Horatio’s Speech

In the last scene of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”, the character Horatio recites this speech:

“And let me speak to th’ yet-unknowing world
How these things came about. So shall you hear
Of carnal, bloody, and unnatural acts,
Of accidental judgments, casual slaughters,
Of deaths put on by cunning and forced cause,
And, in this upshot, purposes mistook
Fall’n on th’ inventors’ heads.”

In this speech are many references to certain deaths in the play. In this essay,  I will be finding which specific deaths Horatio is referring to.

When Horatio mentions an, “accidental judgement”, I believe that he he is referring to Polonius’ death. Hamlet accidentally kills Polonius when he mistakes Polonius for the King while Polonius is hiding behind a tapestry. This accidents results in Hamlet being sent to England, Laertes returning to Denmark and Ophelia going mad. One example of a, “casual slaughter”, would be the death of the king. In this scene, Hamlet watches his mother die, gets stabbed with a poisoned sword and then, to add insult to injury, literally, Hamlet finds out that the King was behind these deaths. Without a second glance, Hamlet stabs the King, killing him. When Horatio says, “cunning or forced cause”, he is referring to the plot to kill Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, made by Hamlet. Hamlet uses his cunning to change the order on the King’s parcel, so that it stated rosencrantz and Guildenstern should be executed instead of himself. And last, but not least, when Horatio states that , “purposes fall’n on th’ inventors’ heads”, he means that the plan that the King and Laertes had schemed up to kill Hamlet backfired. The plan backfired because, though they succeeded in killing Hamlet, they also wound up killing themselves and the Queen.

In conclusion, Horatio’s speech is giving an explanation for how everybody dies. In Act V Scene 2, the last scene of the play, Hamlet asks Horatio to tell the world how everyone winds up dying. These are the last lines Horatio says in “Hamlet”. I loved reading “Hamlet”, and after writing this essay, I understand Horatio’s speech a lot better than when I first read it. I can not wait to read more of Shakespeare’s plays.

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