24 June 2011
18 June 2011
The 10 best American poems
1. "Song of Myself" by Walt Whitman
Whitman reinvents American poetry in this peerless self-performance, finding cadences that seem utterly his own yet somehow keyed to the energy and rhythms of a young nation waking to its own voice and vision. He calls to every poet after him, such as Ezra Pound, who notes in "A Pact" that Whitman "broke the new wood."
2. "The Idea of Order at Key West" by Wallace Stevens
Stevens's sumptuous, glittering language takes blank verse and reinvents it. This poem raises to a sublime level what Stevens once called a war "between the mind and sky." The poem celebrates the "blessed rage for order" at the heart of all creative work.
3. "Because I could not stop for death" by Emily Dickinson
A perfect poem, and one of Dickinson's most compressed and chilling attempts to come to terms with mortality. Once read, it stays in the head forever, in part because of the ballad stanza, so weirdly fresh in her capable hands.
4. "Directive" by Robert Frost
This surprising late poem concentrates Frost's lifetime of thinking and working as a poet. "Drink and be whole beyond confusion," he says at the end, mapping out the inner life of any reader. It is blank verse cast in Frost's trademark craggy voice, and it might be considered a local response to Eliot's more cosmopolitan "The Waste Land."
5. "Middle Passage" by Robert Hayden
Hayden was an African American poet who managed, in this brief epic, to bring the slave trade into lyrical focus with a polyphony of voices. The fierce drive for liberty has rarely been so beautifully framed or embodied. It's a haunting poem that operates in complex ways.
6. "The Dry Salvages" by TS Eliot
This is the "American quartet", and it's uneven; but it brings into a single major poem many of Eliot's concerns, rooting his vision in the American landscape, especially the St. Louis of his boyhood and the area off the north shore of Boston. The fifth section contains Eliot's most sublime moments of religious contemplation as he thinks about "hints and guesses", which is all we ever get: "and the rest / Is prayer, observance, discipline, thought and action".
7. "One Art" by Elizabeth Bishop
This villanelle brings to a height the craft and ironic tone of a poet of casual grace. It's a poem about losses, small and big, and it's stunning in the way its power accumulates, stanza by stanza. This is a poem to memorise and repeat in the wee hours of the night.
8. "To My Dear and Loving Husband" by Ann Bradstreet
I can't think of another poem that so beautifully captures the deep love of a wife for her husband. The clarity and force of the poem overwhelm me whenever I re-read it, which I do quite often.
9. "Memories of West Street and Lepke" by Robert Lowell
It's hard to pick among the half-dozen best of Lowell's poems from his groundbreaking volume, Life Studies (1959), but I find myself reading this one over and again, always drawn to the personal voice, at once shaky and firm – the firmness arising from the confident free verse, with its searing portrait of the convict, Czar Lepke, "flabby, bald, lobotomized" who hangs "in his air / of lost connections".
10. "And Ut Pictura Poesis Is Her Name" by John Ashbery
"You can't say it that way anymore," Ashbery declares, ushering into American poetry a fresh way of seeing and saying the world, celebrating "The extreme austerity of an almost empty mind". Ashbery's diarylike poems, collecting American life like flies on sticky paper, draw me to them, irritating me, inspiring me, never more perfectly than in this poem, which plays off a famous phrase from Horace that compares poetry and painting.
Introductory Remarks on Poets and PaintingsEver since the Roman poet Horace set down in his Ars Poetica (c. 13 BC) the dictum "ut pictura poesis"--"as is painting, so is poetry"--the two arts have been wedded in the critical mind. Poets and painters sometimes turn to one another for inspiration, and the dialogue has been mutually beneficial. Painters and illustrators have often been inspired by literature, especially in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The critic Richard Altick says, for example, that between 1760 and 1900 there existed around 2,300 paintings based on Shakespeare's plays alone. These Shakespeare paintings are only one-fifth of the 11,500 paintings on subjects and scenes from literature--and we are talking only about paintings done in England during those years! Sheer numbers indicate the influence of authors on artis
05 June 2011
All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That's his.
~Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest, 1895
I loved the child in him
so innocent and sweet
The mischief in his eyes
the blush upon his cheek
The tender way he spoke
that showed me that he cared
The touch of his warm hand
that gently touched my hair
The smiles that we shared
that filled my life with glee
For when I was with him
I found the child in me
04 June 2011
A Poison Tree a poem by William Blake
|I was angry with my friend;|
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow.
And I waterd it in fears,
Night and morning with my tears:
And I sunned it with smiles,
And with soft deceitful wiles.
And it grew both day and night,
Till it bore an apple bright.
And my foe beheld it shine,
And he knew that it was mine.
And into my garden stole.
When the night had veiled the pole;
In the morning glad I see,
My foe outstretchd beneath the tree.
23 May 2011
30 October 2010
19 September 2010
Cowards die many times before their deaths
"Cowards die many times before their deaths, The valiant never taste of death but once."Julius Caesar (II, ii, 32-37)
Caesar's wife, Calpurnia, has had dreams in which her husband was murdered. At Caesar's request, the priests have sacrificed an animal which, upon being cut open, was discovered to have no heart. And so they sent word to Caesar that he should stay home on this fateful day, the ides of March, which the Soothsayer had already warned him about earlier in the play. Caesar muses, ""What can be avoided /Whose end is purposed by the mighty gods?" In other words, if the gods are predicting that he is going to die, then how will he get around it? He goes on to encourage his wife with the now-famous lines, finding it strange that men fear death so much, when death is inevitable in every man's life. He has been a strong and brave man, and has not wasted precious hours of his life anticipating tragedy.
All that glisters is not gold
"All that glisters is not gold."
The Merchant of Venice (II, vii)
Portia is a beautiful, virtuous, wealthy woman who is being wooed by numerous suitors. She is not free to decide on her own whom she will marry because her late father stipulated in his will that she must marry the man who correctly picks the one casket (out of three) that contains her picture. One casket is gold, another is silver, and the third is made of lead. The Prince of Morocco is one in a long line of suitors who tries to win Portia's hand, and he decides that it would demean Portia to have her picture in anything other than a gold casket, and so he chooses that one. As he unlocks it, he is dismayed to find a picture, not of Portia but of Death, with a message written in its hollow eye: "All that glisters is not gold; / Often have you heard that told. / Many a man his life hath sold / But my outside to behold. / Gilded tombs do worms enfold." With a grieving heart the Prince takes hasty leave of Portia, who is happy to see him go, saying, "A gentle riddance."
Nothing can come of nothing
"Nothing can come of nothing: speak again."
If music be the food of love, play on
If music be the food of love, play on,
Give me excess of it; that surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken, and so die.
Duke Orsino of Illyria, presiding over the merry, mixed-up world of Twelfth Night, opens the play with these festive sentiments, soured though they be by the affected airs of the melancholic lover. He has convinced himself that he's insanely in love with a wealthy and resistant lady, who is in mourning for her brother and only annoyed by Orsino's inappropriate attentions. The duke's idea of a cure for his disease is to stuff himself sick with his own passions.
Orsino's brand of self-indulgent pouting comes in for much ribbing here and elsewhere in Shakespeare, most vividly in As You Like It and Much Ado about Nothing. For melancholic poseurs like Orsino, who are actually expected to make spectacles of themselves, affecting gestures are more important than sincere emotions.
All the world's a stage
The idea that "all the world's a stage" was already clichéd when Shakespeare wrote As You Like It. So Jaques is intended to sound at least a little pretentious here. Jaques (pronounced "jay-keys" or "jay-kweez") is the resident sourpuss in the Forest of Arden, home to political exiles, banished lovers, and simple shepherds. Picking up on another character's stray suggestion that the world is a "wide and universal theater," Jaques deploys the theatrical metaphor for his famous speech on the Seven Ages of Man. The first of these ages, according to Jaques, is infancy (when the babe is found "Mewling [sobbing] and puking in his nurse's arms"), and the last is "second childishness and mere oblivion" (complete senility). His glum epigrams make up a "set speech"; Shakespeare meant them to sound practiced, like a bit of oratory polished off and hauled out on the appropriate (or inappropriate) occasion.
18 September 2010
Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet meet and fall in love in Shakespeare's lyrical tale of "star-cross'd" lovers. They are doomed from the start as members of two warring families. Here Juliet tells Romeo that a name is an artificial and meaningless convention, and that she loves the person who is called "Montague", not the Montague name and not the Montague family. Romeo, out of his passion for Juliet, rejects his family name and vows, as Juliet asks, to "deny (his) father" and instead be "new baptized" as Juliet's lover. This one short line encapsulates the central struggle and tragedy of the play.
Othello Summary ~Shakespeare summaries provide a quick and easy guide to Shakespeare's most famous plays.~
King Lear Summary provides a quick review of the play's plot including every important action in the play. King Lear Summary is divided by the five acts of the play and is an ideal introduction before reading the original text.
Shakespeare's dark tragedy, King Lear begins with the fictional King of England, King Lear, handing over his kingdom to daughters Regan and Goneril whom he believes truly love him. King Lear intends to stay with each daughter consecutively, accompanied by one hundred loyal knights.
Angry that Cordelia his youngest daughter does not appear to love him as do Goneril and Regan, Lear banishes his youngest daughter Cordelia, and Kent, the servant who attempts to defend her. Cordelia leaves and is taken by the King of France as his Queen...
Edmund, the loved but illegitimate son of the Earl of Gloucester plots to have his elder brother Edgar's reputation ruined. Edmund tricks his father Gloucester into believing that Edgar wanted to kill him...
The disrespectful Goneril conspires to have her guest and father, King Lear, driven out of her house.
Kent, who has now disguised his identity to serve King Lear, earns King Lear's respect by defending his name. Goneril offends King Lear and dismisses fifty of his knights. Lear starts to realize Cordelia was not so disrespecting. Lear decides to leave for Regan where he is sure to be treated properly...
Lear instructs Kent to deliver several letters to Gloucester. The Fool teaches Lear several riddles.
We learn of possible conflict between evil sisters Regan and Goneril. Edmund further manipulates Edgar. Gloucester learns from Edmund of Edgar's plan to kill him and believes it...
Kent and Oswald, Goneril's steward fight. Kent is placed in stocks emphasizing just how little Lear's name is now respected by daughters Regan and Goneril...
Edgar, now alone and disguised, describes his fate of living in hiding.
Showing complete disregard for King Lear's authority, Kent remains in stocks. Lear tells Regan how much Goneril has hurt him. Regan in consultation with Goneril, allows Lear to stay but without a single follower. Lear decides not to stay with either daughter...
The King of France may well invade England. Kent sends a messenger to Cordelia to keep her aware of King Lear's plight... Lear braves the elements against a storm, no doubt symbolic of his tortured soul...
Gloucester lets slip to his traitorous son Edmund that the army of France is poised to invade, guaranteeing Gloucester's own future suffering. We learn more of a potential conflict between Regan and Goneril, centering on their husbands...
Lear is brought out of the elements. Lear explains that nature's physical torment of him distracted him from the pain his daughters have given him.
Edgar, Gloucester's legitimate son, makes his appearance, disguised as "poor Tom." Cornwall, Regan's husband and Edmund speak. After implicating his father Gloucester as a traitor against Cornwall, Edmund is rewarded for betraying his father Gloucester by receiving his father's title as the new Earl of Gloucester.
Cornwall tells Edmund to seek out his father saying "he may be ready for our apprehension" or punishment.
Lear and company find solace and safety in a farmhouse. Lear, showing signs of madness, holds a mock trial to punish his daughters addressing two joint stools as if they were Regan and Goneril. Kent leads Lear to Dover where he will be safe...
Gloucester is captured and tortured first having his beard ripped away and later being made blind. Unable to bear Cornwall's brutality any longer, a servant wounds Cornwall...
Gloucester now blind, realizes in his suffering his mistakes, especially about his son Edgar. Gloucester meets "poor Tom" not realizing it is Edgar in disguise. Edgar leads his father to the cliffs of Dover where his father wishes to commit suicide.
The Duke of Albany renounces his wife Goneril, realizing that he has been on the wrong side... The Duke of Cornwall (Regan's husband) is now dead. The rivalry for Edmund by Regan and Goneril intensifies.
Kent wonders how Cordelia can be so good and her sisters so evil. The King of France will not oversee the battle about to begin. Cordelia is saddened by what she learns of King Lear's plight...
Cordelia has her men search for her father... With the battle almost about to start, we learn Albany has switched sides again, supporting Goneril and Regan's forces against the invading French.
Regan worries more about her sister's intentions for Edmund more than the battle that lies ahead... Edgar continues to lead his father to the cliffs of Dover where he tricks him that he miraculously survived his fall. Lear learns of Gloucester's blindness.
Edgar kills Oswald when he attempts to kill Gloucester. Oswald's letter, which comes from Goneril, reveals instructions for Edmund to kill her husband, The Duke of Albany so she may marry him. Cordelia finds her father Lear who deeply regrets how he treated her...
Regan and Goneril put Edmund on the spot by demanding he choose for once and for all, which one of them he loves. Albany decides to fight on Regan and Goneril's side but only to fight an invading power (France).
Cordelia's forces lose to Goneril and Regan's and Cordelia and Lear are taken prisoner. Captured, King Lear tries to comfort Cordelia. Albany congratulates his allies but now turns on them. Edgar fights his brother Edmund, mortally wounding him. Goneril kills herself and poisons sister Regan.
Edgar reveals his true identity to Gloucester who dies from a heart unable to take both grief and joy. Albany and the dying Edmund try to prevent Lear and Cordelia being hanged but are too late for Cordelia.
Lear howls with pain his loss of Cordelia. Kent is finally recognized for his loyalty by Lear. Lear, unable to take further pain, dies. Albany is left to restore order following this tragedy...
16 September 2010
Romeo and Juliet Summary provides a quick review of the play's plot including every important action in the play. Romeo and Juliet Summary is divided by the five acts of the play and makes an ideal introduction before reading the original text.
Arguably Shakespeare's most famous play begins with a Prologue which establishes that this play will be a tragedy and that the children of two feuding families, Romeo of the Montague family and Juliet of the Capulet family, will both love and die in the course of this play...
Sampson and Gregory, servants to the Capulets and Abraham and Balthasar, servants to the Montague family start a street fight, which is joined by Benvolio (Montague) and Tybalt (Capulet). Escalus, the Prince of Verona who angrily learns of this fight, declares a death penalty for further feuding between the two families. Romeo we learn is lovesick; Rosaline, the object of his affections will not requite (return) his love. His friend Benvolio tells Romeo to look at other girls...
Meanwhile Capulet is keen for Paris to marry his daughter Juliet and plans a party to be held later that night. Romeo and friends decide to turn up uninvited, Romeo hoping to see Rosaline, whom he still pines for...
Lady Capulet discusses the idea of marriage to Paris with Juliet. Juliet keeps her options open. The Nurse wishes Juliet every possible happiness...
Meanwhile Mercutio attempts to cheer a lovesick Romeo up, telling him to be rough with love if need be.
At the Capulet's party, Romeo who is disguised by a masque (mask), falls in love with Juliet on sight. Capulet stops Tybalt from attacking Romeo at his party, telling him there will be other opportunities. Both Romeo and Juliet learn that they are each enemies of the other's family... A Prologue sung by a choir dramatizes the conflict both Romeo and Juliet feel between their love for one another and their loyalty to their respective families.
Ignoring the danger, Romeo scales the Capulet's wall to be near Juliet, the woman he cannot forget... Unnoticed in Juliet's orchard, Romeo learns of Juliet's love for him. After declaring their feelings for each other, the two decide to marry. Juliet will send Romeo a messenger in the morning to make plans for their wedding...
The very next day, we meet Romeo's friend, Friar Laurence. He wonders how Romeo can forget Rosaline so quickly but agrees to marry the two since he hopes this marriage it will end the long running Montague / Capulet feud...
Romeo catches up with his friends Mercutio and Benvolio. Juliet's messenger, the Nurse, arrives and the wedding is set for later that day. The Nurse brings Romeo "cords" or ropes which will allow Romeo to climb into Juliet's bedchamber as her husband later that night... Act II ends with Romeo and Juliet's marriage.
Benvolio and Mercutio (both Montagues) meet Tybalt (Capulet). Tybalt attempts to provoke Romeo into fighting. Mercutio fights Tybalt and is killed. Romeo then kills Tybalt. Escalus, the Prince of Verona banishes Romeo from Verona threatening death should he ever return. Juliet learns of Romeo killing Tybalt and despite being torn between her loyalty for her family and Romeo, mourns her husband Romeo's banishment.
Romeo learns of the banishment order, realizing he will not be able to see Juliet again. Friar Laurence suggests Romeo go to Juliet's bed chamber to comfort his wife... Capulet, who does not know of Romeo and Juliet's marriage, decides that the marriage of Juliet to Paris must now proceed, bidding his wife to make Juliet aware of Paris' love for her. The day of the marriage has been decided; it will be Thursday.
We learn that Romeo has spent the night with his Juliet. Juliet who is now already secretly married to Romeo, learns that she is to marry Paris. She tries to fight her father's wishes, failing to dissuade him. Juliet decides to commit suicide if all else fails...
Paris reveals that the wedding will occur on Thursday. Juliet is cold to Paris. Friar Laurence tells Juliet to take a potion simulating death, allowing Romeo to take her away, unopposed to Mantua since everyone will think she is dead at the Capulet's ancient vault or burial ground.
Capulet makes plans for Juliet's wedding. Juliet, who has decided to drink Friar Laurence's potion, no longer opposes the wedding, delighting Capulet.
Hearing this good news, Capulet, who is keen to have Juliet marry Paris decides to move the wedding forward. It will now be on Wednesday morning, not Thursday as previously planned...
Juliet succeeds in sleeping alone which allows her to take the potion in privacy. Juliet worries about the Friar's intentions before the potion takes effect and she falls asleep...
Lady Capulet and the Nurse are busy making preparations for the wedding. It is 3 o'clock in the morning and now Capulet hearing music announcing Paris' arrival, tells the Nurse to wake Juliet. The Capulet's learn that their daughter Juliet is dead. The wedding preparations are changed to those of a funeral.
In Mantua, Romeo learns of Juliet's death, deciding to risk his own life by returning to Verona at once to see Juliet one last time. Romeo also buys some poison from a local Apothecary.
Friar John explains to Friar Laurence that his letter informing Romeo that Juliet is not dead, did not reach Romeo. Friar Laurence tries again to inform Romeo of his plan and heads off to the Capulet burial chamber where Juliet will soon awaken.
Paris mourns his bride that never was. Romeo arrives, opening Juliet's coffin to look at his love one last time. Paris fights Romeo whom he believes is desecrating Juliet's grave. Paris dies, Romeo placing him beside Juliet. Romeo takes his poison, kisses Juliet and dies. Friar Laurence arrives too late. Juliet, now awakens, asking for her Romeo. Friar Laurence leaves, leaving Juliet alone. Juliet kisses Romeo and stabs herself, dying. The Prince, Capulets, and Montagues arrive, Balthasar and Friar Laurence explaining all. Escalus scolds the two families who finally end their feud. The play ends with the Prince summarizing this tragic love story.
Hamlet, Prince of Denmark Summary
Hamlet Summary provides a quick review of the play's plot including every important action in the play. Hamlet Summary is divided by the five acts of the play and is an ideal introduction before reading the original text.
Shakespeare's longest play and the play responsible for the immortal lines "To be or not to be: that is the question:" and the advise "to thine own self be true," begins in Denmark with the news that King Hamlet of Denmark has recently died.
Denmark is now in a state of high alert and preparing for possible war with Young Fortinbras of Norway. A ghost resembling the late King Hamlet is spotted on a platform before Elsinore Castle in Denmark. King Claudius, who now rules Denmark, has taken King Hamlet's wife, Queen Gertrude as his new wife and Queen of Denmark.
King Claudius fearing Young Fortinbras of Norway may invade, has sent ambassadors to Norway to urge the King of Norway to restrain Young Fortinbras. Young Hamlet distrusts King Claudius. The King and Queen do not understand why Hamlet still mourns his father's death over two months ago. In his first soliloquy, Hamlet explains that he does not like his mother marrying the next King of Denmark so quickly within a month of his father's death...
Laertes, the son of Lord Chamberlain Polonius, gives his sister Ophelia some brotherly advice. He warns Ophelia not to fall in love with Young Hamlet; she will only be hurt. Polonius tells his daughter Ophelia not to return Hamlet's affections for her since he fears Hamlet is only using her...
Hamlet meets the Ghost of his father, King Hamlet and follows it to learn more...
Hamlet learns from King Hamlet's Ghost that he was poisoned by King Claudius, the current ruler of Denmark. The Ghost tells Hamlet to avenge his death but not to punish Queen Gertrude for remarrying; it is not Hamlet's place and her conscience and heaven will judge her... Hamlet swears Horatio and Marcellus to silence over Hamlet meeting the Ghost.
Polonius tells Reynaldo to spy on his son Laertes in Paris. Polonius learns from his daughter Ophelia that a badly dressed Hamlet met her, studied her face and promptly left. Polonius believes that Hamlet's odd behaviour is because Ophelia has rejected him. Polonius decides to tell King Claudius the reason for Hamlet's recently odd behaviour.
King Claudius instructs courtiers Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to find out what is causing Hamlet's strange "transformation," or change of character. Queen Gertrude reveals that only King Hamlet's death and her recent remarriage could be upsetting Hamlet.
We learn more of Young Fortinbras' movements and Polonius has his own theory about Hamlet's transformation; it is caused by Hamlet's love for his daughter Ophelia. Hamlet makes his famous speech about the greatness of man. Hamlet plans to use a play to test if King Claudius really did kill his father as King Hamlet's Ghost told him...
The King's spies, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern report to King Claudius on Hamlet's behaviour. Hamlet is eager for King Claudius and Queen Gertrude to watch a play tonight which Hamlet has added lines to.
King Claudius and Polonius listen in on Hamlet's and Ophelia's private conversation. Hamlet suspects Ophelia is spying on him and is increasingly hostile to her before leaving.
King Claudius decides to send Hamlet to England, fearing danger in Hamlet since he no longer believes Hamlet is merely lovesick. The King agrees to Polonius' plan to eavesdrop on Hamlet's conversation with his mother after the play to hopefully learn more from Hamlet. The play Hamlet had added lines to is performed. The mime preceding the play which mimics the Ghost's description of King Hamlet's death goes unnoticed.
The main play called "The Murder of Gonzago" is performed, causing King Claudius to react in a way which convinces Hamlet that his uncle did indeed poison his father King Hamlet as the Ghost previously had told him... Hamlet pretends not to know that the play has offended King Claudius. Hamlet agrees to speak with his mother in private...
King Claudius admits his growing fear of Hamlet and decides to send him overseas to England with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in order to protect himself. Alone, King Claudius reveals in soliloquy his own knowledge of the crime he has committed (poisoning King Hamlet) and realizes that he cannot escape divine justice...
Queen Gertrude attempts to scold her son but Hamlet instead scolds his mother for her actions. Queen Gertrude cries out in fear, and Polonius echoes it and is stabbed through the arras (subdivision of a room created by a hanging tapestry) where he was listening in. Hamlet continues scolding his mother but the Ghost reappears, telling Hamlet to be gentle with the Queen. For her part, Queen Gertrude agrees to stop living with King Claudius, beginning her redemption....
King Claudius speaks with his wife, Queen Gertrude. He learns of Polonius' murder which shocks him; it could easily have been him. Queen Gertrude lies for her son, saying that Hamlet is as mad as a tempestuous sea. King Claudius, now scared of Hamlet, decides to have Hamlet sent away to England immediately... He also sends courtiers and spies Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to speak with Hamlet to find out where Hamlet has hidden Polonius' body so they can take it to the chapel.
Hamlet refuses to tell Rosencrantz and Guildenstern where Polonius' dead body is hidden. He calls Rosencrantz and Guildenstern lapdogs revealing his true awareness that they are not his friends. Hamlet agrees to see King Claudius.
Hamlet continues to refuse to tell Rosencrantz and Guildenstern where Polonius' body is. Hamlet is brought before the King. The two exchange words, clearly circling each other, each aware that the other is a threat. Hamlet tells King Claudius where Polonius body is. King Claudius ominously tells Hamlet to leave for England supposedly for Hamlet's own safety. With Hamlet gone, King Claudius reveals his plans for Hamlet to be killed in England, freeing King Claudius from further worry from this threat...
Young Fortinbras marches his army across Denmark to fight the Polish. Hamlet laments that he does not have in him the strength of Young Fortinbras, who will lead an army into pointless fighting, if only to maintain honor. Hamlet asks himself how he cannot fight for honor when his father has been killed and his mother made a whore in his eyes by becoming King Claudius' wife.
The death of Polonius leaves its mark on Ophelia who becomes mad from the grief of losing her father. Laertes storms King Claudius' castle, demanding to see his father and wanting justice when he learns that his father, Polonius has been killed. King Claudius remains calm, telling Laertes that he too mourned his father's loss...
Horatio is greeted by sailors who have news from Hamlet. Horatio follows the sailors to learn more... King Claudius explains to Laertes that Hamlet killed his father, Polonius. Deciding they have a common enemy, they plot Hamlet's death at a fencing match to be arranged between Laertes and Hamlet. Laertes learns of his sister Ophelia's death by drowning...
Hamlet and Horatio speak with a cheerful Clown or gravedigger. Hamlet famously realizes that man's accomplishments are transitory (fleeting) and holding the skull of Yorick, a childhood jester he remembered, creates a famous scene about man's insignificance and inability to control his fate following death.
At Ophelia's burial, the Priest reveals a widely held belief that Ophelia committed suicide, angering Laertes. Hamlet fights Laertes over Ophelia's grave, angered by Laertes exaggerated emphasis of his sorrow and because he believes he loved Ophelia much more than her brother.
Hamlet explains to Horatio how he avoided the death planned for him in England and had courtiers' Rosencrantz and Guildenstern put to death instead. Hamlet reveals his desire to kill King Claudius.
Summoned by Osric to fence against Laertes, Hamlet arrives at a hall in the castle and fights Laertes. Queen Gertrude drinks a poisoned cup meant for Hamlet, dying but not before telling all that she has been poisoned.
Hamlet wins the first two rounds against Laertes but is stabbed and poisoned fatally in the third round. Exchanging swords whilst fighting, Hamlet wounds and poisons Laertes who explains that his sword is poison tipped.
Now dying, Hamlet stabs King Claudius with this same sword, killing him.
Hamlet, dying, tells Horatio to tell his story and not to commit suicide. Hamlet recommends Young Fortinbras as the next King of Denmark. Young Fortinbras arrives, cleaning up the massacre. Horatio promises to tell all the story we have just witnessed, ending the play.