“Resolutions when I Come to Be Old” by Jonathan Swift (1709)

“Resolutions when I Come to Be Old” by Jonathan Swift (1709)

  • Don’t marry a young woman
  • Don’t keep company unless they really want it
  • Don’t be angry, sad, envious or suspicious
  • Don’t complain about the modern area
  • Don’t like children
  • Don’t tell the same story over & over
  • Don’t neglect decency or hygiene
  • Don’t be too hard on the young
  • Don’t listen to gossip or tattling
  • Don’t give unsolicited advice
  • Find friends to let you know if you’re slipping up
  • Don’t talk much, especially about yourself
  • Don’t boast of past glories
  • Don’t listen to flattery
  • Don’t think you can land a young lady
  • Don’t seek a legacy
  • Don’t be too opinionated
  • Don’t observe all of these rules too closely.

“A Meditation upon a Broomstick” by Jonathan Swift (1701)

“A Meditation upon a Broomstick” by Jonathan Swift (1701)

  • The broomstick propped up in the corner was once a tree flowing with life
  • Now everyone who touches it does so out of drudgery
    • Supposed to make other things clean & makes itself dirty in the process
    • It’ll either be thrown out or in the fire in the end
  • That’s a lot like a man
    • Starts out looking good & clean, puts on a wig of hairs that aren’t his
      • Brooms wear straw hairs that aren’t theirs
  • If a broom is a tree standing on its head, a man is an animal with its faculties tied to rationality, his head where his heels ought to be – on the floor, groveling
    • But men set out to be reformers, correctors of abuse, raising up dust where was none before
    • Eventually he’ll be in the hands of a woman until he’s either thrown out with the garbage or in the fire to be burnt for heat

Of Youth & Age – Sir Francis Bacon

Of Youth & Age – Francis Bacon

  • Youth is a relative term
    • Your mind is the real key
  • But the youth tend to have a wilder imagination
    • But some people are a bit too crazy & passionate to do anything productive
  • Look at Caesar & Septimius Severus
    • Septimius was known to be a wild child
      • But was considered a very good emperor
  • Some rulers like Augustus, Cosimus of Florence and others
    • were pretty calm in their youths
  • Younger men are better to create than judge
    • Better to do than advise
    • Better for new things than tradition
  • Age gives us experience
  • Youth are usually impatient, passionate & careless
    • Bite off more than they can chew
    • More prone to extremes – makes more problems
      • unlikely to apologize for stepping on people’s feet
  • Old men say “no” to too much
    • delay too much, risk too little, give up too soon
  • Best is to use the both for their own good
    • The balance of both – one helps the other
  • Young men learn better
    • Old men teach and act better
  • The young haven’t had time to develop their intelligence & inner strength
    • They haven’t had time to appreciate the subtleties of life
  • The young have the opportunity to use their enthusiasm for speech & rhetoric
    • It looks silly on old people


“Second Treatise of Government” by John Locke (1689)

Chapter 1 – Introduction (1-3)

Adam was created by God and told to rule and cultivate the earth. But can we really know who is true heirs are? So, divine right of kings is bullshit. Political power is not parental power. Political power is the power to write and execute laws, regulate property and defend the nation for its own good.

Chapter 2 – Of the State of Nature (4-15)

The state of man in nature is freedom unrestrained by others. They are all equal, same species with same humanity. No subordination or subjection. All differences in ability and wealth come from God.

Natural liberty is not license. We are bound not to harm each other because it violates reason, which is the basis of natural law. This violation of reason is taking another’s life, liberty and property.

Men must be restrained from violating others’ rights. That requires execution of laws and must be applicable to every man. Criminals place themselves outside of nature and the offended party has a right to reparation.

In nature, man has 2 rights:

A – To punish crime and restrain or prevent further crime. In society, this is in the hands of the magistrate.

B – To seek reparation for the crime. Only the victim has the right to this.

These two apply to all crimes big or small but only in proportion of the crime. In society, a man cannot be a judge if he’s involved with the case because he may lack objectivity or calmness to handle it. Civil government will handle it. Any other government is a violation of nature/rationality. Civil society or community preserves rights. Natural law allows us to get what we want from or in others without violating others’ rights.

Chapter 3 – Of the State of War (16-20)

State of War = enmity and destruction, declaring one man’s life the goal of the other. There is no superior authority to adjudicate matters. In this state, you have the right to defend yourself until it is over. Your enemy is declaring war on you by trying to kill you or enslave you and you have the right to stop him.

State of Nature = mutual assistance, preservation, goodwill, living together according to reason with a superior authority to adjudicate differences. In peace, law prevails. If someone violates it, a law separates the state of war from the state of nature. When forces stop and both sides are subject to the same judgment, peace and state of nature continue

Chapter 4 – Of Slavery (21-23)

It’s natural to be free from authority. Liberty is not under legislative authority without any consent. It is a standing rule to live by for all according to nature. Freedom from arbitrary power is necessary for one’s preservation.

Not having this, a slave cannot give consent to his captor. It is a perfect state of war between the conqueror and the captive. If there is consent, then it’s not really slavery because the “slave” in this case is fine with the situation.

Chapter 5 – Of Property (24-51)

We can’t really use Adam as a basis for anything. But we’ll start with God. He gave humans the world, animals and plants in it to use to our benefit. They are in a state of nature and were given to us for our use.

Our bodies are ours and so are our labor and the fruits of our labor. Whatever we do or transform is ours. Possession begins when something is taken out of nature (being man-made). Before it is changed, it is common property.

In civilization, if you do the work, the product is yours. The limit is when your product spoils because it wasn’t used due to overproduction. This is wasteful and not productive. The world was meant for industrious and productive or rational use.

Land is scarce these days and naturally we have divisions between property, counties and countries. God’s commandment created dominion and natural private property. Our labor is limited to our physical productivity. Divisions weren’t necessary before the world got so crowded.

Land is to be common property until someone starts working it. Labor makes an unproductive thing productive. Men move from crowded places to make use of land and in doing so en masse, form societies and law.

Eventually relative value is established between products and money acts as a symbol of that value. Most land requires some labor to get anything out of it. In 1600s America, Indians had huge amounts of land and never did a thing to it. This is why they were poor. When labor is added, value goes up. Nature gives us little but adding work to it makes us much richer.

When land is scarce, distinct divisions arise and societies form to protect individuals’ land, property, etc. from violation. Most Indians subsist on whatever falls to the ground or runs through the forest. It’s a form of temporary property with no long-lasting value. Cultivation gives the land value and money cements it. This allows different degrees of industry but also leads to inequality. But that also leads to expansion of industry, division of labor and increase of wealth.

Chapter 6 – Of Paternal Power (52-76)

Paternal power should be referred to as parental power because Mom plays a role too. God commanded us to honor both parents, not just Dad. Somehow this turned into regal, absolute power. Maybe if Mom had a bigger say in raising kids, we’d have a penchant for multiple powers and not a quasi-dictatorship.

In nature, men are equal but it is true that some have more money and influence. But we are subject to the same laws. It’s a bit different with kids. Parents have a special reign. Children get equality as they age. Adam was given reason and understanding upon his creation but that wasn’t normal. Children are born helpless and irrational. They need guidance and protection until they grow up and have these faculties on their own. You must be able to understand natural law in order to have its rights.

Once old enough, a person is responsible for his actions, safety and survival. Then he owes no one any allegiance or loyalty. To set a child free too early is detrimental. Parents are rulers as long as they accept the guardian’s role for the kid. Problems may arise with a death of or abandonment by a parent. But a parental presence is necessary. They are the instruments of protection and education.

The rule ends at a child’s majority age. Until then the duty of a child is to honor and obey. He gets protection and education in return. Education can be handled by a hired hand but protection is also necessary. The relation may continue into his adulthood but it is not required. We as a society owe honor to our elders, defense to friends and help to those who need it but outside of this parent-child relationship, it is not obligatory.

Political and parental powers are separate but are somewhat parallel. Princes have no right to claim this power over their people because most of them are adults and he is not their father. Parents are free to bequeath property to kids but not required to do so. That’s not part of the deal. Somehow history has this power turning into a monarchy.

Chapter 7 – Of Political or Civil Society (77-94)

God created us to live in a society, to learn and understand the world around us. The first society was a family – parents and kids. The second was a relation between a master and a servant. But conjugal society is a voluntary compact between a man and a woman for procreation, mutual supper and shared interest. This is continuation of the species is distinct to humans because in most other species, the father is never around. But pregnancy is long and the woman needs a man to help her during the pregnancy with the unborn and the older kids too. But there’s more to marriage than just raising kids.

Things get hairy sometimes because they might not always see eye to eye on things. Usually the man ends up the leader because he is stronger and more capable of providing but this does not mean he’s in complete control of her life or property. Civil society settles disputes. In places where the wife is 100% property, the government will usually enforce husbands will on her.

Of the master/servant relationship. In a free society, a man can choose to be a servant for money. This is with consent. He is under the command of the master but under terms of a contract. Slavery is absolute dominion with no consent.

We were born with a right to preserve ourselves and our property and punish those who violate that. When we combine ourselves, we make a civil society and agree to live under one set of laws for the common good. We put together a list of rules and punishments and surrender our natural right to decide those rules and punish their violation all by ourselves.

Absolute monarchy is not a civil government. There’s no agreed upon authority. The monarch answers to no one. He is in a state of nature but declaring war on all his subjects as his slaves. They can appeal to him but he doesn’t have to answer them. Only a parliament can deal with this.

Chapter 8 – Of the Beginning of Civil Societies (95-122)

Men can only be taken from nature without consent and can only join a civil society with consent. In this case, the majority have a right to act. When it’s created on consent, man must agree to the majority’s decision because there are always going to be disagreements and this way most people get what they want. If you go against the majority, you are placing yourself outside of society and back into nature, alone. There needs to be a constitutional basis for majority rule.

There are 2 objections to this and 2 responses:

A – Objection: Man’s never been outside of society. Answer: History can only go so far back but there are plenty of examples of men leaving one society and forming another voluntarily (Rome, Venice, Sparta). Somehow the first leader became a father figure and this led to a monarchy.

B – Objection: Most people would rather stay with their form of government than try anything drastically new. Answer: True but there are plenty of examples of governments evolving throughout history. Old laws change. A man has no obligation to follow his father in staying in a government/society. But you tacitly agree to law when you establish a life and get and keep property and enjoy society’s protection of it. If you move, you must engage in the society to be considered a part of it.

Chapter 9 – Of the Ends of Political Society and Government (123-131)

Why give up life and possessions to absolute dominion? A man may be vulnerable to attack and give up rights of enforcement to band together with others for each other’s benefit and preserve property and establish a common standard of right and wrong.

In nature, there’s no legal judge and men get heated when in dispute or may not even care for others. It’s hard to execute judgment for fear of retribution. So, people form societies to overcome this chaos and selfishness. In nature, a man has 2 powers:

A – Ability to decide what is needed to preserve self and property. He gives this up in society to a legislative power.

B – Ability to enforce needs and punish those who violate them. He gives this up in society to an executive as well.

Political society’s authorities must respect established laws and not change them without consent, as well as enforce laws and protect community.

Chapter 10 – Of Forms of Commonwealth (132-133)

If power is in the majority, it is a Democracy. If power is in a few, it is an Oligarchy. If power is in one man, it is a monarchy. A commonwealth is not a specific form of government but an independent community.

Chapter 11 – Of the Extent of the Legislative Power (134-142)

In setting up society, we establish a legislative power. These laws they write can only be changed with consent. People agree to obey its laws. The Rules are

A – Power cannot be arbitrary. People give up some rights in order to be protected, not enslaved, destroy or impoverished. It is only for the public good.

B – Laws are permanent and available for the citizens to know and understand. They must know them. Laws must not be misinterpreted, misapplied or disobeyed without punishment. Disputes are to be remedied. Arbitrary power make men worse off than before because at least in a state of nature, they could settle matters themselves.

C – Supreme power cannot take away property without consent. The government was the reason to guard the property in the first place. If it can be taken away so easily, it’s not really property at all. The fewer people you have in this power, the more likely you are to see abuse.

The military is a bit special in that it need something of an absolute (but not completely so) monarchy. Governments costs money, so taxes need to be taken in order to maintain it – but only with consent and representation.

Chapter 12 – Of Legislative, Executive and Federative Power of the Commonwealth (143-148)

The legislature doesn’t always need to be in session. In fact, it shouldn’t be there too often because the representatives might use their power for their own personal gain against the people. Laws need to be constant and long-lasting and need perpetual execution. The legislature and executive must be separated to ensure good government.

A Federative power deals with society as a whole, as well as dealings with foreign powers (trade, war, peace, etc.).

The executive power deals with local laws within the commonwealth which have been passed by the legislature and consented to by the people. The Federative should be left to the wisdom and care of experts. They are distinct powers but should be kept together in one body. To do so otherwise is impractical and in-fighting might occur.

Chapter 13 – Of the Subordination of Powers of the Commonwealth (149-158)

The legislative power represents the people, has their consent and is the supreme government body. In it, people make laws for themselves. Laws don’t need constant up-dating. It needs to meet occasionally but not constantly. It needs occasional updating through elections and Constitutional changes needed by changes in society, wealth and population.

The executive power has one man representing it with supreme power but no law-making powers, only executive powers. It is subordinate to the legislature and accountable to it. It is purely through to execute laws passed. It is nimbler and can do things the legislature cannot anticipate. It can even convoke a legislature to session

Chapter 14 – Of Prerogative (159-168)

The executive is given powers when the legislature is unavailable and it exercises discretion. If it needs to circumvent the law, so be it. This can only be for the public good, even if it violates the Constitution. The legislature is slow and may even be harmful, so it might be necessary to violate its laws. It should be rare to do so and watched closely for abuse. It can only do so if in the public interest.

It may violate laws but not natural law. This can happen if the law is bad or there is no law at all. Sometimes a little violate does a lot harm and sometimes a lot of violation does little harm. It depends on what is being done.

Chapter 15 – Of Paternal, Political, and Despotical Power, Considered Together

Paternal Power – to nourish and educate child until adulthood. There’s no control over life or property. The child must obey and honor the parents. This is a natural power but not a political one.

Political Power – given to authority of a commonwealth. It only exists to preserve prosperity and punish violations. It is not arbitrary or abusive and only exists in consent between the ruler and the ruled.

Despotical Power – absolute and arbitrary. One man’s domination over other. It is unnatural and non-consensual and only by forfeiture. One man declares a state of war over others and has won.

Chapter 16 – Of Conquest (175-196)

History is loaded with war and conquest. It is not consent or establishment of a government. That can only be done with consent. The vanquished must be patient to try to overthrow the conqueror.

IF an unjust war is waged, the people aren’t responsible for the ruler’s actions. But the conqueror has the right to the lives of those who fought against him. He must not touch their children, wives or property. That is a declaration of war on them. Innocent bystanders must be spared. The price is to obey eternal and fundamental laws of nature and God.

Chapter 17 – Of Usurpation (197-198)

It is never justified to usurp. The usurper has violated the will of the people and declared war on them. They have the right to overthrow him because they have not given him their consent.

Chapter 18 – Of Tyranny (199-210)

The tyrant exercises power beyond what is right and does so for personal gain. A king is bound to observe fundamental laws of a nation and protect it. Once he strays from this, he becomes a tyrant. This can happen in Democracies and Oligarchies, too when authority goes beyond any natural law. If people are wrong in claiming violation the can oppose the law. The legislature and executive can be tried for this. Head of executive will often be spared as it is a sacred position. But if the people can’t appeal to the government, they may force change. It is unlikely to end in chaos because people will only revolt when things are really bad. If they’re correct in assuming they’re being abused, they have the right to start all over and establish a government based on natural law.

Chapter 19 – Of the Dissolution of Government (211-243)

There are differences between governments and society. A dissolved society is sent back to the state of nature with frequent states of war. It has no civil society and no government. But a dissolved government is just one where the government has ceased to represent the people and must be reestablished.

A hereditary government with absolute power goes beyond natural laws, prevents a legislature from meeting. The prince has tampered with the legislature or sold his people out to a foreign power. This needs to be dissolved. The executive must be dissolved if he neglects his duty, doesn’t enforce laws. Society then is in a state of anarchy. Bribes, threats and the like are examples of him declaring war on his people by refusing to execute the law.

If the people fear the new legislature will be just as bad as the last, remember people rarely like drastic change in government. If it’s really bad, they’ll want drastic change. But if it’s a small change, there will probably be little to no rebelling because revolutions don’t occur for minor infractions.

People won’t let a king ruin the nation if they can stop him. That happens when he actually ruins the county (like Nero or Caligula) or he becomes dependent on a foreign power and does what it wants and not what the people want. People will react to this. They will be his judge and judge if there is tyranny or not.

The power that men get from nature is given up in joining the commonwealth. The power in the legislature is carried out by the executive. If either one steps out of line, the commonwealth crumbles into a state of nature and war and a new commonwealth must be formed.

“Hamlet” by William Shakespeare (1599)

“Hamlet” by Shakespeare

Can't you see the resemblance?

Can’t you see the resemblance?

Act 1 Scene 1

Guards are changing shifts at night along the castle walls. A ghost has been appearing walking around at night. Hamlet’s friend, Horatio, wants to see it for himself but doesn’t quite believe it.

He shows up but he won’t to them and then disappears. Horatio recognizes it as the recently deceased king. Horatio explains the king had been involved in a political battle close to war with the Prince of Norway, Fortinbras.

The ghost comes back but then disappears as morning breaks. They promise to tell Hamlet and maybe the ghost will talk.

Act 1 Scene 2

King Claudius eulogizes his brother, King Hamlet (Jr’s father) and explains why he has married Hamlet’s widow, Gertrude. It was important to appear strong and united in a dangerous time with Norway tempted to take over. He sends two ambassadors to find out what’s going on.

Claudius asks why Hamlet he’s down Gertrude encourages him to cheer up and move on from his father’s death. Hamlet thinks this has happened all too fast.

Claudius thinks it’s sweet that he mourns his father but he reminds him all fathers die. To go on like this is morbid and immature. “Snap out of it – that’s life. I’m your father no. Don’t go back to Wittenberg, stay here.”

Hamlet is upset that it’s only been two months and she’s already shacked up with her dead husband’s brother. Horatio and his guards tell him about the ghost. They set a date to see it later that night.

Act 1 Scene 3

Laertes and Ophelia have a chat before he runs off to France. He warns her that Hamlet is up to no good and just trying to get in her pants.

Polonius comes in and gives Laertes a bunch of advice: don’t talk too much, stick by your friends, don’t spend too much, don’t borrow or lend money, don’t be fake and just be yourself. He leaves.

Ophelia and Polonius discuss Hamlet. He says he’s stupid and she’s too young and naive to know what’s really going on. Nothing’s happened yet but still, Polonius doesn’t like it because it’s a trap. She will obey her father.

Act 1 Scene 4

Hamlet, Horatio and the guards wait for the ghost to arrive. It’s cold and they listen to Claudius whooping it up downstairs. Hamlet complains these constant parties make Danes look foolish and weak abroad.

The ghost arrives. Hamlet is shaking but asks the ghost to speak and explain himself. The ghost motions Hamlet to follow him to speak alone. The guards don’t like it but he goes anyway.

Act 1 Scene 5

The ghost speaks and tells Hamlet that he is indeed his father. Hamlet must avenge his murder done by Claudius. The ghost says nasty things about Gertrude who sunk low to marry his brother.

Claudius poured poison into his ear as he was sleeping. Although he is dead, he’s upset about the betrayal of Gertrude and Claudius, the usurpation of his power and leaving Denmark weak. Hamlet and his friends swear never to speak of this meeting.


Act 2 Scene 1

Polonius sends his servant to check up on Laertes in France and make sure he doesn’t get into too much trouble.

Ophelia goes to Polonius scared about Hamlet. She saw him with messed clothes and acting as if he’d seen a ghost. He’s been behaving erratically but nothing sexual or violent. Polonius is afraid that his advice to Ophelia has made Hamlet crazy. They will speak with the king about this.

Act 2 Scene 2

Claudius speaks to Hamlet’s friends. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. He asks them to find out what’s been going on. They leave.

Polonius shows up and talks about Hamlet but must find out from the ambassadors sent out earlier to find out what’s been going on in Norway. The elderly king of Norway suspects his son is up to no good and so sends him off to Poland to keep him out of Denmark. They leave.

Polonius thinks Hamlet’s crazy and reads Claudius and Gertrude a letter Hamlet had written to Ophelia. They try to read into it but it’s really just a love letter. Polonius doesn’t want a mental involved with his daughter. They decide to use Ophelia as bait to get something out of him while they hide and listen.

Polonius and Hamlet speak. Hamlet jokes but Polonius mistakes these jokes for meaningless gibberish. They continue and he’s more convinced that he’s mad.

Guildenstern and Rosencrantz speak to him. He tries to hide his depression but fails. They confess that they have been sent by the king and queen. Hamlet asks them not to let on that he’s been so down.

A travelling troupe of actors arrive at the cast and Hamlet talks theater shop with them as he’s really into it. They exchange soliloquys from various plays. He asks them to put on a murder play that closely resembles the conditions of his father’s death in order to provoke a confession or reaction from Claudius.


Act III Scene I

Claudius and Gertrude check in with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Hamlet’s been feeling bad but isn’t specific about why. He districts them whenever they try to speak about it but he picked up when the actors came around.

Claudius and Polonius decide to spy on Hamlet and Ophelia when they speak.

Hamlet contemplates life and death (To be or not to be…). Death is merely the ending of pain and grief but most people fear it because they fear what is beyond it.

He approaches and she tries to return the things that he had given her before. He tells her that he doesn’t want them because he never really loved her. He also tells her that men are by their nature untrustworthy. If she is pure, she should join the nuns. He calls her names and says mean things and then leaves.

She thinks he’s lost the plot and starts sobbing. Claudius and Polonius come in to speak to her. Claudius doesn’t think that Hamlet’s completely crazy but does think that he should be sent to England before things get hairy.

Polonius agrees but thinks it’s still about him and Ophelia. He wants Gertrude to be the real judge of his situation.

Act III Scene II

Hamlet instructs the actors on how to deliver the speech that will get to Claudius. Polonius, Claudius and Gertrude among others come in to watch the play.

The play starts. Hamlet gives a lot of side commentaries. The play pokes at both characters of Gertrude and Claudius. The real ones seem very uncomfortable at the play’s accusations. The play reenacts the very scene of Hamlet’s father’s death. This gets Claudius to jump up and storm out of the room with all his entourage following him.

Horatio and Hamlet muse about Claudius’s reaction. Guildenstern and Rosencrantz come in and inform Hamlet that his mother wishes to see him. He lets them have it about their spying on him.

Before going to see Gertrude, Hamlet tells himself that he ought to be rough with her verbally but not physically.

Act III Scene III

Claudius is fuming about the play and orders Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to take Hamlet to England. They leave and Polonius comes in and tells him that he’s going to spy on Hamlet and Gertrude.

Thinking he’s alone, Claudius confesses (to God?) how guilty he feels and how he’ll have to live with the guilt of the murder for the rest of his life. Hamlet is watching but doesn’t want to kill him in mid-confession. He wants him dead with a dirty soul, not a clean one.

Act III Scene IV

Polonius warns Gertrude he’ll be hiding behind a curtain to spy on her conversation with Hamlet.

Hamlet won’t be lectured by his mother who invokes his father’s name. She screams and Polonius cries out. Hamlet stabs at the curtain killing Polonius, only upset about it because it wasn’t Claudius.

Gertrude doesn’t understand Hamlet’s hatred for Claudius. Hamlet hates her for marrying the murderer of his father less than two months after his death. Why should Hamlet keep quiet?

She won’t hear any more and admits how horrible she’s been but he carries on.

The ghost comes into the room in the middle of all of this. Hamlet speaks to it and Gertrude, not being able to see it, thinks Hamlet’s gone crazy. He doesn’t accept that and tells her to beg forgiveness from him, the ghost and to heaven. She is to leave Claudius because he is evil. He feels a little bad about Polonius but is willing to live with the consequences.

Then he thinks better of it…. He wants to use Gertrude to get to Claudius. She accepts this and feels broken by the whole experience. He has to go to England with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern and will plan his revenge there for some day.


Act IV Scene I

Claudius comes in and asks what happened. She explains that Hamlet’s lost his mind and has killed Polonius. Claudius has to get Hamlet out of the county because he’s dangerous and seems to know something.

Act IV Scene II

Hamlet’s hidden the body and Rosencrantz demand the he tell them where it is but Hamlet considers them betrayers and won’t say.

Act IV Scene III

Claudius wants to deal with Hamlet before shit gets out of hand. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern drop him in. Hamlet stalls but eventually reveals where he’s hidden the body. Claudius orders Hamlet to be sent to England and reveals that he’s asked the English king to kill him.

Act IV Scene IV

Fortinbras marches across Denmark on the way to Poland. Hamlet, along with Guildenstern and Rosencrantz run into Fortinbras’s Captain who tells them they are on a fool’s errand and they will likely die for nothing. Hamlet resolves to fight for something in avenging his father’s murder.

Act IV Scene V

Gertrude speaks with Ophelia, who’s gone mad since Polonius’s death. It’s clear that she’s crazy but also incredibly sad. She sings childish songs and speaks a lot of gibberish.

Laertes returns from France, demanding explanations. A crowd forms around him in his support. Claudius won’t say much other than it wasn’t his fault.

Ophelia comes back into the room, talking her non-sense. This breaks Laertes’s heart and makes him press Claudius for answers.

Act IV Scene VI

Horatio receives a letter from Hamlet saying that he’d been taken prisoner away from Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. They agreed to take him home. The messenger is one of these pirate sailors, who will go see the king about a reward and Horatio is to meet Hamlet outside the castle walls.

Act IV Scene VII

Claudius tries to calm down Laertes by telling him that Hamlet was Polonius’s murderer. He also says that he couldn’t do anything because Gertrude’s so attached to him and it would cause a riot due to Hamlet’s popularity.

A messenger delivers a letter from Hamlet to Claudius asking to meet alone.

Claudius has a trick to get back at Hamlet without raising suspicion or a ruckus. He’ll get Hamlet to engage in a duel with Laertes. Laertes’s sword will be sharp enough to cut Hamlet and they’ll put some poison at the end. There will also be some poison drinks lying around. You know… just in case.

Gertrude busts in informing them that Ophelia has drowned in her madness. This dumbfounds Laertes and this gets him convinced that the duel is the right thing to do.


Act V Scene I

2 gravediggers prepare a grave for a recently deceased woman. They debate if she should be having a Christian burial. If she killed herself, she shouldn’t as suicide is a sin. She’s lucky she’s so rich to get them to fudge the coroner’s report.

Horatio and the Hamlet entering. They look at all the graves wondering what these people’s lives where like and what’s going on with them now.

Hamlet and one of the diggers chat about the dead lady to be buried and about dead bodies in general. He looks at a skull of a friend of his, Yorick the court jester. Hamlet wonders were all his jokes and gregariousness are now, merely dust. Everything alive, great and small is now dust.

The king, queen, Laertes all come in. Hamlet and Horatio hang back to watch in secret. They are burying Ophelia. Hamlet is shocked and in an effort to prove that he loved Ophelia more than Laertes, they wrestle on her grave. The king separates them and tells them to handle this back at the castle.

Act V Scene II

Hamlet tells Horatio how he escaped from the ship. He was taken away from Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Once aboard the pirates’ ship, he forged a letter from the king, asking that whoever finds him to dispatch with his 2 “captors”. He doesn’t regret asking them to be killed. Fuck them. They betrayed him. He does feel bad about Polonius for Laertes’s sake. He wants to make it up to him.

A messenger comes in and tells Hamlet that Claudius has placed a bet on Hamlet in a duel with Laertes. Hamlet gets a feeling things will go badly but doesn’t want to avoid whatever fate has got in store for him.

Everyone goes into the big room. Hamlet apologizes to Laertes. He seems to accept it but still wants to duel Hamlet for pride. Claudius presents a cup. If Hamlet gets a hit in the first two chances, then he will put a pearl in the cup for Hamlet to have and take a drink from. Hamlet gets strikes in the first two chances, but doesn’t want to drink.

Gertrude drinks for him and starts gagging. Claudius knows that’s her ass. He then tells Laertes not to cut him just yet, but does he listen? Nope. They get into a tussle and somehow their swords are exchanged. Hamlet cuts Laertes. Gertrude dies.

Laertes confesses the plan that he and Claudius came up with. Hamlet runs after Claudius and forces him to finish the cup that killed Gertrude. Claudius dies. Hamlet and Laertes realize time is running out. They apologize to each other. Hamlet instructs Horatio to tell the story as it really happened. Hamlet and Laertes die.

Fortinbras shows up to see a room full of dead people and asked Horatio what happened. He showed up to tell Claudius that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead as the letter has instructed. But now he sees this is his chance to claim the throne of Denmark. Hamlet is given a soldier’s burial a multi-gun salute.