Hamlet Summary Act IV

Claudius is informed by Gertrude that Hamlet has slain Polonius which frightens him knowing it could have been him instead. Though Gertrude fears Hamlet is mad, Claudius plans to send Hamlet away immediately. Hamlet has hidden the body of Polonius and refuses to tell Rosencrantz and Guildenstern its whereabouts. He insults them instead.

Hamlet meets the King and both men are now aware of the threat they pose to each other. Hamlet tells Claudius where he has hidden Polonius body but does it in a play of words saying that Polonius is at supper and though he isn’t the one doing the eating, he is being eaten instead.

“Not where he eats, but where he is eaten: a certain convocation of politic worms are e’en at him….” (act iv sc 3 17-25)

There is a foreshadow of speech in which Hamlet hints to the king that ultimately the end has no distinctions. Even as a man fattens himself materialistic, ultimately it is the worms that benefit seeing both a king and a beggar as just variety at their own dinner table.

Hamlet then tells Claudius he suspects why he is being sent away and exits to wish his mother farewell. Claudius divulges his plan to get Hamlet killed in England.

Meanwhile Prince Fortinbras marches against the Polish and Hamlet laments the fact that he does not possess the same strength as Fortinbras to carry on fighting for the sake of his own honor.

Ophelia and her brother Laertes are grieved at their Fathers death. Laertes demands justice form Claudius and both men plot the death of Hamlet. Ophelia drowns herself out of grief.

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