500 AP English Literature Questions to know by test day

CHAPTER 7. Drama

 

Passage 3. William Shakespeare, Hamlet

 

Queen.

Good Hamlet, cast thy nighted colour off,

And let thine eye look like a friend on Denmark.

Do not for ever with thy vailed lids

Seek for thy noble father in the dust:

Thou know’st ’tis common, —all that lives must die,

Passing through nature to eternity.

 

Hamlet. Ay, madam, it is common.

 

Queen.

If it be,

Why seems it so particular with thee?

 

Hamlet.

Seems, madam! Nay, it is; I know not seems.

’Tis not alone my inky cloak, good mother,

Nor customary suits of solemn black,

Nor windy suspiration of forc’d breath,

No, nor the fruitful river in the eye,

Nor the dejected ’havior of the visage,

Together with all forms, moods, shows of grief,

That can denote me truly: these, indeed, seem;

For they are actions that a man might play;

But I have that within which passeth show;

These but the trappings and the suits of woe.

 

King.

’Tis sweet and commendable in your nature, Hamlet,

To give these mourning duties to your father;

But, you must know, your father lost a father;

That father lost, lost his; and the survivor bound,

In filial obligation, for some term

To do obsequious sorrow: but to persevere

In obstinate condolement is a course

Of impious stubbornness; ’tis unmanly grief;

It shows a will most incorrect to heaven;

A heart unfortified, a mind impatient;

An understanding simple and unschool’d;

For what we know must be, and is as common

As any the most vulgar thing to sense,

Why should we, in our peevish opposition,

Take it to heart? Fie! ’tis a fault to heaven,

A fault against the dead, a fault to nature,

To reason most absurd; whose common theme

Is death of fathers, and who still hath cried,

From the first corse till he that died to-day,

‘This must be so.’ We pray you, throw to earth

This unprevailing woe; and think of us

As of a father: for let the world take note

You are the most immediate to our throne;

And with no less nobility of love

Than that which dearest father bears his son

Do I impart toward you. For your intent

In going back to school in Wittenberg,

It is most retrograde to our desire:

And we beseech you bend you to remain

Here in the cheer and comfort of our eye,

Our chiefest courtier, cousin, and our son.