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shown up as a first-class criminal villain, while Gertrude, the mother of the young prince, is one of the most sneaking, mild, incestuous queens in history. Such she devils, with heaven in their eyes and face, honeyed words on their lips, and gall and hell in their hearts, are the real seducers of infatuated, willing, ambitious man; and each should dangle at the end of the same rope or hemlock together!
Contrast Gertrude with Ophelia, and you have a fiend of chicanery and crime, with a sweet angel of innocence: "Too good, too fair to be cast among the briers of this working day world and fall and bleed upon the thorns of life. Like a strain of sad, sweet music which comes floating by us on the wings of night and silence, like the exhalation of the violet dying even upon the sense it charms, like the snowflake dissolved in air before it has caught a stain of earth; like the light surf, severed from the billow, which a breath disperses, such is the character of the delicate and sanctified Ophelia."
In December, 1601, the ban of disgrace was taken from the Globe Theatre, and Burbage and William were permitted to continue their dramatic exhibitions.
"Hamlet" was played the night before Christmas. The house was packed closer than grass on an English lawn, and the applause was almost continuous, like the moan or roar of a distant sea.
Shakspere played the Ghost, Burbage acted Hamlet, Jo Taylor played Horatio, Heminge played Ophelia, Peele played Polonius, Condell acted Claudius, Kempt played Gertrude, Cooke acted
Laertes, and the other parts were taken by the best stock actors.
The play opens up on a platform before the castle at “Elsinore," Copenhagen, Denmark.
Bernardo and Francisco are soldiers on night duty. Bernardo says: "Who's there?" Francisco says: "Nay, answer me; stand and unfold yourself."
The ghost of Hamlet's father appears to the night officers, and also to Horatio and Marcellus, but will not speak. They reveal the wonderful story to Hamlet, who makes ready to see and talk to the Ghost the next night at twelve o'clock.
In the meantime, the king, queen and courtiers gather at the grand throne of the castle and talk of the late king.
Hamlet is moody and sad, and will not be comforted, although persuaded by King Claudius and his mother.
Claudius addressing Hamlet, says:
"But, now my nephew Hamlet, and my son How is it that the clouds still hang on you?"
Hamlet says (aside):
"A little more than kin and less than kind. Not so, my lord; I am too much in the sun."
Hamlet's mother rebukes him about grieving for his father, and says:
"Do not forever with thy veiled lids Seek for thy noble father in the dust;
Thou knowest 'tis common, all that live must die, Passing through nature to eternity!"
“Ay, madam, it is common."
"If it be, Why seems it so particular with thee?"
And then surcharged with suspicion of her secret villainy Hamlet exclaims:
"Seems, madam! Nay it is; I know not 'seems;'
Then, after the exit of the old murder-king and his particeps criminis queen-Hamlet ponders to himself on life and death in these lofty lines:
"O, that this too, too solid flesh would melt,
How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable
Possess it merely. That it should come to this!
By what it fed on; and yet, within a month-
A little month, or ere those shoes were old
My father's brother, but no more like my father
But break, my heart, for I must hold my tongue!"
Laertes before his departure for France gives his sister Ophelia some advice and warns her against the blandishments of Hamlet. He says;
"Fear it, Ophelia, fear it, my dear sister,
This innocent, beautiful girl gave this wise reply to her brother:
"I shall the effect of this good lesson keep,
As watchman to my heart. But, good my brother
Then Polonius, the wise old father, comes in to hasten Laertes off to France, with this great advice:
"There, my blessing with thee!
And these few precepts in thy memory
Look thou character. Give thy thoughts no tongue,
Nor any unproportioned thought his act.