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Claudius sends Hamlet away as part of a deadly plot. At the match, Claudius prepares poisoned wine for Hamlet, which Gertrude unknowingly drinks; as she dies, she accuses Claudius, whom Hamlet kills. From the Director of the Folger Shakespeare Library. Characters in the Play. The Ghost. Queen Gertrude , widow of King Hamlet, now married to Claudius. King Claudius , brother to the late King Hamlet. Polonius , father of Ophelia and Laertes, councillor to King Claudius.

Danish soldiers. Fortinbras , Prince of Norway. Ambassadors to Denmark from England. Two Messengers. Scene 1 Scene 2 Scene 3 Scene 4 Scene 5. Scene 1 Scene 2. Scene 1 Scene 2 Scene 3 Scene 4. A closet-like space shut behind an undecorated door appears inexplicably where previously there was only a blank wall. A second door appears at the end of the closet, leading to the children's room.

As Navidson investigates this phenomenon, he finds that the internal measurements of the house are somehow larger than external measurements. Initially there is less than an inch of difference, but as time passes the interior of the house seems to expand while maintaining the same exterior proportions.


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A third and more extreme change asserts itself: a dark, cold hallway opens in an exterior living room wall that should project outside into their yard, but does not. Navidson films the outside of the house to show where the hallway should be but clearly is not.

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This hallway leads to a maze -like complex, starting with a large room the "Anteroom" , which in turn leads to a truly enormous space the "Great Hall" , a room primarily distinguished by an enormous spiral staircase which appears, when viewed from the landing, to spiral down without end. There is also a multitude of corridors and rooms leading off from each passage. All of these rooms and hallways are completely unlit and featureless, consisting of smooth ash-gray walls, floors, and ceilings.

The only sound disturbing the perfect silence of the hallways is a periodic low growl, the source of which is never fully explained, although an academic source "quoted" in the book hypothesizes that the growl is created by the frequent re-shaping of the house. It is quoted by different characters at different times to have been located in each of the cardinal directions. Navidson, along with his brother Tom and some colleagues, feel compelled to explore, photograph , and videotape the house's seemingly endless series of passages, eventually driving various characters to insanity , murder , and death.

Ultimately, Will releases what has been recorded and edited as The Navidson Record. Will and Karen purchased the house because their relationship was becoming strained with Will's work-related absences. While Karen was always adamantly against marriage claiming that she valued her freedom above anything else , she always found herself missing and needing Will when he was gone: "And yet even though Karen keeps Chad from overfilling the mold or Daisy from cutting herself with the scissors, she still cannot resist looking out the window every couple of minutes.

The sound of a passing truck causes her to glance away" House of Leaves , pages 11— An adjacent story line develops in Johnny's footnotes, detailing what is progressing in Johnny's life as he is assembling the narrative. Johnny recounts tales of his various sexual encounters, his lust for a tattooed dancer he calls Thumper, and his bar-hopping with Lude throughout various footnotes.

The reader also slowly learns more about Johnny's childhood living with an abusive foster father, engaging in violent fights at school, and of the origin of Johnny's mysterious scars House of Leaves , page Though Pelafina's letters and Johnny's footnotes contain similar accounts of their past, their memories also differ greatly at times, due to both Pelafina's and Johnny's questionable mental states. Pelafina was placed in the mental institution after supposedly attempting to strangle Johnny, only to be stopped by her husband.

She remained there after Johnny's father's death. Johnny claims that his mother meant him no harm and claimed to strangle him only to protect him from missing her. It is unclear, however, if Johnny's statements about the incident—or any of his other statements, for that matter—are factual. This story is included in an appendix near the end of the book, as well as in its own, self-contained book with additional content included in the self-contained version. It consists of Johnny's mother's letters to him from a psychiatric hospital.

The letters start off fairly normal but Pelafina quickly descends into paranoia and the letters become more and more incoherent. There are also secret messages in the letters which can be decoded by combining the first letters of consecutive words. As Truant begins to do the editing, however, he begins to lose the tenuous grip he has on reality, and his life begins to erode around him.

He stops bathing, rarely eats, stops going to work, and distances himself from essentially everyone, all in pursuit of organizing the book into a finished work that, he hopes, will finally bring him peace. Approximately eighty years old at the time of his death, he is recognized by his neighbors as "eccentric" and "crazy. Pelafina, more commonly referred to as simply "P. Her story is more fully developed in The Whalestoe Letters.

Lude is a minor character, but some of his characteristics and actions are important in understanding Johnny. Lude assists Johnny many times in obtaining phone numbers of girls when they visit bars, clubs, and restaurants. Several times, Johnny mentions that he wishes he hadn't answered Lude's call late at night. Every time Johnny and Lude are together they seem to involve themselves in difficult situations. He is killed in a motorcycle accident near the end of the novel. Thumper : A stripper who is a regular client of the tattoo parlour where Truant works.

Although Johnny has encounters with many women, he remains fixated on Thumper throughout. Thumper's real name is eventually revealed to Johnny, but never to the reader. Will is the central character in The Navidson Record subplot of the novel.

A stint in the army early in his life leads him to a very successful career as a photographer, primarily in war-torn parts of the world; his role as an impartial documentarist of war affects him deeply. Later in his life, he moves to the eponymous house located in the southeastern Virginia countryside , in an effort to find "[a] place to drink lemonade and watch the sun set", a place to "once and for all stay in and explore the quieter side of life" House of Leaves , page 9.

However the unnatural events that occur thereafter have a profound effect upon him and his relationship with his partner, Karen. Karen is Will's partner and a former fashion model.

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She suffers from crippling claustrophobia, and throughout the novel refuses to enter the labyrinth within her house. She also seems to be extremely insecure regarding her relationship with Will; he is 'her rock,' though it is confirmed that she had at least three long-term affairs during the course of their relationship. Curiously, the events of the novel only seem to reduce her dependence on Will as well as contributing to the eventual dissolution of their relationship. It is speculated that, during Karen's childhood, her stepfather once took Karen and her sister into a barn in their backyard.

He put one sister in a well while he raped the other, and vice versa. This event is widely considered to be the cause of her crippling claustrophobia. However, several footnotes and comments about the incident question this claim another of many examples of the use of an unreliable narrator in the novel.

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In the aftermath of the events in the house, she becomes an unlikely editor, approaching many real characters including Stephen King , Stanley Kubrick , Hunter S. Eventually, she is reunited with Navidson after she conquers her claustrophobia and saves him from the abyss of the labyrinth. Tom is Will Navidson's somewhat estranged twin brother; Tom is a carpenter with substance addiction problems, who is markedly less successful than Will in his personal and professional life.

After approximately 8 years of little contact, Will contacts Tom when he notices that his house is larger on the inside than the outside. This section is referred to in the book as a "sometimes funny, sometimes bizarre history of thoughts passing away in the atrocity of that darkness" House of Leaves , page He often refers to "Mr.

Monster" and many of the jokes and anecdotes he provides are religious in nature. However, in a test of his true character, he bravely saves Will's kids from being swallowed by the house before being swallowed himself. Billy is an engineer and a friend of Will's, whom Will enlists early on in the story to help him try to find a rational explanation for the house's oddities.

Billy uses a wheelchair, having been paralyzed from the waist down in a freak engineering accident in India ; Will happened to be on the scene and took a photo of Billy moments before he became paralyzed. Billy came across the photo after his accident and kept it as a reminder that he was fortunate to have survived.

Once the house's irregularities become more extreme, Billy joins Will and Tom in a thorough analysis; after Holloway and his men go missing, Billy, in spite of his handicap, insists on joining Will on the rescue mission, navigating the maze in his wheelchair. He eventually saves Will and Holloway's men from Holloway by engaging in a firefight with him, holding him back long enough for the house to "consume" Holloway.

Billy survives the journey into the maze, but suffers persistent cold spells afterward as well as sustaining damage to his wheelchair. Holloway is an experienced explorer whom Will contacts in an effort to properly explore the labyrinth beneath his house. Holloway is presented as the consummate outdoorsman: He has successfully engaged in numerous expeditions which would have killed normal men, and is an expert in all forms of survivalist equipment, from spelunking gear to firearms.


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  • He engages in two brief explorations of the labyrinth before deciding to take his men on a third, prolonged expedition, prior to which they load themselves up with enough food and water to last several days and enough provisions to—they believe—safely guide them back home. During the course of this exploration, Holloway reaches the bottom of the Great Staircase and becomes deranged due to finding nothing but more empty hallways. The house's bizarre architecture leads him to believe an image he sees down a hall is the "monster" stalking them when, in fact, he is actually looking at his own men; he shoots one of them, and, upon realizing what he's done, suffers a complete psychological breakdown and tries to murder them.

    Eventually, the house "traps" him by sealing him inside a series of locked chambers; alone and insane, Holloway records a series of unsettling final messages on a video camera before filming himself committing suicide. The tape of his death is recovered by Will from the labyrinth. The seconds leading up to the end of the tape reveal that either 1 Holloway's corpse is devoured by the "monster" he is convinced is real or 2 Holloway merely disappears into the blackness of the house.