Act 1, Scene 2
Enter CLAUDIUS, king of Denmark; GERTRUDE the queen; HAMLET; POLONIUS; his son LAERTES; and his daughter OPHELIA; LORDS attendant
CLAUDIUS, the king of Denmark, enters, along with GERTRUDE the queen, HAMLET, POLONIUS, POLONIUS ’s son LAERTES and daughter OPHELIA, and LORDS who wait on the king.
Though yet of Hamlet our dear brother’s death
The memory be green, and that it us befitted
To bear our hearts in grief and our whole kingdom
To be contracted in one brow of woe,
Yet so far hath discretion fought with nature
That we with wisest sorrow think on him
Together with remembrance of ourselves.
Therefore our sometime sister, now our queen,
Th' imperial jointress to this warlike state,
Have we—as ’twere with a defeated joy,
With an auspicious and a dropping eye,
With mirth in funeral and with dirge in marriage,
In equal scale weighing delight and dole—
Taken to wife. Nor have we herein barred
Your better wisdoms, which have freely gone
With this affair along. For all, our thanks.
Now follows that you know. Young Fortinbras,
Holding a weak supposal of our worth
Or thinking by our late dear brother’s death
Our state to be disjoint and out of frame,
Colleaguèd with the dream of his advantage,
He hath not failed to pester us with message
Importing the surrender of those lands
Lost by his father, with all bonds of law,
To our most valiant brother. So much for him.
Although I still have fresh memories of my brother the elder Hamlet’s death, and though it was proper to mourn him throughout our kingdom, life still goes on—I think it’s wise to mourn him while also thinking about my own well being. Therefore, I’ve married my former sister-in-law, the queen, with mixed feelings of happiness and sadness. I know that in marrying Gertrude I’m only doing what all of you have wisely advised all along—for which I thank you. Now, down to business. You all know what’s happening. Young Fortinbras, underestimating my strength or imagining that the death of the king has thrown my country into turmoil, dreams of getting the better of me, and never stops pestering me with demands that I surrender the territory his father lost to the elder Hamlet, my dead brother-in-law. So much for Fortinbras.
Enter VOLTEMAND and CORNELIUS
VOLTEMAND and CORNELIUS enter.
Now for ourself and for this time of meeting
Now, here’s what needs to be done.