Hamlet’s Soliloquy, “To Be Or Not To Be,” a Modern English Translation

Here is Hamlet’s soliloquy in its entirety

Hamlet’s Soliloquy, “To Be Or Not To Be,”

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 heartache 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—ay, 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, Th’ 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 th’ 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 traveler 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.

Shameful to reenact a great classic but here we go Enjoy…


STRATFORD FESTIVAL ON FILM A ghostly visitor with a shocking secret, a daughter devastated by loss, a deadly duel – and the most famous question in all of drama. Just some of the reasons why Shakespeare’s iconic tragedy will hold you spellbound.

House Program: Hamlet

A Walk in the park with Hamlet…

A modern English translation of Hamlet’s soliloquy

The speech is a stunning work of art and the most-studied of all of Shakespeare’s plays. It is best untampered. However, a modern English rendering can untangle some of the puzzling lines and Elizabethan turns of phrase.

Ben Florman, LitCharts’s co-founder, wrote the following modern English translation of Hamlet’s soliloquy:

To live, or to die? That is the question.

Is it nobler to suffer through all the terrible things

fate throws at you, or to fight off your troubles,

and, in doing so, end them completely?

To die, to sleep—because that’s all dying is—

and by a sleep I mean an end to all the heartache

and the thousand injuries that we are vulnerable to—

that’s an end to be wished for!

To die, to sleep. To sleep, perhaps to dream—yes,

but there’s there’s the catch. Because the kinds of

dreams that might come in that sleep of death—

after you have left behind your mortal body—

are something to make you anxious.

That’s the consideration that makes us suffer

the calamities of life for so long.

Because who would bear all the trials and tribulations of time—

the oppression of the powerful, the insults from arrogant men,

the pangs of unrequited love, the slowness of justice,

the disrespect of people in office,

and the general abuse of good people by bad—

when you could just settle all your debts

using nothing more than an unsheathed dagger?

Who would bear his burdens, and grunt

and sweat through a tiring life, if they weren’t frightened

of what might happen after death—

that undiscovered country from which no visitor returns,

which we wonder about and which makes us

prefer the troubles we know rather than fly off

to face the ones we don’t? Thus, the fear of

death makes us all cowards, and our natural

willingness to act is made weak by too much thinking.

Actions of great urgency and importance

get thrown off course because of this sort of thinking,

and they cease to be actions at all.

But wait, here is the beautiful Ophelia!

[To OPHELIA] Beauty, may you forgive all my sins in your prayers.

Formaldehyde face I have one that can see!!!

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