Hamlet ~ Act IV Scene I

Hamlet  ~  Act IV  Scene I

Gertrude relates all to Claudius about her meeting with Hamlet, including the death of Polonius.  Claudius laments Hamlet’s state, his act and his own position.  He calls for Guildenstern, revealing Hamlet’s dreadful deed and commands him to bring the corpse to the chapel.  He then declares that he will tell their wisest friends of his planned action, hoping that the effects of this act, will not tarnish their reputation.

Ophelia (1863)
Arthur Hughes
source Wikiart


This scene is very short but still enlightening.  In spite of Gertrude’s promise of silence to Hamlet, she immediately reveals to Claudius everything that had passed between them.  Or does she?  She only reveals her opinion that Hamlet is mad, yet does not say that he is playing at being mad.  So, in effect, did she really keep her pledge?

It’s fascinating that Claudius blames himself for Hamlet’s actions in the death of Polonius.  He claims his guilt is because he did not restrain his nephew, but is there other guilt that is affecting his feelings?

Again, Claudius is calling on others to support his actions, making them at least partially responsible for the course on which he decides.  Is this a crafty political move, or does Claudius’ simply need emotional support in his new position?

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3 thoughts on “Hamlet ~ Act IV Scene I

  1. Yes, to Hamlet and Gertrude, but I'm not certain about Claudius yet…… Why doesn't he just kill Hamlet? It would solve all his problems and he's already killed once. At the very least, now that Hamlet's murdered Polonius, you would think he could get the nobles to agree to put him in prison for his actions. Yet he just wants to send him to England. It doesn't sound very ruthless to me.

    Sadly we get no background to the circumstances of King Hamlet's death, but I wonder if Claudius is not really naturally cold-blooded, but saw a chance and took it. He went for the power but completely failed to foresee the problems attached to his action. Because he's not ruthless, now he's worrying and almost at a loss as to what to do. We'll see how it plays out, but that's my take so far.

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