Taking a Spin on Shakespeare
Our Spin on Shakespeare:
|Much Ado About Nothing Summary||
Scene XII : (All gather for the performance. As the play is acted King Claudius becomes more and more anxious. He ends the performance and leaves very angry. The queen asks to see Hamlet. Polonius and Hamlet speak after the performance. On the way to the queen, they overhear Claudius making confession over the murder of his brother. Hamlet and Polonius report this to the queen, and they devise a plan to trap the king.)
(Horatio approaches Hamlet)
Ham. Good Horatio. I am glad to see you.
Hor. Ready to serve you, Hamlet.
Ham. Observe my uncle. Mine eyes will study his face, and after we will both our judgments compare. Ah, there’s Polonius. I must to him. Polonius!
Pol. Yes, my lord.
Ham. I shall wish to confer with you following the performance.
Pol. My viewing will carry a bias in favor of my king. Know you that?
Ham. I do, my lord. My wish is not to be false to any man, but to see justice done. To our seats. Readiness finds the players.
The dumb show enters. (As the action of the play unfolds the king grows ever more anxious. He fidgets, looks around, even begins to sweat.)
Enter a King and a Queen very lovingly; the Queen embracing him. She kneels. He takes her up, and declines his head on her neck. He lays him down upon a bank of flowers. She, seeing him asleep, leaves him. Anon comes a fellow, takes off his crown, kisses it. He then takes out a vial, removes the cap. His expression suggests it is poison. He pours it in the king’s ear and exits. The queen returns, finds the king dead, and makes passionate action. The Poisoner comes back to observe, but, remaining unseen, watches the dead body being carried away. He comforts the Queen.
(King Claudius rises in discomfort)
Oph. The king rises!
Ham. What, disturbed by the mirror of art?
Gertrude. How fares my lord?
Claudius. Is there no offense in it? End the play at once!
Ham. But there’s more. Cannot your eyes endure, or is it your soul that’s disturbed?
Claudius I command this play is over. I must away. And alone. (Claudius exits)
Gertrude (stunned) Hamlet, I need have words with thee.
Ham I’ll to you presently, mother.
(All exit but Hamlet and Horatio)
Ham. O Horatio, I’ll take the ghost’s word for a thousand pound! Dids’t thou perceive the king’s torment?
Hor. I did very well note him. His expression displayed guilt.
Pol. My lord, a private word.
Ham. I must to my mother. You may walk with me.
Pol. I shall with you.
Ham. Horatio, for your faithfulness, I am much indebted. Polonius and I go to my mother.
Hor. I’ll away, my lord, and will meet you later.
Ham. Until then.
Pol. My lord, your play aroused offense!
Ham. But what offense owns the king for his actions? Lest it strike the chord of truth, the play should not the king offend.
Pol. Your argument hath reason, but your disrespect is marked. And your play, though upsetting to the king, proves not your point.
Ham. Observed you not his reaction?
Pol. Most certainly I did, my lord. But his affliction could be a good many things.
Ham. As you stand before me, Polonius, I see guilt etched on the king’s face.
Pol. The king hath my allegiance. He’ll not be brought down by reckless uncertainty.
Ham. Faith, I’ve made known to you what I know. We must to the queen.
(As they walk, they see the king praying in a small chapel room)
Ham. But what’s this, the king? In prayer?
Pol. My lord, we shall not disturb his majesty.
Ham. Disturb him not; listen briefly I shall. Mark you. Let’s approach and observe unobserved.
(They stop for a moment and hear the king)
Claudius. O, my offense is rank, it smells to heaven; it hath the primal eldest curse upon’t—a brother’s murder! Pray can I not. My awesome guilt defeats my sturdy intent. I remain possessed of those effects for which I did the foul deed—my crown, mine own ambition, and my queen.
Ham. (Quietly but intensely to Polonius) He confesses, Polonius! Have ever the gates of truth been opened so wide?
Pol. I’ve no words, Hamlet, than to disavow my allegiance to the king for the sake of higher veracity. Your accusations have proved faithful.
Ham. Now while he is praying I’ll revenge my father’s murder.
Pol. No! Do not, my lord, make the matter doubly foul by sharing your uncle’s tattered apparel. Choose a higher path.
Ham. How proceed we then?
Pol. His confession compels our hasty action. We must first to the queen with news of the king’s admission.
Ham. Then to the queen. (Exit)
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