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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