Pivotal Scene In "Hamlet"

Essay by phenom34High School, 12th gradeA+, February 2007

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When the play, "Hamlet", by William Shakespeare is discussed, there are three scenes which stand out as turning points or climaxes for Hamlet and the rest of the characters. However, all three scenes, "the play-within-the-play", Gertrude's bedroom, and the prayer scene, illustrate some type of climactic event or alteration to Hamlet. In the "play scene", Hamlet receives the sign or information which he needs in order to fulfill his father's request of revenge. With "Gertrude's bedroom", Hamlet makes good with his mother and clears the air about what is bothering him. In the last scene, "the prayer scene", one of Hamlet's weaknesses is exposed and ultimately foreshadows what is to come of King Claudius.

There is one distinct climax within this "the-play-within-the-play" scene. It is when Hamlet and Horatio watch Claudius storm out of the theater upset and angry because of what he has just seen on stage. Hamlet says to Horatio,

"There is a play tonight before the king.

/ One scene of it comes near the circumstance / Which I have told thee of my father's death. / I prithee, when thou seest that act afoot, / Even with the very comment of thy soul / Observe mine uncle. If his occulted guilt / Do not itself unkennel in one speech, / It is a damnèd ghost that we have seen." (59)

Claudius' reaction to the play is exactly what Hamlet is looking for. This is significant because it is the first piece of evidence that the ghost is not lying, and Claudius did in fact slay King Hamlet. After this, Hamlet's attitude turns from skeptical and weary to determined and vengeful. He only wants to avenge his father's death, "My thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth!(86)" He is saying that if his thoughts stray from...