CLAUDIUS: Now that he’s returned, Hamlet will surely learn that you are here as well. You are both known to be excellent fencers—we’ll organize a duel and set bets on you both.
Hamlet is so careless, high-minded, and naive that he won’t inspect the swords. You can easily trick him and select a sword with a sharpened point so that you may avenge your father with a single thrust.
LAERTES: I’ll do it.
I bought some oil from a hawker, so deadly that if you dip a knife in it, no medicine in the world can save the man scratched with it.
I’ll dab my sword with the stuff so that even a touch will mean death for Hamlet.
CLAUDIUS: But if this plan should fail or our intentions are discovered, it would be better if we’d never tried it. We need a backup plan. Let me see . . .
I have it! When you are both hot and thirsty—which you will be because you’ll fight violently to ensure it—Hamlet will call for a drink.
I’ll have a cup ready. If by chance he escapes being stuck by your poisoned sword, this drink will kill him.