Line by Line: Act 1, Scene 1, Lines 52-54

BARNARDO: How now, Horatio! you tremble and look pale: Is not this something more than fantasy? What think you on’t? Following the Ghost’s first exit, Barnardo turns the scene’s focus back to the subject of fantasy, a word first used in line 22 (you remember line 22? Back in February?). Even though it was Marcellus…

Line by Line: Act 1, Scene 1, Line 49

MARCELLUS: It is offended. BARNARDO:                        See, it stalks away! This shared line provides the actor playing the Ghost with a brace of remarkably precise acting tips. More than tips, in fact; if a production retains these two lines, they confine the actor to a specific set of choices. It’s a great example of the dramaturgical…

Line by Line: Act 1, Scene 1, Lines 44-48

BARNARDO: It would be spoke to. MARCELLUS:                                  Speak to it, Horatio. HORATIO: What art thou that usurp’st this time of night, Together with that fair and warlike form In which the majesty of buried Denmark Did sometimes march? By heaven, I charge thee speak. When last we left our supporting cast — Barnardo the Paranoid,…

Line by Line: Act 1, Scene 1, Line 42

BARNARDO: Looks it not like the king? Mark it, Horatio. Here we go again: two lines ago, Barnardo pointed out to Horatio (or, more importantly, to the audience) that the Ghost resembles “the King that’s dead.” And a whopping one line ago, Marcellus urged, “speak to it, Horatio.” The latter is not quite the same…

Line by Line: Act 1, Scene 1, Line 40

BARNARDO: In the same figure like the King that’s dead. When taken in isolation, this line sounds very awkward. Although modern ears should have no trouble understanding the meaning, it does sound a bit strange that Barnardo should say “like” instead of “as.” And adding “that’s dead” — presumably to distinguish this King from the…

Line by Line: Act 1, Scene 1, Lines 34-37

BARNARDO: Last night of all, When yond same star that’s westward from the pole Had made his course t’illume that part of heaven Where now it burns… I’m splitting Barnardo’s brief narrative into two parts so I can linger on the astronomical implications. Barnardo’s first line, “last night of all,” probably just means “only last…

Line by Line: Act 1, Scene 1, Lines 30-34

BERNARDO:                                   Sit down awhile, And let us once again assail your ears That are so fortified against our story What we have two nights seen. HORATIO:                               Well, sit we down, And let us hear Bernardo speak of this. The two words most likely to confuse modern audiences are “assail” and “fortified,” are also the first…

Line by Line: Act 1, Scene 1, Lines 17-18

MARCELLUS: Holla! Bernardo! BARNARDO: Say, what, is Horatio there? HORATIO:                                                  A piece of him. This terse exchange serves as a real introduction to Horatio, distinguishing him instantly from the soldiers — who are, let’s face it, fairly flat and interchangeable characters. His acerbic reply falls into the “ask a stupid question” category, since Barnardo was,…

Line by Line: Act 1, Scene 1, Lines 14-16

FRANCISCO: Give you good night. MARCELLUS:O, farewell, honest soldier; who hath relieved you? FRANCISCO: Bernardo has my place. Give you good night.  Exit. Nothing very spectacular here. Shakespeare is revving up his Revolving Door, the staging technique that kept his big, bare stage feeling busy and populated. Two characters just entered, so it’s time for…

Line by Line: Act 1, Scene 1, Lines 12-13

Enter HORATIO and MARCELLUS. FRANCISCO: I think I hear them. Stand, ho! Who is there? HORATIO: Friends to this ground. MARCELLUS:                                  And liegemen to the Dane. A moment ago, Barnardo supplied the audience with two new names, and speak of the devil, they appear — either a split second before Francisco hears them, or else…