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Death in The Tragedy of Hamlet
Transcript of Death in The Tragedy of Hamlet
The ghost of King Hamlet continues to roam the night in Denmark. Upon visiting Prince Hamlet, the ghost reveals that his own brother, Claudius, murdered him to obtain his crown and his queen. Prince Hamlet vows to avenge his father's murder, thus setting the theme of death in motion.
Act 1, scene 5
Act 3, scene 4
Death pervades The Tragedy of Hamlet. Prince Hamlet is so distraught by his father's death that he can focus on nothing else. He becomes so obsessed with exacting revenge on his uncle Claudius that he mistakenly kills Polonius, an innocent man. Polonius's death then triggers the deaths of numerous others, including Hamlet himself.
Hamlet is fighting with his mother about her hasty marriage in the wake of his father's death. He suspects that King Claudius is eavesdropping on them and thrusts a sword into the tapestry where he believes Claudius to be hiding. Hamlet then discovers that it is not Claudius whom he has killed, but Polonius, the king's counselor. Despite the grave mistake, Hamlet shows no remorse for killing an innocent man. From this point forward, death pervades Denmark.
Act 4, scene 7
Hamlet's reckless behavior has become destructive to those around him. When he kills Polonius, he unwittngly sets forth a series of events that will ultimately lead to his own death. Polonius's daughter Ophelia is so distraught by her father's death that she drowns herself. When Laertes, Polonius's son, discovers his father's murder and his sister's suicide, he vows revenge on Prince Hamlet.
The Tragedy of Hamlet
"It warms the very sickness in my heart that I shall live and tell him to his teeth, 'Thus diest thou.'" (lines 61-63) - Laertes
"I'll lug the guts into the neighboring room. Mother, good night indeed. This counsellor is now most still, most secret, and most grave, who was in life a foolish prating knave. Come, sir, to draw toward an end with you." (lines 235-239) - Hamlet
Hamlet devises a plan to prove Claudius's guilt. The plan works and Hamlet seeks out his uncle so that he may exact his revenge. Hamlet finds Claudius praying,however, and fears that killing him in the midst of prayer may send Claudius's soul to heaven. Hamlet chooses to wait until his uncle is being sinful before killing him, thus sending his soul to hell.
Act 3, scene 3
"Am I then revenged, to take him in the purging of his soul, when he is fit and seasoned for his passage? No. Up, sword, and know thou a more horrid hent: when he is drunk asleep, or in his rage, or in th'incestuous pleasure of his bed, at game a-swearing, or about some act that has no relish of salvation in't, then trip him, that his heels may kick at heaven and that his soul may be as damned and black as hell, whereto it goes." (lines 89-100) - Hamlet
"Why, look you now, how unworthy a thing you make of me. You would play upon me, you would seem to know my stops, you would pluck out the heart of my mystery [...] Why, do you think I am easier to be played upon than a pipe? Call me what instrument you will, though you can fret me, you cannot play upon me." (lines 393-402, Act 3, Scene 2) - Hamlet
Hamlet discovers that King Claudius has enlisted Hamlet's childhood friends, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to spy on the young prince. Hamlet feels betrayed by them. When the king devises a plot to have Hamlet killed, Hamlet schemes to have Rosencrantz and Guildenstern killed instead.
Caludius and Laertes devise a plan for Laertes to exact his revenge on Prince Hamlet - a duel in which Laertes will strike Hamlet with a sharpened and poisoned foil. If that fails, Claudius will offer Hamlet a poisoned drink. Indeed, Laertes wounds Hamlet with the poisoned sword; however, the plan goes awry when Hamlet counters by wounding Laertes with the poisoned sword and when Queen Gertrude unwittingly drinks from the poisoned cup. The Queen dies, as does Laertes. When Hamlet discovers that King Claudius is the source of this treachery, he stabs him and forces him to drink the poison, thus killing him. Hamlet then follows with his own death.
Act 5, scene 2
"Hamlet thou art slain. No medicine in the world can do thee good; in thee there is not half an hour of life. The treacherous instrument is in thy hand, unbated and envenomed. The foul practice hath turned itself on me. Lo, here I lie, never to rise again. Thy mother's poisoned. I can no more. The King - the King's to blame." (lines 344-351) - Laertes
"O that this too too solid flesh would melt, thaw and resolve itself into a dew. Or that the Everlasting had not fixed his canon 'gainst self-slaughter. O God! God! How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable seem to me all the uses of this world!" (lines 133-138) - Hamlet
Act 1, scene 2
After King Hamlet's death, Prince Hamlet contemplates his purpose in life. He wishes that he, too, could die since it is too painful for him to live in the wake of his father's death. He even contemplates suicide because he is so distraught.
From Act I the play focuses on the theme of death. The first death is that of King Hamlet. Though the death initially appears as a tragic accident, the king's tormented ghost appears, signifying a bad omen for Denmark. From this point forward, death, either through vengeance or grief, becomes the focus of this tragedy.
"Something is rotten in the state of Denmark." - Marcellus