In literature, the climax is a pivotal moment in the plot. It is a turning point that alters the course of the story. Shakespeare’s tragedies often have two climactic events. The first is a tragic turning point that signals the story must end in tragedy. In Hamlet, this occurs when Polonius is killed in Act 3 Scene 4. This violent action sets in motion a chain of events that must be resolved with more violence. The second climax is the final massacre in Act 5 Scene 2. Claudius and Laertes’ plan to poison Hamlet backfires, resulting in the deaths of all the evildoers and some tragic side casualties. Once Hamlet is dead, the story is almost over and only the denoument of Fortinbras’ intervention is needed to wrap up the story of Elsinore.
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