.. r recites a passage concerning the death of Priam, during the Trojan war. After the speech, Hamlet asks Polonius to take excellent care of the players and to find them quarters. Hamlet talks with the First Player about inserting some lines that Hamlet will make up into the play they are presenting tomorrow. The player agrees to Hamlet’s request and leaves.
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern leave and Hamlet is alone on stage to give his second soliloquy. Hamlet is angry with himself for procrastinating and failing to take revenge for his father’s death. He is upset because he is unable to show the passion in real life that the player can show on stage. He can’t believe that an actor can show anger and even cry for a fictitious event when he can’t, despite all his reasons to show these emotions. He tries to incite his passion by stating events that would make him angry, but realizes all he is doing is talking about what he should do.
Realizing that he isn’t further helping himself with these speeches, he makes a plan that will give him the proof he needs to show Claudius’ guilt in Hamlet’s father’s death. Because there is still doubt about whether or not the ghost was Hamlet’s father asking Hamlet to avenge his death, or an evil spirit trying to get Hamlet into trouble, Hamlet decides to get proof of Claudius’ guilt before proceeding further. Hamlet believes he can obtain his proof by watching Claudius’ reaction to a murder acted out by the players similar to that of Hamlet’s father’s murder. Text: Act II, Scene ii Act III, Scene i: This scene opens with Claudius, the King, asking Rosencrantz and Guildenstern if they have discovered the cause of Hamlet’s madness. After admitting they did not find the cause, but were treated well by Hamlet, they inform the King and Queen that Hamlet is happy that there is going to be a play presented tomorrow and he hopes that Claudius and Gertrude will attend.
Pleased that there is something that amuses Hamlet, they both decide to attend the play and they urge Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to try and stimulate his interest further. Claudius asks Gertrude to leave beca so that he and Polonius can observe a clandestine meeting they set up between Hamlet and Ophelia. They tell Ophelia to pretend she is praying and they go and hide. Hamlet enters and gives a soliloquy on his thoughts about himself committing suicide. He sees Ophelia, and when she tries to return some gifts that he had given her, he claims he never gave her any.
They have a discussion wherein Hamlet denies ever loving Ophelia and berating her and women in general for their trickery and pretentiousness. When Hamlet leaves, Claudius and Polonius enter. Claudius is convinced that Hamlet’s madness does not stem from his love for Ophelia, but that it is something else that is afflicting his soul. Claudius realizes that Hamlet’s actions are a danger to those around him. He decides to send Hamlet to England, hoping a change of atmosphere will settle his heart.
The scene ends with Claudius stating that Hamlet should be watched. Text: Act III, Scene i Act III, Scene ii: Hamlet gives some last minute instructions to the players and they proceed to get ready to perform the play. Hamlet confides in Horatio that he has a plan to test his uncle’s guilt. He tells Horatio that he has asked the players to reinact the murder of Hamlet’s father. By seeing Claudius’ reaction to the murder, Hamlet will know for sure whether or not the ghost was telling the truth.
Horatio agrees to watch the king’s reaction. The play, The Mousetrap, is introduced and gets underway. When the murder scene is enacted, Claudius calls for lights and storms out. Hamlet and Horatio discuss the king’s reactions and both are convinced that Claudius killed the old king. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern enter, tell Hamlet the king is very upset and then they ask him why he has been so upset lately.
Hamlet, tired of their meddling, confronts them and demands to know why they are trying all these games to get information from him. He tells them that he is too smart to be caught in their traps. Polonius enters and tells Hamlet that the Queen wishes to speak with him. Text: Act III, Scene ii Act III, Scene iii: This scene gives insight into Claudius’ thoughts and gives the audience proof regarding Hamlet’s and the ghost’s assertions that Claudius killed Hamlet’s father. The king, frightened, prepares to send Hamlet to England, with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to accompany him. Polonius enters and tells the King that Gertrude is going to talk to Hamlet and try and come to an understanding regarding his madness, while he (Polonius) hides and listens to the conversation.
Polonius leaves and Claudius is left on stage. In Claudius’ soliloquy, he admits to killing his brother and starts to realize the difficulties he is in. He tries to attone for his sins by praying, but he finds that although he can say the words to ask for forgiveness, he doesn’t believe what he is saying. Unbeknownst to Claudius, Hamlet enters while Claudius is at prayer. Although this seems like the perfect opportunity for Hamlet, a chance to kill Claudius after proving Claudius’ guilt in the murder, Hamlet refuses to go ahead with the deed.
He is afraid that because Claudius is praying, Claudius’ sins will be forgiven. Because Hamlet doesn’t want Claudius to have a chance to go to heaven, or to purgatory where Hamlet’s father now resides, he leaves. NOTE: It is ironic that when Hamlet has an opportunity to kill Claudius and get away with killing him, he hesitates because he doesn’t want there to be a chance that Claudius wouldn’t suffer in the afterlife. What Hamlet didn’t know was that Claudius couldn’t pray and if he had killed Claudius, he would have had his revenge. Another thing to note, if Hamlet kills Claudius now, the deaths that occur later in the play would not have happened.
Text: Act III, Scene iii Act III, Scene iv: Polonius hides behind a curtain as Hamlet enters into mother’s chamber. When the Queen is confronted by an angry and erratic Hamlet, she panics and screams for help. When Polonius hears her scream, he thinks Hamlet is trying to kill her and he yells out. Hamlet, who suspects that Claudius is hiding behind the curtain, draws his sword and stabs at the sound. The Queen, horrified at what Hamlet has done, tries to chastise him, but Hamlet says his deed is nowhere as bad as killing a king and marrying the old king’s wife. Hamlet goes on to explain to the Queen all that he believes she has done wrong, including wronging her old husband’s memory.
He tries to show her the differences between the old king and Claudius,attributing only good qualities to his father and negative qualities to Claudius. Hamlet gets excited when confronted with Gertrude’s misplaced love; he doesn’t understand how she can forget her husband so easily. The ghost enters. The Queen thinks Hamlet is mad (crazy), because she cannot see the ghost Hamlet sees. The ghost reminds Hamlet that Hamlet is to leave the judgement of Gertrude to God and not to harm her. Hamlet tries to convince Gertrude that the ghost is real, but fails. Hamlet tells Gertrude to forgo any romantic encounters with Claudius, to save herself, and tries to get her to help with the plans he is making for revenge on Claudius.
He asks her to tell Claudius that she believes that Hamlet is of sound mind, that he is only pretending to be mad. He also warns her not to try and play the type of game he is playing. Hamlet, dragging Polonius’ body behind him, leaves a very shaken Gertrude after reminding her that he must leave for England. Text: Act III, Scene iv Act IV, Scene i: Gertrude explains to Claudius that she believes Hamlet is truly mad and that as proof, he has killed Polonius and taken away the body. Claudius, after being thankful that he wasn’t the one killed, asks where Hamlet went. She cannot tell him, and Claudius tries to comfort her by telling her that they will soon be rid of him, because of his trip.
Claudius calls for Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. After telling them that Hamlet has killed Polonius, he asks them to go and find Hamlet, get Polonius’ body and to put Polonius’ body in the chapel. The scene ends with Claudius informing Gertrude that they must inform the court of what has happened and the reasons why they are sending Hamlet away. He is afraid that if he doesn’t present Hamlet as being the only guilty person, people might start to think Claudius had something to do with the murder. Text: Act IV, Scene i Act IV, Scene ii: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern come across Hamlet, who has by this time safely hidden Polonius’ body.
Although Rosencrantz and Guildenstern demand that Hamlet tell them where the body is he refuses. They then tell Hamlet the King wishes to see him; they leave with him. Text: Act IV, Scene ii Act IV, Scene iii: Claudius informs some of his Lords of his plan to send Hamlet away. He tells them that a dangerous man cannot run loose, and that Hamlet will be given the opportunity to think about his crimes; Hamlet will not be punished. Hamlet, according to Claudius, is trying to protect his secret of killing the old king.
If he sends Hamlet away and Hamlet meets with an “accident”, then he can maintain his innocence by claiming he previously had the opportunity to have Hamlet killed, but he choose to send him away instead. When Hamlet is brought before Claudius, he at first doesn’t tell the king where the body is. Hamlet waits for his own opportunity to inform the king of Polonius’ whereabouts. The king sends some attendants to retrieve the body. Claudius informs Hamlet that Hamlet must be sent away immediately, because of Polonius’ murder. When Hamlet is taken away, and Claudius is left on stage alone, we are told that Claudius is preparing a trap for Hamlet. Claudius is sending notes to the king of England informing him that Hamlet is to be executed immediately after his arrival. Claudius is looking out for his own self-interest.
Text: Act IV, Scene iii Act IV, Scene iv: Fortinbras’ army is on the outskirts of Denmark. Fortinbras sends his captain in to tell Claudius how his campaign went. Hamlet, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern meet up with the captain, who informs them the army that they see is Fortinbras’. The Captain discusses the futility of the battle that they fought, where thousands of men died, over a barren patch of land. The captain leaves and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern preceed Hamlet to the ship; they are taking Hamlet to England.
Hamlet is left alone on stage. In this soliloquy, he compares his inaction to date with Fortinbras’ action. Once again his view of himself is negative. He criticizes himself for the things he has still left unaccomplished. NOTE: There is a parallel between this soliloquy and the one in Act II, Scene ii.
Hamlet is comparing his inadequacies and indecisions with other characters who appear to be more direct and willing to take the initiative, and who have better control over their emotions. The reader is to be reminded of the comparison between The First Player’s show of emotion and Hamlet’s inabiltiy to show that type of emotion. Although Hamlet has many valid reasons to pursue his revenge against Claudius, he has held off. Fortinbras has no real reason to attack Poland, but he will because it provides him with a task which reflects his personality. Text: Act IV, Scene iv Act IV, Scene v: Gertrude encounters a “mad” Ophelia in this scene.
Unlike Hamlet’s feigned madness, Ophelia really is insane. She sings about death and behaves erratically. Claudius enters and Ophelia’s songs hint at grief regarding her father’s death. Claudius is amazed at Ophelia’s condition and asks how long she has been like this. When Ophelia leaves, he asks Horatio to follow her and to protect her from doing herself harm. While Claudius laments all the misfortunes that have befallen Ophelia recently, a noise is heard outside the castle.
Laertes has come back to Elsinore after he hears about his father’s death. Laertes believes that Claudius had something to do with the death of Polonius. Although Laertes is upset over the events that have recently occurred and is seeking revenge against Claudius for his father’s death, Claudius manages to talk him out wanting to harm him. Claudius uses his courage and cunning to disarm Laertes and convinces him that all Laertes’ misfortunes are caused by Hamlet. Text: Act IV, Scene v Act IV, Scene vi: Horatio meets with sailors who have messages from Hamlet. They give Horatio a letter which recounts Hamlet’s adventures on his sea voyage. It seems that pirates attacked the ship that Hamlet was on and through misadventure, Hamlet was captured and taken prisoner.
Everyone else on the ship escaped unharmed and continued on to England. The note also tells Horatio that Hamlet has an incredible story to tell him when he arrives back tomorrow, a story that will make Horatio “dumb”. Text: Act IV, Scene vi Act IV, Scene vii: Claudius convinces Laertes that he is innocent in Laertes’ father’s death and that Hamlet is to blame. A messenger enters with Hamlet’s letter and Claudius is amazed to find that Hamlet is still alive. Claudius reads the letter to Laertes.
Hamlet is writing to inform the King that he has returned to Denmark and tha he wishes to meet with Claudius tomorrow. Claudius, concerned about Hamlet’s untimely return, advises Laertes to have a dueling match with Hamlet. In this match, Claudius plans to have Laertes kill Hamlet. They plan to cover the tip of Laertes’s sword with poison. Once Hamlet is struck with the sword, he will die. Hamlet’s death will end Claudius’ worries about anyone finding out about his involvement in his brother’s death.
To further ensure Hamlet’s demise, Claudius intends to present Hamlet, if he scores the first “hit”, with a poisoned goblet of wine. This way, Hamlet will be killed.