Hamlet ~ Act IV Scene VI

Attack by Pirates (1880)
Arnold Böcklin
source Wikiart

Hamlet  ~~  Act IV  Scene VI

A sailor arrives in Denmark and speaks with Horatio.  He hands over a letter from Hamlet and other letters for the King.  The letter reveals that the ship was attacked by pirates on its way to England and somehow Hamlet ended up as their only prisoner.  Hamlet urges Horatio to come to him immediately as he has amazing things to tell him.  Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are headed to England.

Horatio rushes to deliver the letters so he can set off to find Hamlet directly.

Combat naval, ou un navire maltais attaqué par des pirates algériens

Phillipe-Jacques de Loutherbourg


Okay, this is interesting.  Hamlet has been abducted by pirates.  He is the only prisoner.  I have a hard time believing that the Prince of Denmark is the only one taken by the pirates, unless he put himself in a position to be taken.   He must know that he would be safe if he could get Claudius to pay for his release.  And in reality, he is only going from being a prisoner in one camp, to being a prisoner in another.  His actions are brilliant, and once again, he keeps Claudius on his toes, always unsure of Hamlet’s actions, and now even his whereabouts.  Hamlet may have been lamenting his inaction in previous scenes, but the torture of uncertainty that he is putting Claudius through must be excruciating.  Is his inaction more effective than action?

Hamlet Read-Along Posts

3 thoughts on “Hamlet ~ Act IV Scene VI

  1. Whenever I read Shakespeare's plays, I take time to remind myself that we are not the intended audience (being readers in the 21st century). These are presentational (not representational/realistic) plays intended for audiences in Southwark more than 400 years ago. So, I remind myself: do not get hung up on realism but surrender instead to theatrical presentation. Postscript: My love of reading Shakespeare remains undiminished after more than half a century of encounters.

  2. Pingback: The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark by William Shakespeare – Cleo Ross Writing Portfolio

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