Elsinore. A room in the castle.
Enter QUEEN GERTRUDE, HORATIO, and a Gentleman
QUEEN GERTRUDE
I will not speak with her.
Gentleman
She is importunate, indeed distract:
Her mood will needs be pitied.
QUEEN GERTRUDE
What would she have?
Gentleman
She speaks much of her father; says she hears
There's tricks i' the 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 collection; 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.
HORATIO
'Twere good she were spoken with; for she may strew
Dangerous conjectures in ill-breeding minds.
QUEEN GERTRUDE
Let her come in.
Exit HORATIO
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.
Re-enter HORATIO, with OPHELIA
OPHELIA
Where is the beauteous majesty of Denmark?
QUEEN GERTRUDE
How now, Ophelia!
OPHELIA
[Sings]
How should I your true love know
From another one?
By his cockle hat and staff,
And his sandal shoon.
QUEEN GERTRUDE
Alas, sweet lady, what imports this song?
OPHELIA
Say you? nay, pray you, mark.
Sings
He is dead and gone, lady,
He is dead and gone;
At his head a grass-green turf,
At his heels a stone.
QUEEN GERTRUDE
Nay, but, Ophelia,--
OPHELIA
Pray you, mark.
Sings
White his shroud as the mountain snow,--
Enter KING CLAUDIUS
QUEEN GERTRUDE
Alas, look here, my lord.
OPHELIA
[Sings]
Larded with sweet flowers
Which bewept to the grave did go
With true-love showers.
KING CLAUDIUS
How do you, pretty lady?
OPHELIA
Well, God 'ild you! They say the owl was a baker's
daughter. Lord, we know what we are, but know not
what we may be. God be at your table!
KING CLAUDIUS
Conceit upon her father.
OPHELIA
Pray you, let's have no words of this; but when they
ask you what it means, say you this:
Sings
To-morrow 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 clothes,
And dupp'd the chamber-door;
Let in the maid, that out a maid
Never departed more.
KING CLAUDIUS
Pretty Ophelia!
OPHELIA
Indeed, la, without an oath, I'll make an end on't:
Sings
By Gis 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.
Quoth she, before you tumbled me,
You promised me to wed.
So would I ha' done, by yonder sun,
An thou hadst not come to my bed.
KING CLAUDIUS
How long hath she been thus?
OPHELIA
I hope all will be well. We must be patient: but I
cannot choose but weep, to think they should lay him
i' the cold ground. My brother shall know of it:
and so I thank you for your good counsel. Come, my
coach! Good night, ladies; good night, sweet ladies;
good night, good night.
Exit
KING CLAUDIUS
Follow her close; give her good watch,
I pray you.
Exit HORATIO
O, this is the poison of deep grief; it springs
All from her father's death. O Gertrude, Gertrude,
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 his 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. O my dear Gertrude, this,
Like to a murdering-piece, in many places
Gives me superfluous death.
A noise within
QUEEN GERTRUDE
Alack, what noise is this?
KING CLAUDIUS
Where are my Switzers? Let them guard the door.
Enter another Gentleman
What is the matter?
Gentleman
Save yourself, my lord:
The ocean, overpeering 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 king!'
QUEEN GERTRUDE
How cheerfully on the false trail they cry!
O, this is counter, you false Danish dogs!
KING CLAUDIUS
The doors are broke.
Noise within
Enter LAERTES, armed; Danes following
LAERTES
Where is this king? Sirs, stand you all without.
Danes
No, let's come in.
LAERTES
I pray you, give me leave.
Danes
We will, we will.
They retire without the door
LAERTES
I thank you: keep the door. O thou vile king,
Give me my father!
QUEEN GERTRUDE
Calmly, good Laertes.
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.
KING CLAUDIUS
What is the cause, Laertes,
That thy rebellion looks so giant-like?
Let him go, Gertrude; do not fear our person:
There's such divinity doth hedge a king,
That treason can but peep to what it would,
Acts little of his will. Tell me, Laertes,
Why thou art thus incensed. Let him go, Gertrude.
Speak, man.
LAERTES
Where is my father?
KING CLAUDIUS
Dead.
QUEEN GERTRUDE
But not by him.
KING CLAUDIUS
Let him demand his fill.
LAERTES
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. To this point I stand,
That both the worlds I give to negligence,
Let come what comes; only I'll be revenged
Most thoroughly for my father.
KING CLAUDIUS
Who shall stay you?
LAERTES
My will, not all the world:
And for my means, I'll husband them so well,
They shall go far with little.
KING CLAUDIUS
Good Laertes,
If you desire to know the certainty
Of your dear father's death, is't writ in your revenge,
That, swoopstake, you will draw both friend and foe,
Winner and loser?
LAERTES
None but his enemies.
KING CLAUDIUS
Will you know them then?
LAERTES
To his good friends thus wide I'll ope my arms;
And like the kind life-rendering pelican,
Repast them with my blood.
KING CLAUDIUS
Why, now you speak
Like a good child and a true gentleman.
That I am guiltless of your father's death,
And am most sensible in grief for it,
It shall as level to your judgment pierce
As day does to your eye.
Danes
[Within] Let her come in.
LAERTES
How now! what noise is that?
Re-enter OPHELIA
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 by weight,
Till our scale turn the beam. O rose of May!
Dear maid, kind sister, sweet Ophelia!
O heavens! is't possible, a young maid's wits
Should be as moral as an old man's life?
Nature is fine in love, and where 'tis fine,
It sends some precious instance of itself
After the thing it loves.
OPHELIA
[Sings]
They bore him barefaced on the bier;
Hey non nonny, nonny, hey nonny;
And in his grave rain'd many a tear:--
Fare you well, my dove!
LAERTES
Hadst thou thy wits, and didst persuade revenge,
It could not move thus.
OPHELIA
[Sings]
You must sing a-down a-down,
An you call him a-down-a.
O, how the wheel becomes it! It is the false
steward, that stole his master's daughter.
LAERTES
This nothing's more than matter.
OPHELIA
There's rosemary, that's for remembrance; pray,
love, remember: and there is pansies. that's for thoughts.
LAERTES
A document in madness, thoughts and remembrance fitted.
OPHELIA
There's fennel for you, and columbines: there's rue
for you; and here's some for me: we may call it
herb-grace o' Sundays: O you must wear your rue with
a difference. There's a daisy: I would give you
some violets, but they withered all when my father
died: they say he made a good end,--
Sings
For bonny sweet Robin is all my joy.
LAERTES
Thought and affliction, passion, hell itself,
She turns to favour and to prettiness.
OPHELIA
[Sings]
And will he not come again?
And will he not come again?
No, no, he is dead:
Go to thy death-bed:
He never will come again.
His beard was as white as snow,
All flaxen was his poll:
He is gone, he is gone,
And we cast away moan:
God ha' mercy on his soul!
And of all Christian souls, I pray God. God be wi' ye.
Exit
LAERTES
Do you see this, O God?
KING CLAUDIUS
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 can 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.
LAERTES
Let this be so;
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.
KING CLAUDIUS
So you shall;
And where the offence is let the great axe fall.
I pray you, go with me.
Exeunt

The Queen was in her chamber with Horatio and a courtier- they tried to both pacify the Queen and arrange a meeting between the Queen and Ophelia, at the young lady's request.
"I will not speak with her!" the Queen said furiously.
"Oh, she's insistent, mad even," said the courtier. "Her mood will lead you to pity."
"What does she want?'
"She speaks constantly about her father,” the courtier said. “She says the world is crafty, shouts and yells. She seizes every opportunity to go into a bad mood. She talks such gibberish that listeners have to work out her meaning for themselves. They take all her botched words and try to find some modicum of sense. From her winks, nods and gestures you'd think everything she said was profound, but everything seems ambiguous."
"It's best that she be given an audience," Horatio advised. "Otherwise she might feed the rumour-mongers."
"Oh, let her in," Gertrude relented.
The gentleman of court left to bring in Ophelia.
"It is the true nature of sin," the Queen said to herself while looking in her mirror, "that every little incident is just the prologue of something grim. Guilt is so clumsy that it spills what it is trying to contain."
Ophelia entered obviously suffering mental and physical pressure.
"Where is the beautiful Queen of Denmark?"
"How are you, Ophelia?'
Ophelia stared at the Queen and then began to sing.
"How should I from your true love know
From another one?
By his cockle hat and staff
And his sandal shoe."
"Alas, sweet lady, what is the relevance of this song?" the Queen interrupted.
"Pardon? Listen!
“He is dead and gone, lady,
He is dead and gone;
At his head a grass-green turf,
At his heels a tombstone.
Oh!"
"No, but Ophelia-" the Queen said.
"Listen, again: White was his shroud as the mountain snow-"
The King entered the chamber.
"Alas, look at this, my lord!" the Queen exclaimed.
Ophelia continued to sing:
"Larded with sweet flowers
Which bewept to the grave did not go
With true-love showers."
"How are you, pretty lady?" asked the King.
"Well, God's blessings to you! They say the owl was a baker's daughter. Lord, we know what we are, but not what we will become. God be at your table!"
"This has been provoked by the death of her father," the King said.
Ophelia continued, "Let's not squabble but when they ask what this is all about just say this:
“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 donned his clothes,
And opened the chamber door,
Let in the maid that when she left
Never was a maiden anymore."
"Pretty Ophelia -" the King began, but Ophelia couldn't be stopped.
"Without a vow, I will bring the story to an end:
“By Jesus and Saint Charity,
Alack and fie for shame!
Young men will do it if they come upon it-
By cock, they are to blame.
She says, 'Before you bedded me,
You promised me to wed”
“Then the man sings:
“So would I have done, by yonder sun,
If you hadn’t already come to my bed."
Ophelia giggled wildly at the end of the song.
"How long has she been like this?" the King asked.
"I hope all will be well,” Ophelia interrupted. “We must be patient. But I cannot stop weeping when I think how they buried him unceremoniously. My brother will hear about it! And so I thank you for your good counsel. Come, my coach. Good night, ladies, good night. Sweet ladies, good night, good night..."
Ophelia’s condition was so much worse than the Queen ever imagined.
"Follow her, Horatio. Keep an eye on her, will you?" the King asked. He then turned to his Queen: "Oh, this is the effect of deep grief! All caused by the death of Polonius. Oh, Gertrude, Gertrude, sorrow never comes on its own but always in battalions. First her father murdered, and then your son exiled by his own actions. My subjects are baffled, uncertain and suspicious in their thoughts and chatter about Polonius. A clandestine burial was a mistake. Poor Ophelia, deprived of her faculties, without which we might as well be animals. Last, and certainly not least, her brother has secretly returned from France. He is listening to all the rumours and indeed fanning the flames with incendiary accounts of his father's death and my involvement, which grows as fast as the maliciousness spreads. All this is like a hail of artillery."
The royal quarters were now disturbed by the sound of a scuffle. Voices were raised and expletives exchanged outside the door.
"What is that noise?" the Queen asked.
"Swiss Guards, where are they? The door!" the King yelled.
A messenger arrived.
"What is the meaning of this?" the King asked.
"Save yourselves, my lord! Not even tidal waves sweeping across Denmark could have greater force than young Laertes and his rebels. They call him Lord, as if everything that has gone before has never happened, as if they are free to create lineages for themselves. They shout, We've chosen. Laertes for King. Caps and laughter reach the sky. Laertes the King."
"Ah, these stupid Danish dogs laugh as they follow the wrong scent!" the Queen yelled.
The doors crashed open.
"Where is this King?" a voice boomed. It was Laertes. He turned to his inflamed followers, "Gentlemen, you wait outside."
"No. Let us come in!"
Claudius and Gertrude were terrified at their prospects.
"I ask you to wait here."
"We will, we will," the mob agreed reluctantly.
"Thank you. Now guard the door."
The followers left and allowed Laertes to confront King Claudius.
"Oh, you vile King! Give me my father."
"Calmly, good Laertes!" the Queen interjected.
"If one drop of my blood was calm it would make me illegitimate, make my father a cuckold and make my mother a slut!"
The King felt bold.
"Laertes, what has provoked such an uprising? Gertrude, don't restrain him. Do not fear for me. Divinity protects a king from anything more than a view of treason. Tell me, Laertes, why are you so incensed? Gertrude, let him go! Speak up, Laertes!"
"Where is my father?"
"Dead."
"But not by the hand of the King," Gertrude said.
"Let him air his demands, Gertrude!"
"Why is he dead? I want the truth. To hell with allegiance! I'll make my oaths to the devil! Conscience and Grace can go to hell! Damnation doesn't frighten me! Both this world and the next are irrelevant to me. I will avenge my father's death come what may!"
"Who can stop you?" asked the King.
"Only my will. Nothing on earth! As for my means, I will manage them well. I will go far with very little."
"Good Laertes, in your desire to get to the truth, will your impulses sweep away friend and foe?"
"Only the enemies."
"Do you want their names?"
"To his good friends I will open my arms and if necessary sustain them with my own life."
"Now you sound like a good son and a true gentleman. That I am in no way implicated in your father's death and grieve for him will be made clear to you."
From outside the door, in the midst of the now silent mob there could be heard singing.
"Let her come in," the King ordered.
"Who is singing?" asked Laertes.
Ophelia entered, crazed as before. Laertes was stunned at the sight of his sister.
"I wish I had now lost my reason! My tears at this sad sight will ruin my eyes! My revenge will match your madness in its fury! Justice will be done! Rose of May! Dear kind, sweet sister, Ophelia! Should a young maid's wits be as mortal as an old man's body? Nature is fair in love. It sends an example of love to the departed love."
Ophelia, oblivious to Laertes, began to sing again:
"They bore him barefaced in the coffin,
Hey non nonny, nonny, hey nonny,
And in his grave rained, many a tear-
Farewell, my dove!"
"If you were sane and demanded revenge, it would not be as lucid as this," Laertes said gazing at his sister.
Ophelia turned to the King: "You must sing  A-down a-down"
Then she turned to the Queen: "You sing Call him a-down-a. It goes round and round! It's about a devious sheriff who eloped with the lord's daughter!"
"I can't find any sense in this," Laertes said in despair.
Ophelia danced around the room and began distributing the posy of flowers she was holding. She began with Laertes.
"This is rosemary, it's the flower of remembrance. Please, love, remember. And these are pansies, they are for thoughts."
Laertes clutched them pitifully.
"A lesson in madness. Thoughts and memories are appropriate," he said
Ophelia continued her dance, offering flowers to the Queen.
"I have fennel and columbines for you!"
Laertes noticed these flowers were customarily regarded as being for loose women. Ophelia came to the King.
"Here's rue for you! I'll take some, too! On Sundays they call it the 'herb of grace' you can wear it to church! Rue suits you!"
Again, Laertes realised this was the plant of regret and wondered how far Ophelia had lost her senses. She offered the King more flowers.
"Here's a daisy! I'd give you violets but they withered when my father died. They say his ending was peaceful."
She danced again and began another song: "For bonny sweet robin is all my joy."
"Sorrow, affliction, suffering, and hell itself she makes charming and pretty," Laertes said.
Ophelia continued to sing:
"And will he not come again?
And will he not come again?
No, no, he is dead,
Go to thy deathbed,
He never will come again.
His beard was as white as snow,
All flaxen was his head,
He is gone, he is gone,
And we cast away moan,
God have mercy on his soul."
Ophelia suddenly stopped: "And on all Christian souls. I pray God be with you."
She left without any preamble.
"Do you see this, God?" pleaded Laertes.
"Laertes, I must share your grief, if you will permit me. Now go and use you wisest friends to be judge and jury in our squabble. If directly or indirectly I am implicated I will give you my kingdom, my crown and my life. If they judge me innocent then I ask for your patience as we jointly apprehend the guilty."
"Agreed. His means of death and obscure burial - no gravestone, no swords, no rites or ceremony - give me questions I need answered."
"You shall have answers. When we find the offender, the axe will fall. Please, come with me."