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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:
The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
HELPS FOR STUDY
What is a soliloquy?
What does Hamlet mean when he says, “When he himself might his quietus make”?
What is meant by “fardels”?
THE STORY OF THE MERCHANT OF VENICE
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