudden and more strange return.  Hamlet.
	(to Laertes)
What should this mean?
	(handing him the letter)
Are all the rest come back?
Or is it some abuse and no such thing?

Laertes reads it over quickly and silently.

Know you the hand?

	(taking letter again)
‘Tis Hamlet’s character.
	(to himself)
	(to Laertes)
And in a postscript here he says, ‘Alone.’
Can you explain this?

I am lost in it, my lord.  
	(reading it again)
But let him come.
It warms the very sickness in my heart
That I shall live and tell him to his teeth,
‘Thus diest thou.’

If it be so, Laertes,
As how should it be so, how otherwise?
Will you be rul’d by me?

Ay, my lord,
So you will not o’errule me to a peace.

To thine own peace.  If he be now returned,
Arresting his former course, and meaning 
No more to undertake it, I will work him
To an exploit, now ripe in my device,
Under the which he shall not choose but fall;
And for his death no wind of blame shall breathe,
But even his mother shall uncharge the practice
And call it accident.


Ophelia, still yoked, is gathering flowers.  In the background the two Soldiers appear by a tree.  They move OUT OF FRAME, toward the river.  Gertruda comes out from behind the tree and watches.


My lord, I will be rul’d
The rather if you could devise it so
That I might be the organ.

They are really starting to like each other.  Claudius goes on to invent an involved story.

It falls right.
You have been talk’d of since your journey much,
And that in Hamlet’s hearing, for a quality
Wherein they say you shine.  Your sum of parts
Did not together pluck such envy from him
As did one thing, and that, in my regard,
Of the unworthiest kind.

What part is that, my lord?

Claudius takes a sip of wine.

A very ribbon in the cap of youth,
Yet needful, too, for youth no less becomes
The light and careless livery that it wears
Than settled age his sables and his weeds
Importing health and graveness.  Two months since
Here was a gentleman of Normandy.
I have seen myself, and served against the Franks,
And they can well on horseback, but this gallant
Had witchcraft in’t.  He grew unto his seat,
And to such wondrous doing brought his horse
As had he been merged and demi-natur’d
With the brave beast.  So far he topped my thought
That I in dreaming up some feats and tricks
Come short of what he did.

A Norman, was it?

A Norman.

Upon my life, Lamord.

The very same.

I know him well.  He is the brooch indeed
And gem of all the nation.

Claudius pours Laertes some wine.

He bore witness of you,
And gave you such a masterly report
For art and exercise in your defense,
And for your broadsword most especial,
That he cried out ‘twould be a sight indeed
If one could match you.  The swordsmen of their nation
He swore had neither motion, guard, nor eye,
If you oppos’d them.  Sir, this report of his
Did Hamlet so envenom with his envy
That he could nothing do but wish and beg 
Your sudden coming o’er to play with you.
Now out of this --

Laertes is daydreaming.

What out of this, my lord?

	(almost chiding)
Laertes, was your father dear to you?
Or are you like the painting of a sorrow,
A face without a heart?

Why ask you this?

Not that I think you did not love your father,
But that I know love is begun by time,
And that I see, in times of trial,
Time modifies the spark and fire of it.

Laertes starts to protest, but Claudius continues on.

There lives within the very flame of love
A kind of wick or snuff that will abate it;
And nothing will remain forever good,
For goodness, growing to malignancy,
Dies in its own too-much.

Laertes doesn’t quite follow this.

That we would do,
We should do when we would: for this ‘would’ changes
And hath abatements and delays as many
As there are tongues, and hands, are accidents;

Laertes is agitated, thinking Claudius doubts his resolve.

By merely pondering arduous duties,
By minding ‘shoulds’ but failing to perform,
If we sit tight only, secure in what we ought,
And give no name of action to our thoughts,
Then we are no more than a spendthrift sigh
That hurts by easing.

Laertes is bursting with indignation.  Claudius waves this off and leans closer.

But to the quick of th‘ulcer:
Hamlet comes back; what would you undertake
To show yourself in deed your father’s son
More than in words?

To cut his throat i’th’church.

Yes.  Good.  Good job, Claudius.

No place indeed should murder sanctuarize;
Revenge should have no bounds.  But good Laertes,
Will you do this: keep close within your chamber;
Hamlet, return’d, shall know you are come home;
We’ll put on those shall praise your excellence,
And set a double varnish on the fame
The Norman gave you; bring you, in short, together,
And wager o’er your heads.  He, being remiss,
Most generous, and free from all contriving,
Will not peruse the swords, so that with ease,
Or with a little shuffling, you may choose
A sword unbated, and in a pass of practice
Requite him for your father.

I will do it.
And for that purpose, I’ll anoint my sword.
I bought an unction of a mountebank
So mortal that but dip a knife in it,
Where it draws blood, no cataplasm so rare,
Collected from all simples that have virtue 
Under the moon, can save the thing from death
That is but scratch’d withal.  I’ll touch my point
With this contagion, that if I gall him slightly,
It may be death.

Let’s further think of this,
Weigh what convenience both of time and means
May fit us to our shape.

He toasts Laertes.

If this should fail,
And that our drift show through our bad performance,
‘Twere better not essay’d.  Therefore this project
Should have a back or second that might hold
If this did blast in proof.  Soft, let me see.
We’ll make a solemn wager on your cunnings --
I have it!
When in your motion you are hot and dry,
As make your bouts more violent to that end,
And that he calls for drink, I’ll have prepar’d him
A chalice for the nonce, whereon but sipping,
If he by chance escape your venom’d sword,
Our purpose may hold there. 

Laertes toasts Claudius.

But stay, what noise?

Enter Gertruda.

One woe doth tread upon another’s heel,
So fast they follow.  Your sister’s drown’d, Laertes.

Drown’d?  O, where?

There is a willow grows askant the brook
That shows his hoary leaves in the glassy stream.
Therewith fantastic garlands did she make
Of crow-flowers, nettles, daisies, and long purples,
That liberal shepherds give a grosser name,
But our cold maids do dead men’s fingers call them.
There on the pendent boughs her crowning weeds
Clamb’ring to hang, an envious sliver broke,
When down her weedy trophies and herself
Fell in the weeping brook.  Her clothes spread wide,
And mermaid-like awhile they bore her up,
Which time she chanted snatches of old songs,
As one incapable of her own distress,
Or like a creature native and indued
Unto that element.  But long it could not be
Till that her garments, heavy with their drink,
Pull’d the poor wretch from her melodious lay
To muddy death.

Ophelia floating in brook, face up, bound to her yoke.

Alas, then she is drown’d.

Drown’d, drown’d.

	(to Ophelia)
Too much of water hast thou, poor Ophelia,
And therefore I forbid my tears,  But yet
It is our trick; nature her custom holds,
Let shame say what it will.
	(weeps; to himself)
When these are gone,
The woman will be out.
	(to Claudius)
Adieu, my lord,
I have a speech o’fire that fain would blaze
But that this folly douts it.

Exit Laertes.

Let’s follow, Gertruda.
How much I had to do to calm his rage.
Now fear I this will give it start again.
Therefore let’s follow.

										FADE OUT.

[ top | previous ]