William Shakespeare. Hamlet (in prose, read online)

ghost-of-hamlets-fatherWilliam Shakespeare is an English poet and playwright whose plays are produced all over the world. «The Tragical Historie of Hamlet, Prince of Denmarke», a tragedy in five acts, is one of the most famous plays in the world of dramaturgy. The play was written in 1600-1601 and had a great success.

Drama is a narrative written to be represented in performance. The structure of dramatic texts consists of dialogues and authorial notes. So if you want to enjoy the plot of the tragedy without being distracted by numerous remarks, read Hamlet in prose online.

Chapter 1. The Ghost’s Revelation

Part 1. The Night Sentry

It was a stormy night at Elsinore, the residence of the kings of Denmark. Through ragged clouds the moon lit up the castle, built on the top of a high cliff, at whose foot the gray waves of the North Sea beat against the rocky shore. It was very cold and the wind blew in gusts.

The broad platform in front of the castle gates was empty at this late hour. There was only one sentry on guard, a soldier in full armour and with a partisan, who tried in vain to hide from the gusty wind. The man felt evidently ill at ease, — this could be seen by his anxious glances which he threw into the darkness of the night, eagerly listening to every suspicious sound.

«Who is there? Stand, and unfold yourself»1 the man cried, on hearing the footsteps of someone approaching him in the darkness. It was only when the new-comer gave the password of the night — ‘Long live the king!’ — that the sentry recognised his commanding officer, Bernardo.

«You come most carefully upon your hour,»2 he said with relief.

«Tis now struck twelve, get thee to bed, Francisco,» Bernardo replied, and added: «Have you had quiet guard?»3

«Shakespeare widely uses the contracted forms: ‘Tis -It is; ‘Twill — It will, etc.»

«Not a mouse stirring,»4 Francisco assured him.

«Well, good night. If you meet Horatio and Marcellus, the rivals of my watch5 , bid them make haste.»

«I think I hear them coming,» said Francisco, and called out: «Stand, ho! Who is there?»

«Friends to this ground! And liegemen to the Danel»6 two voices replied from the distance. Two men came in -one of them Marcellus, an officer, and the other Horatio, a civilian. Relieved from his post, Francisco went away. The three new sentries took their places under the cover of the castle walls. The wind howled as before, heavy waves struck against the shore. For some time all three kept silence, watching the dimly-lit platform in front of them. At last Horatio broke the silence.

«Well, has this thing appeared again to-night?» he asked Bernardo.

«I have seen nothing,» Bernardo answered briefly.

«Horatio says it’s all our fantasy,» Marcellus informed his fellow-officer. «He does not believe in the dreadful sight, twice seen by us. That is why I have entreated him to come with us to-night, so that if the apparition comes again, he may approve our eyes and speak to it.»7

«Tush, tush, it will not appear!» said Horatio.

Horatio’s scepticism concerning the ghost’s appearance might well be understood: being a student of the university, and therefore a man of science, he could not be so easily convinced of the existence of supernatural forces as his honest but ignorant friends. However he was interested, since the officers assured him that the ghost they had seen looked exactly like the late king Hamlet, who had died recently.

The night watch went on, yet nothing extraordinary happened. Only the wind howled over the platform and the waves below struck with the same force against the shore. Little by little the three men began to forget about their former anxieties. But suddenly Marcellus uttered a cry, which put his companions on the alert: «Look, here it comes again!»

All three jumped to their feet and looked with, horror at the distant corner of the platform. There they saw the blea figure of a warrior in full armour, emerging from the surrounding mist. The figure walked slowly across the platform evidently unsuspecting of their presence.

«Doesn’t it look like the late king?» whispered Bernardo «Mark it, Horatio!» The student, whose former scepticism was greatly shaken, could not tear his eyes from the spectre.

«Thou art a scholar; speak to it, Horatio,»8 Marcellus proposed in a breaking voice.

Shaking off the spell of fear, Horatio stepped forward and addressed the ghost:

«What art thou, that usurpst this time of night,9 to­gether with that fair and warlike form in which the majesty of buried Denmark did sometime march?»10 he said. «By heav­en, I charge thee, speak!»11

On hearing the human voice, the ghost stopped and looked at the man. Its face, adorned with a long gray beard, was very pale but not angry. It even made a gesture, as if in­clined to speak, but then suddenly turned away and without uttering a sound» resumed its march.

«It is offended. See, it walks away!» Marcellus cried.

Seeing the ghost move away, Horatio boldly pursued it crying: «Stay, stay! I charge thee, speak!»

All was in vain. The apparition withdrew farther and farther, until it reached the distant border of the platform. There it faded and vanished in the dark air.

The three men ran to the parapet and leaned over, but they saw nothing except a heavy pall of mist and heard noth­ing except the beating of the waves below. Quite discouraged they returned to their places. Little by little they began to realize the complete failure they had suffered.

«It is gone, arid will not answer!» Marcellus lamented. «How now, Horatio?12 You tremble and look pale,» said Bernardo. «Is not this something more than fantasy? What do you think of it?»

«Before my God,» answered petrified Horatio, «I might not this believe, had I not seen it with my own eyes!» «Is it not like the king?» Marcellus asked. «As thou art to thyself,»13 said Horatio thoughtfully. «The same armour had he on while combating with the king of Norway. So frowned he once when in anger he smote the sledded Polack on the ice.14 All this is very strange.»

For some time the three men were silent; unable to find the solution of the mystery that they had- just witnessed. They believed that the ghost’s appearance predicted some misfortune to the state. Horatio, as a man better informed in politics, was able to explain to his friends the reasons of’ the alarming situation existing at that time in Denmark. His explanation was as follows.


Comments to Hamlet in prose in Russian:

If you don’t know Russian, click twice on a Russian word to get the meaning.
  1. Стой, кто идет? Приподними забрало!
  2. Приходите вы точно на дежурство.
  3. Полночный час пробил, поди усни, Франциско. (…) Дежурство прошло спокойно?
  4. И мышь не шелохнулась.
  5. мои товарищи по вахте
  6. И верноподданные короля.
  7. чтоб смог он убедиться сам и заговорить с видением
  8. Ведь ты ученый, обратись к нему, Горацио.
  9. Кто ты господствующий здесь в полночный час.
  10. (виде) в котором некогда ходил усопший монарх Дании
  11. Небом заклинаю тебя, скажи!
  12. Ну что, Гораций?
  13. Точь в точь, как на себя похож ты.
  14. (когда) с саней он выбросил на лед владыку Польши.

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