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Essay/Term paper: Hamlet: act v-scene 2 - the climax

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Hamlet

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Hamlet: Act V-Scene 2 - The Climax

In Act V-Scene 2, as the play begins with Hamlet fill in the detail of what
happened to him since he left Denmark, Hamlet concedes that there was a kind of
fighting in his heart. But clearly his inner struggle has been manifested from
the time of his first appearance in this play. Now it is to hear no more
expression of self-approach or doubts that he will act positively against
Claudius. What is impressive is his decisiveness. He is able to formulate a
plan and to execute it without delay. He has found man's wisdom, or reason, to
have its limitation: fortune, accident, chance - call it that what it will and
can determine the course of events, as his own experience aboard the ship proves.
He was able to find in the dark the commission for his own death; by chance, he
had in his possession his father's signet for sealing the forged document. No
less by chance, the pirates proved kind and, for sufficient compensation, they
returned him to Denmark.

Throughout the play, after we have itemized Claudius' major crimes, the
Prince does not receive an answer to his question, one which is basic to his
status as a moral symbol in the play:

- is't not perfect conscience,
To quit him with this arm? And is't not to be damn'd,
To let this canker of out nature come
In further evil?

It has been seen here a Hamlet who is still in doubt, still troubled by his
conscience; and his view should not be ignored, if only because it illustrates
once more the difficulties of interpretation. One may argue that there is no
need for Horatio to answer Hamlet's question since he has already expressed deep
shock at the latest evidence of Claudius' villainy. So the Hamlet in this scene
has resolved all doubts; there is no longer a kinda of fighting in his heart.

As the scene progress, Horatio reminds Hamlet that Claudius is sure to
learn soon what has happened to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, Hamlet's reply
shows him to be controlled and confident. Now he expressed regret that he had
so forgot himself as to offend Laertes, stating that he sees the image of his
own cause in that of Ophelia's brother. Probably no more is intended that
Hamlet makes reference to the fact that both have endured great losses, for
Hamlet's cause transcends the personal or domestic, involving as it does the
welfare of the State. The Prince's determination to win back the goodwill of
Laertes make understandable his prompt agreement to participate in the fencing
When Horatio urges him to consider withdrawing from the match (because
Hamlet is heartsick), Hamlet makes reply:

...we defy augury. There's a
special providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be
now, Ε’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.

What he says here is consistent with what he said earlier in this scene when he
declared that "There's a divinity that shapes our ends". And if he is still
heartsick, this passage provides additional evidence that no longer is there a
kinda of fighting in his heart - kind that, early in the play, made him lament
the fact that he was called upon to act violently because the time is out of
joint, and later expend his energy in denunciation of his mighty opposite and
accuse himself of inexcusable delay. Hamlet now seems to have resolved all
doubts as to whether he functions as a minister or as scourge.

Now, it is the time for the climax of the play, the fencing match. During
the match, Queen Gertrude is heard from only after the match has begun and
Hamlet has scored the first hit with his blunted foil. The action that follows
is as exciting as any to be found in drama. Laertes is allowed to express
twinges of conscience just before he wounds Hamlet; and, when he himself is
fatally wounded, he has the good grace to acknowledge that his own treachery is
responsible for his death. Moreover, just after the Queen cries out that she
has been poisoned, he survives to place the blame upon Claudius. Demands of the
plot at this point of its resolution, in part, explain Laertes' free confession
and accusation. But it is not inappropriate that Laertes, who shortly before
had declared that he stood aloof from Hamlet in terms of honor and then faced
the Prince armed with an unblunted and poisoned rapier, should be allowed to
retrieve himself through full confession. Claudius must, and does, remain the
rascal of the piece.

"The point envenom'd too!" exclaim Hamlet at the moment of complete
discovery, aware that he will soon join his mother and Laertes in death. We
recalls that venom - poison - used by Claudius was the source of the rottenness
in Denmark. It has spread throughout Elsinore and beyond. Polonius, Ophelia,
and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are among its victims.

At long last, Hamlet kill Claudius. The Prince survives not only to
philosophize on "this fell sergeant, Death," who is so "strict in his arrest"
but also, more important, to implore Horatio to report him and his cause aright
- to clear his wounded name. Certainly he does not subjects of the Crown to
believe that his slaying of Claudius was the latest and most shocking action of
a Hamlet who, in the words of the First Gravedigger, was mad. Even less does he
want to be remembered as king killer. Hamlet's concept of honor, implicit from
the beginning, is something far above that held by Laertes and Polonius. He
wishes to be remembered as the worthy son of the superior King Hamlet, as
minister called upon to execute public justice, not as scourge. The moving
words of Horatio, who knew him best, provide the best epitaph:

Now cracks a noble heart. Good - night, sweet prince,
And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.

In conclusion, we noticed that Hamlet has paid the price for his inability
to master passion before it was too late for him to avoid catastrophe and he
failed in that he did not survive to prove himself his father's son as ruler of
Denmark, insist that the very condition which made inevitable his failure,
especially his unwillingness to act without much thought, is the measure of his
greatness. For most of us, the Prince emerges finally as sacrificial victim,
one whose death is inevitable but which makes possible the purging of great evil
and the restoration of a moral universe.


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