Hamlet: Now the Stuff Hits the Fam

O God, Horatio, what a wounded name,
Things standing thus unknown, shall live behind me!
If thou didst ever hold me in thy heart
Absent thee from felicity a while,
And in this harsh world draw thy breath in pain
To tell my story. Hamlet Act 5 Scene 2.

For Hamlet’s plot till now, see Hamlet So Far.

Act 5. Scene 2 (continued). It is the final scene. The swords are ready. The drums beat. The drums begin slowly. Claudius and Gertrude enter the hall and take their seats. The courtiers fill the room.

Claudius looks first at Hamlet and smiles, then at Laertes. He is happy as a lark. Soon his troubles will be over.

“Gentlemen,” he says, “first shake hands, then choose your swords.”

Hamlet turns to Laertes and offers his hand. “I have wronged you. I was out of my mind. Mad. That is no excuse. For the wrong I have done, I am deeply sorry.” Hamlet too knows this day will bring an end to things in the play.

You can feel the tension in the room. Everyone knows what Hamlet and Claudius know. Deep down.

Laertes takes Hamlet’s hand. “I cannot yet forgive you. But I take your words as sincere.”

“Let us get to it then.” Hamlet is no longer doubtful. Hamlet is at peace, knowing that fate will take care of things. In the end, all will be right in the world.

“Give them swords, Osric,” the king commands, anxious to get on with things. Tonight he will sleep well in his bed. No more worries about his stepson.

Hamlet and Laertes choose swords, each feeling his weapon out, trying it to see its workings. The two move into position, preparing to play.

The king calls for goblets of wine. Into one, he drops a pearl. “When you make a hit, Hamlet, this goblet is yours.” He raises a second goblet. “Salut, gentlemen, and begin.”

The two men move around the floor, scoping each other out. Then Hamlet makes a hit.

“One,” he says.

“No, it wasn’t,” Laertes protests.

“It was,” the judge of the match, Osric, decides in Hamlet’s favor.

“Another pearl.” Claudius drops a pearl into Hamlet’s goblet, knowing Hamlet will never own it. “Hand the goblet to Hamlet,” he commands a servant.

“Not now. Not till I have played this hand out.” Hamlet returns to position and waits on Laertes to strike.

The two go at it, then Hamlet makes another strike. Surprised at how well he is doing, Hamlet says, “Another hit.”

“You did get me,” Laertes admits. He too is surprised.

“My son will win,” Claudius says.

Gertrude reaches for Hamlet’s cup. “To your luck and happiness, my son.” She is happy that all is going well with the match. Soon things will return to normal. Hamlet will be as beloved as he was. She drinks from the cup.

Claudius screams, “Don’t drink that, my queen. It is for your son.” Panic is on his face.

“I will drink it if I want.” Gertrude drinks a second drink from the cup. Claudius’ poison moves through her body. She goes to Hamlet and lovingly wipes the sweat from his brow.

Hamlet and Laertes are at it again, moving like two wolves facing down each other over a kill. Laertes moves in and wounds Hamlet with his poison blade. The two scuffle and drop their swords. Hamlet picks up the weapon of Laertes. They fight again and Hamlet slashes Laertes’ arm.

“Come on again,” Hamlet teases Laertes.

The queen falls to the floor. The poison is doing its work.

“Tend to the queen,” Osric calls out to the servants.

“They are both bleeding,” Horatio says of the two fencers.

Osric sees that Laertes too has fallen. “How are you, my lord?”

Panic is in Laertes’ eyes. He is not sure what is happening. “I have done it to myself,” Laertes confesses.

“How’s the queen?” Hamlet wants to know.

“Oh, she fainted,” Claudius says. “Can’t stand the sight of blood. Women, you know.”

Gertrude with her last breaths calls out, “It was the drink. It was poison. I am dying.”

“What evil,” Hamlet yells. “What evil. Lock the door and let no one leave.”

Osric escapes before the door can be locked. Things are not looking good in the chamber. His motto is to save your own skin no matter the cost.

Laertes now comes to his senses. “We are both dead. My blade was tipped with poison. It is the king. The king has done it to us.”

“Soon,” Hamlet says, “it will do its work and we will all be done.”

Hamlet rushes Claudius. He drives the blade deep into the king’s body. Then he grabs the poisoned wine.

“Here, thou incestuous, murderous, damnèd Dane, drink off this potion. Is thy union here? Follow my mother, you son of a bitch.” Hamlet forces the wine down Claudius’ throat.

“He got what he deserved. Forgive me, Hamlet,” Laertes begs. Then he dies.

With tears in his eyes, Hamlet stumbles to Laertes’ wounded body. He raises the dead man’s head and looks into his once alive eyes. “Heaven, and I, forgive you. My, how it might have been. Such friends, you and I.”

Hamlet falls to the floor. “Horatio, I am dead.”

Horatio sees that there is poison left in the goblet. He lifts the poison cup to drink.

Hamlet grabs the goblet from Horatio’s hand. “No, you cannot. You must live to tell my story.”

The sound of Fortinbras’ troops are invading the castle.

Hamlet continues, “It is my will that Fortinbras be the new king. He will rule well. Now I am dead.” And so he is.

Horatio blesses the prince who once was, “Good night, sweet prince, And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!”

Now the play is done. The tale has been told. Prince Hamlet sleeps peacefully with the knowledge that justice was done.

It’s been a long slog, this “Hamlet”. The actors have said their lines. Now it’s home for them. Only the furniture is left on the stage. Soon even that will be gone for the halls of Elsinore are empty. Then only the ghosts walk through the rooms, searching for their former lives, wondering when their haunting will be done and they can move on. To another world.

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Hamlet: Claudius and the Plan

“High and mighty,
You shall know I am set naked on your kingdom. Tomorrow shall I beg leave to see your kingly eyes, when I shall, first asking your pardon thereunto, recount the occasion of my sudden and more strange return.
Hamlet.”  Hamlet Act 4 Scene 7.

For Hamlet’s plot till now, see Hamlet So Far.

Act 4 Scene 7. Claudius and Laertes in a huddle. Claudius was always a very persuasive dude. He’d lie, he’d cheat and he’d steal to get his way. And he’d even walk all over a dead body. He convinced Laertes’ friends he had nothing to do with the death of Polonius.

“See I told you I was innocent,” Claudius said. “You do believe I am innocent and your friend?” Claudius had pleading in his voice. He may have been a villain but he wanted to be liked too. Don’t we all?

“Why did you not prosecute the crime?”

“It was Hamlet,” Claudius said. “It was Hamlet. How could I? It would have killed his mother. I gotta tell you. I love that woman. And she would never have forgiven me. Plus the dude is more popular than Julius Caesar. You saw the play. You know how hard it was for Cassius to talk even Brutus into taking out the man. Hamlet is like that. If I didn’t use my wits and come up with a better, sneakier way, I would be dead meat. You’ve seen how the Danes get when they are angry. It takes them a while to get angry, but once they do. Man.”

“I’ve lost my dad and my sister has lost her dad. And now you see that once beautiful human being, you see how she is. I want my revenge.”

“Oh, you shall get it. You shall get it.”

Now we get our Kramer. (Link to writing rules.) Entered a messenger.

“There are letters from Prince Hamlet. One for you and one for the queen.” The messenger retires.

Claudius read his letter to himself. “Oh, you have to hear this,” He reads the letter to Laertes. Then said, “He’s coming back to Elsinore and going to tell his story. And in the nude too. Can you believe the gall of that guy? In the nude. And he called me ‘High and Mighty’. Does he know that I am his Magnanimousness. The nerve of that boy.”

“Naked or not,” Laertes said, I will stare at him teeth to teeth. And get my revenge.”

“You sure you’re up to it? You wouldn’t chicken out, would you?”

“How dare you even think a thing. He killed my dad.”

“Then I have a plan.” Claudius always had a plan. Even when he didn’t have a plan, he had a plan. “I have heard that you are an excellent fencer. Even the French say so. Why I ran into this guy from Normandy. He could do nothing but brag about your fencing skill.”

“Was it Lamond?”

“Yes, it was Lamond.”

“I knew it. What a fine fellow he is.”

“When Hamlet heard Lamond’s brag about your fencing skill, you can’t believe how angry he got. ‘I’m a prince. Why don’t people brag about my fencing skills?’ He was so jealous.”

“Jealous, eh?” Laertes said. I know. Laertes was not Canadian. But he could end his sentences with “eh” if he wanted to. “So, what’s your point?”

“You’re going to have a fencing match. And your sword will be untipped. Hamlet won’t notice. He’ll just be glad he’s back in the game and accepted at court and still has you for a friend.”

“I’ll friend that fiend. I’ll tip my sword with some very potent poison. A scratch will do the trick.”

As I said earlier, Claudius always have a backup. “Just in case your poison doesn’t work, or he doesn’t get scratched by your sword. I will give him a cup of wine with poison too. When he takes a break, he will drink it.”

Laertes agreed.

Claudius said, “Just remember that no one else is to know.

Laertes agreed some more.

Then Claudius said, “What’s that sound?”

“Sounds like wailing and gnashing of teeth.”