Hamlet Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

Hamlet book cover
Start Your Free Trial

How Does Claudius Die

In Hamlet, how are Gertrude, Laertes, Claudius, and Hamlet killed?

Expert Answers info

Kendall Bartell, M.A. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseCollege Professor

bookB.A. from Point Loma Nazarene University

bookM.A. from National University

calendarEducator since 2004

write232 answers

starTop subjects are Literature and History

Gertrude drinks a poisoned cup that Claudius had meant for Hamlet. When Gertrude faints and Claudius excuses this by lying "she swoons to see her son bleed," Hamlet hears Gertrude say it was the cup that killed her.

Laertes is killed dueling with Hamlet. He uses a poisoned foil and cuts Hamlet's flesh, barely, but enough for the poison to do its work to kill Hamlet. Hamlet, continuing the fight, picks up the tainted foil by mistake, so when he wounds Laertes, Laertes is thus poisoned. Hamlet hears a confession from Laertes, then stabs Claudius with the same poisoned sword and pours the rest of the poisoned drink down his throat, thus killing him three ways: sword wound, poisoned sword, poisoned drink.

The notable quality of all these deaths is that they are all wrapped in lies, deceit and treachery. Hamlet finished this tawdry mess by revealing the hidden and by assuring that Horatio would tell his story. There could be no honorable conclusion for these characters. Hamlet is our hero who pursued his quest by using a clever and cruel web of lies. He used lies and pretense to uncover larger lies. In his death, he begs for an honest telling of his life.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

malibrarian eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2007

write722 answers

starTop subjects are Literature and History

Hamlet and Laertes are dueling.  What Hamlet doesn't realize is that Laertes has poisoned the tip of his own foil, so that if he even breaks Hamlet's skin, Hamlet will die.  Laertes nicks Hamlet with the poisoned sword, then they scuffle at one point in the match, and Hamlet grabs Laertes' foil.  He then wounds Laertes with the poisoned sword.  Gertrude drinks poison from a cup that Claudius meant for Hamlet.  When Hamlet sees his mother die from the poison, and is told by Laertes (who is dying) that Claudius is the one who has caused all of this to happen, Hamlet stabs Claudius with the poisoned foil and makes Claudius drink from the poisoned cup.

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial