Hamlet for the Shakespeare Impaired

Act 5, Scene 2

Still in Elsinore.  A hall in the Castle.  Enter Hamlet and Horatio.

Hamlet: Well, that's taken care of.  Now it's on to the next thing.  You do remember what happened, right?
Horatio: Of course I remember it!
Hamlet: Here's the whole story.  We were sailing to England.  I had so much on my mind I couldn't sleep.  I knew I should just trust fate to work everything out, but I was anxious.
Horatio: Been there..
Hamlet: So I put on my coat and came up on deck.  It was really dark.  I snuck into Rosencrantz and Guildenstern's cabin and stole that important-looking letter the King gave them.  I tip-toed back to my own cabin to read it.   It was pretty risky to do, but I was really worried so I did it anyway.  I unsealed the letter, and you'll never believe what I found.  It was a direct order from the King.  He listed all sorts of concerns about the well-being of both Denmark and England.  Then...and here's the interesting part...he commanded them to behead me!
Horatio: Yikes!  Is that possible?
Hamlet: Here's the letter.  Feel free to read it later.  But wait until I finish my story.
Horatio: Oh, yes, please do!
Hamlet: I was pretty upset, as you can well imagine.  I sat down and wrote up a new letter to replace the original.  I used as many big, official-soundng words as I could think of.  And guess what I wrote!
Horatio: Tell me!.
Hamlet: I wrote a command from the King saying that ensure goodwill and peace between Denmark and England, they should immediately kill Rosencrantz and Guildenstern!
Horatio: How could you fake the royal seal, though?
Hamlet: By lucky chance, I had my father's signet ring in my pocket.  It has the Danish seal on it, so I just used that to make the seal on the letter!  I put it in the envelope and put it back in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern's room.  They never knew a thing.  The next day the pirates came.  I told you about that in my letter.
Horatio: So Guildenstern and Rosencrantz went ahead to England?
Hamlet: Of course.  What a couple of butt-kissing dweebs!  They deserved what came to them.
Horatio: I can't believe Claudius would do that to you!
Hamlet: Not to mention killing my father, the King, seducing my mother, stealing my inheritance and just generally making life awful.  I've got to stop him before he does something else horrible.
Horatio: We should tell him about what happened in England right away.
Hamlet: I'll get around to it soon.  Oh, but I'm pretty ticked at myself for losing my temper at Laertes.  He's just upset over his own father's death, just like me.  I should apologize.  But to see him making such a show over Ophelia's grave really irritated me.
Horatio: Ssh.  Someone is coming.
[Enter young Osric, a courtier.]
Osric: Welcome back to Denmark, Your Majesty..
Hamlet: Thank you. [Aside to Horatio.]  Do you know this little dork?
Horatio: [Aside to Hamlet.] Never seen him before.
Hamlet: [Aside to Horatio.]  Lucky you.  He's extremely annoying.  But he owns a lot of good farm land so the King is nice to him..
Osric:  Sir, if I may have a moment of your time, I have a message for you from the King.
Hamlet: Fine.  Give me the message.  But for heaven's sake put your hat back on.  It belongs on your head.
Osric: If you don't mind, Your Highness, it's very hot.
Hamlet: No, it's not.  It's freezing.  The wind is coming straight out of the North.
Osric: Er, yes, sir.  You're right of course, Your Majesty.  It's terribly cold.
Hamlet: But yet I think it's very sultry and hot for someone with my fair complexion.
Osric: Exceedingly, my lord.  It's very sultry.  You're always right, sir.  Anyway, sir, the message from the King.  He's put a large wager on you winning the--
Hamlet: Please, remember to put on your hat.  I won't listen to you otherwise.  You're having a bad hair day.
[Hamlet moves him to put on his hat. ]
Osric: If you don't mind, Your Majesty, I'd really rather not.  You know Laertes has returned from France.  Such a wonderful, polite, well-bred man.  A model citizen.
Hamlet: I'm sure he is, but if you list all his good qualities we'd be here all night, and you probably still wouldn't cover them all, so shut up. Besides, I can always listen to him bragging about his charms later.
Osric: You like him, them, sir?.
Hamlet: Yeah, sure.  Whatever.
Osric: Sir?
Horatio: [Aside to Hamlet.]  You're right.  He is a total dork.
Hamlet: So why do you bring up Laertes?
Osric: Laertes?  Oh, yeah, him.  Uh...where was I?
Horatio: [Aside.]  When they handed out intelligence, this guy must left his share behind at the cash register.
Hamlet: You were talking about how Laertes has returned, and something about a message from the King..
Osric: I know you're not ignorant--
Hamlet: I'm glad you realize that, although I really don't care what you think of me.  Anyway, go on.
Osric: You know how great Laertes is, and--
Hamlet: Yeah, yeah, Laertes is perfect and I'm scum.  Get to the point.
Osric: I was referring to his weapon, sir.
Hamlet: I don't see what his "weapon" has to do with anything.  Er...exactly which weapon were talking about?
Osric: The rapier and dagger.
Hamlet: Oh.  Yes.  I knew that.  He fights well with them.
Osric: The King and Laertes have a little bet going on, you see.  Laertes has bet six Barbary horses and the King has bet six fancy French swords, three carriages, and--
Hamlet: What kind of carriages?
Horatio: [Aside to Hamlet.]  I just knew you couldn't resist interrupting him again!
Osric: The kind that you keep swords in, sir.
Hamlet: Carriage...sounds more like an artillery piece than a sword accessory.  Imagine walking around with a cannon on your belt!  Ha ha!  Oh, never mind.  You were saying...six Barbary horses against six French swords plus accessories.  That's what Laertes and the King have bet.  Fine, I understand.  So what are they betting about?
Osric: The King, sir, says that is you and Laertes have a sword fight, he could strike at you a dozen times and only hit you three times.
Hamlet: What if if I refuse to duel?
Osric: I don't think the King is giving you a choice.
Hamlet: Typical.  Well, if he wants me to duel, fine.  If he wants to go to all the trouble to bring together the swords, Laertes, and everything else, I'll fight, and try to win.  But if I lose I just have a bit of hurt pride and few scratches. I'll be waiting here for his answer.
Osric: You want me to tell that to the King, sir?
Hamlet: Tell him something to that effect, yes.  Feel free to throw in a bunch of flowery language.
Osric: I humbly ask permission to leave so I can deliver your reply.
Hamlet: Fine, fine.  Shoo.  [Exit Osric.] As if I would keep him from leaving.  What a dork.
Horatio: He scurries around like a chicken with its head cut off..
Hamlet: At least he's both polite and annoying.  All those courtiers are alike.  Hopeless suck-ups.
[Enter a Lord. ]
Lord: Sir, the King says to come to the main hall for the duel.  Laertes is ready if you are.
Hamlet: No time like the present, I suppose.  Plus, we have to do what the King wants
Lord: The King and Queen and a bunch of others are coming down.
Hamlet: Okay.
Lord: The Queen wants you to be nice to Laertes before the duel.  Greet him politely.
Hamlet: Mother knows best.
[Exit Lord. ]
Horatio: Hamlet, I really don't think you can beat Laertes..
Hamlet: I'm not so sure.  I've been practicing every day since he left for France.  I think I can win.
Horatio: But, Hamlet--
Hamlet: It's no big deal.  Don't fret like an old woman about it.
Horatio: Be careful.  Something seems odd about all this.  If something starts to go wrong, stop.  I'll back you up and say you're sick.
Hamlet: That's not necessary.  You see deep meaning in the most trivial things.  If something's meant to be, it's going to happen, and there's nothing you or I can do about it. You can't predict the future.
[Enter King, Queen, Laertes, Osric, and Lords, with other Attendants with swords.  A table is set up with flagons of wine. ]
King: Come here, Hamlet, and greet your opponent.
[The King puts Laertes' hand into Hamlet's. ]
Hamlet: I bed your pardon, Laertes. I have done you wrong.  Forgive me like the gentleman you are.  I'm sure you've heard of my mental state.  I haven't been myself lately, and anything I've done against you has been because of my craziness.  Blame my madness, not me.  I can't help it.  I was almost your brother-in-law, and I'm sorry if I hurt you in any way.
Laertes: I accept your apology, but I'm not sure about that insanity alibi.  I can't forgive you, madness or not.  Someday I'll restore my family's honor.  But until then I'll try not to be too mean to you.
Hamlet: Thanks.  Now someone give us some swords and let's have a friendly little fencing match, shall we?
Laertes: Yeah, someone give me a sword.
Hamlet:  You could fence circles around me even without a sword.  You just want to duel with me to make yourself look good, because I really suck at this.
Laertes: Oh, I'm not as good as all that.
Hamlet: Sure you are.
King: Osric, give them the swords.  Hamlet, you know the size of the wager riding on this match?
Hamlet: Yes, Your Majesty.  You bet in my favor, but I don't think that was very smart.
King: Don't worry, kid, I'm sure you'll do find..
Laertes: This sword is too heavy.  Let me see another one.
Hamlet: I like this one just fine.
Osric: Yes, sir.
King: I'll put these glasses of wine on that table, there.  If Hamlet does well, I'll drop an expensive pearl in this glass and toast to his health. All right, let's start.  Judges, you watch closely now.
Hamlet: Come on, Laertes.  Let's go..
Laertes: Fine by me.
[They begin to fence, and Hamlet scores a hit.]
Hamlet: Ha!  Got you!
Laertes: Did not!
Hamlet: Judgment!
Osric: A hit.  Definitely a hit.
Laertes:  All right, Spamlet.  Keep going!
King: Wait a second.  Hand me that wine glass.  Hamlet, this pearl is yours.  To your health!
[The King drinks from the cup, then drops a "pearl" in the goblet.  Trumpets sound. A cannon blast is heard offstage.]
King: Give the cup to Hamlet, now.
Hamlet: Let's fence a little more first.  I'm not that thirsty yet.  En guarde!
[Hamlet and Laertes fence some more.]
Hamlet:  Nyah, nyah!  Got you again!
Laertes: It was just a nick, but...okay, yeah, fine, you hit me.
King: Hamlet is going to win.
Queen: I'm not sure.  He's not in very good shape. Here, Hamlet, take my napkin and wipe the sweat off your forehead.  I toast to your success.
Hamlet: Thanks, Mom.
King: Gertrude, don't drink from that cup!
Queen: Don't be silly.  Why not?  [Drinks.]
King: [Aside.]  That was the poisoned cup! She's done for!
Hamlet: I'm not ready to stop yet, Mom.  Soon.
Queen: Come here.  At least let me wipe that sweat off your face.
Laertes: [Aside to the King.] Can I run him through now?.
King: Not yet!
Laertes: [Aside.]  I don't want to wait.  I've been putting this off too long already.
Hamlet: Okay, Laertes!  Come and get your third hit.  Do your worst, pretty boy!  I'm not scared of you!
Laertes: So you say. Come on.  Let's get on with this match.
[They fence some more.]
Osric: Nothing either way.
Laertes: I'll get you, Hamlet!
[Laertes wounds Hamlet.  In scuffling, their swords get mixed around.  Hamlet wounds Laertes.]
King: Pull them apart.  They're mad with rage!
Hamlet: No way!  Take this, Laertes!
[The Queen falls.]
Osric: Hey, what's wrong with the Queen?
Horatio: They're both bleeding now.  Are you guys okay?
Osric: Are you all right, Laertes?
Laertes: All right?  All right?  No, I'm not all right!  I've been done in by my own treachery!  Alas!
Hamlet: Is Mom okay?
King: She just fainted at the sight of all that blood.
Queen: No, no! It was the drink!  The wine! Oh,  my dear Hamlet!  The wine!  It was poisoned!
[Queen dies. ]
Hamlet: Mom!  No!  Quick, lock the doors!  We'll catch whoever did this!
[Laertes falls. ]
Laertes: You don't need to look any farther than me, Hamlet.  And, Hamlet, you're as good as dead, too.  No medicine in the world can save you.  You'll be dead in less than a half hour.  That sword you're holding has no safety tip, plus it's been covered in poison.  I've been hit by it, too.  So here I lie, never to rise again.  Your mother was poisoned.  It's all the King's fault!
Hamlet: The sword point envenomed, too? Wasn't that a little excessive?  Well, then, poison, do your stuff!
[Hamlet slashes at the King with the sword, wounding him.]
Bystanders: Treason! treason!
King: Help!
[Hamlet rushes at the King and forces him to drink the poisoned wine.]
Hamlet: Here, you incestuous, murderous, damned Dane, drink this potion! Follow my mother! [King dies.]
Laertes: Killed by his own poison, just as he deserved.  Please exchange forgiveness with me, Hamlet. You weren't really responsible for my father's death, nor for mine.  And I'm not responsible for yours.  Arg! Mine and my father's death come not upon thee,
Nor thine on me!
[Laertes dies.]
Hamlet: I forgive you, Laertes, and may Heaven do the same.  I shall follow you soon.  I am dead, Horatio. 'Bye, Mom!  And all you who are pale and trembling, who had nothing to do with any of this, if I had the time, I would tell you...  Oh, never mind.  Horatio, I am dead, but you're alive and kicking.  You must go on and tell everyone what happened here.
Horatio: I can't.  I may be Danish, but my sense of honor is Roman.  I wish to die with you, my friend.  There's still a little poisoned wine left.
Hamlet: No!  Give me that cup!  Let go!  For God's sake, Horatio, you have to live on and tell my story.  You have to defend my family's honor.  If you ever cared about me at all, please, live.  I know it's hard, but you have to!
[Distant sound of a marching army and a rifle shot.]
Hamlet: What's that noise?
Osric: Young Fortinbras must be back from conquering Poland.
Hamlet: Oh, I die, Horatio!  The poison is all through me, now.  I won't live long enough to hear the news from England.  But I predict that Fortinbras will be a great ruler.  Wish him luck.  Tell him that.  After everything that happened...  Ooh...  The rest is silence.
[Hamlet dies.]
Horatio: Now stops a noble heart. Good night, my friend and prince.  May choirs of angels lead you to your final rest!
[Marching footsteps get nearer.]
Horatio:  Who's playing that stupid drum at a time like this?
[Enter Fortinbras and English Ambassadors.  Also enter a man playing the drum, a flag bearer, and attendants.]
Fortinbras: Hi, I'm looking for--  Yikes, what happened here?
Horatio: If you're looking for woe, agony and tragedy, you've found it.
Fortinbras: Look at all the dead bodies!  Geez, what happened?  What a horrible mess!
Ambassador: Yuck, what an awful sight.  We're too late to deliver our message from England.  The people we were going to tell are all dead.  We wanted to tell the King that his command has been carried out, and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead.  Who will give us our reward?
Horatio: Not the King, even if he had the ability to thank you.  He never ordered their death.  It was all a misunderstanding.  Since you all came in at the end of all this, let's take these bodies and put them on display for everyone to see.  Let me tell the world how all this came about.  You'll hear a long list of evil deeds, misunderstandings, murders, assassinations, mistakes and how it all backfired on them.  I witnessed it, and I can tell you all about it.
Fortinbras: Yes, please, hurry up and tell us what happened.  Call all the nobles around.  And although I am saddened by this tragedy, I do happen to have a claim on the Danish throne, after what Hamlet Senior did my father.  So I hereby take advantage of that claim and take the crown.
Horatio: Hamlet had a message for you about that.  I'll talk to you about it later.  But for now let's get this place cleaned up before anything else happens!
Fortinbras: Let four of my captains carry Hamlet like a soldier to the platform where the bodies are to be displayed.  If he had lived, I think he would have been a great soldier, and so he deserves to be buried with military honors.  Now would somebody please get these corpses out of here before they start to stink up the palace?  And someone tell the soldiers to fire off a salute.
[Soldiers carry out the bodies.  Everyone exits, and a gun salute is heard.]