The Soliloquies

These are student translations of some of the famous soliloquies from "Hamlet". Shakespeare's words appear first and then the translation for each line appears in brackets beneath it. Click on the name of the soliloquy to jump to it.

To Be or Not To Be

To Be or Not To Be(2)

Now might I do it

'Tis now the very witching time of night

 

To Be or Not To Be

Hamlet: To be, or not to be: that is the question:
(To live, or to die: that is the question)
Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer
(Is it more honourable in the mind to endure)
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
(The ongoing battle that is being waged on humans,)
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
(Or to fight against this sea of woe,)
And by opposing end them. To die: to sleep:
(And by fighting back finish them. To die: to sleep:)
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
(To be nothing; and by sleeping to end)
The heart-ache, and the thousand natural shocks
(The anguish, and the many set-backs)
That flesh is heir to, ’tis a consummation
(That people inherit, it is the final ending)
Devoutly to be wish’d. To die, to sleep;
(Greatly to be wished. To die, to sleep;)
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub;
(To sleep: and perhaps to dream: that is the obstacle;)
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
(For after we die what may happen,)
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
(When we have left the earth,)
Must give us pause: There’s the respect
(Makes us hesitate: There is the consideration)
That makes calamity of so long life:
(That causes us to live through a life filled with misfortune:)
For who bear the whips and scorns of time,
(For who would endure the harsh experiences of life,)
The oppressor’s wrong,the proud man’s contumely,
(The wrongs of government, the proud man’s insults,)
The pang of despised love, the law’s delay,
(The suddenness of scorned love, and the slow nature of the legal system,)
The insolence of office, and the spurns
(The insulting behavior of officials, and the insults)
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
(That inferior people direct at worthy people)
When he himself might his quietus make
(When one might escape)
With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear
(By means of a knife? Who would burdens bear)
To grunt and sweat under a weary life
(To groan and sweat under a tired life)
But that the dread of something after death,
(Except for the fear of something after death,)
The undiscovered country from whose bourn
(That mysterious land from whose boundaries)
No traveler returns, puzzles the will,
(No traveler returns, it confuses the mind,)
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
(And forces us to bear the burdens of life)
Than to fly to others we know not of?
(Rather than exchange them for the unknown?)
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
(Thus our conscience makes cowards of us all,)
And thus the native hue of resolution
(And so the natural colour of courage)
Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,
(Is hidden by the shadow cast by thought)
And enterprises of great pith and moment
(And projects of great significance)
With this regard their currents turn awry
(With this in mind stray from their course)
And lose the name of action. Soft you now!
(And they lose their initiative. Quiet, there you are!)
The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons
(My fair Ophelia! Lady in your prayers)
Be all my sins remember’d.
(Ask for forgiveness for my sins.)

(Act 3, Sc. 1, Lines 56-89)

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To Be or Not To Be(2)

Hamlet: To be, or not to be: that is the question:
(To live or to die,)
Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer
(Should I have to suffer)
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
(The trials of life)
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
(Or fight against them)
And by opposing end them. To die: to sleep;
(And will those troubles stop if you do. To die, to sleep;)
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
(To be nothing; and thus to end)
The heart-ache, and the thousand natural shocks
(All the many troubles)
That flesh is heir to, ‘tis a consummation
(That people have; this is a conclusion)
Devoutly to be wish’d. To die, to sleep;
(To be sincerely hoped for; To die, to sleep)
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub;
(To sleep and perhaps to dream; but that is the drawback;)
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
(For what happens after we die,)
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
(When we have left this earth,)
Must give us pause: there’s the respect
(That is what makes a person think twice)
That makes calamity of so long life:
(And continue to live)
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
(After all who would suffer all the indignities of life,)
The oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
(Oppression and scorn,)
The pang of despised love, the law’s delay,
(Lost love or slow justice)
The insolence of office, and the spurns
(Insolent politicians and the insults)
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
(That worthy people must bear from the unworthy)
When he himself might his quietus make
(When he could find peace)
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
(With a naked dagger? who would bear the burdens)
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
(Struggling their way through life,)
But that the dread of something after death,
(Unless they were afraid of what might happen after Death,)
The undiscover’d country from whose bourn
(That unknown land from which)
No traveller returns, puzzles the will,
(No one has ever returned, it dulls the purpose)
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
(And makes us content to suffer those evils we know)
Than fly to others that we know not of?
(Rather than risks those that we don’t know)
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
(Thus our conscience makes us all cowards,)
And thus the native hue of resolution
(And our natural decisiveness)
Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,
(Is spoiled by too much thinking,)
And enterprises of great pith and moment
(And great and important tasks)
With this regard their currents turn awry
(Are forgotten because of this over-thinking)
And lose the name of action.
(And no action is taken.)
(Act 3, Sc. 1, Lines 56-87)

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Now might I do it

Hamlet: Now might I do it pat, now he is praying;
(I could easily kill him, now that he is praying;)
And now I‘ll do’t: and so he goes to heaven:
(I do it now: and so he will go to heaven)
And so am I revenged. That would be scann’d:
(And so i get my revenge. That plan should be examined:)
A villain kills my father; and, for that,
(My father was murdered by a villain; and for that,)
I, his sole son, do this same villain send
(I, his only remaining son, will send this same villain)
To heaven.
(To heaven)
O, this is hire and salary, not revenge.
(O, this is payment and reward, not revenge.)
He took my father grossly, full of bread,
(He took my father while he was full of sin, he had no time to confess,)
With all his crimes broad blown, as flush as May;
(All his crimes opened up, like the flowers in May)
And how his audit stands who knows save heaven?
(And how his account stands, who but heaven knows?)
But in our circumstance and course of thought,
(But in our situation and as far as we understand)
‘Tis heavy with him: and I then revenged,
(His position is not good: I will then be revenged )
To take him in the purging of his soul,
(To kill him while he is cleansing his soul)
When he is fit and season’d for his passage?
(When he is ready for his death?)
No.
(No.)
Up, sword; and know thou a more horrid hent:
(At ease sword; and wait for more terrible opportunity:)
When he is drunk asleep, or in his rage,
(When he is in a drunken sleep, or in a rage.)
Or in the incestuous pleasure of his bed,
(Or in his bed having incestuous sex,)
At gaming, swearing, or about some act
(When he is partaking in gambling, speaking profanity, or some other act )
That has no relish of salvation in’t:
(That does not offer an opportunity for salvation:)
Then trip him, that his heels may kick at heaven
(Then I will trip him, so that his heels will kick up at heaven)
And that his soul may be as damn’d and black
(And his soul will be as cursed and black)
As hell, whereto it goes. My mother stays:
(As hell which it will go to. My mother waits:)
This physic but prolongs thy sickly days.
(This thinking is only prolonging your sickly days.)

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'Tis now the very witching time of night

Hamlet: ‘Tis now the very witching time of night,
(It is now a very evil time of night,)
When churchyards yawn, and hell itself breathes out
(When the graveyards open up for hell to release)
Contagion to this world: now could I drink hot blood,
(Disease to this world: Now I could kill,)
And do such bitter business as the day
(And perform such harsh actions that the daytime)
Would quake to look on. Soft! now to my mother.
(Would shudder if it was to look on. Quiet! now to my mother.)
O, heart, lose not thy nature; let not ever
(Hamlet, do not lose your manner; never let)
The soul of Nero enter this firm bosom:
(The soul of Nero, a man who murdered his own mother, colour your resolve:)
Let me be cruel, not unnatural:
(Let my actions be pityless, but do not let them overstep their boundaries:)
I will speak daggers to her, but use none;
(I will abuse her verbally, but not physically;)
My tongue and soul in this be hypocrites;
(I will not begin to express all the bitterness in my soul;)
How in my words soever she be shent,
(However in my words I put her to shame,)
To give them seals never, my soul, consent!
(To never confirm my words by acting upon them, my soul, consent!)


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