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This plan he carried out to the letter, even inserting in the play a passage which he had written - in accordance with the ghost's story — especially to test Claudius; and the result utterly confirmed his worst suspicions. For, 5 when the players came to a poisoning scene in a garden,

the conscience-stricken king sprang up, called for lights and abruptly left the theatre.

Convinced by this of his uncle's guilt, Hamlet was thinking over the means of taking vengeance on him when he 10 was summoned to a private interview with the queen.

On his way to her he had an opportunity of killing the king, but failed to take it.

It was at her husband's orders that the queen had sent the summons, with a view to rebuking Hamlet for his un15 filial conduct; and, as the king suspected that her motherly

love might cause her to give an incomplete or prejudiced account of the interview, he told Polonius to hide behind the curtains in the queen's room, where he could overhear all that passed between the mother and son.

In the interview Hamlet bitterly reproached her with her conduct; and he became so vehement in his language that she, believing all the time that he was mad, began to fear he would do her some bodily injury, and cried out for

help. Her cry was at once repeated from behind the cur25 tains; and Hamlet, mistaking Polonius's voice for the

king's, ran his sword through the curtains at the place from which the voice had seemed to come.

The death of Polonius gave the king an excuse for banishing Hamlet from Denmark. Indeed, if he had dared, he 30 would have put him to death openly. As he dared not

do that, he shipped him away to England in the company of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, by whom also he sent letters to the English sovereign ordering him to put Hamlet

to death. 35 Hamlet, however, suspected some treachery, and got



temporary possession of the letters by night. Then, having erased his own name and inserted instead the names of Rosencranz and Guildenstern, he returned the letters to the place from which he had abstracted them.

On the way the ship was attacked by pirates; and, as Hamlet was leading a boarding-column on to the pirate vessel, he was suddenly deserted by his companions and taken prisoner by the pirates. The latter, however, partly

out of admiration for his courage, partly out of disgust at 10 the treachery of the others, and partly in hope of reward

from such an important person as the heir-apparent to the Danish throne, landed him at the nearest Danish port.

Meanwhile, the shock of her father's death, and the fact that it had been caused by the prince whom she loved, 15 had proved too much for Ophelia's naturally feeble brain;

it gave way under the strain, and she drowned herself. Then this double calamity was used by the king to stir up her brother, Laertes, to kill Hamlet as the cause of it all.

Accordingly, Laertes, after quarreling violently with Hamlet at Ophelia's grave, challenged him to a “brother's wager” with the foils. At this, by the king's direction, he used a poisoned and buttonless foil; and with it he wounded

Hamlet, knowing that the wound must be fatal. Hamlet, 25 incensed at the blow, redoubled his efforts and disarmed

his opponent; and, in restoring him a weapon he accidentally gave him the wrong one. Then he himself innocently wounded Laertes with the poisoned point.

At that very moment the queen, who had just tasted some 30 wine which the king had prepared for Hamlet, fell dead,

shrieking out that she was poisoned; and Laertes, realizing that he too had been wounded mortally by the poisoned foil, confessed all. Thereupon Hamlet turned his sword

on his uncle, thus fulfilling the oath made to his father's 25 spirit.




William Shakespeare was born in the village of Stratford-on-Avon, Warwickshire, England in April, 1564. His father was a man of the middle class, a glover by trade, who sent his son to the Grammar School in Stratford. About the year 1587, Shakespeare went to London to seek his fortune, and became an actor. He wrote some of the plays acted by his own company. This company often acted at the Court of Queen Elizabeth, where Shakespeare met the nobles, poets, wits and adventurers forming the brilliant society surrounding the queen. Kings and queens, archbishops and earls, great captains and chief justices of England were a part of the life he saw and knew, and he thus wrote historical plays of such truth and vividness that from them we may gain a better knowledge of England than from many histories. He died at Stratford-on-Avon, April 23, 1616.


To be or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die; to sleep;
No more; and, by a sleep to say we end
The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep;
To sleep perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,





The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered country, from whose bourn
No traveler returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment,
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.



What is a soliloquy?
Of what was Hamlet thinking?
Explain “shuffled off this mortal coil.”

What does Hamlet mean when he says, “When he himself might his quietus make”?

What is meant by “fardels”?
Explain “from whose bourn no traveler räturns."
How does “conscience make cowards of us all”?
What is the “native hue of resolution”?
How is it “sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought”?
Explain “great pith.”
Explain “their currents turn awry."


In the city of Venice, in Italy, there lived a rich merchant, whose name was Antonio. Having put all his wealth in a fleet of ships sailing on trading voyages into all parts of

the world, he began to fear that his venture would prove a 5 failure.

Now Antonio had a dearly loved friend named Bassanio, who wished to be a suitor for the hand of Portia, a rich heiress, who lived on an estate called Belmont. But he had

very little money, and wishing to appear before Portia in 10 a way that became his station as a nobleman, he called

upon Antonio for a loan of three thousand ducats. Antonio, in turn, unable at this time to lend the money, but unwilling not to help his friend, sought the services of

Shylock, a rich, money-lending Jew. Shylock at first 15 pretended to be unwilling to lend the money, and with

much bitterness reproached Antonio for the scorn and contempt with which he had always treated him. He consented, however, on one condition. Antonio must sign

a bond in which he would agree to lose a pound of flesh if 20 the money was not repaid within three months. Shylock

declared that these were easy terms, and Antonio, thinking himself fortunate in not having to pay a monstrous interest, agreed to them, in spite of misgiving on the part of his

friend. The Jew, bent on revenge for the opposition 25 which the Christian merchant had raised against him in

Venice, hoped that Antonio would fail to pay, and thus forfeit the pound of flesh, which would, of course, result in his death.

With the money obtained from Shylock, Bassanio now

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