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

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. contend
    be engaged in a fight
    Mad as the sea and wind, when both contend
    Which is the mightier: in his lawless fit,
    Behind the arras hearing something stir,
    Whips out his rapier, cries, 'A rat, a rat!'
    And, in this brainish apprehension, kills
    The unseen good old man.
  2. providence
    the guardianship and control exercised by a deity
    Alas, how shall this bloody deed be answer'd?
    It will be laid to us, whose providence
    Should have kept short, restrain'd and out of haunt,
    This mad young man
  3. divulge
    make known to the public information previously kept secret
    ...but so much was our love,
    We would not understand what was most fit;
    But, like the owner of a foul disease,
    To keep it from divulging, let it feed
    Even on the pith of Life.
  4. untimely
    too soon; in a premature manner
    Come, Gertrude, we'll call up our wisest friends;
    And let them know, both what we mean to do,
    And what's untimely done.
  5. discord
    lack of agreement or harmony
    My soul is full of discord and dismay.
  6. convocation
    a group gathered in response to a summons
    Not where he eats, but where he is eaten: a certain convocation of politic worms are e'en at him.
  7. bark
    a sailing ship with 3 (or more) masts
    For that which thou hast done, must send thee hence
    With fiery quickness: therefore prepare thyself;
    The bark is ready, and the wind at help,
    The associates tend, and every thing is bent
    For England.
  8. conveyance
    the act of moving something from one location to another
    Tell him that, by his licence, Fortinbras
    Craves the conveyance of a promised march
    Over his kingdom.
  9. craven
    lacking even the rudiments of courage; abjectly fearful
    Now, whether it be
    Bestial oblivion, or some craven scruple
    Of thinking too precisely on the event,
    A thought which, quarter'd, hath but one part wisdom
    And ever three parts coward, I do not know
    Why yet I live to say 'This thing's to do,'
    Sith I have cause and will and strength and means
    To do't.
  10. scruple
    an ethical or moral principle that inhibits action
    Now, whether it be
    Bestial oblivion, or some craven scruple
    Of thinking too precisely on the event,
    A thought which, quarter'd, hath but one part wisdom
    And ever three parts coward, I do not know
    Why yet I live to say 'This thing's to do,'
    Sith I have cause and will and strength and means
    To do't.
  11. exhort
    force or impel in an indicated direction
    Examples gross as earth exhort me:
    Witness this army of such mass and charge
    Led by a delicate and tender prince,
    Whose spirit with divine ambition puff'd
    Makes mouths at the invisible event
  12. importunate
    making persistent or urgent requests
    She is importunate, indeed distract:
    Her mood will needs be pitied.
  13. conjecture
    a message expressing an opinion based on incomplete evidence
    'Twere good she were spoken with; for she may strew
    Dangerous conjectures in ill-breeding minds.
  14. artless
    characterized by an inability to mask your feelings
    So full of artless jealousy is guilt,
    It spills itself in fearing to be spilt.
  15. inter
    place in a grave or tomb
    First, her father slain:
    Next, your son gone; and he most violent author
    Of his own just remove: the people muddied,
    Thick and unwholesome in their thoughts and whispers,
    For good Polonius' death; and we have done but greenly,
    In hugger-mugger to inter him
  16. arraign
    accuse of a wrong or an inadequacy
    Wherein necessity, of matter beggar'd,
    Will nothing stick our person to arraign
    In ear and ear.
  17. superfluous
    more than is needed, desired, or required
    O my dear Gertrude, this,
    Like to a murdering-piece, in many places
    Gives me superfluous death.
  18. impetuous
    characterized by undue haste and lack of thought
    The ocean, overpeering of his list,
    Eats not the flats with more impetuous haste
    Than young Laertes, in a riotous head,
    O'erbears your officers.
  19. riotous
    characterized by unrest or disorder or insubordination
    The ocean, overpeering of his list,
    Eats not the flats with more impetuous haste
    Than young Laertes, in a riotous head,
    O'erbears your officers.
  20. rabble
    the common people or lower classes
    The rabble call him lord;
    And, as the world were now but to begin,
    Antiquity forgot, custom not known,
    The ratifiers and props of every word,
    They cry 'Choose we: Laertes shall be king!'
  21. cuckold
    a man whose wife committed adultery
    That drop of blood that's calm proclaims me bastard,
    Cries cuckold to my father, brands the harlot
    Even here, between the chaste unsmirched brows
    Of my true mother.
  22. incensed
    angered at something unjust or wrong
    Tell me, Laertes,
    Why thou art thus incensed.
  23. repast
    the food served and eaten at one time
    To his good friends thus wide I'll ope my arms;
    And like the kind life-rendering pelican,
    Repast them with my blood.
  24. rue
    strong-scented herb with grey-green bitter-tasting leaves
    There's fennel for you, and columbines: there's rue for you; and here's some for me: we may call it herb of grace o' Sundays: O you must wear your rue with a difference.
  25. collateral
    serving to support or corroborate
    If by direct or by collateral hand
    They find us touch'd, we will our kingdom give,
    Our crown, our life, and all that we can ours,
    To you in satisfaction
  26. ostentation
    pretentious or showy or vulgar display
    His means of death, his obscure funeral—
    No trophy, sword, nor hatchment o'er his bones,
    No noble rite nor formal ostentation
    Cry to be heard, as 'twere from heaven to earth,
    That I must call't in question.
  27. exploit
    a notable achievement
    If he be now return'd,
    As checking at his voyage, and that he means
    No more to undertake it, I will work him
    To an exploit, now ripe in my device,
    Under the which he shall not choose but fall:
    And for his death no wind of blame shall breathe,
    But even his mother shall uncharge the practise
    And call it accident.
  28. abatement
    the act of making less active or intense
    ...that we would do
    We should do when we would; for this 'would' changes
    And hath abatements and delays as many
    As there are tongues, are hands, are accidents;
    And then this 'should' is like a spendthrift sigh,
    That hurts by easing.
  29. spendthrift
    recklessly wasteful
    ...that we would do
    We should do when we would; for this 'would' changes
    And hath abatements and delays as many
    As there are tongues, are hands, are accidents;
    And then this 'should' is like a spendthrift sigh,
    That hurts by easing.
  30. remiss
    failing in what duty requires
    ...he, being remiss,
    Most generous and free from all contriving,
    Will not peruse the foils, so that with ease,
    Or with a little shuffling, you may choose
    A sword unbated, and in a pass of practise
    Requite him for your father.
  31. peruse
    examine or consider with attention and in detail
    ...he, being remiss,
    Most generous and free from all contriving,
    Will not peruse the foils, so that with ease,
    Or with a little shuffling, you may choose
    A sword unbated, and in a pass of practise
    Requite him for your father.
  32. requite
    make repayment for or return something
    ...he, being remiss,
    Most generous and free from all contriving,
    Will not peruse the foils, so that with ease,
    Or with a little shuffling, you may choose
    A sword unbated, and in a pass of practise
    Requite him for your father.
  33. mountebank
    a flamboyant deceiver
    I bought an unction of a mountebank,
    So mortal that, but dip a knife in it,
    Where it draws blood no cataplasm so rare,
    Collected from all simples that have virtue
    Under the moon, can save the thing from death
    That is but scratch'd withal
  34. chalice
    a bowl-shaped drinking vessel
    When in your motion you are hot and dry—
    As make your bouts more violent to that end—
    And that he calls for drink, I'll have prepared him
    A chalice for the nonce, whereon but sipping,
    If he by chance escape your venom'd stuck,
    Our purpose may hold there.
  35. endue
    give qualities or abilities to
    Her clothes spread wide,
    And mermaid-like a while they bore her up:
    Which time she chanted snatches of old tunes,
    As one incapable of her own distress,
    Or like a creature native and indued
    Unto that element

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