The platform.
The air bites shrewdly; it is very cold.
It is a nipping and an eager air.
What hour now?
I think it lacks of twelve.
No, it is struck.
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?
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.
Is it a custom?
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.
Look, my lord, it comes!
Enter Ghost
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
It beckons you to go away with it,
As if it some impartment did desire
To you alone.
Look, with what courteous action
It waves you to a more removed ground:
But do not go with it.
No, by no means.
It will not speak; then I will follow it.
Do not, my lord.
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.
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.
It waves me still.
Go on; I'll follow thee.
You shall not go, my lord.
Hold off your hands.
Be ruled; you shall not go.
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
He waxes desperate with imagination.
Let's follow; 'tis not fit thus to obey him.
Have after. To what issue will this come?
Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.
Heaven will direct it.
Nay, let's follow him.

That night Hamlet joined his friend Horatio and the sentinel Marcellus on guard in the hope that his father’s ghost would appear again. The men were well wrapped up as an icy blast battered Zealand. Below in the castle King Claudius was holding a celebration. The steady whistle of the wind was disturbed by trumpets, and cannons fired to mark each toast.
"The wind bites sharply, it's very cold," said Hamlet.
"It’s a biting and gusty wind," said Horatio.
"What time is it?"
"Nearly midnight."
"No, it's later than that," said Marcellus.
"Indeed? I didn't hear the bell. It'll soon be the time the ghost walks," said Horatio.
Yet more trumpets and canons roared from the castle.
"What's happening, my lord?" asked Horatio.
"The King is having a party tonight. Drinking and dancing with plenty of Rhineland wines and beers. Drums and trumpets applaud every toast."
"Is it a custom?"
"Indeed, but to my mind, it is a custom we would be better to forget than to observe. This kind of behaviour makes us the laughing stock of countries to the east and to the west. Drunken pigs, they call us. It detracts from our achievements and belittles our prestige. Often in men there is a vicious flaw, put there by nature, which affects individuals in the same way, seeking solace in drink regardless of the problem. They are not guilty, since man cannot choose his origin. But this flaw festers within."
As Hamlet was musing the ghost appeared.
"Look, my lord. It is coming!" said Horatio.
Stunned, Hamlet made the sign of the cross and then began to speak.
"Angels and ministers of grace, defend us! Whether you are an angel or demon, bring with you the sweet airs of Heaven or blasts from hell; whether your intentions are malevolent or benevolent, you appear in such a familiar shape that I will speak to you. I call you Hamlet, King, father, Royal Dane! Oh, answer me! Don't let me burst with ignorance but explain to me why your consecrated bones, buried in their coffin, have fled the grave! Why has the tomb, where I saw you quietly interred, thrown open its heavy marble doors to release you into the living? What does it mean, when you, dead corpse in full armour visit your subjects in the light of the moon, making night so hideous that we mere mortals shake at the mysteries that lie beyond the reaches of the soul? Explain it! Why? What are we to do?"
The ghost raised its hand and beckoned Hamlet.
"It wants you to go with it," said Horatio to Hamlet. "It looks as if it wants to speak to you in private."
"Look how regally it gestures you to follow," said Marcellus. "But don't go with it."
"No, by no means," concurred Horatio.
"If it will not speak then I must follow it."
"Don't, my lord!" pleaded Horatio.
"Why, what is there to fear? My life isn't worth as much as a pin. And as for my soul, what can it do to something else immortal. It waves me on again. I will follow it."
"What if it tempts you to the sea, my lord?" asked Horatio, gravely concerned for his friend's welfare. "Or to the edge of a cliff where it may assume some other, more horrible, form, and deprive you of your sanity? Think of it!"
"It is still waving me on," Hamlet said defiantly. "Go on, I will follow you!" he told the ghost.
"You shall not go, my lord," yelled Marcellus trying to restrain the Prince.
"Don't try to stop me!"
"Listen to us, lord. Don't go!" Horatio yelled.
"My fate is calling! Even the smallest artery in my body has the courage of a lion. Still it is calling! Release me, gentlemen. By heaven, I will make a ghost of anyone trying to stop me! Now, go away! Ghost, I will follow you!"
Horatio and Marcellus stood helpless as the figures of Hamlet and the ghost were lost in the darkness.
"His imagination has left him desperate," said Horatio.
"Let's follow. It would actually be wrong to obey him!" said Marcellus.
"We can, but what will be the outcome?" Horatio said, torn between friendship and insubordination.
"Something is rotten in the state of Denmark," Marcellus said.
"Heaven will fix it," Horatio said, his voice trembling with fear.
"No, let's follow him!" Marcellus insisted.