Today, you will watch Act 5 Scene II, the last scene of the play. As you watch, keep the following in mind (don’t worry: Ms. Mendonca will put this list up at the end of the scene):
- The scene will begin with Horatio and Hamlet reading the original letter Claudius had intended for the King of England.
- Feminists will find Hamlet’s opening words about his mother quite compelling
- A new courtier arrives, telling Hamlet of the King’s wager about a “friendly” fencing match between Laertes and Hamlet. Those who are interested in class distinctions (Marxists) might be interested in Hamlet’s treatment of this courtier. Watch the hat bit carefully.
- Horatio tries to talk Hamlet out of the friendly duel, but Hamlet rejects his pleas. He delivers one of my favourite lines in literature: “We defy augury.” Has he finally decided to act?
- Watch the exchange between Hamlet and Laertes. Does Laertes accept Hamlet’s confession of “madness”?
- Finally, fiction relies on dramatic irony. This means, simply, that the audience knows something that the characters don’t. As you watch the tension build, remember how few characters truly know what is happening. Watch the pearl, ladies and gents.
- Enjoy the ending…
When you are done, I’d like you to return to the Characteristics of Tragedy sheet we started last week. Work with your groups to finish it to the best of your ability. Tomorrow, we will discuss why so many versions of this play leave out the last lines….