This is a list of the best Shakespeare scenes. This page is separated into three sections: male/female, male/male and female/female Shakespeare scenes. Click on a scene box to find out more information about that scene. Some include the full text, punctuated by Stage Milk, and others include information about the scene.
These are what we consider to be Shakespeare’s finest scenes and so they are all great. They are fantastic for performance, or simply reading. We have marked the comedy scenes, but remember Shakespeare has comedy and lightness throughout even his most dramatic scenes. Enjoy…
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Male/Female Shakespeare Scenes
O, were that all! I think not on my father,
And these great tears grace his remembrance more
Than those I shed for him. What was he like?
I have forgot him; my imagination
Carries no favour in’t but Bertram’s.
I am undone; there is no living, none,
If Bertram be away; ’twere all one
That I should love a bright particular star
And think to wed it, he is so above me.
In his bright radiance and collateral light
Must I be comforted, not in his sphere.
Th’ambition in my love thus plagues itself:
The hind that would be mated by the lion
Must die for love. ‘Twas pretty, though plague,
To see him every hour; to sit and draw
His arched brows, his hawking eye, his curls,
In our heart’s table – heart too capable
Of every line and trick of his sweet favour.
But now he’s gone, and my idolatrous fancy
Must sanctify his relics. Who comes here?
One that goes with him; I love him for his sake,
And yet I know him a notorious liar,
Think him a great way fool, solely a coward;
Yet these fix’d evils sit so fit in him
That they take place, when virtue’s steely bones
Look bleak i’ th’ cold wind; withal, full oft we see
Cold wisdom waiting on superfluous folly.
Save you, fair queen!
And you, monarch!
Are you meditating on virginity?
Ay. You have some stain of soldier in you; let me
ask you a question. Man is enemy to virginity; how
may we barricado it against him?
Keep him out.
But he assails; and our virginity, though valiant,
in the defence yet is weak. Unfold to us some
There is none. Man setting down before you will
undermine you and blow you up.
Bless our poor virginity from underminers and
blowers-up! Is there no military policy, how
virgins might blow up men?
Virginity being blown down man will quicklier be
blown up; marry, in blowing him down again, with
the breach yourselves made you lose your city. It
is not politic in the commonwealth of nature to
preserve virginity. Loss of virginity is rational
increase and there was never virgin got till
virginity was first lost. That you were made of is
mettle to make virgins. Virginity, by being once lost,
may be ten times found; by being ever kept, it is
ever lost. ‘Tis too cold a companion. Away with ‘t!
I will stand for ‘t a little, though therefore I die a virgin.
There’s little can be said in ‘t; ’tis against the
rule of nature. To speak on the part of virginity
is to accuse your mothers, which is most infallible
disobedience. He that hangs himself is a virgin;
virginity murthers itself, and should be buried in
highways out of all sanctified limit, as a desperate
offendress against nature. Virginity breeds mites,
much like a cheese; consumes itself to the very
paring, and so dies with feeding his own stomach.
Besides, virginity is peevish, proud, idle, made of
self-love which is the most inhibited sin in the
canon. Keep it not; you cannot choose but loose
by’t. Out with ‘t! Within ten year it will make
itself two, which is a goodly increase; and the
principal itself not much the worse. Away with ‘t!
How might one do, sir, to lose it to her own liking?
Let me see. Marry, ill, to like him that ne’er it
likes. ‘Tis a commodity will lose the gloss with
lying; the longer kept, the less worth. Off with’t
while ’tis vendible; answer the time of request.
Virginity, like an old courtier, wears her cap out
of fashion, richly suited, but unsuitable: just
like the brooch and the tooth-pick, which wear not
now. Your date is better in your pie and your
porridge than in your cheek; and your virginity,
your old virginity, is like one of our French
withered pears, it looks ill, it eats drily; marry,
’tis a withered pear; it was formerly better;
marry, yet ’tis a withered pear: will you anything with it?
Not my virginity; yet…
There shall your master have a thousand loves,
A mother, and a mistress, and a friend,
A phoenix, captain, and an enemy,
A guide, a goddess, and a sovereign,
A counsellor, a traitress, and a dear;
His humble ambition, proud humility,
His jarring concord, and his discord-dulcet,
His faith, his sweet disaster; with a world
Of pretty, fond, adoptious christendoms
That blinking Cupid gossips. Now shall he–
I know not what he shall. God send him well!
The court’s a learning-place, and he is one–
What one, i’ faith?
That I wish well. ‘Tis pity–
That wishing well had not a body in’t
Which might be felt, that we, the poorer born,
Whose baser stars do shut us up in wishes,
Might with effects of them follow our friends,
And show what we alone must think, which never
Return us thanks.
Enter BERTRAM and the maid called DIANA
They told me that your name was Fontybell.
No, my good lord, Diana.
And worth it, with addition! But, fair soul,
In your fine frame hath love no quality?
If quick fire of youth light not your mind
You are no maiden, but a monument.
When you are dead, you should be such a one
As you are now; for you are cold and stem,
And now you should be as your mother was
When your sweet self was got.
She then was honest.
So should you be.
My mother did but duty; such, my lord,
As you owe to your wife.
No more a’ that!
I prithee do not strive against my vows;
I was compell’d to her, but I love thee
By love’s own sweet constraint, and will for ever
Do thee all rights of service.
Ay, so you serve us
Till we serve you; but when you have our roses,
You barely leave our thorns to prick ourselves,
And mock us with our bareness.
How have I sworn!
‘Tis not the many oaths that makes the truth,
But the plain single vow that is vow’d true.
What is not holy, that we swear not by,
But take the high’st to witness; then, pray you, tell me:
If I should swear by Jove’s great attributes
I lov’d you dearly, would you believe my oaths
When I did love you ill? This has no holding,
To swear by Him whom I protest to love
That I will work against Him. Therefore your oaths
Are words, and poor conditions but unseal’d –
At least in my opinion.
Change it, change it.
Be not so holy-cruel; love is holy;
And my integrity ne’er knew the crafts
That you do charge men with. Stand no more off,
But give thyself unto my sick desires,
Who then recover. Say thou art mine, and ever
My love as it begins shall so persever.
I see that men make ropes in such a scarre,
That we’ll forsake ourselves. Give me that ring.
I’ll lend it thee, my dear, but have no power
To give it from me.
Will you not, my lord?
It is an honour ‘longing to our house,
Bequeathed down from many ancestors,
Which were the greatest obloquy i’ the world
In me to lose.
Mine honour’s such a ring;
My chastity’s the jewel of our house,
Bequeathed down from many ancestors;
Which were the greatest obloquy i’ the world
In me to lose. Thus your own proper wisdom
Brings in the champion Honour on my part
Against your vain assault.
Here, take my ring;
My house, mine honour, yea, my life, be thine,
And I’ll be bid by thee.
When midnight comes, knock at my chamber-window;
I’ll order take my mother shall not hear.
Now will I charge you in the band of truth,
When you have conquer’d my yet maiden bed,
Remain there but an hour, nor speak to me.
My reasons are most strong and you shall know them
When back again this ring shall be deliver’d;
And on your finger in the night I’ll put
Another ring, that what in time proceeds
May token to the future our past deeds
Adieu till then; then, fail not. You have won
A wife of me, though there my hope be done.
A heaven on earth I have won by wooing thee.
For which live long to thank both heaven and me!
You may so in the end.
My mother told me just how he would woo
As if she sat in ‘s heart. She says all men
Have the like oaths. He had sworn to marry me
When his wife’s dead; therefore I’ll lie with him
When I am buried. Since Frenchmen are so braid,
Marry that will, I live and die a maid.
Only, in this disguise, I think’t no sin
To cozen him that would unjustly win.
Enter MARK ANTONY
I am sick and sullen.
I am sorry to give breathing to my purpose–
Help me away, dear Charmian! I shall fall!
It cannot be thus long; the sides of nature
Will not sustain it.
Now, my dearest queen–
Pray you, stand further from me!
What’s the matter?
I know by that same eye there’s some good news.
What says the married woman you may go?
Would she had never given you leave to come!
Let her not say ’tis I that keep you here.
I have no power upon you; hers you are.
The gods best know–
O, never was there queen
So mightily betrayed! Yet at the first
I saw the treasons planted.
Why should I think you can be mine and true —
Though you in swearing shake the throned gods —
Who have been false to Fulvia? Riotous madness,
To be entangled with those mouth-made vows
Which break themselves in swearing!
Most sweet queen —
Nay, pray you seek no colour for your going,
But bid farewell and go. When you sued staying,
Then was the time for words; no going then.
Eternity was in our lips and eyes,
Bliss in our brows’ bent; none our parts so poor
But was a race of heaven. They are so still,
Or thou, the greatest soldier of the world,
Art turn’d the greatest liar.
How now, lady?
I would I had thy inches! Thou shouldst know
There were a heart in Egypt!
Hear me, queen.
The strong necessity of time commands
Our services awhile, but my full heart
Remains in use with you. Our Italy
Shines o’er with civil swords; Sextus Pompeius
Makes his approaches to the port of Rome;
Equality of two domestic powers
Breed scrupulous faction; the hated, grown to strength,
Are newly grown to love; the condemned Pompey,
Rich in his father’s honour, creeps apace
Into the hearts of such as have not thrived
Upon the present state, whose numbers threaten;
And quietness, grown sick of rest, would purge
By any desperate change. My more particular,
And that which most with you should safe my going,
Is Fulvia’s death.
Though age from folly could not give me freedom,
It does from childishness. Can Fulvia die?
She’s dead, my queen. (Gives her the letters.)
Look here, and at thy sovereign leisure read
The garboils she awaked. At the last, best:
See when and where she died.
O most false love!
Where be the sacred vials thou shouldst fill
With sorrowful water? Now I see, I see,
In Fulvia’s death, how mine received shall be.
Quarrel no more, but be prepared to know
The purposes I bear; which are, or cease,
As you shall give the advice. By the fire
That quickens Nilus’ slime, I go from hence
Thy soldier, servant, making peace or war
As thou affects.
Cut my lace, Charmian, come!
But let it be; I am quickly ill, and well,
So Antony loves.
My precious queen, forbear,
And give true evidence to his love, which stands
An honourable trial.
So Fulvia told me.
I prithee, turn aside and weep for her,
Then bid adieu to me, and say the tears
Belong to Egypt. Good now, play one scene
Of excellent dissembling; and let it look
Life perfect honour.
You’ll heat my blood. No more.
You can do better yet; but this is meetly.
Now by my sword–
And target. Still he mends,
But this is not the best. Look, prithee, Charmian,
How this Herculean Roman does become
The carriage of his chafe.
I’ll leave you, lady.
Courteous lord, one word:
Sir, you and I must part, but that’s not it:
Sir, you and I have loved, but there’s not it;
That you know well. Something it is I would–
O, my oblivion is a very Antony,
And I am all forgotten!
But that your royalty
Holds idleness your subject, I should take you
For idleness itself.
‘Tis sweating labour
To bear such idleness so near the heart
As Cleopatra this. But, sir, forgive me,
Since my becomings kill me when they do not
Eye well to you. Your honour calls you hence;
Therefore be deaf to my unpitied folly,
And all the gods go with you! Upon your sword
Sit laurel victory, and smooth success
Be strew’d before your feet!
Let us go. Come.
Our separation so abides and flies
That thou, residing here, goes yet with me,
And I, hence fleeting, here remain with thee. Away!
(Aside to CELIA) I will speak to him like a saucy
lackey and under that habit play the knave with him.
Do you hear, forester?
Very well. What would you?
I pray you, what is’t o’clock?
You should ask me what time o’ day; there’s no clock
in the forest.
Then there is no true lover in the forest, else
sighing every minute and groaning every hour would
detect the lazy foot of Time, as well as a clock.
And why not the swift foot of Time? Had not that
been as proper?
By no means sir. Time travels in divers paces with
divers persons. I’ll tell you who Time ambles
withal, who Time trots withal, who Time gallops
withal and who he stands still withal.
I prithee, who doth he trot withal?
Marry he trots hard with a young maid, between the contract of her marriage and the day it is
solemnized. If the interim be but a se’nnight, Time’s pace is so hard that it seems the length of seven year.
Who ambles Time withal?
With a priest that lacks Latin, and a rich man that
hath not the gout, for the one sleeps easily because
he cannot study, and the other lives merrily because
he feels no pain; the one lacking the burden of lean
and wasteful learning, the other knowing no burden
of heavy tedious penury. These Time ambles withal.
Who doth he gallop withal?
With a thief to the gallows; for though he go as
softly as foot can fall, he thinks himself too soon there.
Who stays it still withal?
With lawyers in the vacation; for they sleep between
term and term and then they perceive not how Time moves.
Where dwell you pretty youth?
With this shepherdess my sister; here in the
skirts of the forest, like fringe upon a petticoat.
Are you native of this place?
As the cony that you see dwell where she is kindled.
Your accent is something finer than you could
purchase in so removed a dwelling.
I have been told so of many. But indeed, an old
religious uncle of mine taught me to speak, who was
in his youth an inland man, one that knew courtship
too well, for there he fell in love. I have heard
him read many lectures against it, and I thank God
I am not a woman, to be touched with so many
giddy offences as he hath generally taxed their
whole sex withal.
Can you remember any of the principal evils that he
laid to the charge of women?
There were none principal: they were all like one
another as half-pence are, every one fault seeming
monstrous till his fellow fault came to match it.
I prithee recount some of them.
No; I will not cast away my physic but on those that
are sick. There is a man haunts the forest that
abuses our young plants with carving ‘Rosalind’ on
their barks; hangs odes upon hawthorns and elegies
on brambles; all, forsooth, deifying the name of
Rosalind. If I could meet that fancy-monger, I would
give him some good counsel, for he seems to have the
quotidian of love upon him.
I am he that is so love-shaked. I pray you tell me
There is none of my uncle’s marks upon you. He
taught me how to know a man in love; in which cage
of rushes I am sure you are not prisoner.
What were his marks?
A lean cheek, which you have not; a blue eye and
sunken, which you have not; an unquestionable
spirit, which you have not; a beard neglected,
which you have not – but I pardon you for that, for
simply your having in beard is a younger brother’s
revenue. Then your hose should be ungartered, your
bonnet unbanded, your sleeve unbuttoned, your shoe
untied, and every thing about you demonstrating a
careless desolation. But you are no such man: you
are rather point-device in your accoutrements as
loving yourself than seeming the lover of any other.
Fair youth, I would I could make thee believe I love.
Me believe it! you may as soon make her that you
love believe it, which I warrant she is apter to
do than to confess she does. That is one of the
points in the which women still give the lie to
their consciences. But in good sooth, are you he
that hangs the verses on the trees, wherein Rosalind
is so admired?
I swear to thee youth, by the white hand of
Rosalind, I am that he, that unfortunate he.
But are you so much in love as your rhymes speak?
Neither rhyme nor reason can express how much.
Love is merely a madness, and I tell you, deserves
as well a dark house and a whip as madmen do; and
the reason why they are not so punished and cured
is that the lunacy is so ordinary that the whippers
are in love too. Yet I profess curing it by counsel.
Did you ever cure any so?
Yes, one, and in this manner. He was to imagine me
his love, his mistress, and I set him every day to
woo me. At which time would I, being but a moonish
youth, grieve, be effeminate, changeable, longing
and liking, proud, fantastical, apish, shallow,
inconstant, full of tears, full of smiles, for every
passion something and for no passion truly any
thing, as boys and women are for the most part
cattle of this colour; would now like him, now loathe
him; then entertain him, then forswear him; now weep
for him, then spit at him; that I drave my suitor
from his mad humour of love to a living humour of
madness, which was, to forswear the full stream of
the world, and to live in a nook merely monastic.
And thus I cured him, and this way will I take upon
me to wash your liver as clean as a sound sheep’s
heart, that there shall not be one spot of love in’t.
I would not be cured, youth.
I would cure you, if you would but call me Rosalind
and come every day to my cote and woo me.
Now, by the faith of my love, I will. Tell me
where it is.
Go with me to it, and I’ll show it you; and by the way,
you shall tell me where in the forest you live.
Will you go?
With all my heart, good youth.
Nay, you must call me Rosalind. Come sister, will you go?
To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing end them. To die – to sleep,
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to: ’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d. To die, to sleep;
To sleep, perchance to dream – ay, there’s the rub:
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause – there’s the respect
That makes calamity of so long life.
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
The pangs of despriz’d love, the law’s delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover’d country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action. Soft you now,
The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remember’d.
Good my lord,
How does your honour for this many a day?
I humbly thank you, well.
My lord, I have remembrances of yours,
That I have longed long to redeliver.
I pray you, now receive them.
No, not I.
I never gave you aught.
My honour’d lord, you know right well you did,
And with them words of so sweet breath composed
As made the things more rich. Their perfume lost,
Take these again; for to the noble mind
Rich gifts wax poor when givers prove unkind.
There, my lord.
Ha, ha! are you honest?
Are you fair?
What means your lordship?
That if you be honest and fair, your honesty should
admit no discourse to your beauty.
Could beauty, my lord, have better commerce than
Ay, truly, for the power of beauty will sooner
transform honesty from what it is to a bawd than the
force of honesty can translate beauty into his
likeness. This was sometime a paradox, but now the
time gives it proof. I did love you once.
Indeed, my lord, you made me believe so.
You should not have believed me; for virtue cannot
so inoculate our old stock but we shall relish of
it. I loved you not.
I was the more deceived.
Get thee to a nunnery. Why wouldst thou be a
breeder of sinners? I am myself indifferent honest,
but yet I could accuse me of such things that it
were better my mother had not borne me. I am very
proud, revengeful, ambitious, with more offences at
my beck than I have thoughts to put them in,
imagination to give them shape, or time to act them
in. What should such fellows as I do crawling
between earth and heaven? We are arrant knaves
all, believe none of us. Go thy ways to a nunnery.
Where’s your father?
At home, my lord.
Let the doors be shut upon him, that he may play the
fool no where but in’s own house. Farewell.
O help him, you sweet heavens.
If thou dost marry, I’ll give thee this plague for
thy dowry: be thou as chaste as ice, as pure as
snow, thou shalt not escape calumny. Get thee to a
nunnery, farewell. Or, if thou wilt needs
marry, marry a fool; for wise men know well enough
what monsters you make of them. To a nunnery, go,
and quickly too. Farewell.
Heavenly powers, restore him!
I have heard of your paintings well enough. God
hath given you one face, and you make yourselves
another. You jig and amble, and you lisp, and
nickname God’s creatures, and make your wantonness
your ignorance. Go to, I’ll no more on’t, it hath
made me mad. I say we will have no more marriages.
Those that are married already, all but one, shall
live; the rest shall keep as they are. To a
O, what a noble mind is here o’erthrown!
The courtier’s, soldier’s, scholar’s, eye, tongue, sword,
The expectancy and rose of the fair state,
The glass of fashion and the mould of form,
The observed of all observers, quite, quite down!
And I, of ladies most deject and wretched,
That suck’d the honey of his music vows,
Now see that noble and most sovereign reason
Like sweet bells jangled, out of tune and harsh,
That unmatch’d form and feature of blown youth
Blasted with ecstasy. O woe is me
To have seen what I have seen, see what I see.
Synopsis: A tumultuous scene between Hamlet and Ophelia starting with Hamlet’s well known soliloquy.
Now mother, what’s the matter?
Hamlet, thou hast thy father much offended.
Mother, you have my father much offended.
Come, come, you answer with an idle tongue.
Go, go, you question with a wicked tongue.
Why, how now, Hamlet?
What’s the matter now?
Have you forgot me?
No, by the rood, not so.
You are the queen, your husband’s brother’s wife,
And, would it were not so, you are my mother.
Nay, then I’ll set those to you that can speak.
Come, come, and sit you down; you shall not budge.
You go not till I set you up a glass
Where you may see the inmost part of you.
What wilt thou do? Thou wilt not murder me?
[Behind the arras] What, ho! Help!
[Drawing] How now? A rat! Dead, for a ducat, dead.
Makes a pass through the arras
[Behind] O, I am slain.
O me, what hast thou done?
Nay, I know not.
Is it the king?
O, what a rash and bloody deed is this!
A bloody deed. Almost as bad, good mother,
As kill a king, and marry with his brother.
As kill a king?
Ay, lady, ’twas my word.
[Lifts up the array and discovers Polonius, dead] Thou wretched, rash, intruding fool, farewell.
I took thee for thy better. Take thy fortune:
Thou find’st to be too busy is some danger.
Leave wringing of your hands. Peace, sit you down,
And let me wring your heart; for so I shall
If it be made of penetrable stuff,
If damned custom have not braz’d it so,
That it is proof and bulwark against sense.
What have I done, that thou dar’st wag thy tongue
In noise so rude against me?
Such an act
That blurs the grace and blush of modesty,
Calls virtue hypocrite, takes off the rose
From the fair forehead of an innocent love
And sets a blister there, makes marriage-vows
As false as dicers’ oaths – O, such a deed
As from the body of contraction plucks
The very soul, and sweet religion makes
A rhapsody of words. Heaven’s face doth glow
O’er this solidity and compound mass
With tristful visage, as against the doom,
Is thought-sick at the act.
Ay me, what act,
That roars so loud, and thunders in the index?
Look here, upon this picture, and on this,
The counterfeit presentment of two brothers.
See, what a grace was seated on this brow,
Hyperion’s curls, the front of Jove himself,
An eye like Mars to threaten and command,
A station like the herald Mercury
New-lighted on a heaven-kissing hill,
A combination and a form indeed
Where every god did seem to set his seal
To give the world assurance of a man.
This was your husband. Look you now what follows:
Here is your husband, like a mildew’d ear
Blasting his wholesome brother. Have you eyes?
Could you on this fair mountain leave to feed,
And batten on this moor? Ha, have you eyes?
You cannot call it love; for at your age
The hey-day in the blood is tame, it’s humble,
And waits upon the judgment, and what judgment
Would step from this to this? Sense sure you have,
Else could you not have motion; but sure that sense
Is apoplex’d, for madness would not err
Nor sense to ecstasy was ne’er so thrall’d
But it reserved some quantity of choice
To serve in such a difference. What devil was’t
That thus hath cozen’d you at hoodman-blind?
Eyes without feeling, feeling without sight,
Ears without hands or eyes, smelling sans all,
Or but a sickly part of one true sense
Could not so mope. O shame! where is thy blush?
If thou canst mutine in a matron’s bones,
To flaming youth let virtue be as wax
And melt in her own fire: proclaim no shame
When the compulsive ardour gives the charge,
Since frost itself as actively doth burn
And reason panders will.
O Hamlet, speak no more.
Thou turn’st mine eyes into my very soul,
And there I see such black and grained spots
As will not leave their tinct.
Nay, but to live
In the rank sweat of an enseamed bed,
Stew’d in corruption, honeying and making love
Over the nasty sty!
O, speak to me no more.
These words like daggers enter in mine ears;
No more, sweet Hamlet!
A murderer and a villain;
A slave that is not twentieth part the tithe
Of your precedent lord, a vice of kings,
A cutpurse of the empire and the rule,
That from a shelf the precious diadem stole
And put it in his pocket –
A king of shreds and patches –
Save me, and hover o’er me with your wings,
You heavenly guards! What would your gracious figure?
Alas, he’s mad!
Do you not come your tardy son to chide,
That, lapsed in time and passion, lets go by
The important acting of your dread command? O say!
Do not forget: this visitation
Is but to whet thy almost blunted purpose.
But look, amazement on thy mother sits:.
O, step between her and her fighting soul.
Conceit in weakest bodies strongest works.
Speak to her, Hamlet.
How is it with you, lady?
Alas, how is’t with you,
That you do bend your eye on vacancy
And with the incorporal air do hold discourse?
Forth at your eyes your spirits wildly peep;
And, as the sleeping soldiers in the alarm,
Your bedded hair, like life in excrements,
Starts up, and stands on end. O gentle son,
Upon the heat and flame of thy distemper
Sprinkle cool patience. Whereon do you look?
On him, on him! Look you how pale he glares!
His form and cause conjoin’d, preaching to stones,
Would make them capable. Do not look upon me;
Lest with this piteous action you convert
My stern effects: then what I have to do
Will want true colour – tears perchance for blood.
To whom do you speak this?
Do you see nothing there?
Nothing at all; yet all that is I see.
Nor did you nothing hear?
No, nothing but ourselves.
Why, look you there, look how it steals away.
My father, in his habit as he liv’d!
Look, where he goes, even now, out at the portal!
This the very coinage of your brain.
This bodiless creation ecstasy
Is very cunning in.
A great scene between Hamlet and Queen Gertrude. The scene includes Polonius, however, his role is very small and can be cut if needed. The ghost can also be removed or played off stage.
Brutus, my lord.
Portia, what mean you? Wherefore rise you now?
It is not for your health thus to commit
Your weak condition to the raw cold morning.
Nor for yours neither. You’ve ungently, Brutus,
Stole from my bed: and yesternight at supper
You suddenly arose, and walk’d about,
Musing, and sighing, with your arms across;
And when I ask’d you what the matter was
You stared upon me with ungentle looks.
I urged you further: then you scratch’d your head
And too impatiently stamp’d with your foot.
Yet I insisted, yet you answered not,
But with an angry wafture of your hand
Gave sign for me to leave you. So I did,
Fearing to strengthen that impatience
Which seemed too much enkindled, and withal
Hoping it was but an effect of humour,
Which sometime hath his hour with every man.
It will not let you eat, nor talk, nor sleep;
And could it work so much upon your shape
As it hath much prevailed on your condition,
I should not know you Brutus. Dear my lord,
Make me acquainted with your cause of grief.
I am not well in health, and that is all.
Brutus is wise, and, were he not in health,
He would embrace the means to come by it.
Why, so I do. Good Portia, go to bed.
Is Brutus sick, and is it physical
To walk unbraced and suck up the humours
Of the dank morning? What, is Brutus sick?
And will he steal out of his wholesome bed
To dare the vile contagion of the night?
And tempt the rheumy and unpurged air
To add unto his sickness? No, my Brutus,
You have some sick offence within your mind
Which by the right and virtue of my place
I ought to know of: and upon my knees,
I charm you, by my once-commended beauty,
By all your vows of love and that great vow
Which did incorporate and make us one,
That you unfold to me, yourself, your half,
Why you are heavy – and what men tonight
Have had to resort to you: for here have been
Some six or seven, who did hide their faces
Even from darkness.
Kneel not, gentle Portia.
I should not need, if you were gentle Brutus.
Within the bond of marriage, tell me, Brutus,
Is it excepted I should know no secrets
That appertain to you? Am I yourself
But as it were in sort or limitation,
To keep with you at meals, comfort your bed,
And talk to you sometimes? Dwell I but in the suburbs
Of your good pleasure? If it be no more,
Portia is Brutus’ harlot, not his wife.
You are my true and honourable wife,
As dear to me as are the ruddy drops
That visit my sad heart.
If this were true, then should I know this secret.
I grant I am a woman; but withal
A woman that Lord Brutus took to wife.
I grant I am a woman: but withal
A woman well reputed, Cato’s daughter.
Think you I am no stronger than my sex
Being so fathered and so husbanded?
Tell me your counsels. I will not disclose ’em.
I have made strong proof of my constancy,
Giving myself a voluntary wound,
Here in the thigh. Can I bear that with patience
And not my husband’s secrets?
O ye gods,
Render me worthy of this noble wife!
Hark, hark, one knocks. Portia, go in awhile;
And by and by thy bosom shall partake
The secrets of my heart.
All my engagements I will construe to thee,
All the charactery of my sad brows:
Leave me with haste.
Synopsis: Portia tries to uncover what is going on with Brutus her husband.
Location: Macbeth’s castle.
If it were done, when ’tis done, then ’twere well
It were done quickly: if the assassination
Could trammel up the consequence, and catch
With his surcease success; that but this blow
Might be the be-all and the end-all here,
But here, upon this bank and shoal of time,
We’d jump the life to come. But in these cases
We still have judgment here; that we but teach
Bloody instructions, which, being taught, return
To plague the inventor: this even-handed justice
Commends the ingredients of our poison’d chalice
To our own lips. He’s here in double trust:
First, as I am his kinsman and his subject,
Strong both against the deed; then, as his host,
Who should against his murderer shut the door,
Not bear the knife myself. Besides, this Duncan
Hath borne his faculties so meek, hath been
So clear in his great office, that his virtues
Will plead like angels, trumpet-tongued, against
The deep damnation of his taking-off;
And pity, like a naked new-born babe,
Striding the blast, or heaven’s Cherubins, horsed
Upon the sightless couriers of the air,
Shall blow the horrid deed in every eye,
That tears shall drown the wind. I have no spur
To prick the sides of my intent, but only
Vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself
And falls on the other.
Enter LADY MACBETH
How now! what news?
He has almost supp’d. Why have you left the chamber?
Hath he ask’d for me?
Know you not, he has?
We will proceed no further in this business:
He hath honour’d me of late; and I have bought
Golden opinions from all sorts of people,
Which would be worn now in their newest gloss,
Not cast aside so soon.
Was the hope drunk
Wherein you dress’d yourself? Hath it slept since?
And wakes it now, to look so green and pale
At what it did so freely? From this time
Such I account thy love. Art thou afeard
To be the same in thine own act and valour
As thou art in desire? Wouldst thou have that
Which thou esteem’st the ornament of life,
And live a coward in thine own esteem,
Letting ‘I dare not’ wait upon ‘I would,’
Like the poor cat i’ the adage?
I dare do all that may become a man;
Who dares do more is none.
What beast was’t then,
That made you break this enterprise to me?
When you durst do it, then you were a man;
And, to be more than what you were, you would
Be so much more the man. Nor time, nor place,
Did then adhere, and yet you would make both:
They have made themselves, and that their fitness now
Does unmake you. I have given suck, and know
How tender ’tis to love the babe that milks me:
I would, while it was smiling in my face,
Have pluck’d my nipple from his boneless gums,
And dash’d the brains out, had I so sworn as you
Have done to this.
If we should fail?
But screw your courage to the sticking-place,
And we’ll not fail. When Duncan is asleep
(Whereto the rather shall his day’s hard journey
Soundly invite him) his two chamberlains
Will I with wine and wassail so convince
That memory, the warder of the brain,
Shall be a fume, and the receipt of reason
A limbeck only: when in swinish sleep
Their drenched natures lie, as in a death,
What cannot you and I perform upon
The unguarded Duncan? what not put upon
His spongy officers, who shall bear the guilt
Of our great quell?
Bring forth men-children only!
For thy undaunted mettle should compose
Nothing but males. Will it not be received,
When we have mark’d with blood those sleepy two
Of his own chamber and used their very daggers,
That they have done’t?
Who dares receive it other,
As we shall make our griefs and clamour roar
Upon his death?
I am settled, and bend up
Each corporal agent to this terrible feat.
Away, and mock the time with fairest show:
False face must hide what the false heart doth know.
Location: Macbeth’s Castle
That which hath made them drunk hath made me bold:
What hath quench’d them hath given me fire.
It was the owl that shriek’d, the fatal bellman,
Which gives the stern’st good-night. He is about it.
The doors are open; and the surfeited grooms
Do mock their charge with snores: I have drugg’d
That Death and Nature do contend about them,
Whether they live, or die.
[Within] Who’s there? – what, ho!
Alack! I am afraid they have awak’d,
And ’tis not done: – the attempt and not the deed
Confounds us. Hark! I laid their daggers ready;
He could not miss ’em. Had he not resembled
My father as he slept, I had done’t. My husband!
I have done the deed. Didst thou not hear a noise?
I heard the owl scream, and the crickets cry.
Did not you speak?
As I descended?
Who lies i’ th’ second chamber?
This is a sorry sight.
Looking on his hands
A foolish thought to say a sorry sight.
There’s one did laugh in’s sleep, and one cried
That they did wake each other: I stood and heard them;
But they did say their prayers, and address’d them
Again to sleep.
There are two lodg’d together.
One cried, ‘God bless us!’ and ‘Amen’ the other;
As they had seen me with these hangman’s hands.
Listening their fear, I could not say ‘Amen,’
When they did say ‘God bless us.’
Consider it not so deeply.
But wherefore could not I pronounce ‘Amen’?
I had most need of blessing, and ‘Amen’
Stuck in my throat.
These deeds must not be thought
After these ways; so, it will make us mad.
Methought I heard a voice cry ‘Sleep no more!
Macbeth does murder sleep’, the innocent Sleep;
Sleep, that knits up the ravell’d sleeve of care,
The death of each day’s life, sore labour’s bath,
Balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course,
Chief nourisher in life’s feast; —
What do you mean?
Still it cried, ‘Sleep no more!’ to all the house:
‘Glamis hath murder’d Sleep, and therefore Cawdor
Shall sleep no more; Macbeth shall sleep no more!’
Who was it that thus cried? Why, worthy Thane,
You do unbend your noble strength, to think
So brainsickly of things. Go, get some water,
And wash this filthy witness from your hand.
Why did you bring these daggers from the place?
They must lie there: go carry them, and smear
The sleepy grooms with blood.
I’ll go no more:
I am afraid to think what I have done;
Look on’t again I dare not.
Infirm of purpose!
Give me the daggers. The sleeping and the dead,
Are but as pictures: ’tis the eye of childhood
That fears a painted devil. If he do bleed,
I’ll gild the faces of the grooms withal,
For it must seem their guilt.
Exit. Knocking within
Whence is that knocking?
How is’t with me, when every noise appals me?
What hands are here? Ha! they pluck out mine eyes.
Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood
Clean from my hand? No, this my hand will rather
The multitudinous seas in incarnadine,
Making the green one red.
Re-enter LADY MACBETH
My hands are of your colour; but I shame
To wear a heart so white.
I hear a knocking
At the south entry: retire we to our chamber.
A little water clears us of this deed:
How easy is it then! Your constancy
Hath left you unattended.
Hark! more knocking.
Get on your night-gown, lest occasion call us,
And show us to be watchers. Be not lost
So poorly in your thoughts.
To know my deed, ’twere best not know myself.
Wake Duncan with thy knocking: I would thou couldst!
How now, fair maid?
I am come to know your pleasure.
That you might know it, would much better please me
Than to demand what ’tis. Your brother cannot live.
Even so. Heaven keep your honour.
Yet may he live awhile; and, it may be,
As long as you or I; yet he must die.
Under your sentence?
When, I beseech you? That in his reprieve,
Longer or shorter, he may be so fitted
That his soul sicken not.
Ha! Fie, these filthy vices! It were as good
To pardon him that hath from nature stolen
A man already made, as to remit
Their saucy sweetness that do coin heaven’s image
In stamps that are forbid. ‘Tis all as easy
Falsely to take away a life true made,
As to put metal in restrained means
To make a false one.
‘Tis set down so in heaven, but not in earth.
Say you so? Then I shall pose you quickly.
Which had you rather, that the most just law
Now took your brother’s life; or, to redeem him,
Give up your body to such sweet uncleanness
As she that he hath stain’d?
Sir, believe this
I had rather give my body than my soul.
I talk not of your soul: our compell’d sins
Stand more for number than for accompt.
How say you?
Nay, I’ll not warrant that: for I can speak
Against the thing I say. Answer to this:
I, now the voice of the recorded law,
Pronounce a sentence on your brother’s life:
Might there not be a charity in sin
To save this brother’s life?
Please you to do’t,
I’ll take it as a peril to my soul;
It is no sin at all, but charity.
Pleased you to do’t, at peril of your soul,
Were equal poise of sin and charity.
That I do beg his life, if it be sin,
Heaven let me bear it; you granting of my suit,
If that be sin, I’ll make it my morn prayer
To have it added to the faults of mine,
And nothing of your answer.
Nay, but hear me;
Your sense pursues not mine: either you are ignorant,
Or seem so, craftily; and that’s not good.
Let me be ignorant, and in nothing good,
But graciously to know I am no better.
Thus wisdom wishes to appear most bright
When it doth tax itself: as these black masks
Proclaim an enciel’d beauty ten times louder
Than beauty could, display’d. But mark me;
To be received plain, I’ll speak more gross:
Your brother is to die.
And his offence is so, as it appears,
Accountant to the law upon that pain.
Admit no other way to save his life –
As I subscribe not that, nor any other,
But in the loss of question – that you, his sister,
Finding yourself desired of such a person
Whose credit with the judge, or own great place,
Could fetch your brother from the manacles
Of the all-building law; and that there were
No earthly mean to save him, but that either
You must lay down the treasures of your body
To this suppos’d, or else to let him suffer:
What would you do?
As much for my poor brother as myself;
That is, were I under the terms of death,
The impression of keen whips I’ld wear as rubies,
And strip myself to death, as to a bed
That longing have been sick for, ere I’d yield
My body up to shame.
Then must your brother die.
And ’twere the cheaper way.
Better it were a brother died at once,
Than that a sister, by redeeming him,
Should die for ever.
Were not you then as cruel as the sentence
That you have slander’d so?
Ignomy in ransom and free pardon
Are of two houses: lawful mercy
Is nothing kin to foul redemption.
You seem’d of late to make the law a tyrant,
And rather proved the sliding of your brother
A merriment than a vice.
O pardon me, my lord; it oft falls out,
To have what we would have, we speak not what we mean.
I something do excuse the thing I hate,
For his advantage that I dearly love.
We are all frail.
Else let my brother die,
If not a feodary but only he
Owe and succeed thy weakness.
Nay, women are frail too.
Ay, as the glasses where they view themselves,
Which are as easy broke as they make forms.
Women? Help, heaven! Men their creation mar
In profiting by them. Nay, call us ten times frail;
For we are soft as our complexions are,
And credulous to false prints.
I think it well:
And from this testimony of your own sex –
Since I suppose we are made to be no stronger
Than faults may shake our frames – let me be bold.
I do arrest your words. Be that you are,
That is, a woman; if you be more, you’re none.
If you be one – as you are well express’d
By all external warrants – show it now,
By putting on the destined livery.
I have no tongue but one; gentle my lord,
Let me entreat you speak the former language.
Plainly conceive, I love you.
My brother did love Juliet,
And you tell me that he shall die for’t.
He shall not, Isabel, if you give me love.
I know your virtue hath a licence in’t,
Which seems a little fouler than it is,
To pluck on others.
Believe me, on mine honour,
My words express my purpose.
Ha? Little honour, to be much believ’d,
And most pernicious purpose! Seeming, seeming!
I will proclaim thee, Angelo, look for’t:
Sign me a present pardon for my brother,
Or with an outstretch’d throat I’ll tell the world aloud
What man thou art.
Who will believe thee, Isabel?
My unsoil’d name, the austereness of my life,
My vouch against you, and my place i’ the state
Will so your accusation overweigh,
That you shall stifle in your own report
And smell of calumny. I have begun,
And now I give my sensual race the rein:
Fit thy consent to my sharp appetite;
Lay by all nicety and prolixious blushes
That banish what they sue for. Redeem thy brother
By yielding up thy body to my will;
Or else he must not only die the death,
But thy unkindness shall his death draw out
To lingering sufferance. Answer me to-morrow,
Or, by the affection that now guides me most,
I’ll prove a tyrant to him. As for you,
Say what you can, my false o’erweighs your true.
To whom should I complain? Did I tell this,
Who would believe me? O perilous mouths,
That bear in them one and the self-same tongue
Either of condemnation or approof,
Bidding the law make curtsey to their will:
Hooking both right and wrong to the appetite,
To follow as it draws! I’ll to my brother.
Though he hath fallen by prompture of the blood,
Yet hath he in him such a mind of honour,
That had he twenty heads to tender down
On twenty bloody blocks, he’d yield them up,
Before his sister should her body stoop
To such abhorr’d pollution.
Then, Isabel, live chaste, and, brother, die:
More than our brother is our chastity.
I’ll tell him yet of Angelo’s request,
And fit his mind to death, for his soul’s rest.
Synopsis: Angelo abuses his power and tries to coax Isabella into having sex with him in return for her brother’s life.
Now, sister, what’s the comfort?
As all comforts are: most good, most good indeed.
Lord Angelo, having affairs to heaven,
Intends you for his swift ambassador,
Where you shall be an everlasting leiger.
Therefore your best appointment make with speed;
Tomorrow you set on.
Is there no remedy?
None, but such remedy as, to save a head,
To cleave a heart in twain.
But is there any?
Yes, brother, you may live;
There is a devilish mercy in the judge,
If you’ll implore it, that will free your life,
But fetter you till death.
Ay, just, perpetual durance; a restraint,
Though all the world’s vastidity you had,
To a determined scope.
But in what nature?
In such a one as, you consenting to’t,
Would bark your honour from that trunk you bear,
And leave you naked.
Let me know the point.
O, I do fear thee, Claudio; and I quake
Lest thou a feverous life shouldst entertain,
And six or seven winters more respect
Than a perpetual honour. Dar’st thou die?
The sense of death is most in apprehension;
And the poor beetle that we tread upon
In corporal sufferance finds a pang as great
As when a giant dies.
Why give you me this shame?
Think you I can a resolution fetch
From flowery tenderness? If I must die,
I will encounter darkness as a bride,
And hug it in mine arms.
There spake my brother: there my father’s grave
Did utter forth a voice. Yes, thou must die.
Thou art too noble to conserve a life
In base appliances. This outward-sainted deputy,
Whose settled visage and deliberate word
Nips youth i’ the head and follies doth enew
As falcon doth the fowl, is yet a devil:
His filth within being cast, he would appear
A pond as deep as hell.
The precise Angelo!
O, ’tis the cunning livery of hell
The damnedst body to invest and cover
In precise guards! Dost thou think, Claudio,
If I would yield him my virginity,
Thou mightst be freed?
O heavens, it cannot be!
Yes, he would give’t thee, from this rank offence,
So to offend him still. This night’s the time
That I should do what I abhor to name;
Or else thou diest tomorrow.
Thou shalt not do’t.
O, were it but my life,
I’d throw it down for your deliverance
As frankly as a pin.
Thanks, dear Isabel.
Be ready, Claudio, for your death tomorrow.
Yes. Has he affections in him,
That thus can make him bite the law by the nose,
When he would force it? Sure, it is no sin;
Or of the deadly seven, it is the least.
Which is the least?
If it were damnable, he being so wise,
Why would he for the momentary trick
Be perdurably fined? O Isabel!
What says my brother?
Death is a fearful thing.
And shamed life a hateful.
Ay, but to die, and go we know not where;
To lie in cold obstruction, and to rot;
This sensible warm motion to become
A kneaded clod; and the delighted spirit
To bath in fiery floods, or to reside
In thrilling region of thick-ribbed ice;
To be imprison’d in the viewless winds
And blown with restless violence round about
The pendent world: or to be worse than worst
Of those that lawless and incertain thought
Imagine howling – ’tis too horrible!
The weariest and most loathed worldly life
That age, ache, penury and imprisonment
Can lay on nature is a paradise
To what we fear of death.
Sweet sister, let me live:
What sin you do to save a brother’s life,
Nature dispenses with the deed so far
That it becomes a virtue.
O, you beast!
O faithless coward! O dishonest wretch!
Wilt thou be made a man out of my vice?
Is’t not a kind of incest, to take life
From thine own sister’s shame? What should I think?
Heaven shield my mother play’d my father fair:
For such a warped slip of wilderness
Ne’er issued from his blood. Take my defiance,
Die, perish! Might but my bending down
Reprieve thee from thy fate, it should proceed.
I’ll pray a thousand prayers for thy death;
No word to save thee.
Nay hear me, Isabel.
O, fie, fie, fie!
Thy sin’s not accidental, but a trade:
Mercy to thee would prove itself a bawd;
‘Tis best thou diest quickly. (going)
O hear me, Isabella!
Synopsis: Isabella informs her brother Claudio that there is no hope for his survival. She tells him of Angelo’s disgraceful offer and Claudio, fearful for his life, tries to convince her to yield to Angelo’s demands to save his life.
Enter OBERON, the King of the Fairies, at one door, with his train; and TITANIA, the Queen, at another, with hers
Ill met by moonlight, proud Titania.
What, jealous Oberon? Fairies, skip hence;
I have forsworn his bed and company.
Tarry, rash wanton: am not I thy lord?
Then I must be thy lady: but I know
When thou hast stol’n away from fairy land,
And in the shape of Corin, sat all day
Playing on pipes of corn, and versing love
To amorous Phillida. Why art thou here,
Come from the farthest step of India,
But that, forsooth, the bouncing Amazon,
Your buskin’d mistress and your warrior love,
To Theseus must be wedded, and you come
To give their bed joy and prosperity?
How canst thou thus, for shame, Titania,
Glance at my credit with Hippolyta,
Knowing I know thy love to Theseus?
Didst thou not lead him through the glimmering night
From Perigouna, whom he ravished;
And make him with fair Aegles break his faith,
With Ariadne and Antiopa?
These are the forgeries of jealousy:
And never, since the middle summer’s spring,
Met we on hill, in dale, forest or mead,
By paved fountain or by rushy brook,
Or in the beached margent of the sea,
To dance our ringlets to the whistling wind,
But with thy brawls thou hast disturb’d our sport.
Therefore the winds, piping to us in vain,
As in revenge have suck’d up from the sea
Contagious fogs; which, falling in the land,
Have every pelting river made so proud
That they have overborne their continents.
The ox hath therefore stretch’d his yoke in vain,
The ploughman lost his sweat, and the green corn
Hath rotted ere his youth attain’d a beard;
The fold stands empty in the drowned field,
And crows are fatted with the murrion flock;
The nine-men’s-morris is fill’d up with mud,
And the quaint mazes in the wanton green
For lack of tread are undistinguishable.
The human mortals want their winter cheer:
No night is now with hymn or carol blest.
Therefore the moon, the governess of floods,
Pale in her anger, washes all the air,
That rheumatic diseases do abound.
And thorough this distemperature we see
The seasons alter: hoary-headed frosts
Far in the fresh lap of the crimson rose;
And on old Hiems’ thin and icy crown,
An odorous chaplet of sweet summer buds
Is, as in mockery, set; the spring, the summer,
The childing autumn, angry winter, change
Their wonted liveries, and the mazed world,
By their increase, now knows not which is which.
And this same progeny of evils comes
From our debate, from our dissension;
We are their parents and original.
Do you amend it then: it lies in you.
Why should Titania cross her Oberon?
I do but beg a little changeling boy
To be my henchman.
Set your heart at rest:
The fairy land buys not the child of me.
His mother was a votaress of my order;
And in the spiced Indian air, by night,
Full often hath she gossip’d by my side;
And sat with me on Neptune’s yellow sands,
Marking the embarked traders on the flood:
When we have laugh’d to see the sails conceive
And grow big-bellied with the wanton wind;
Which she, with pretty and with swimming gait
Following (her womb then rich with my young squire),
Would imitate, and sail upon the land
To fetch me trifles, and return again
As from a voyage, rich with merchandise.
But she, being mortal, of that boy did die;
And for her sake do I rear up her boy;
And for her sake I will not part with him.
How long within this wood intend you stay?
Perchance till after Theseus’ wedding-day.
If you will patiently dance in our round,
And see our moonlight revels, go with us;
If not, shun me, and I will spare your haunts.
Give me that boy, and I will go with thee.
Not for thy fairy kingdom. Fairies, away!
We shall chide downright, if I longer stay.
Exit TITANIA with her train
Well, go thy way; thou shalt not from this grove
Till I torment thee for this injury.
Enter DEMETRIUS, HELENA following him.
I love thee not, therefore pursue me not.
Where is Lysander and fair Hermia?
The one I’ll slay, the other slayeth me.
Thou told’st me they were stolen unto this wood;
And here am I, and wode within this wood
Because I cannot meet my Hermia.
Hence, get thee gone, and follow me no more.
You draw me, you hard-hearted adamant –
But yet you draw not iron, for my heart
Is true as steel. Leave you your power to draw,
And I shall have no power to follow you.
Do I entice you? Do I speak you fair?
Or rather do I not in plainest truth
Tell you I do not, nor I cannot love you?
And even for that do I love you the more.
I am your spaniel; and, Demetrius,
The more you beat me, I will fawn on you.
Use me but as your spaniel, spurn me, strike me,
Neglect me, lose me; only give me leave,
Unworthy as I am, to follow you.
What worser place can I beg in your love –
And yet a place of high respect with me –
Than to be used as you use your dog?
Tempt not too much the hatred of my spirit;
For I am sick when I do look on thee.
And I am sick when I look not on you.
You do impeach your modesty too much
To leave the city and commit yourself
Into the hands of one that loves you not,
To trust the opportunity of night
And the ill counsel of a desert place
With the rich worth of your virginity.
Your virtue is my privilege: for that
It is not night when I do see your face,
Therefore I think I am not in the night;
Nor doth this wood lack worlds of company,
For you, in my respect are all the world;
Then how can it be said I am alone,
When all the world is here to look on me?
I’ll run from thee and hide me in the brakes,
And leave thee to the mercy of wild beasts.
The wildest hath not such a heart as you.
Run when you will; the story shall be changed:
Apollo flies, and Daphne holds the chase;
The dove pursues the griffin, the mild hind
Makes speed to catch the tiger; bootless speed,
When cowardice pursues and valour flies!
I will not stay thy questions; let me go,
Or if thou follow me, do not believe
But I shall do thee mischief in the wood.
Ay, in the temple, in the town, the field,
You do me mischief. Fie, Demetrius!
Your wrongs do set a scandal on my sex.
We cannot fight for love, as men may do;
We should be woo’d and were not made to woo.
I’ll follow thee, and make a heaven of hell,
To die upon the hand I love so well.
Brief Overview: Beatrice, angry at the way Claudio has treated Hero (her cousin), persuades Benedick to take revenge and kill his good friend, Claudio.
Genre: Drama (though two very comical characters)
Exeunt all but BENEDICK and BEATRICE
Lady Beatrice, have you wept all this while?
Yea, and I will weep a while longer.
I will not desire that.
You have no reason, I do it freely.
Surely I do believe your fair cousin is wronged.
Ah, how much might the man deserve of me that would right her!
Is there any way to show such friendship?
A very even way, but no such friend.
May a man do it?
It is a man’s office, but not yours.
I do love nothing in the world so well as you – is
not that strange?
As strange as the thing I know not. It were as
possible for me to say I loved nothing so well as
you, but believe me not; and yet I lie not; I
confess nothing, nor I deny nothing. I am sorry for my cousin.
By my sword, Beatrice, thou lovest me.
Do not swear, and eat it.
I will swear by it that you love me, and I will make
him eat it that says I love not you.
Will you not eat your word?
With no sauce that can be devised to it. I protest
I love thee.
Why, then, God forgive me!
What offence, sweet Beatrice?
You have stayed me in a happy hour: I was about to
protest I loved you.
And do it with all thy heart.
I love you with so much of my heart that none is
left to protest.
Come, bid me do any thing for thee.
Ha! not for the wide world!
You kill me to deny it. Farewell.
Tarry, sweet Beatrice.
I am gone, though I am here; there is no love in
you; nay I pray you let me go.
In faith, I will go.
We’ll be friends first.
You dare easier be friends with me than fight with mine enemy.
Is Claudio thine enemy?
Is he not approved in the height a villain, that
hath slandered, scorned, dishonoured my kinswoman? O
that I were a man! What, bear her in hand until they
come to take hands, and then with public
accusation, uncovered slander, unmitigated rancour
– O God, that I were a man! I would eat his heart
in the market-place.
Hear me, Beatrice –
Talk with a man out at a window! A proper saying!
Nay, but Beatrice –
Sweet Hero! She is wronged, she is slandered, she is undone.
Princes and counties! Surely, a princely testimony,
a goodly count, Count Comfect; a sweet gallant
surely! O that I were a man for his sake, or that I
had any friend would be a man for my sake! But
manhood is melted into curtsies, valour into
compliment, and men are only turned into tongue, and
trim ones too: he is now as valiant as Hercules
that only tells a lie and swears it. I cannot be a
man with wishing, therefore I will die a woman with grieving.
Tarry, good Beatrice. By this hand, I love thee.
Use it for my love some other way than swearing by it.
Think you in your soul the Count Claudio hath wronged Hero?
Yea, as sure as I have a thought, or a soul.
Enough! I am engaged, I will challenge him. I will
kiss your hand, and so I leave you. By this hand,
Claudio shall render me a dear account. As you
hear of me, so think of me. Go, comfort your
cousin; I must say she is dead: and so farewell.
Othello enters. Desdemona in her bed asleep.
It is the cause, it is the cause, my soul!
Let me not name it to you, you chaste stars,
It is the cause. Yet I’ll not shed her blood
Nor scar that whiter skin of hers than snow
And smooth as monumental alabaster:
Yet she must die, else she’ll betray more men.
Put out the light, and then put out the light!
If I quench thee, thou flaming minister,
I can again thy former light restore
Should I repent me. But once put out thy light,
Thou cunning’st pattern of excelling nature,
I know not where is that Promethean heat
That can thy light relume: when I have plucked the rose
I cannot give it vital growth again,
It must needs wither. I’ll smell it on the tree;
O balmy breath, that dost almost persuade
Justice to break her sword! One more, one more.
Be thus when thou art dead, and I will kill thee,
And love thee after. One more, and this the last.
He smells, then kisses her
So sweet was ne’er so fatal. I must weep,
But they are cruel tears: this sorrow’s heavenly,
It strikes where it doth love. She wakes.
Who’s there? Othello?
Will you come to bed, my lord?
Have you pray’d tonight, Desdemona?
Ay, my lord.
If you bethink yourself of any crime
Unreconciled as yet to heaven and grace,
Solicit for it straight.
Alas, my lord, what do you mean by that?
Well, do it, and be brief; I will walk by.
I would not kill thy unprepared spirit,
No, heaven forfend, I would not kill thy soul.
Talk you of killing?
Ay, I do.
Have mercy on me!
Amen, with all my heart.
If you say so, I hope you will not kill me.
And yet I fear you, for you are fatal then
When your eyes roll so. Why I should fear I know not,
Since guiltiness I know not. But yet I feel I fear.
Think on thy sins.
They are loves I bear to you.
Ay, and for that thou diest.
That death’s unnatural that kills for loving.
Alas, why gnaw you so your nether lip?
Some bloody passion shakes your very frame,
These are portents: but yet I hope, I hope,
They do not point on me.
Peace, and be still!
I will so. What’s the matter?
That handkerchief which I so loved and gave thee,
Thou gavest to Cassio.
No, by my life and soul:
Send for the man, and ask him.
Sweet soul, take heed,
Take heed of perjury; thou art on thy deathbed.
I? – but not yet to die!
Therefore confess thee freely of thy sin,
For to deny each article with oath
Cannot remove nor choke the strong conception
That I do groan withal. Thou art to die.
Then Lord have mercy on me.
I say amen.
And have you mercy too. I never did
Offend you in my life, never loved Cassio
But with such general warranty of heaven
As I might love: I never gave him token.
By heaven, I saw my handkerchief in’s hand!
O perjured woman, thou dost stone my heart
And makest me call what I intend to do
A murder, which I thought a sacrifice!
I saw the handkerchief.
He found it then,
I never gave it him. Send for him hither,
Let him confess a truth.
He hath confessed.
What, my lord?
That he hath – ud’s death! – used thee.
He will not say so.
No, his mouth is stopped. Honest Iago Hath ta’en order for’t.
O, my fear interprets! What, is he dead?
Had all his hairs been lives, my great revenge
Had stomach for them all.
Alas, he is betrayed, and I undone.
Out, strumpet, weep’st thou for him to my face?
O, banish me, my lord, but kill me not!
Kill me tomorrow, let me live tonight!
Nay, if you strive–
But half an hour!
Being done, there is no pause–
But while I say one prayer!
It is too late.
O Lord! Lord! Lord!
He smothers her.
Note: Does contain another character, but he can be easily removed.
Enter the corpse of KING HENRY the Sixth, Gentlemen with halberds to guard it; LADY ANNE being the mourner.
Set down, set down your honourable load
(If honour may be shrouded in a hearse)
Whilst I awhile obsequiously lament
The untimely fall of virtuous Lancaster.
Poor key-cold figure of a holy king,
Pale ashes of the House of Lancaster,
Thou bloodless remnant of that royal blood:
Be it lawful that I invocate thy ghost
To hear the lamentations of poor Anne,
Wife to thy Edward, to thy slaughter’d son,
Stabb’d by the selfsame hand that made these wounds.
Lo, in these windows that let forth thy life
I pour the helpless balm of my poor eyes.
O, cursed be the hand that made these fatal holes;
Cursed the heart that had the heart to do it;
Cursed the blood that let this blood from hence.
More direful hap betide that hated wretch
That makes us wretched by the death of thee
Than I can wish to adders, spiders, toads,
Or any creeping venom’d thing that lives.
If ever he have child, abortive be it:
Prodigious, and untimely brought to light,
Whose ugly and unnatural aspect
May fright the hopeful mother at the view,
And that be heir to his unhappiness.
If ever he have wife, let her he made
A miserable by the death of him
As I am made by my young lord, and thee.
Come, now towards Chertsey with your holy load,
Taken from Paul’s to be interred there;
And still, as you are weary of the weight,
Rest you, whiles I lament King Henry’s corse.
Stay, you that bear the corse, and set it down.
What black magician conjures up this fiend
To stop devoted charitable deeds?
Villains! set down the corse or by Saint Paul
I’ll make a corse of him that disobeys!
My lord, stand back and let the coffin pass.
Unmanner’d dog, stand thou when I command:
Advance thy halberd higher than my breast,
Or by Saint Paul I’ll strike thee to my foot,
And spurn upon thee, beggar, for thy boldness.
What, do you tremble? Are you all afraid?
Alas, I blame you not; for you are mortal,
And mortal eyes cannot endure the devil.
Avaunt, thou dreadful minister of hell!
Thou hadst but power over his mortal body:
His soul thou canst not have; therefore be gone.
Sweet saint, for charity, be not so curst.
Foul devil, for God’s sake, hence, and trouble us not;
For thou hast made the happy earth thy hell,
Fill’d it with cursing cries and deep exclaims.
If thou delight to view thy heinous deeds,
Behold this pattern of thy butcheries.
O gentlemen! See, see dead Henry’s wounds
Open their congeal’d mouths and bleed afresh.
Blush, Blush, thou lump of foul deformity,
For ’tis thy presence that exhales this blood
From cold and empty veins where no blood dwells:
Thy deed inhuman and unnatural
Provokes this deluge most unnatural.
O God! which this blood mad’st, revenge his death;
O earth! which this blood drink’st revenge his death;
Either heaven with lightning strike the murderer dead
Or earth gape open wide and eat him quick,
As thou dost swallow up this good King’s blood
Which his hell-govern’d arm hath butchered.
Lady, you know no rules of charity,
Which renders good for bad, blessings for curses.
Villain, thou know’st no law of God nor man.
No beast so fierce but knows some touch of pity.
But I know none, and therefore am no beast.
O wonderful, when devils tell the truth!
More wonderful, when angels are so angry.
Vouchsafe, divine perfection of a woman,
Of these supposed crimes, to give me leave,
By circumstance, but to acquit myself.
Vouchsafe, difuss’d infection of a man,
For these known evils, but to give me leave,
By circumstance, to curse thy cursed self.
Fairer than tongue can name thee, let me have
Some patient leisure to excuse myself.
Fouler than heart can think thee, thou canst make
No excuse current but to hang thyself.
By such despair, I should accuse myself.
And, by despairing, shouldst thou stand excuse’d
For doing worthy vengeance on thyself,
Which didst unworthy slaughter upon others.
Say that I slew them not?
Then say they were not slain:
But dead they are, and devilish slave, by thee.
I did not kill your husband.
Why then he is alive.
Nay he is dead, and slain by Edward’s hand.
In thy foul throat thou liest: Queen Margaret saw
Thy murderous falchion smoking in his blood;
The which thou once didst bend against her breast,
But that thy brothers beat aside the point.
I was provoked by her sland’rous tongue,
which laid their guilt upon my guiltless shoulders.
Thou wast provoked by thy bloody mind,
That never dreamt on aught but butcheries,
Didst thou not kill this king?
I grant ye, yea.
Dost grant me, hedgehog! Then God grant me too
Thou mayst be damned for that wicked deed.
O he was gentle, mild, and virtuous.
The fitter for the King of heaven that hath him.
He is in heaven, where thou shalt never come.
Let him thank me that holp to send him thither,
For he was fitter for that place than earth.
And thou unfit for any place but hell.
Yes, one place else, if you will hear me name it.
Ill rest betide the chamber where thou liest.
So will it, madam till I lie with you.
I hope so!
I know so. But, gentle Lady Anne,
To leave this keen encounter of our wits,
And fall somewhat into a slower method:
Is not the causer of the timeless deaths
Of these Plantagenets, Henry and Edward,
As blameful as the executioner?
Thou wast the cause, and most accursed effect.
Your beauty was the cause of that effect:
Your beauty, that did haunt me in my sleep
To undertake the death of all the world,
So I might live one hour in your sweet bosom.
If I thought that, I tell thee, homicide,
These nails should rend that beauty from my cheeks.
These eyes could never endure sweet beauty’s wreck;
You should not blemish it if I stood by.
As all the world is cheered by the sun,
So I by that; it is my day, my life.
Black night o’ershade thy day, and death thy life.
Curse not thyself, fair creature thou art both.
I would I were, to be revenged on thee.
It is a quarrel most unnatural,
To be revenged on him that loveth you.
It is a quarrel just and reasonable,
To be revenged on him that slew my husband.
He that bereft thee, lady, of thy husband,
Did it to help thee to a better husband.
His better doth not breathe upon the earth.
He lives that loves thee better than he could.
Why, that was he.
The selfsame name, but one of better nature.
Where is he?
[She spits at him]
Why dost thou spit at me?
Would it were mortal poison, for thy sake.
Never came poison from so sweet a place.
Never hung poison on a fouler toad.
Out of my sight! Thou dost infect my eyes.
Thine eyes, sweet lady, have infected mine.
Would they were basilisks, to strike thee dead.
I would they were, that I might die at once;
For now they kill me with a living death.
Those eyes of thine from mine have drawn salt tears,
Shamed their aspect with store of childish drops;
These eyes, that never shed remorseful tear,
No, when my father York and Edward wept
To hear the piteous moan that Rutland made
When black-faced Clifford shook his sword at him;
Nor when thy warlike father, like a child,
Told the sad story of my father’s death,
And twenty times made pause to sob and weep,
That all the standers-by had wet their cheeks
Like trees bedash’d with rain. In that sad time
My manly eyes did scorn an humble tear;
And what these sorrows could not thence exhale,
Thy beauty hath, and made them blind with weeping.
I never sued to friend nor enemy:
My tongue could never learn sweet smoothing word;
But now thy beauty is proposed my fee,
My proud heart sues, and prompts my tongue to speak.
[She looks scornfully at him]
Teach not thy lips such scorn; for they were made
For kissing, lady, not for such contempt.
If thy revengeful heart cannot forgive,
Lo, here I lend thee this sharp-pointed sword,
Which if thou please to hide in this true bosom.
And let the soul forth that adoreth thee,
I lay it naked to the deadly stroke,
And humbly beg the death upon my knee.
[Kneels; he lays his breast open: she offers at it with his sword]
Nay, do not pause; for I did kill King Henry –
But ’twas thy beauty that provoked me.
Nay, now dispatch; ’twas I that stabb’d young Edward –
But ’twas thy heavenly face that set me on.
[She falls the sword.]
Take up the sword again, or take up me.
Arise, dissembler: though I wish thy death,
I will not be the executioner.
Then bid me kill myself, and I will do it.
I have already.
Tush, that was in thy rage:
Speak it again, and, even with the word,
That hand, which, for thy love, did kill thy love,
Shall, for thy love, kill a far truer love:
To both their deaths thou shalt be accessary.
I would I knew thy heart.
‘Tis figured in my tongue.
I fear me both are false.
Then never man was true.
Well, well, put up your sword.
Say, then, my peace is made.
That shall you know hereafter.
But shall I live in hope?
All men, I hope, live so.
Vouchsafe to wear this ring.
To take is not to give.
Look, how this ring encompasseth finger:
Even so thy breast encloseth my poor heart;
Wear both of them, for both of them are thine.
And if thy poor devoted suppliant may
But beg one favour at thy gracious hand,
Thou dost confirm his happiness for ever.
What is it?
That it would please thee leave these sad designs
To him that hath more cause to be a mourner,
And presently repair to Crosby Place,
Where, after I have solemnly interr’d
At Chertsey monastery this noble King,
And wet his grave with my repentant tears,
I will with all expedient duty see you.
For divers unknown reasons. I beseech you,
Grant me this boon.’
With all my heart; and much it joys me too,
To see you are become so penitent.
Tressel and Berkeley, go along with me.
Bid me farewell.
‘Tis more than you deserve;
But since you teach me how to flatter you,
Imagine I have said farewell already.
Stay, madam; I must talk a word with you.
I have no more sons of the royal blood
For thee to slaughter.
You have a daughter call’d Elizabeth,
Virtuous and fair.
And must she die for this?
She is of royal princess.
To save her life I’ll say she is not so.
Her life is only safest in her birth.
And only in that safety died her brothers.
My tongue should to thy ears not name my boys
Till that my nails were anchor’d in thine eyes.
I intend more good to you and yours
Than ever you or yours were by me wrong’d!
What good is cover’d with the face of heaven,
To be discover’d, that can do me good?
The advancement of your children, gentle lady.
Up to some scaffold, there to lose their heads?
No, to the dignity and height of honour
The high imperial type of this earth’s glory.
Tell me what state, what dignity, what honour,
Canst thou demise to any child of mine?
With my soul I love thy daughter,
And do intend to make her queen of England.
Well then, who dost thou mean shall be her king?
Even he that makes her Queen. Who else should be?
Even so. How think you of it?
How canst thou woo her?
That would I learn of you,
As one being best acquainted with her humour.
And wilt thou learn of me?
Madam, with all my heart!
Send to her, by the man that slew her brothers,
A pair of bleeding-hearts; thereon engrave
Edward and York; then haply she will weep:
If this inducement force her not to love,
Send her a letter of thy noble acts;
Tell her thou madest away her uncle Clarence,
Her uncle Rivers- ay, and for her sake,
Madest quick conveyance with her good aunt Anne.
You mock me, madam; this is not the way
To win our daughter.
There is no other way-
Unless thou couldst put on some other shape,
And not be Richard that hath done all this.
Look, what is done cannot be now amended:
If I did take the kingdom from your sons,
To make amends, I’ll give it to your daughter.
Prepare her ears to hear a wooer’s tale
And lead thy daughter to a conqueror’s bed.
What were I best to say? her Father’s brother
Would be her lord? Or shall I say her uncle?
Or he that slew her brothers and her uncles?
Under what title shall I woo for thee?
Tell her the King, that may command, entreats.
That at her hands, which the King’s King forbids.
Say I will love her everlastingly.
But how long shall that title ‘ever’ last?
Sweetly in force unto her fair life’s end.
But how long fairly shall her sweet life last?
As long as heaven and nature lengthens it.
As long as hell and Richard likes of it.
Your reasons are too shallow and too quick.
O no, my reasons are too deep and dead;
Too deep and dead, poor infants, in their graves.
Harp not on that string, madam; that is past.
Harp on it still shall I, till heart-strings break.
Now, by my George, my Garter, and my crown,–
Profaned, dishonour’d, and the third usurp’d.
By nothing; for this is no oath:
If something thou wouldst swear to be believ’d,
Swear then by something that thou hast not wrong’d.
Now, by the world–
‘Tis full of thy foul wrongs..
Then, by myself–
Thyself is self-misus’d.
Why then, by God–
God’s wrong is most of all:
Thy broken faith hath made a prey for worms.
What canst thou swear by now?
The time to come!
Swear not by time to come;
For I myself have many tears to wash
Hereafter time, for time past wrong’d by thee.
God and fortune, bar me happy hours!
Day, yield me not thy light, nor, night, thy rest!
Be opposite, all planets of good luck
To my proceedings if with dear heart’s love,
Immaculate devotion, holy thoughts,
I tender not thy beauteous, princely daughter!
In her consists my happiness and thine;
Without her, follows to myself, and thee
Herself, the land, and many a Christian soul,
Death, desolation, ruin and decay.
It cannot be avoided but by this;
It will not be avoided but by this.
Therefore, dear mother–I must call you so–
Be the attorney of my love to her;
Plead what I will be, not what I have been;
Not my deserts, but what I will deserve:
Shall I be tempted of the devil thus?
Ay, if the devil tempt thee to do good.
Yet thou didst kill my children.
But in your daughter’s womb I bury them,
Where, in that nest of spicery, they shall breed
Selves of themselves, to your recomforture.
Shall I go win my daughter to thy will?
And be a happy mother by the deed.
I go. Write to me very shortly.
And you shall understand from me her mind.
Bear her my true love’s kiss; and so, farewell.
Exit QUEEN ELIZABETH
Relenting fool, and shallow, changing woman!
Female/Female Shakespeare Scenes
Male/Male Shakespeare Scenes
Prince Hal, the future king of England talks about the future with the fat and hilarious Falstaff in this comical scene. It is difficult as it contains so many of the time references however it has a great energy and could be a lot of fun.
After over throwing Julius Caesar Brutus and Cassius fight over the killing of Lucius Pella.
In this early scene in the play Bassanio goes to Antonio and tries to get him to give him some money to help him woo Portia (his rich love). The scene offers some great text and is interesting to play as Antonio and Bassanio have a great friendship. There is a lot of potential subtext you can play under this scene. Does Antonio want Bassanio to get Portia?
Preparing you Shakespeare Scene
Spend the time making sure you truly understand the meaning behind both your words and the scene in general. Take some time going through the dictionary or even better Shakespeare’s Words a dictionary specifically for Shakespeare. What is the arc of the scene? Where does your character start and end? What is their objective. Take your time to be a detective. It will pay dividends.
About the Author
is Stage Milk's founder and site co-ordinator. He studied Acting at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA), and is now based in Sydney. He vaguely calls himself an actor, and unwittingly runs one of the biggest acting websites in the world.