Okay, yes, I realize I didn't exactly divide this scene in half. But hey, that means you only had 80 lines left to read for this second post. Anyway, poor Hamlet, discovering this way that Ophelia has died. He didn't even know she'd gone crazy, unless Horatio clued him in while they were heading back to Elsinore. But I think if he had, Hamlet wouldn't have been so cheerful earlier in this scene, and he definitely wouldn't have been so surprised when he figured out who was getting buried here.
You know I like that Hamlet calls Laertes "a very noble youth" (204), so I won't belabor that. So instead I will point out that it was Claudius who commanded that Ophelia be buried in consecrated ground and with at least some Christian rites. Good for Claudius. Maybe he's trying to make up for the secretive way he had Polonius buried?
So then Laertes speechifies a while about how much he hates Hamlet, and how dear Ophelia was to him. Which makes Hamlet hop out of hiding and make a few declarations himself. And not just about how he loved Ophelia more than any brother ever could, but did you notice how he calls himself "Hamlet the Dane" (239)? That's pretty much a direct challenge to Claudius. "The Dane" means "the #1 Dane," as in "I am by rights the king." He's pretty much done with subtlety, I'd say. (Also, that's the line I get the long version of my handle from: Hamlette the Dame.)
So anyway, Hamlet and Laertes slug it out a while. I love the stage direction there. It's very simple and direct: They fight. After they fight, both Gertrude and Claudius try to convince Laertes and everyone else that Hamlet's just mad, no big, please ignore him. And Horatio gets sent to watch over him, just like they told him to watch over Ophelia. Guess everyone pretty much trusts him, huh?
And we end with Claudius assuring Laertes that their little Plot To Kill Hamlet By Any Treacherous Means Necessary is still totally on. Nice. (Insert grumpy face here.)
"Couch we awhile and mark" (204).
"I tell thee, churlish priest,
A ministering angel shall my sister be
When thou liest howling" (221-223).
"Who is he whose grief
Bears such an emphasis, whose phrase of sorrow
Conjures the wandering stars and makes them stand
Like wonder-wounded hearers? This is I,
Hamlet the Dane" (235-239).
"Yet have I in me something dangerous" (243).
"What is the reason that you use me thus?
I loved you ever" (272-73).
"Let Hercules himself do what he may,
The cat will mew, and dog will have his day" (274-75).
Possible Discussion Questions:
Hamlet says, "I loved Ophelia" (252). Do you think he truly did?
Why do you think Hamlet got so upset over seeing Laertes grieving over Ophelia?
Do you think anyone actually believes Hamlet to be mad by this point?
Quick note: I will be hosting a giveaway to celebrate our finishing the whole play! It will last extra long because I know a lot of people are really busy over the holidays and don't have a lot of computer time :-)