Where does Claudius kill his brother? Significance?Hamlet by William Shakespeare

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In William Shakespeare's tragedy, Hamlet, the ghost of King Hamlet appears to his son, Prince Hamlet after he comes out because he has been persuaded by his friend, Horatio, who tells Hamlet that the ghost of the king has appeared in his presence.  King Hamlet's ghost tells Prince Hamlet that when he went to his orchard in the afternoon to nap, as was his custom, Cladius poured a vial of poison, the "juice of cursed hebona," into the

porches of my ears....

The leperous distilment, whose effect

Holds such an enmity with blood of man

That swift as quicksilver it courses through

The natural gates and alleys of the body,

And with a sudden vigor it doth posset

And curd, like eager droppings into milk,

The thin and wholesome blood. (I,ii,62-69)

The fact that King Hamlet's brother kills him in a garden is certainly suggestive of the Garden of Good and Evil and the story of Cain who, out of jealousy, slays his brother Abel in the Old Testament of the Bible.

In addition to its allusive quality, this scene also introduces an important and recurrent motif in Shakespeare's play:  indirection and deception.  For, the various witnesses of the ghost have different interpretations of him.  The officers believe that King Hamlet's ghost is armed because he is the reason for the current wars with "young Fortinbras."  On the other hand, Hamlet knows that the ghost has asked him to avenge his death by the hand of his brother Claudius.