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Discuss the events that unfold because of the performance by the visiting players in...

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chadhi | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 27, 2011 at 8:10 PM via web

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Discuss the events that unfold because of the performance by the visiting players in Hamlet.

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luannw | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted January 28, 2011 at 12:06 AM (Answer #1)

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As a result of the players' performance of "The Murder of Gonzago," the first action that affects the course of Hamlet is that Claudius rises from his seat and calls for light and exits the scene (Act 3, sc. 2).  This action proves to Hamlet that Claudius is guilty of killing Hamlet's father just as the ghost had described because Claudius' reaction was proof of guilt.  Hamlet tells Horatio that he is sure now that the ghost was telling the truth, so now Hamlet realizes he must kill Claudius in order to fulfill his promise to the ghost of his father to get revenge.  After some mad raving in front of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, Hamlet encounters Claudius in the chapel seemingly in prayer (Act 3, sc. 3).  Hamlet decides not to take advantage of the opportunity to kill Claudius there because he thinks Claudius is praying and he does not want Claudius to have the chance to be absolved of his sins and go to heaven.  Hamlet then goes to his mother's room (Act 4, sc. 4) where he has a very emotional encounter with her regarding her actions since her husband, his father, died.  Here, he hears a noise behind the arras and thrusts his rapier into the tapestry, killing Poloinus who was hiding there to try to find out what was bothering Hamlet.  He reveals to his mother also, that he has seen, and sees, his father's ghost.  He tells his mother how to act around Claudius and that she should trust him to have a plan.  As a result of her father's death in this scene, Ophelia is driven mad and in her madness is incapable of helping herself when she falls into the water and drowns (Act 4, sc. 7).  The death of his father drives Laertes to want Hamlet's death and that desire is further solidified by his sister's death.  Claudius uses Laertes' anger to help him get rid of Hamlet.  This then does, indeed, bring about Hamlet's death.  All of the steps that Claudius and Laertes use to ensure Hamlet's death in the duel though, also bring about the deaths of Laertes, Gertrude, and Claudius.  The play performed by the players impacts the rest of the play, Hamlet.

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