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Hamlet
William Shakespeare

THE STORY

ACT I, SCENE IV

On the guard platform in the cold midnight air Hamlet, Horatio, and Marcellus are waiting for the ghost. Trumpet fanfares and cannon shots offstage tell them that the king and his party are up late drinking. Hamlet hates the custom, which he says gives Danes the reputation of being drunkards. Just as he is pointing out that one flaw in a man's nature can destroy or corrupt all his virtues, the ghost appears. Exclaiming "Angels and ministers of grace defend us!" Hamlet approaches it, assuring his companions that he will find out whether it is a good or an evil spirit. He pleads with it to explain why his father's spirit should rise from its grave and walk the earth. In response, the ghost beckons him away, to speak with him alone. Horatio and Marcellus warn him not to go; it may tempt him to the edge of the battlements, where he will fall over. Hamlet shrugs off their objections, declaring that his life is of no value and his soul, being immortal, cannot be harmed. When they try to restrain him physically, he fights them off and leaves with the ghost.  

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