THE MOUTHTRAP                  

    a speech of sixteen strophes 

    which I have written down

        

                                                                                  I

 

I am Hamlet Hamletson – The Prince of Denmark. I was continuing my studies at the Wittenberg University, when I received the sad news about the strange and sudden death

of my beloved father – Hamlet, the King of Denmark.

 

Imagine my astonishment, when I arrived in Elsinore I came not to my father's funeral, which had been two months ago, but to the wedding of my mother and my father's younger brother Claudius. This wedding would provide him with a royal title, since all rights on Elsinore belonged to my mother.

 

                                                                                 

                                                                                II

 

To my surprise, in the King's entourage, I found my senior fellow-student Horatio, who was

the head of the royal security, recruited entirely from Swiss mercenaries…

 

I want to say a few words about Horatio. My first memories of him are related to my far

away, carefree childhood. Then he was a silent, humpbacked adolescent living under foster care in the family of the kingdom's hofmeister, Polonius. After the death of a court's jester Yorick, Horatio suddenly disappeared. My naive, childish mind was unable then to link these two events. 

Much later, as a student at the free university, I met Horatio again. We fell into

a relationship pretty quickly, feeling a mutual sympathy and fondness for each other. From being my senior comrade and a fellow-townsman, Horatio became my mentor in the comprehension of innovative doctrines and sensitive guide to the world of great ideas, just

as Virgil had been to Dante. I was amazed by his rationality and extraordinarily refined manners. After just a few minutes of conversation with him, all those around him were forced to forget completely about his physical deformity.

 

Our meeting at gloomy Elsinor excited and pleased me at first, but made me alert. 

I discovered strange changes about Horatio. I was the most shocked by the dubious stories about him seeing the ghost of my father during the inspections of the night guards. 

For I knew Horatio as one of the most sensible people of all I've ever met, and for whom scientific rationality was the main criterion in assessment of events.

 

 

                                                                               III

 

The death of my father, hasty marriage of my mother, and strange changes in my friend Horatio – all were like a bad dream. Its mist was suddenly dispelled by my encounter with Ophelia, who from a sweet child had in my absence turned into a lovely young lady. In her

clear eyes I read a genuine love towards me. Here was the reward for all my sufferings

and confusions! Ophelia, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. All the strength

of my passion I poured out into my letters to her. And once, we met in private to make our feelings clear.

 

Our encounter happened in the royal library, which was the only place where young noble

lads and maids could meet without arousing a suspicion, and confidentiality there was

almost guaranteed... 

 

                                                                               

                                                                              IV 

 

To Ophelia, who became the closest person to me, I imparted my doubts about Horatio,

hoping to hear some plausible explanation from her, since he belonged to her family circle. 

Imagine my surprise when Ophelia told me that Horatio was not their relative.

 

 

                                                                              V

 

The mystery of Horatio's origin became a strong intellectual stimulus to me. Hence I fully applied my mental strength to examining all the documents from the time of his birth, which were available right here at the library. After scrupulous searches, we found a strange record, which stated that the previous masters of Elsinore, Fortinbras and his wife Gertrude, gave

birth to a deformed firstborn.

 

It was easy to understand that this poor child was none other than Horatio, my half-brother

by one venter, a secret king's stepson, guiltless victim of nature and politics.

The joy of the discovery was momentarily replaced by anxiety: I realized the danger that hung over my entire family and my honor. 

 

                                                                               

                                                                             VI

 

I decided to visit my father's grave. Suspicions about his murder increasingly tormented my mind. Suddenly, I became a witness to a bloodcurdling farce. It's sole purpose was to convince me of the existence of my father's ghost… I was struck by flimsy of that trick. Did my new brother who had had a chance to know me, really think me to be such a simpleton? No, this was a game to explicitly humiliate me, the open demonstration of force filled by hate. 

 

The logic of my enemy became clear: methodical killings of all members of the royal family with the purpose of usurping power. I realized that the only chance for me to survive was to accept the imposed rules of the game. That naturally allowed me to simulate insanity.

                                     

                                                                               

                                                                             VII

 

I understood that I was being followed. Therefore, each time I saw Ophelia, I changed my behavior towards her into being intentionally rude. I had no right to risk her safety.

                                      

                                                                               

                                                                             VIII

 

My faked madness shocked everyone: the King and Queen, Polonius, and even Horatio. He could not understand whether his plan had worked perfectly or, perhaps, I had accepted the rules of the game, unpredictably complicating it.

 

                                                                               

                                                                              IX

 

I had a conversation with Polonius, who could not avoid my verbal trap. Without a second thought, he recited the piece from the Shakespearean play «Julius Caesar» in which the Caesar's ghost appeared before his stepson and the slayer Brutus. This confirmed my

surmise entirely about who had portrayed the ghost of my father.

 

                                                                               

                                                                               X

 

Polonius was guided by the desire of my mother to unravel my fake madness. He undertook

a kind of psychotherapeutic move by letting me direct the play of the touring comedians. 

This opportunity allowed me to add sixteen strophes of the text into the play in which the recognizability of the characters would unavoidably bring Claudius to the awareness that

his complicity was no longer a mystery. 

 

It was the ultimate provocation. And, God as  my witness, I succeeded in doing so. Claudius experienced a panic attack, and, before the end of the performance, left the theater in horror.

 

                                                                               

                                                                               XI

 

Inspired by this success, after the show, I almost openly declared to Polonius, that I knew

for sure who the puppeteer of this monstrous plot was. Oh, my famous hunchbacked camel-weasel-whale! Horatio could not but understand that his role was disclosed by me. 

        

 

                                                                               XII

 

Polonius, in his desire to protect the Queen, was covertly present during my conversation with her, hiding in a secret room, covered with arras. Attracted by cries, I tore it off, and, at the very moment, when freshly slaughtered Polonius fell at my feet, a door-latch clicked in the dark behind his stepson and the slayer. Now, even my mother had no doubt: I killed. 

 

 

                                                                               XIII

 

In the midst of the chaos that led to my expulsion to England, I convince Ophelia to simulate insanity during my absence. I thought it was the only way to survive for her and our just conceived child.

 

 

                                                                               XIV

 

But having a premonition of the danger that was threatening my sweetheart, with all my might I rushed to come back from exile. 

 

                                      

                                                                                XV

 

Upon my return, the first person I saw was  Horatio. Not without hesitation did I accept his unexpected offer to pay a visit to my father’s grave. At the cemetery we overheard  gravediggers speaking. Grasping the essence of their dialogue, I was shaken by the insight

that my love had been killed. And the killer are standing near.

 

                                                                               

                                                                                XVI

 

Stricken by the maniacal, damning ambition of Horatio and the irreversibility of his offense,

I suddenly felt a deep aching compassion to this lonely miserable consciousness, who know not what he does... 

 

The noise subsided. Here's fine revolution, an we had the trick to see it. The rest: no comment.

                   

                                                                                 ***

 

 

 

 

 

 

                              

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