We have a very short scene with which to ease ourselves back into the read-along, eh? And then only three scenes left! I think I'm going to end up splitting the last two in half again, though, as they're lengthy and rich.
Anyway, this scene is just here for Horatio to read a letter and catch the audience up on what's happened off-stage. Hamlet's returning! He has evaded Claudius' machinations to have England kill him, as mentioned in IV, 3. How? Via pirates, of course! I love the way he describes them: "thieves of mercy" (20). I've always wanted to write a pirate story with that as its title. Maybe one of these days, I will.
I'm intrigued by Horatio's statement early in this scene, where he says, "I do not know from what part of the world I should be greeted, if not from Lord Hamlet (4-5). No one else writes Horatio letters? Not even pals from Wittenberg? He really is a man apart, isn't he? The loner, the observer, the reporter. Anyway, off he goes to meet Hamlet, and that's the end of our scene for the day!
Possible Discussion Questions:
Horatio is supposed to be keeping watch over Ophelia, but she's not mentioned in this scene. Any thoughts on that?
Do you think the pirates are a bit of a deus ex machina? Does it matter if they are?