As does Polonius as a result.
- Hamlet senses the intruder and stabs through the arras, killing Polonius.
-Hamlet wonders if it's the King, and is disappointed to find that it isn't.
- Hamlet continues to speak of Gertrude's betrayal, and she begins to feel very guilty.
- The Ghost then appears, reminding Hamlet of his true task of getting revenge.
Hamlet study guide contains a biography of William Shakespeare, literature essays, a complete e-text, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.
Hamlet's Antic Disposition
This scene is well known for many reasons, one of which being the evidence it provides that could both prove and disprove the legitimacy of Hamlet's apparent insanity.
Knowledge Gained/ Repercussions
This scene resulted in the death of the King's right hand man, which in turn, gave his son Laertes motive to kill Hamlet.
It is this issue that we find to be the most prominent, therefore we've assembled all arguments made for both topics in this ever popular scene.
Analysis of Hamlet's Act 3, Scene 4 - The Closet Scene
We learn in the beginning of the play that Hamlet has difficulty making quick decisions, and is controlled by his moral compass, and yet he immediately decides to stab the rat behind the arras without hesitation.
The plan's in motion, and Hamlet delivers the big "to be or not to be" speech about suicide. Instead, he decides to act all creepy and gross with Ophelia before watching Claudius all but stand up and shout that he's guilty. Hamlet decides to kill him, obviously, but then … doesn't. Instead, he ends up accidentally killing Polonius, Ophelia's dad. In front of his mom. Claudius sends Hamlet off to England, but on the way, Hamlet sees Prince Fortinbras of Norway marching across the land to fight for some lost territories. That's all the inspiration he needs to head back to Denmark to kill Claudius.
Claudius is greatly distracted by the death of Polonius and the attempt to find the body. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern enter with Hamlet. Claudius questions Hamlet as to where he has taken Polonius. After some morbidly humorous replies, Hamlet reveals that he hid Polonius “up the stairs into the lobby.” The king sends attendants to find the body. Claudius then tells Hamlet that he is to depart immediately for England, as planned. Hamlet mockingly departs, leaving Claudius to reflect on his plans for Hamlet. He has prepared letters asking the English king, whom Denmark has recently defeated in war, to kill Hamlet as part of the duties owed by right of conquest.
The next thing we know, Ophelia is dead, possibly by suicide, which means she doesn't even get a nice burial. There's a big scene between Hamlet and Laertes when Hamlet randomly stumbles on this funeral, and then Hamlet gets Horatio up to speed on his return: on the boat to England, Hamlet opened the letter that his companions Rosencrantz and Guildenstern were carrying and found that it carried instructions to have him (Hamlet) killed. Naturally, Hamlet altered the letter to say "Please kill Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, ," and escaped on a pirate ship back to Denmark.
Enter Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, two childhood pals of Hamlet and Horatio. The King and Queen have called them to Elsinore to spy on Hamlet and find out why he's gone mad. While the duo fails to do this, some players (actors) come into town. Hamlet commissions them to perform a play in which a king is murdered in the same way Claudius murdered Hamlet's father. Hamlet plans to watch Claudius' reaction to see if the ghost is telling the truth.
Just as the play is about to begin, Hamlet instructs the players on the art of acting, telling them to act naturally and to avoid bombast. He sets the players to their preparations and then conferences with . After complimenting Horatio in the most sterling terms, Hamlet asks his friend to assist him in watching the king’s response to the play they are about to see (apparently Hamlet has by this time told Horatio what the ghost revealed). Horatio seats himself so as to view the king properly. The royal entourage enters. Hamlet manically chatters with Claudius, Polonius, and Ophelia, reserving special attention for the latter, whom he sits next to and teases.
The captain meets with Hamlet, who is being conveyed by Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to the ship to England. Hamlet asks the captain about his army and his purpose in going to Poland. The captain says that in Poland there is “a little patch of ground” which Norway claims as her own. He describes this land as perfectly worthless and small. Hamlet suggests that the Poles will not likely defend such a piece of land, but the captain sets him straight, saying that Poland is already garrisoned and ready for their dispute. Hamlet wraps up his conversation with the captain. He hangs back from the others marching to the ship and delivers a long soliloquy on the irony of this occasion – these men are off to risk their lives for a worthless piece of land, while he, who has every reason to risk his life in the cause of revenge, delays and fails to act. Hamlet resolves to recast his mind to bloody thoughts. Ironically, however, just after making this resolution he continues on toward England, leaving Denmark behind him.
Hope you brought your , because this last scene is going to be a bloodbath. During the friendly duel between Hamlet and Laertes, everything goes according to Claudius' evil plan until, uh oh, Gertrude drinks the poisoned wine. Meanwhile, Laertes cuts Hamlet with the poisoned sword, and Hamlet, ending up with Laertes' sword, wounds him back. Dying, Laertes yells out, "It's all Claudius' fault!" So, Hamlet stabs Claudius with the poisoned sword and makes him drink the poisoned wine. Bloodbath complete.