The reader can regard the duel in Act 5, scene 2 of Shakespeare’s tragedy as the “moment of final suspense.” In the scene before, Hamlet agreed to have the fencing match with Laertes. He did not expect that Ophelia’s brother wanted to kill him, ignoring Claudius’ involvement. Their duel becomes the climax of the play and its “moment of suspense.”
What is the “moment of final suspense”? In classical tragedy, it refers to the specific point in the narration at which the central character receives a final chance to avoid the tragic end’s fatal consequences. Due to a lack of information or self-knowledge, the protagonist overlooks danger. He dismisses warnings from other characters. The duel between Laertes and Hamlet is a classical “moment of final suspense.”
Hamlet did not see a hidden warning and accepted the fencing match. He thought that he was beyond danger. In his opinion, Claudius has no opportunity to develop another plan against him. He was utterly unaware that Laertes wanted to exact revenge upon Hamlet for the death of his father, Polonius, and his sister, Ophelia. He and Claudius arranged the duel and secretly tipped the sword with poison.
In the fencing match, Laertes scathed Hamlet. When the protagonist realized that he would die, he forced the opponent to exchange their swords. Hamlet subsequently reached Laertes with the blade as well. He died, “justly killed by his own treachery” (Act 5, Scene 2).
Claudius was responsible for the death of his wife and Hamlet’s mother, Gertrude. She drank from the cup with poison prepared by him for Hamlet. At the end of the tragedy, before his death, Hamlet killed Claudius. Thus, he cleared his honor and avenged his parents.