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Abridged Hamlet/#1/Ghost/Act 1, Scene 1

Francisco, a soldier, has been standing guard on the
guard’s platform late at night at Denmark’s king’s castle in Elsinore. Barnardo
arrives to relieve him, Francisco saying “For this relief much thanks.  ‘Tis bitter cold.”  Francisco exits. Marcellus, another guard,
along with Horatio, Hamlet’s close friend and classmate, enter.  Horatio asks “What, has this thing appeared
again tonight?”  Barnardo says “I have
seen nothing.”  Marcellus says “Horatio
says ‘tis but our fantasy and does not believe this dreadful sight twice seen
by us.”  Horatio says “Well, sit us down,
and let us hear Barnardo speak of this.”
The Ghost enters.  A startled Marcellus
says “Speak to it, Horatio.”  Horatio
shouts at the Ghost, saying “What art thou that usurp’st this time of
night.  By heaven, I charge thee, speak.”  The Ghost exits. Barnardo says “Horatio, you
tremble and look pale. Is it not like the King?”  Horatio simply says “As thou art to
thyself.”  Marcellus cries “Who is ‘t
that can inform me.”  Horatio says “That
can I.”  Horatio goes on to tell of the some-time-ago
battle between Fortinbras of Norway and King Hamlet, and that Hamlet slayed
Fortinbras “who by sealed compact did forfeit his lands to the conqueror.”  He says he thinks “young Fortinbras by strong
hand plans to recover those foresaid lands so by his father lost.”  Barnardo remarks “I think it be no other but
e’en so.”  Horatio uses the opportunity
to remind the men of the strange happenings in Rome before “the mightiest
Julius fell.”  The Ghost re-enters.
Horatio says to the Ghost “Speak to me, if thou art privy to the country’s
fate. O speak!”  The cock crows. The
Ghost exits. Barnardo says “It was about to speak when the cock crew.”  Horatio says “Let us impart what we have seen
tonight unto young Hamlet; for, upon my life, this spirit, dumb to us, will
speak to him.”  Marcellus says “Let’s do
it.”

Abridged Hamlet/#2/Resentment/Act 1, Scene 2.1

Claudius, King Hamlet’s brother, is now Denmark’s king.  Gertrude, King Hamlet’s widow and Prince
Hamlet’s mother, is now Claudius’ wife and Denmark’s queen.  Claudius tells his court “Though our dear
brother’s death be green, yet we with wisest sorrow think on him together with
remembrance of ourselves.  Therefore our
sometime sister, now our queen, have we with mirth in funeral and with dirge in
marriage, taken to wife.  Young
Fortinbras, holding a weak supposal of our worth, hath not failed to pester us
with message importing the surrender of those lands lost by his father to our
most valiant brother.  We have here writ
to Norway to suppress his further course herein.”  Claudius sends Cornelius and Voltemand to
Norway as his ambassadors.  Claudius
turns to Laertes and asks “What wouldst thou have, Laertes?”  Laertes replies “My lord, your leave and
favor to return to France.”  Laertes’
father, Polonius, a close friend to both the late king and to Claudius, says to
the King “I do beseech you give him leave to go.”  Claudius turns to Hamlet, saying “But now, my
cousin Hamlet and my son, how is it the clouds still hang on you?”  His mother says “Cast thy knighted color
off.”  Hamlet tells her that there are a
number of issues that bother him. Believing Hamlet is over-grieving his
father’s death, Claudius says to him “’Tis unmanly grief.  It shows a will most incorrect to
heaven.”  He tells him “Let the world
take note, you are the most immediate to our throne, and with no less nobility
of love than that which dearest father bears his son do I impart toward
you.”  Hamlet’s mother says “I pray thee,
stay with us.  Go not to
Wittenberg.”  Hamlet has been a student
at Wittenberg.  Hamlet replies “I shall
in all my best obey you, madam.”  The
King says “Why, ‘tis a loving and a fair reply.
Be as ourself in Denmark.  Madam,
come.”  All but Hamlet exit.

Abridged Hamlet/#3/Anticipation/Act 1, Scene 2.2

Hamlet would like to remove himself from the issues of
the moment; he unable, it seems, to deal without stress with the reality of the
moment.  He says to himself “’Tis an
unweeded garden that grows to seed.”  He
laments his father “But two months dead.”
Mourning his father, he says “So excellent a king; so loving to my
mother; why she would hang on him. And yet, within a month, a little month,
married with my uncle, my father’s brother, but no more like my father than I
to Hercules.  It is not, nor it cannot
come to good.  But break, my heart, for I
must hold my tongue.”  Horatio and the
soldiers, Marcellus and Barnardo, enter.
Hamlet asks “What makes you from Wittenberg, Horatio?  I know you are no truant. But what is your
affair in Elsinore?”  Horatio says “I
came to see your father’s funeral.”
Hamlet says “I prithee, do not mock me.  I think it was to see my mother’s
wedding.”  Horatio replies “Indeed it
followed hard.”  Hamlet says “Horatio,
methinks I see my father.”  Horatio asks
“Where?”  Hamlet replies “In my mind’s
eye, Horatio.”  Horatio says “My lord, I
think I saw him yesternight.”  Hamlet
says “The King my father?  Let me
hear!”  Horatio describes what he and the
guards saw.  Hamlet asks “Did you not
speak to it.?”  Horatio says “My lord, I
did, but answer made it none.”  Hamlet
replies “’Tis very strange.”  He says to
the guards “Hold you the watch tonight?”
They say “We do, my lord.”  Hamlet
says “I will watch tonight.  Perchance ‘twill
walk again.”  Hamlet tells them he plans
to be with them on the platform that very night. He says “Whatsoever else shall
hap tonight, give it an understanding but no tongue. ‘twixt eleven and twelve
I’ll visit you.  Farewell.”

Abridged Hamlet/#4/Counsel/Act 1, Scene 3

Laertes is preparing to leave for France.  His sister, Ophelia, is Hamlet’s
girlfriend.  He offers her most
interesting if not suspect advice, suggesting that “For Hamlet, hold it as a
flirtation, a violet in the youth, not lasting, the perfume of a minute, no
more.”  He says “the most careful maid is
prodigal enough if she unmask her beauty to the moon.”  He goes on to say “be wary, then; best safety
lies in fear, youth loses itself to rebellion, even if there isn’t a
tempter.”  She says I hear what you say,
but, paraphrased a little “good my brother, do not tell me how to live a strict
and virtuous life, whiles like a reckless libertine, you follow a life of
dalliance, not heeding your own advice.”
Polonius, their father enters. He says to his son, “Aboard, aboard. My
blessing with thee.”  He then offers his
son some timeless lessons, such as “beware of entrance to a quarrel, but, being
in, bear ‘t that th’ opposed may beware of thee,” and “give every man thy ear,
but few thy voice; take each man’s censure, but reserve thy judgment.”  Laertes tells his sister to “remember well
what I have said to you.”  She says to
her brother “’Tis in my memory locked, and you yourself shall keep the key to
it.”   Laertes exits.  Polonius asks his daughter “what is it he
hath said to you?”  She says “Something
touching the Lord Hamlet.”  He asks “What
is between you?  Give me up the truth.”  Ophelia says “He hath, my lord, of late made
many tenders of his affection to me.”
Her father says “Think yourself a baby that you have ta’en these tenders
for true pay, which is not sterling.
Tender yourself more dearly, or you’ll tender me a fool.”  She replies “he hath importuned me with love in
honorable fashion, with almost all the holy vows of heaven.”  He then offers her advice, such as “Lord
Hamlet hath a larger tether may he walk than may be given you.  In few, Ophelia, do not believe his vows, for
they are go-betweens, mere actions of unholy pursuits, the better to beguile.  This is for all: I would not from this time
forth give words or talk with Lord Hamlet.”
She says simply “I shall obey, my lord.”

Abridged Hamlet/#5/Adventure/Act 1, Scene 4

Hamlet, Horatio and Marcellus are there on the guards’
platform at the castle at Elsinore, waiting the Ghost’s arrival.  The men hear a flourish of trumpets, a signal
that the King is there in the castle in a drinking mood.  Hamlet bemoans the habit, saying “It chances
in particular men that is a natural fault, as in their birth.”  The Ghost enters.  Hamlet says “Angels and ministers of grace,
defend us!”  He goes on to say “Thou
com’st in such questionable shape that I will speak to thee.  I’ll call the King, Father, Royal Dane. O,
answer me!  Let me not burst in
ignorance.  What should we do?”  The Ghost beckons.  Marcellus cries “It waves you to a more
removed ground.  But do not go with
it.”  Horatio follows suit, saying “No,
by no means.”  Hamlet says “It will not
speak. Then I will follow it.”  Marcellus
and Horatio grab Hamlet, saying “You shall not go.”  Hamlet says “Unhand me, gentlemen.  By heaven, I’ll make a ghost of him that
holds me back.”  The Ghost and Hamlet
exit.

Abridged Hamlet/#6/Commitment/Act 1, Scene 5

The Ghost and Hamlet are together.  Hamlet says “Speak.  I am bound to hear.”  The Ghost says “I am thy father’s spirit.  Listen, O listen!  Revenge his foul and most unnatural
murder.”  Hamlet says “Haste me to know
it.”  The Ghost says “Now, Hamlet, hear.
Sleeping in my orchard, a serpent stung me.
The serpent that did sting thy father’s life now wears his crown.”  Hamlet exclaims “O, my prophetic soul!”  The Ghost goes on, saying “that incestuous
beast hath the power so to seduce! —- won to his shameful lust the will of my
most seeming virtuous queen.  I scent the
morning air.  Brief let me be.  Sleeping within my orchard, my custom always
of the afternoon, upon my secure hour thy uncle stole, with poison juice in a
vial, and in the porches of my ears did pour the distilment, that swift as
quicksilver courses through the thin and wholesome blood.  Thus was I, sleeping, by a brother’s hand of
life, of crown, of queen, cut off and sent to my account.  Fare thee well at once.  Remember me.”
He exits. To himself, Hamlet says “Remember thee?  Yea, thy commandment all alone shall live
within the book and volume of my brain.
So uncle, there you are. Now to my word. It is ‘adieu, remember
me.’  I have sworn ‘t.”  Horatio and Marcellus enter. Hamlet cries
“There’s never a villain dwelling in all Denmark but he’s a complete
knave.”  Horatio replies “There needs no
ghost, my lord, come from the grave to tell us this.”  Hamlet says “Why, you are in the right. Good
friends, give me one poor request.”
Horatio says “What is ‘t, my lord?
We will.”  Hamlet says “Never make
known what you have seen tonight.”  They
both say “My lord, we will not.”  Hamlet
says “Swear upon my sword.” Marcellus says “We have sworn, my lord,
already.”  From under the stage, the
Ghost cries “Swear. Swear by his sword.”
Horatio says “O day and night, but this is wondrous strange.”  Hamlet says to Horatio “This do swear.”  The Ghost from beneath cries “Swear.”  Hamlet says “Rest, rest, perturbed spirit. So
gentlemen, let us go in together, and still your fingers on your lips, I pray.”

Abridged Hamlet/#7/Advice/Act 2, Scene 1

Polonius instructs his servant, Reynaldo, to go to Paris
and “to inquire of his (Laertes) behavior.”
He instructs him to inquire as to what “Danes are in Paris; and how, by
what means, and what company they keep, at what expense.”  He tells him to “take heed of such wanton,
wild, and usual slips as are companions noted and most known to youth and
liberty.”  Reynaldo asks “As gaming, my
lord.”  Polonius says “Ay, or drinking,
fencing, swearing, quarreling, you may go so far.”  Reynaldo says “My lord, that would dishonor
him.”  Polonius responds “You must not
put another scandal on him.  That’s not
my meaning.  Sir, here’s my drift.  Say, there was he gaming, there falling out
at tennis, or so forth.  You have me,
have you not?”  Reynaldo says “My lord, I
have.”  He exits.  Ophelia enters.  He says “Ophelia, what’s the matter?”  She says “O, my lord, I have been so
affrighted!  With a look so piteous, to
speak of horrors, Lord Hamlet comes before me.”
Polonius asks “Mad for thy love?”
Ophelia says “My lord, I do not know.
He took me by the wrist and held me hard. Long stayed he so.  He raised a sigh so piteous and profound as
it did seem to end his being.  That done,
he lets me go.”  Polonius says “Come, go
with me. I will go seek the King. Have you given him any hard words of
late?”   She says “No, but I did repel
his letters and denied his access to me.”
Polonius says “That hath made him mad.
It is common for the younger sort to lack discretion.  Come, go we to the King.”

Abridged Hamlet/#8/Intelligence/Act 2, Scene 2.1

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern have been fellow students
with Hamlet at Wittenberg.  The King
calls the two of them to his court.
Claudius addresses them, saying “Something have you heard of Hamlet’s
transformation, so call it.”  He says I
don’t understand “what it should be, more than his father’s death.  I entreat you both to draw him on to
pleasures, and to gather so much as you may glean.”  The Queen notes that “you shall receive such
thanks as fits a king’s remembrance.”
The two young men say “We both obey, and here give ourselves full bent
to lay our service at your feet.”  They
exit.  Polonius enters, telling Claudius
that “The ambassadors from Norway are joyfully returned.  And I do think I have found the very cause of
Hamlet’s lunacy.”  The King says “Give
first admittance to th’ ambassadors.”
Polonius exits and returns with Voltemand and Cornelius.  They tell the King that “old Norway rebuked
his nephew, Fortinbras, who will nevermore attack your Majesty.”  Furthermore they say “old Norway has given
Fortinbras three-score thousand crowns in annual fee to employ soldiers against
the Polack.”  Voltemand gives the King a
paper from old Norway that requests the King “give quiet pass through your
dominions for this enterprise.”  The King
says I’ll read it later.  The two
ambassadors exit. The King wants to hear what Polonius has to say about
Hamlet.  Polonius says he is “mad.” He
says he doesn’t know how “to define true madness, but what is it but mad?”  Putting Polonius’ comment in perspective, The
Queen says “more matter with less art.”
Polonius comes back with “Madam, I swear I use no art at all.  I have a daughter who hath given me
this.  Now gather and surmise.”  He reads a letter from Hamlet to his
daughter.

Abridged Hamlet/#9/Revelation/Act 2, Scene 2.2

Polonius reads the nice love-letter from Hamlet to his
daughter, which in part reads: “Doubt thou the stars are fire, doubt that the
sun doth move, doubt truth to be a liar, but never doubt my love.  O dear Ophelia, I love thee best, O most
best, believe it. Adieu.”  Polonius goes
on to say I told my daughter “Lord Hamlet is a prince, out of thy star. This
must not be.”  He says I told her “she
must lock herself from him, admit no messengers, receive no tokens.”  He says “she took the fruits of my
advice.”  He immediately goes on to
describe “the madness wherein now he raves and all we mourn for.”  He says it starts with sadness, and leads to
fasting, to lack of sleep, to lightheadedness, and finally, “by this decline,”
into madness. Polonius says to the King “sometimes he walks here in the
lobby.  I’ll loose my daughter to
him.  You and I behind an arras then mark
the encounter.”  The King says “We will
try it.”  Hamlet enters, reading a
book.  The King and Queen exit.  Polonius and Hamlet have a light
conversation, Polonius reading more into it than he should, convincing himself
that Hamlet is “mad.”  Hamlet treats him
with proper respect.  Polonius exits.
Guildenstern and Rosencrantz enter.
Hamlet asks “What News?”  They
small talk. Finally, Hamlet says “I know the good king and queen have sent for
you.”  Guildenstern says “My lord, we
were sent for.”  Hamlet says “I will tell
you why: I have of late lost my mirth, forgone exercises, and the earth seems a
sterile promontory.  What a piece of work
is a man, yet to me, what is the essence of dust?”  Rosencrantz says “Players are coming to offer
you service.”  Hamlet asks “What players
are they?” The players enter.  Hamlet
says “Gentlemen, you are welcome to Elsinore. You are welcome.  But my uncle-father and aunt-mother are
deceived.”  Guildenstern asks “In what,
my dear lord?”  Hamlet says “I am mad at
certain times, but I can distinguish between things that do not resemble each
other.” Polonius enters.

Abridged Hamlet/#10/Self-berating/Act 2, Scene 2.3

Polonius enters, telling Hamlet “My lord, the actors are
come hither.”  The Players enter.  Hamlet speaks to the First Player, asking
“Can you play “The Murder of Gonzago?”
The Player says “Ay, my lord.”
Hamlet responds “We’ll ha ‘t tomorrow night.”  All exit but Hamlet.  He berates himself, saying “O, what a rogue
and peasant slave am I!”  Foretelling the
play, he says “What would he do had he the motive and passion that I have?  He would drown the stage with tears and
cleave the ear with horrid speech.  He
would make mad the guilty and appall the free, confound indeed the very
faculties of eyes and ears.  He says “Am
I a coward?  I am pigeon-livered.  Why, what an ass am I!”  He then gains some self-confidence and offers
us his plan.  He says “For murder, though
it have no tongue, will speak with most miraculous organ.  I’ll observe (the King’s) looks.”