"The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark" by William Shakespeare, Act III

Shakespeare's famous tragedy tells the story of a Danish prince who must decide whether or not to avenge his father's death. Read the full text here.

Here are links to our lists for the play: Act I, Act II, Act III, Act IV, Act V
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definitions & notes only words
  1. turbulent
    characterized by unrest or disorder or insubordination
    And can you, by no drift of circumstance,
    Get from him why he puts on this confusion,
    Grating so harshly all his days of quiet
    With turbulent and dangerous lunacy?
  2. aloof
    remote in manner
    Nor do we find him forward to be sounded,
    But, with a crafty madness, keeps aloof,
    When we would bring him on to some confession
    Of his true state.
  3. affront
    treat, mention, or speak to rudely
    We have closely sent for Hamlet hither,
    That he, as 'twere by accident, may here
    Affront Ophelia
  4. affliction
    a cause of great suffering and distress
    Her father and myself, lawful espials,
    Will so bestow ourselves that, seeing, unseen,
    We may of their encounter frankly judge,
    And gather by him, as he is behaved,
    If 't be the affliction of his love or no
    That thus he suffers for.
  5. consummation
    the act of bringing to completion or fruition
    To die: to sleep;
    No more; and by a sleep to say we end
    The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
    That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
    Devoutly to be wish'd.
  6. insolence
    an offensive disrespectful impudent act
    For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
    The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
    The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
    The insolence of office, and the spurns
    That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
    When he himself might his quietus make
    With a bare bodkin?
  7. bodkin
    a dagger with a slender blade
    For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
    The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
    The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
    The insolence of office, and the spurns
    That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
    When he himself might his quietus make
    With a bare bodkin?
  8. awry
    away from the correct or expected course
    Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
    And thus the native hue of resolution
    Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
    And enterprises of great pitch and moment
    With this regard their currents turn awry,
    And lose the name of action.
  9. orison
    reverent petition to a deity
    The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons
    Be all my sins remember'd.
  10. commerce
    social exchange, especially of opinions or attitudes
    Could beauty, my lord, have better commerce than with honesty?
  11. paradox
    a statement that contradicts itself
    Aye, truly; for the power of beauty will sooner transform honesty from what it is to a bawd than the force of honesty can translate beauty into his likeness: this was sometime a paradox, but now the time gives it proof.
  12. inoculate
    introduce an idea or attitude into the mind of
    You should not have believed me; for virtue cannot so inoculate our old stock but we shall relish of it: I loved you not.
  13. dowry
    money brought by a woman to her husband at marriage
    If thou dost marry, I'll give thee this plague for thy dowry: be thou as chaste as ice, as pure as snow, thou shalt not escape calumny.
  14. calumny
    an abusive attack on a person's character or good name
    If thou dost marry, I'll give thee this plague for thy dowry: be thou as chaste as ice, as pure as snow, thou shalt not escape calumny.
  15. beget
    generate children
    Nor do not saw the air too much with your hand, thus, but use all gently; for in the very torrent, tempest, and, as I may say, the whirlwind of passion, you must acquire and beget a temperance that may give it smoothness.
  16. temperance
    the trait of avoiding excesses
    Nor do not saw the air too much with your hand, thus, but use all gently; for in the very torrent, tempest, and, as I may say, the whirlwind of passion, you must acquire and beget a temperance that may give it smoothness.
  17. termagant
    a scolding, nagging, bad-tempered woman
    O, it offends me to the soul to hear a robustious periwig-pated fellow tear a passion to tatters, to very rags, to split the ears of the groundlings, who for the most part are capable of nothing but inexplicable dumbshows and noise: I would have such a fellow whipped for o'erdoing Termagant; it out-herods Herod: pray you, avoid it.
  18. judicious
    marked by the exercise of good judgment in practical matters
    Now this overdone, or come tardy off, though it make the unskilful laugh, cannot but make the judicious grieve; the censure of the which one must in your allowance o'erweigh a whole theatre of others.
  19. profane
    grossly irreverent toward what is held to be sacred
    O, there be players that I have seen play, and heard others praise, and that highly, not to speak it profanely, that neither having the accent of Christians nor the gait of Christian, pagan, nor man, have so strutted and bellowed that I have thought some of nature's journeymen had made men and not made them well, they imitated humanity so abominably.
  20. journeyman
    a skilled worker who practices some trade or handicraft
    O, there be players that I have seen play, and heard others praise, and that highly, not to speak it profanely, that neither having the accent of Christians nor the gait of Christian, pagan, nor man, have so strutted and bellowed that I have thought some of nature's journeymen had made men and not made them well, they imitated humanity so abominably.
  21. fawning
    attempting to win favor by flattery
    Why should the poor be flatter'd?
    No, let the candied tongue lick absurd pomp,
    And crook the pregnant hinges of the knee
    Where thrift may follow fawning.
  22. occult
    hide from view
    Observe mine uncle: if his occulted guilt
    Do not itself unkennel in one speech,
    It is a damned ghost that we have seen,
    And my imaginations are as foul
    As Vulcan's stithy.
  23. rivet
    direct one's attention on something
    Give him heedful note;
    For I mine eyes will rivet to his face,
    And after we will both our judgments join
    In censure of his seeming.
  24. clemency
    leniency and compassion shown toward offenders
    For us, and for our tragedy,
    Here stooping to your clemency,
    We beg your hearing patiently.
  25. lament
    express grief verbally
    The violence of either grief or joy
    Their own enactures with themselves destroy:
    Where joy most revels, grief doth most lament;
    Grief joys, joy grieves, on slender accident.
  26. repose
    the absence of mental stress or anxiety
    Nor earth to me give food, nor heaven light!
    Sport and repose lock from me day and night!
  27. withers
    the highest part of the back at the base of an animal's neck
    This play is the image of a murder done in Vienna: Gonzago is the duke's name; his wife, Baptista: you shall see anon; 'tis a knavish piece of work: but what o' that? your majesty and we that have free souls, it touches us not: let the galled jade wince, our withers are unwrung.
  28. extant
    still in existence; not extinct or destroyed or lost
    He poisons him i' the garden for his estate. His name's Gonzago: the story is extant, and writ in choice Italian: you shall see anon how the murderer gets the love of Gonzago's wife.
  29. boisterous
    violently agitated and turbulent
    The cease of majesty
    Dies not alone; but, like a gulf, doth draw
    What's near it with it: it is a massy wheel,
    Fix'd on the summit of the highest mount,
    To whose huge spokes ten thousand lesser things
    Are mortised and adjoin'd; which, when it falls,
    Each small annexment, petty consequence,
    Attends the boisterous ruin.
  30. fetter
    a shackle for the ankles or feet
    Arm you, I pray you, to this speedy voyage;
    For we will fetters put upon this fear,
    Which now goes too free-footed.
  31. repentance
    remorse for your past conduct
    Try what repentance can: what can it not?
    Yet what can it when one can not repent?
  32. physic
    a purging medicine
    My mother stays:
    This physic but prolongs thy sickly days.
  33. bulwark
    a protective structure of stone or concrete
    Leave wringing of your hands: peace! sit you down,
    And let me wring your heart; for so I shall,
    If it be made of penetrable stuff,
    If damned custom have not brass'd it so
    That it is proof and bulwark against sense.
  34. pander
    yield to; give satisfaction to
    ...proclaim no shame
    When the compulsive ardour gives the charge,
    Since frost itself as actively doth burn
    And reason panders will.
  35. chide
    censure severely or angrily
    Do you not come your tardy son to chide,
    That, lapsed in time and passion, lets go by
    The important acting of your dread command? O, say!
  36. whet
    sharpen by rubbing
    Do not forget: this visitation
    Is but to whet thy almost blunted purpose.
  37. gambol
    play or run boisterously
    My pulse, as yours, doth temperately keep time,
    And makes as healthful music: it is not madness
    That I have utter'd: bring me to the test,
    And I the matter will re-word; which madness
    Would gambol from.
  38. unction
    preparation applied externally as a remedy or for soothing
    Mother, for love of grace,
    Lay not that flattering unction to your soul,
    That not your trespass, but my madness speaks:
    It will but skin and film the ulcerous place,
    Whilst rank corruption, mining all within,
    Infects unseen.
  39. scourge
    something causing misery or death
    I do repent: but heaven hath pleased it so,
    To punish me with this and this with me,
    That I must be their scourge and minister.
  40. prate
    speak about unimportant matters rapidly and incessantly
    Indeed this counsellor
    Is now most still, most secret and most grave,
    Who was in life a foolish prating knave.

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