Modern English subtitles (Close Captioning should be on - click CC box to turn off) and translation listed in description with a video confession style performance of Shakespeare's most famous speech. Act 3, Scene 1 of Hamlet.
Subscribe for future episodes.
Twitter: @ShakespeareShow and @SentaBurke
To Be Or Not To Be - Modern Translation
To be alive or to be dead. That is the question.
Whether it is better, when you think about it,
to suffer everything the world has to throw at you,
or to pick up a weapon and fight back.
And by fighting against life, I mean to end it.
To die. To sleep - in a way.
Nothing more. And when I say sleep I mean
one that ends all the heartaches and trauma that we have to face just by being alive.
It's a final act that is sincerely wished for - to die. To sleep.
To sleep, and maybe to dream. That's the problem.
Because in that sleep of death,
what will we experience when we have escaped this trap of "life".
That's a reason to stop and think.
There's the detail that makes such a long life a misfortune we have to take.
Because who would put up with all the troubles and humiliations throughout life.
The abuse of oppressors, the insults of arrogant men,
the pangs of unrequited love, delays in justice,
the disrespectful behavior of people in office,
and the rudeness that good people have to take from bad.
When you could just end it all with an unsheathed dagger.
Who would carry these burdens, and toil and sweat through an exhausting life,
except for the dread of the afterlife,
that unknown land that no person returns from, that confuses the mind.
And makes us choose the problems we have over other ones that we don't know.
So it goes that our inner voice makes us all cowards.
And all our firm plans become weak in the stark light of thought.
And dramatic plots, made in the heat of emotion, change. And we choose not to act on them.
Be quiet, now. The beautiful Ophelia.
Lovely spirit, in your prayers -
remember all my sins.
* This is my interpretation, interpretations vary - and that's OK.
* If doing this monologue as a stand alone piece, or even in productions, especially if it is moved to a different location in the play - many people end at "And lose the name of action." The two lines about Ophelia can ask be spoken to yourself or to Ophelia, or half and half as I did here.
* Some people think this is a suicidal Hamlet who gives this speech. Some think it is him just thinking about the issue as more of a philosopher/poet.
Some resources for interpreting Shakespeare/Hamlet that you may find useful are:
* No Fear Shakespeare books and online (Original and modern English side by side) http://nfs.sparknotes.com/hamlet
* Genius Hamlet (annotated play): http://genius.com/albums/William-shakespeare/Hamlet
To Be Or Not To Be - The Text
To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether 'tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them: 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 wished. To die, to sleep,
To sleep, perchance to Dream; aye, there's the rub,
For in that sleep of death, what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause. There's the respect
That makes Calamity of so long life:
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? Who would Fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered Country, from whose bourn
No Traveller returns, Puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have,
Than fly to others that we know not of.
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. Soft you now,
The fair Ophelia? Nymph, in thy Orisons
Be all my sins remembered.
* I chose this version of the speech because I think it works better.
* In another commonly used version of this monologue, some words are changed:
Proud man's contumely = Poor man's contumely
Despised love = Disprized love
Who would Fardels bear = Who would these Fardels bear
Pitch and moment = Pith and moment
Currents turn awry = Currents turn away