Hamlet Act 5

Hamlet is a tragedy written by William Shakespeare, marking one of his most iconic works.

In this post, I will provide a comprehensive plot summary of Hamlet Act 5, broken down by scene with corresponding questions and answers for each section.

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Hamlet Act 5

Hamlet Act 5 Scene 1

The two gravediggers discuss the details of Ophelia’s death and burial. They believe she drowned herself, which would prevent her from having a Christian burial. As a gentlewoman, they suggest she’s privileged to choose how she dies, even though it’s seen as an act that might contradict Christian burial customs. While digging, they make grim jokes. One of them asks for a drink.

One gravedigger sings about love and the shortness of life. Hamlet and Horatio approach and observe him, with Horatio noting how the gravedigger has become hardened to death. The gravedigger throws out some skulls, leading to a conversation about the various identities they might have had.

Hamlet inquires about the grave being dug, and the gravedigger explains his work, mentioning Yorick’s skull, the King’s jester. The conversation continues on the topic of mortality and how everyone, regardless of status, returns to dust.

From a distance, Hamlet and Horatio see the King, Queen, Laertes, a priest, and lords entering with a coffin. The priest explains to Laertes that due to Ophelia’s questionable death, she can’t have complete funeral rites. Laertes jumps into the grave to be with his sister, asking to be buried too. Hamlet intervenes, declaring his love for Ophelia and causing a scuffle with Laertes. They are separated by Horatio and others.

Gertrude and Claudius reassure Laertes that Hamlet’s actions are merely a result of madness. Horatio guides Hamlet away, and Claudius advises Laertes to be patient regarding their plotted plan.

Questions on Hamlet Act 5 Scene 1

Who discusses Ophelia’s death and burial?

  • The gravediggers discuss Ophelia’s death and burial.

2. What do the gravediggers believe about Ophelia’s death?

  • They believe she drowned herself, potentially preventing her from having a Christian burial.

3. What privilege do the gravediggers suggest Ophelia may have had?

  • They suggest that, as a gentlewoman, Ophelia might have had the privilege to choose her own death despite contradicting Christian burial customs.

4. What does one of the gravediggers ask for while working?

  • One of the gravediggers asks for a drink while working.

5. What does the gravedigger sing about?

  • The gravedigger sings about love and the briefness of life.

6. Who observes the gravedigger as he works and sings?

  • Hamlet and Horatio observe the gravedigger.

7. What do Hamlet and Horatio notice about the gravedigger’s attitude towards death?

  • Horatio notes that the gravedigger has become hardened to death.

8. What does the gravedigger throw out, leading to a conversation about various identities?

  • The gravedigger throws out skulls, leading to a conversation about the different identities these skulls might have had.

9. Whose skull does the gravedigger mention during the conversation?

  • The gravedigger mentions Yorick’s skull, who was the King’s jester.

10. What does the gravedigger emphasize regarding mortality?

  • He emphasizes that everyone, regardless of status, ultimately returns to dust.

11. Who enters with a coffin from a distance?

  • The King, Queen, Laertes, a priest, and lords enter with a coffin.

12. Why does the priest explain to Laertes that Ophelia can’t have complete funeral rites?

  • Due to the questionable nature of Ophelia’s death, the priest explains that she cannot have complete funeral rites.

13. Who jumps into the grave with Ophelia’s coffin?

  • Laertes jumps into the grave to be with his sister, asking to be buried too.

14. What causes a scuffle between Hamlet and Laertes?

  • Hamlet’s declaration of love for Ophelia causes a scuffle between him and Laertes.

15. How do Gertrude and Claudius explain Hamlet’s actions to Laertes?

  • They attribute Hamlet’s actions to madness and reassure Laertes of this explanation.

Hamlet Act 5 Scene 2

Hamlet tells Horatio how he replaced the letter Rosencrantz and Guildenstern carried to have them executed instead. He believes fate determines the details of our lives even with a rough plan. He feels no guilt about their deaths since they eagerly followed Claudius’ orders. He insists it’s his duty to pay back the King for his evil actions. Hamlet regrets losing his temper with Laertes and decides to reconcile with him.

Osric arrives with an invitation from Claudius for a fencing match between Hamlet and Laertes. The duel is set immediately. The King and Queen will attend, with Gertrude asking Hamlet to be courteous. Hamlet and Horatio discuss the upcoming match, and despite some uncertainty, Hamlet decides to go through with it, saying “readiness is all.”

Claudius, Gertrude, and the court arrive for the duel. Hamlet apologizes to Laertes, who accepts but withholds complete forgiveness. Claudius clarifies the wager, and the match begins. After Hamlet’s first hit, Claudius drinks to his success, and the cannons fire. As the match continues, Gertrude mistakenly drinks from the poisoned cup and dies.

 

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As Laertes and Hamlet exchange rapiers, they are both wounded, and Laertes reveals the poisoning. Hamlet wounds Claudius, forcing him to drink the poison. Claudius dies, and Laertes asks for forgiveness, admitting their poisoning. Hamlet forgives him, and Laertes dies.

Horatio decides to drink the poison, but Hamlet stops him, instructing him to share their story. Osric announces Fortinbras’s victory, who orders Hamlet to be honored as a soldier. He then calls for Hamlet’s funeral rites. Horatio promises to tell the story of these tragic deaths.

Finally, Fortinbras orders Hamlet’s body to be taken with the respect of a soldier and plans appropriate funeral rites. He acknowledges Hamlet’s royal qualities and ends the play with the firing of ordnance.

Questions on Hamlet Act 5 Scene 2

Whom did Hamlet replace the letter for, resulting in their execution?

  • Hamlet replaced the letter meant for Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, leading to their execution.

2. Why does Hamlet feel no guilt about Rosencrantz and Guildenstern’s deaths?

  • He believes they eagerly followed Claudius’ orders and insists it’s his duty to pay back the King for his evil actions.

3. What does Hamlet decide to do regarding Laertes?

  • He regrets losing his temper with Laertes and decides to reconcile with him.

4. Who arrives with an invitation for a fencing match between Hamlet and Laertes?

  • Osric arrives with an invitation from Claudius for the fencing match between Hamlet and Laertes.

5. What is Hamlet’s decision after discussing the upcoming match with Horatio?

  • Despite some uncertainty, Hamlet decides to go through with the duel, stating “readiness is all.”

6. Who arrives for the duel, as the King and Queen are present to watch?

  • Claudius, Gertrude, and the court arrive for the duel, with the King and Queen in attendance.

7. What happens after Hamlet’s first successful hit in the duel?

  • Claudius drinks to his success, and cannons are fired.

8. What tragic event occurs during the fencing match?

  • Gertrude mistakenly drinks from the poisoned cup and dies.

9. What happens when Hamlet and Laertes exchange rapiers during the match?

  • Both are wounded, and Laertes reveals the poisoning.

10. How does Claudius meet his end?

  • Hamlet wounds Claudius, forcing him to drink the poison, resulting in his death.

11. What does Laertes admit to Hamlet before his own death?

  • Laertes admits to poisoning and asks for forgiveness.

12. What does Hamlet do in response to Laertes’ admission?

  • Hamlet forgives Laertes before his death.

13. What does Horatio decide to do towards the end of the events?

  • Horatio decides to drink the poison but is stopped by Hamlet, instructed to share their story.

14. Who announces Fortinbras’s victory in the play?

  • Osric announces Fortinbras’s victory.

15. What does Fortinbras order for Hamlet after the tragic events?

  • Fortinbras orders Hamlet to be honored as a soldier and for funeral rites to be performed.

16. What is Horatio’s promise at the end of the play?

  • Horatio promises to tell the story of the tragic deaths that occurred.

17. How does the play conclude according to Fortinbras’s orders?

  • Fortinbras orders Hamlet’s body to be taken with the respect of a soldier and plans appropriate funeral rites.

18. What qualities of Hamlet does Fortinbras acknowledge at the play’s end?

  • Fortinbras acknowledges Hamlet’s royal qualities.

19. How does the play conclude, as directed by Fortinbras?

  • The play ends with the firing of ordnance.

20. What tragic events led to the conclusion of the play?

  • The deaths of multiple characters during the fencing match, poisoned drinks, and wounds from rapiers led to the tragic conclusion of the play.

Also, Read

hamlet act 1

Hamlet Act 1

Hamlet Act 2

Hamlet Act 2

Hamlet Act 3

Hamlet Act 3

Hamlet Act 4

Hamlet Act 4

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