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With close reference to language examine how fitting a close Act 5 scene II forms to the play Paper

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In order to show that Act 5 scene ii, is a fitting close to the play Hamlet. I will be looking at how the characters have been brought to a close. I will also be looking at themes and the importance of order being restored in the court at the end of the play. The scene ties up all the relationships that were formed during the course of the play. Hamlet and Horatio, a friendship that we have seen grow and strengthen through the course of the play is broken by Hamlet’s death. The close connection that Hamlet shared with his mother is separated by their deaths. The unhealthy relationships that were formed, like that of Claudius and Laertes.

They become victims of their own trap and are parted from each other. Starting off with the characters, “We defy augury. There is special providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be now, ’tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come. The readiness is all. ” There is considerable change in Hamlet’s character since the last time we saw him, that is before he went on his sea voyage to England. When we first met him in Act 1 scene ii, Hamlet was a lonely character, still mourning his fathers death and very un-happy about his mother’s “o’ er-hasty marriage” to his uncle Claudius.

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After the encounter with his dead father’s ghost he puts on “an antic disposition” and uses this strange behaviour to discover whether or not his uncle Claudius is guilty of killing his father. After the sea voyage to England, Hamlet’s character is now tranquil, and his tone is more like a Prince. He speaks in detail now to Horatio, of his sea passage to England; he rarely spoke in detail to anyone, most of his conversations to any of the characters consisted of a few vague sentences.

He has also come to the conclusion that providence is guiding him and that everything depends on the will of God, as he says “There’s a divinity that shapes our ends, Rough-hew them how we will-” Hamlets attitude toward destiny has also changed, he will now wait for his chance to do the right thing, that is kill Claudius. He now defies “augury” because he doesn’t want to allow himself to plan his future. This probably explains why he brushes aside the suspicious feelings that he has about the duel he has accepted to play in against Laertes.

He now makes it clear that he wanted to be the King of Denmark after his fathers death as he says of Claudius; “Popp’d in between th’election and my hopes, Thrown out his angle for my proper life” {65-66}. Hamlet in this scene seems to recognise death as something that we have to accept in our lives and something that we have to be prepared for; as he says “If it be now, ’tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come. The readiness is all. ” He has matured emotionally as well, as in Act 3, scene i, 55- 56 he says “To be or not to be,”. And in Act 5, scene ii, 208 he says “Let be. ”

Osric’s main function in the play is to invite Hamlet to a fencing match against Laertes. He fulfils this function, but in a very dramatic manner. He is a foppish character, and given to excessive courtesies. His pompousness is very symbolic of the false fai?? ade that enveloped the English court. The character of Osric represents the corrupted State of Denmark, as Hamlet says to Horatio; “he and many more of the same bevy that I know the drossy age dotes on”. Shakespeare probably inserted this character into the last scene to give the audience a last glimpse of the corrupted court, before the “human canker” was destroyed.

He allows Hamlet to be witty, and brings him some comic relief after Ophelia’s death. His language is full of flattery, he calls Hamlet “My Lord” even as Hamlet insults to his face him calling him a “waterfly”. The Elizabethans enjoyed word-play or punning on words. Hamlet too enjoyed playing with words, when conversing with members of court, and also his mother and Claudius. Polonius was often a victim of Hamlets word-play. Osric who is seen as a variant of Polonius, too becomes a victim of Hamlet’s love for punning on words, as we see in Act 5 scene ii, lines 93- 94.

Hamlet “No, believe me, `tis very cold, the wind is northerly. ” Osric {taking off his hat } “It is indifferent cold, my lord indeed. ” When Hamlet parodies Osric’s style of speech, he collapses and stands confused. Osric’s manners reflect the social and cultural manners that were to be observed by courtiers in the presence of royalty. Osric also revels the theme of appearance and reality. He may or may not have realised that he is death’s messenger, as the audience knows that behind the wager of the French rapiers and Arabian horses; lurks, death.

He is a foil to the depiction of Yorick through Hamlet’s fond memories in the first scene of Act 5. The court jester was a genuine fool and Osric is a false fool. The Elizabethans believed that the perfect state for a body is a balance between the for humours. When the humours are unbalanced, the result is that humans are vulnerable to disease. The play also has the themes of blood and judgement, and reason and passion running in the play. The only character in ‘Hamlet’ to have a balance between blood (passion) and judgement is Horatio. As Hamlet says of him “and blest are those

Whose blood and judgement are so well commeddled” {3. 2. 66-67} Hamlet contrasts Horatio’s well- balanced temperament with his own rapidly swinging moods. Hamlet respects Horatio for his balanced nature, and it is probably this balance that assures Hamlet that Horatio is someone who can be trusted and whom he can confide in. Act 5 scene ii, brings this close friendship between Hamlet and Horatio to an end. Through out the play we have seen Horatio as one of Hamlets closest friends, unlike Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, he keeps away from the Kings plotting and scheming against Hamlet.

Hamlet puts all his trust in him; he was with Hamlet when the ghost of the Old King Hamlet appeared, he helps Hamlet in “The Mousetrap” by keeping an eye on Claudius’s reaction to the play, Hamlet writes to him informing him of his arrival into Denmark, he is with Hamlet when Osric invites Hamlet to play in the duel against Laertes and Hamlet tells him that he “wouldst not think how ill all’s here about my heart;” and about the uncertainty that he feels about the duel.

We see the closeness and belief that Hamlet has in Horatio, when Horatio says he’ll drink the last of the poisoned wine so that he too may die with Hamlet. Hamlet stops him and says “Give me the cup. Let go, by Heaven I’ll ha’t. O God, Horatio, what a wounded name, Things standing thus unknown, shall I leave behind me if thou didst ever hold me in thy heart, Absent thee from felicity awhile, And in this harsh world draw thy breath in pain To tell my story. ” This is also a fitting end to the play, as Hamlet’s story will be told

Claudius: “O yet defend me, friends. I am but hurt. ” {5. ii. 317} The power that Claudius obtained when he took over the throne of Denmark, has gone to his head by the end of the play. In the quoted line we see that he is trying his hardest to cling on the crown, he doesn’t want to let go of the authority and position that he had murdered his brother for. He tells the assembled members of court that he is “but hurt. ” Claudius has caused a lot of disorder in the State. By usurping the throne, he has unbalanced the order of succession to the Throne.

By right, on the demise of the Old King Hamlet, his son Hamlet, could take over sovereignty of the State. But by Claudius taking over the throne and marrying his sister-in-law, he has caused the spirit of the Old King to rise out of his grave in order to seek revenge and avenge his murder. Claudius’s hineous act, that is killing his brother in order to be King, and then his plotting and scheming against Hamlet, for example sending him to England to be killed, the duel and the poisoned wine; reflects the social ideas of revenge in the Elizabethan era. “No, no, the drink, the drink!

O my dear Hamlet! The drink, the drink! I am poison’d. ” One can just hear the agony with which Queen Gertrude cries out her last words to her son. Her warning about the wine shows her true love and concern for Hamlet. She’s always wanted the best for him. For example in Act 5, scene i, when she is scattering flowers into Ophelia’s grave she says to the dead Ophelia, that she hoped that she would have been Hamlet’s bride; because she knew how much Hamlet adored Ophelia, and that his behaviour towards her changed after his father’s death and his mother’s “o’ er-hasty marriage”.

During the duel she asks him to wipe the sweat off his face, she drinks to his fortune, and then warns him not to drink the wine, so that he may not have the same fate as her. The theme of appearance and reality which appears though out the play also comes to a close in this scene. The mask of being a good King, that Claudius wears around is ripped apart by Hamlet in this scene. We see the real Claudius, who is a “villain, villain, smiling, damned villain! ” {1. v. 106}. His true nature is exposed to the whole court when Hamlet kills him in the hall.

In Act 4 scene vii, the King proposes a fencing match between Hamlet and Laertes. Claudius does this in order to protect himself from the rebellious Laertes. He uses Laertes’ s anger toward Hamlet, to his advantage. He tells Laertes that the foil that he will use will be “unbated” or unblunt. The messenger they will use to invite Hamlet to play in the match will be one who will praise Laertes’ s excellence. Claudius has to do this to make Laertes ‘appear’ as the stronger player, when he knows that Hamlet is the stronger and better fencer.

He appears to be supporting Hamlet by betting that Hamlet will win, when in reality he is actually plotting Hamlet’s death. The duel which Hamlet has been asked to play in against Laertes appears to be a friendly match. But behind the wager of French rapiers and Arabian horses, lurks, death. But we the audience know that there is poison and the intended outcome is Hamlet’s death. Duels in Shakespeare’s time were fought for the sake of honour. Fencing in Shakespeare’s time was a form of sporting entertainment and was also used to settle disputes.

Fencing matches soon became socializing events. The pearl that the King will throw into the flagon of wine and drink from or rather make Hamlet drink from when “Hamlet give the first or second hit, Or quit in answer of the third exchange,” {5. vii. 253-254}. Here again he is using an extravagant gesture to hide the fact that he will be putting poison in the flagon of wine. The Elizabethan culture consisted of a lot of noisy displays, and hence Claudius orders that the cannons be fired for every hit made by Hamlet. “I’ll be your foil, Laertes. {5. vii. 240} Hamlet is saying that he’ll ‘appear’ to be the weaker player, so that in his obliviousness, Laertes’ s skill will shine like a jewel; as the word ‘foil’ means background to show off a jewel. Before the duel begins, Hamlet asks for Laertes’ pardon for his behavior at Ophelia’s funeral. Laertes ‘appears’ to accept his love, but when presented with the foils he pick up the “Unbated and envenom’d” foil. By Hamlet’s “antic disposition” coming to an end, through his death; the theme of appearance and reality comes to an end.

Hamlet is a revenge tragedy. But isn’t like the traditional revenge tragedies, where the protagonist was driven by vengeance. In contrast Hamlet delays taking revenge on Claudius while he was praying, thinking his soul would go to heaven instead of being damned for eternity. The traditional revenge tragedies ended with a corpse strewn stage, and a hero coming to restore order to the disrupted State, which is parallel to what happens at the end of the play Hamlet. Seneca published a lot of tragedies, and he had a very strong impact on Shakespeare.

Some of the features of Senecan drama can be found in Hamlet; example appearance of a ghost calling for revenge, displays of violence that resulted in a corpse strewn stage. A revenge tragedy has to have some element of victory in it. Death, Hamlet and Fortinbras stand triumphant in the end of the play. There is a lot of talk of death in the play. Claudius killing the Old King Hamlet, Hamlet killing Polonius. Claudius’s plot to have Hamlet killed, Hamlet’s letters to have Rosencrantz and Guildenstern killed upon arrival in England instead of himself, Ophelia’s supposed suicidal death.

The Queen drinking the poisoned wine, the King being killed by Hamlet with the poison that has killed his father, mother, and which will also take him away from this world. Laertes and Hamlet’s death due to a wound each of them received from the “envenom’d” sword. Hence we see that death scores victory as Fortinbras says “O proud Death, What feast is toward in thine eternal cell, That thou so many princes at a shot So bloodily has struck? ” {5. ii. 357-360} Hamlet is victorious because he has avenged his fathers death by killing Claudius.

He has his dying wishes fulfilled, that is for his story to be told and for Fortinbras to take over the Danish throne. But most of all it is Fortinbras who is most triumphant. In Act 1 scene i, we are told that he wanted to recapture whatever land his father had lost to King Hamlet. Now in Act 5 scene ii, we see him returning victorious from Poland, and upon arrival in Denmark, he is presented with Denmark’s Sovereignty as per Hamlets dying wishes. Order played a very important role in the Elizabethan world. They that the stability of a country depended on the stability, and strength of the Government heading it.

Hence if the Government was corrupted the rest of the State would get corrupted as well, as we see happen in Hamlet. Claudius was driven by the desire for power, and authority over Denmark’s Sovereignty that he would do anything to it. Even if it meant killing his own brother, and causing the break-up of families and the deaths of innocent people in the process. The Elizabethan audience would have been very disturbed with the appearance of the ghost in Act 1 scene I, as Marcellus says in Act 1 scene iv “Something is rotten in the State of Denmark”.

And to restore their frame of mind, Fortinbras is reintroduced into the play, at this stage to restore order in the troubled State of Denmark. The anxieties that we see in Hamlet, that is who should be ruling Denmark now that the old monarch, King Hamlet is dead; reflect the situation that England was in, near the time when Hamlet was first performed. Claudius’s assassination of Hamlet, would have brought to mind the things that the audience would have heard about the threats to Elizabeth’s life. Act 5 scene ii, is a fitting close to the play Hamlet. The scene brings to an end all the corruption that Denmark was steeped in.

All the characters who aided “then human canker” example Polonius, Ophelia, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern and Laertes; and the victims of Claudius’s deviousness, Hamlet ,the Queen Gertrude and Claudius himself are dead. These characters meet their end either through “carnal, bloody, and unnatural acts, accidental judgements, casual slaughters” or “Of deaths put on by cunning and forc’d cause”. When Hamlet puts Denmark in the hands of Fortinbras and dies on the throne, he is bringing an end to all the corruption that Denmark suffered during Claudius’s reign.

Hence we see that Act 5 scene ii, is a fitting close to the play Hamlet because, all the relationships, corruption and plotting that had begun in the beginning of the play has come to a halt, and has ended. We are given a last insight into the characters of Claudius and Gertrude, in their dying lines. “O my dear Hamlet! The drink, the drink! I am poison’d. ” We see her love for her son Hamlet. And her loyalty toward Claudius, even while on her death bed she wont give away his secret; that he has poisoned the wine to kill Hamlet. “O yet defend me, friends. I am but hurt. ”

Very characteristic of Claudius, who was possessive of the power and authority he had gained by killing his brother. He is so possessive of the power and authority that he is not willing to give it up, even when he is dying. The most important element that makes this scene a fitting close to the play is the restoration of order into the troubled state of Denmark. In his dying speech Hamlet hands over Denmark’s Sovereignty to Fortinbras. This would have put the Elizabethan audiences mind at rest, as they strongly believed in order; and considered it extremely essential in the running of a country.

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This paper is written by Sebastian He is a student at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA; his major is Business. All the content of this paper is his perspective on With close reference to language examine how fitting a close Act 5 scene II forms to the play and should be used only as a possible source of ideas.

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