by Richard Nathan


We join William Shakespeare’s HAMLET in progress - Act V, Scene ii. 

HAMLET is talking to his friend HORATIO.

                                    If your mind dislike anything, obey it.  I will forestall
                                    Their repair hither and say you are not fit.

                                    Not a whit.  We defy augury.  There is a special
                                    providence in the fall of a sparrow.  If it be now,
                                    ‘tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now;
                                    if it be not now, yet it will come.  The readiness is all. 
                                    Since no man, of aught he leaves, knows aught, what is’t
                                    to leave betimes?  Let be.

Enter the GHOST OF OPHELIA.  She is enraged.

                                                            GHOST OF OPHELIA
                                    The readiness is all?  You think it so?

                                    The fair Ophelia!

                                    Or else her ghost!

                                                            GHOST OF OPHELIA
                                    You claim it makes no difference when we die,
                                    Since death will come whenever it will come. 
                                    I died a girl, and all because of you!!! 
                                    One day you swore you loved me, then the next
                                    You swore to me you never loved at all. 
                                    Will you deny you broke my heart, you filth? 
                                    You tore my soul to shreds and stamped upon
                                    My pain.  I thought my sorrow must have grown  
                                    So great, no misery remained but it
                                    Was mine.  I owned it all, there was no hurt
                                    Unfelt, no pain unknown.  That was before
                                    You ran your rapier through my father’s chest –
                                    Before you killed the man who nurtured me,
                                    Who gave me life!  Then sped you from Demark
                                    Without a word to me, the girl that you
                                    Once claimed you loved, whose father you had killed!

                                    I thought he was someone else.

                                                            GHOST OF OPHELIA
                                    When you returned, and learned that I was dead
                                    You leapt into my grave and swore to all,
                                    ”I loved Ophelia.  Forty thousand brothers
                                    Could not with all their quantities of love
                                    Make up my sum.”  And yet today you say,
                                    You dare to say, "The readiness is all.” 
                                    You think that I was ready when I died???

                                    I suppose so.  Didn’t you commit suicide? 

                                                            GHOST OF OPHELIA
                                    Because of you I could not bear to live. 
                                    I had no choice.  You cannot stab a man, 
                                    Then claim he died because he chose to bleed! 
                                    I grasped a tender willow branch that broke
                                    As sharply as my life was snapped in two
                                    By your rank thoughtlessness and cruelty. 
                                    The stream I fell into was bitter cold, 
                                    Though not as cold as cruel Prince Hamlet’s heart. 
                                    My sorrows weighed me down.  I could not float. 
                                    You murdered me!  It was not suicide! 
                                    And now you say, “The readiness is all.” 
                                    I hope you’re ready now to burn in hell! 
                                    Hamlet, you wretched, loathsome little shit!!!

She storms out.  A moment passes before Hamlet and Horatio can speak. 



                                    Why are they always so emotional?  I think they’re
                                    all crazy, every one!

Horatio, disgusted, takes off his hat and hits Hamlet with it.  Then Horatio stalks off.  Hamlet hasn’t a clue as to why Horatio is upset.






© 2005 by Richard Nathan.  All rights reserved

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